Dear New Momma,
I have been involved in the fitness industry for almost 20 years now, and I have seen many things. Fads come and fads go... Remember Shake A Weight and Sauna Suits? Other trends— like spin classes— seem to have staying power (and rightly so). But there is one fitness trend that I am vehemently against. In fact I am so against it that this post has taken me over a year to write... maybe because I was afraid I couldn't deliver my message tactfully; maybe I just kept hoping that the trend would go away.
But it hasn't, so baby mommies, this message is for you. I need to call you out and maybe make you uncomfortable. It's not really your fault that my industry has delivered and sustained this trend, but you are the only ones who have the power to stop it.
Over a year ago I saw a picture posted on a local fitness studio's Instagram account. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine this scene. There's a barbell (long bar with plates on the end of it). Over a Mommy's head. And there's a baby. In a front carrier. Underneath the barbell.
The studio was promoting its "mom and baby" fitness class and the (dozens of) comments on the post were gushing at how good, how strong Mommy looked. One concerned follower made one single comment about the safety of Baby in this situation and right away the personal trainer jumped into say that it was very safe; that she'd been spotting the whole time (strange, given that said trainer could not be seen in the picture).
This is not safe. I don't care if someone is spotting the whole time. I don't care if the weight in question is a two-pound. dumbbell. If something can go wrong (and something can always go wrong), that weight can drop on your babe's head!!
Now before you freak out and tell me that I'm getting all doomsday on you, I'll agree with you that the chance of something going wrong might be slim if we're talking about a two-pound dumbbell, but if we are calculating a risk vs. reward ratio and a baby's well-being is part of the equation, this is a definite no-go.
As long as you attend these classes, they will continue to happen.
Fitness equipment and babies do not mix. Ever. Period.
If you are doubting me even a little, I have an assignment for you. Go to your pantry right now and grab a can of soup. Hold it up over your head. Now drop it. Better yet, drop it on your toe. Now imagine if that was your little one's head.
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This risky trend shows up in other forms as well. I witnessed a different studio's Instagram account showcasing that kids were always able to attend class with their parent, because childcare is hard (I don't disagree... I have four kids of my own, but hard is not the point). The picture showed a mom with two or three kids crawling on her as she tried to lift weights. Her form was horrendous and she was likely causing her own body more harm than good, not to mention that the kids looked dangerously close to equipment that they could catch their little fingers or toes in. Risk vs. reward? Still not worth it!
Find workouts that are both safe and effective
Now I know what you are thinking... but when am I going to get my workouts in? The expectations on us as moms are high and from Day 1 of motherhood we seem to be out to show the world that we can do it all. (We actually can't, and your first step towards better maternal health is to accept that).
But you can get workouts done that are both safe and effective. Here are some ideas:
1. Find a class that is safe and appropriate for Mom and Baby - there are classes out there but you need to be selective - and use your good judgement. Look for classes that use primarily body weight and/or keep your baby out of harm's way. Great options in these categories include Mom and Baby Yoga or Pilates, dance classes (like Salsa Babies) or Strollercize.
2. Find a fitness centre that offers child care. They do exist. The one near you might not be the newest, trendiest facility but it provides a service that you need right now. Sometimes functionality really does trump cool (hello, minivan).
3.Find outside childcare. Now this can be tough to find for many of us. Maybe you haven't got family around or your partner works long hours. Or both. You may find it expensive or you just don't trust strangers with your new little angel. But this is not impossible:
- Share childcare with a friend. She watches your little one while you attend a workout or class once a week and you reciprocate once a week. (PS: New Mom groups are a great way to meet people in this category if your friends aren't having babies right now).
- Talk to your partner about your desire to have this time for you. Lots of times we don't want to ask for help because we're stuck on the Superwoman thing, but if we can have an honest conversation with our partner, a solution to work together can often be found.
- Cut back money somewhere else to pay for a babysitter once a week... think about the value. If an accident happened in one of these baby + weights classes you took your kid to, the $20 you saved on babysitting would not have been worth it.
4. Work out at home. Today's options are endless (hello, YouTube). You are not limited to the latest VHS workout craze (Tae-Bo, anyone?). You can literally stream any style of fitness classes from the comfort of your own home at any hour of the day or night. That means when the little one is napping/distracted/confined you can take care of you. This takes a little more motivation, but you are tough. And this is important.
You may be wondering why I chose to not call out the instructors, trainers and studio owners who teach these classes and have these kids-free-for-all policies, and instead I focused on you. It's because you have the power. You choose where to spend your money and how to spend your time. As long as you attend these classes, they will continue to happen. I'm a mom too, and I know the power we have to influence the fitness industry. This is our chance to do better, and I'm counting on you to lead the way.
Yours in Fitness & Fierceness,
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