To be honest, I rarely use the words exercise or working out. They conjure up images of sweat and toil and a little bit of misery.
On a spectrum from CrossFit to yoga, I fall more on the yoga side. When I was little, my parents put me in soccer and I spent most of the game sitting on the grass, picking clovers, and weaving them into necklaces (worst teammate ever). My parents quickly recognized that I lacked any sense of competition and enrolled me in activities like jump rope camp (which was my favorite). Later on, I found my true passion in ballet and studied it quite seriously throughout high school. I also loved photography and took long walks through a ravine near our house to photograph wildlife (I was quite the rebellious teen, as you can see). So, even though I dislike the idea of working out, I found ways to stay active.
Here are a few different exercise methods I’ve tried or wanted to try, since becoming a mom:
Gym memberships are a great option for whole families because they have something for everyone—classes for the parents, exercise equipment, tracks, swimming pools, and childcare (up to two hours a day!). Memberships usually come with discounts on swimming lessons, which can be helpful for parents of school-age children. We decided to get a gym membership while I was recovering from postpartum complications because I needed a place to go walking (and it was January…). Gyms are sometimes the most expensive exercise option, but places like the YMCA and the YWCA have sliding scale fees, so people of all income brackets can join. It’s also worth checking if your insurance provides a discount.
A quick google search (“10-minute cardio workout” or “prenatal barre”) and you’ll find yourself miles deep in all kinds of YouTube videos. The wonderful thing about video workouts is you never need to leave your house (perfect for when the baby is napping) and you can find a workout that’s exactly what you’re looking for in both intensity and duration. And they’re free!
Community Education Classes
We live in Minneapolis where there are lots of opportunities to try different exercise classes through community education. Most of the classes are once a week for six to eight weeks and only cost $30-$50. There are classes like Appalachian clogging, cardio kickboxing, Pilates, weight training, modern dance, and Zumba. Check out your city’s local community education to see what classes they offer.
Nursing and Raising Small Humans
You know how they say nursing burns around 500 calories a day? I’m not into paying attention to calories, but I do believe in cutting ourselves some slack when we’re deep in the thick of raising babies and young children. Nursing is a workout of its own. Chasing my toddler around the house is exhausting, and so is lifting him in and out of car seats and high chairs and grocery carts. It’s totally legit to be in a season of life when your children are your main workout.
Yoga or Barre Studio
I’ve recently gotten into this option because I found a studio I love that has childcare available. I treasure the opportunity to take an hour to myself to challenge my body and focus. I feel stronger than I have in years. Yoga tends to be more expensive but many studios offer the first week for free, so that’s a helpful way to see how you like it.
When it’s reasonable outside, my husband and I enjoy going for walks after dinner. I’m a firm believer that walking is sorely underrated. Walking is so good for us! Sadly, this option doesn’t work for us in the winter, which for us Minnesotans is a good part of the year. But if you’re into things like skiing and snowshoeing, then you could exercise outside year-round. I’m hoping to research some nearby nature trails to go for longer hikes with my family next summer.
What about you? What workout routines fit into your lifestyle right now?