Anna Catherine Rutledge from Brooklyn Fit4Mom shares her tips on implementing fitness into your everyday life.
I don’t know about you, but since becoming a mom I find it incredibly hard to find time to fit in my workouts. And I run a fitness business. For moms. But between running the business, teaching classes and working with personal clients, preparing three somewhat wholesome meals a day, laundry, dishes, blogging, grocery shopping, keeping on top of the never ending emails and social media, binge watching Orange is the New Black and the myriad other chores, responsibilities and mandatory lying on the couch exhausted time…where exactly do I find time for me and my fitness?
Motherhood is a dynamic activity. Dynamic is defined by my computer dictionary as “characterized by constant change, activity, or progress”. Can you think of anything MORE dynamic than motherhood? The baby that goes from 8 pounds to 32 pounds and still needs to be picked up, the endless amount of picking up in general, the nursing, the feeding, the non stop motion.
Enter Functional Fitness: the new moms dream. Traditionally functional fitness is all about training our bodies to handle real-life situations, teaching the muscles in our body to work together rather than independently. But coming at it from a busy moms perspective did you know you can turn just about any mundane household chore into some form of exercise. It’s true. Check out my tips below.
Lifting baby, car seats and strollers. If you’re reading this, there’s the strong possibility you live in Brooklyn. And if you live in Brooklyn there is the distinct possibility that you must climb some form of stairs at some point with some form of a child. How many of you reading this have had to lug a sleeping baby in a car seat or stroller up some stairs? That is some serious strength training right there. Remember to always lift with your legs, not with your back. Brace your core. For an added shoulder and back workout try grasping the car seat in both hands, on each step, see if you can raise the seat up to chest height- bending both elbows and making a “T” with your body and squeeze the shoulder blades together. Live in an elevator building? If you’re coming home with your partner, friend, nanny whoever, send them up in the elevator with the baby and you take the stairs. Cardio!
Laundry. Before kids I actually kind of enjoyed doing laundry – lazy Saturday mornings at the laundromat, going for coffee while the clothes dried, big folding tables. Now it’s just a constant blur of pee throughs, teeny mismatched socks and shirts coated in peanut butter and cherry ice stains. But did you know doing laundry also offers you a great cardio burst. While loading the washing machine stand facing your laundry basket and machine with feet hip-width apart, bring your left leg behind you into a curtsy lunge. Keep your back flat, hinge forward from the hips, pick up some laundry then hop your left leg in and switch sides as you put the laundry into the machine. Repeat for 20 reps.
Picking up toys, clothes, whatever. Rather than bending over at the waist every time you have to pick something up off the floor, think about doing a squat. Plant your feet hip width, bend the knees and keep your tush pushed way back, like you’re sitting in an invisible chair. Reach down to pick up the item and raise it to you as in a bicep curl. Imagine if you picked up every action figure, stuffed animal, errant sock that way? You’d be buff in no time.
Baby wearing. I miss wearing my babies so much, having them so close, the amazing feeling of so much human touch. But it can be murder on your back, so it’s important that when wearing your baby you keep your shoulders pulled back, lift your chest and brace your core. Consider also the fantastic counter balance that wearing your baby in the front can give you for lunges, squats and upright rows.
The drive and reach (or “the don’t make me come back there”). For those of you that drive, this is an important one, also dangerous and I have to advise to not do this move while driving. The reach behind while in the car maneuver. Whether your baby dropped her binky or someone is trying to hand you a booger, the reach behind while driving can be murder on your rotator cuff muscles (shoulders). The next time you’re at the playground and pushing your kiddo in the swing – think about using one arm at a time. Stand to the side of the swing rather than in front or behind, bend your arm at the elbow and stabilize your upper arm against your body. Using just your forearm and rotating from the shoulder push the swing. After 20 pushes, switch arms.
Push up kisses. If your baby isn’t crawling yet, put her underneath you while you are in an upright push up position (modify on your knees). Bend your elbows and lower your chest til you’re low enough to give her a kiss and then using your arms and chest, push yourself back up. Functionality at its finest.
Going to the park. See your kid? What’s he doing? Running around up and down the hill? Can you run up and down that hill? I bet you can. Summer is coming, summer days in the park are meant for lying around on the blanket BUT don’t forget to also get up and run around for twenty-forty minutes with the kids. You might get sweaty, but that’s also sort of the point. And what your child is going to remember most at the end of the day is when mommy got up and ran around with me. Stick that in your memory jar!
Moms: you need to be strong to raise those babies. Our soldiers have to go through training to help them withstand as much sleeplessness as comes with being a mother. Be strong so you can keep up with your kiddos, because they’re only going to get faster and heavier. Remember, there is strength to be found in every aspect of motherhood.
Anna Catherine Rutledge is a fitness instructor and personal trainer. She runs Brooklyn Fit4Mom offering Stroller Strides and Body Back classes and the Brooklyn Mom’s Run Club. She randomly blogs at How To Build a Better Mother and is always looking to interview moms who do cool stuff.