During pregnancy I had visions of my new life as a stay-at-home mom involving lengthy sessions at the gym and time in the kitchen cooking deliciously healthy dinners. I was going to be fit, strong and healthy with all this extra time I’d have once I gave up my desk job.
It was a rude shock when things turned out quite the opposite. My days were a blur of endless feeding sessions (baby, not me), nappy changes and crying (baby and me).
My husband had to assume the role of household chef and instead of lifting weights at the gym, I was lifting an infant at home – all day long. My little boy wanted to be in my arms, every hour of every day, and if I tried to put him down, he’d scream the roof off.
When he was seven-weeks old, I braved a moms and babies exercise class. All the other babies slept peacefully in their prams while their moms worked out. My boy howled to be picked up and fed. I had paid Dh60 to breastfeed my son and change his nappy while watching other people exercise. I felt defeated and flabby.
I needed to find a regular group class or a personal trainer who welcomed babies that insist on being held. I tried several yoga, Pilates and group fitness classes and while I enjoyed them, they didn’t suit the clingy, yet hyperactive, nature of my little boy.
I eventually found a personal trainer who specializes in pre- and post-natal fitness. The best part was that I could bring my boy to the semi-private group classes and wear him in a baby carrier. The extra weight of my 10-kilogram boy meant I’d have to work harder, but I was ready for the challenge. I signed up for an eight-week program with Eva Rogel, who runs Le FitMom Dubai, and haven’t looked back. I’m now on my second program and while I know how to do the exercises and could save myself money by doing them at home, the camaraderie from the group environment and encouragement from Rogel make every session a pleasure.
I can do most of the exercises while wearing my son, but some routines need to be modified for his safety. We do a lot of lunges, squats and step-ups, all of which he enjoys, and he especially likes it when I do push-ups in front of the mirror.
Rogel says there are many benefits to exercising with your baby. “Working out together makes it easier to fit exercise into you and your baby’s routine,” she says. “It also gives you quality bonding time. But most importantly it creates a healthy family habit.”
As long as you are maintaining your posture and bracing your core, wearing your baby while working out is a great way to build muscle, get fit and bond with your youngster.
You’ll need a sturdy, supportive baby carrier. Mine has two straps and clips down the sides and another set of straps that go over his shoulders so he can’t fall out when I’m bending over.
It may sound contradictory, but working out with my son has given me freedom. I’m getting strong and fit again, and I have the best gym buddy to do it with.
• Eva Rogel’s Le FitMom Dubai pre- and post-natal fitness programs are held at Anatomy Rehab physiotherapy clinic on The Palm.