Fitness tips for new moms

January 7, 2013 12pm

While some moms eagerly bounce back to the gym, others find it challenging to fit exercise into their new life.

Lack of babysitting, lack of sleep and changing hormones may make moms feel like they have no extra energy but physical activity can be especially beneficial for them, according to mayoclinc.com.

The website says that regular exercise after pregnancy can promote weight loss, improve cardiovascular fitness, boost mom’s energy and mood and relieve stress.

One local mom helps other mommies do just that with her Stroller Strides Northwest Indiana franchise, which provides a workout designed for moms. Children come along in their strollers and each exercise is tailored to the individual’s fitness level.

“The really cool thing about it is it’s like having a personal trainer in a group setting,” said franchise owner and instructor Annette Lister. “I fell in love with fitness after birth of my daughter. She’s going to look to me to be a role model. I wanted to show her that it doesn’t have to be painful. It can be fun.”

Stroller Strides Northwest Indiana has two meeting locations for winter, Westfield Southlake Mall in Hobart and the Lincoln Center in Highland. During the summer, classes move outside.

“Ninety-five percent of my members come four to five days a week,” said Lister, who is certified in pre and post natal fitness.

Stroller Strides is a 60-minute cardio resistance band workout that includes warm up, cool down and full body workout.

“We help moms gain back strength for motherhood.” The full-body workout helps strengthen core muscles and abdominal muscles.

“It’s a misconception that they’re going to stroll around,” Lister said, but it is a nice environment. The moms make friends and so do their kids.

She strives to provide extra support for her fellow mothers, she said, noting that the group provide mental health and physical strength. “We all want to be here and see you succeed. It’s OK if you come some days and you’re crying and if you come some days and your baby is crying.”

Moms who are afraid their child won’t sit in the stroller are often surprised.

“When we’re working out, we sing and interact with our kids,” Lister said. “One of the things I love the most about my job is when I see the kids get so excited to see me. They love to be there.

“The one thing our kids want most from us is time with us. Although you’re working out and you get to talk to other moms, your kid is with you. You get to do this with them and you’re being a good role model. It’s a really positive hour with them. You can see the connection. It gives me the chills all the time.”

Her students have children 6 weeks to 6 years old, and moms can join as soon as their doctor gives them the go ahead to work out. Liste, who has a 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son, joined an east coast Stroller Strides when her daughter was 3 months old and has been involved with it for almost six years, first as a student and now as instructor.

“When we first have our babies, we get so overwhelmed,” she said. Moms need to take a deep breath and take it one day at a time. “It took nine months for our bodies to make the changes so it’s not going to go back in a day or six weeks. They just have to be patient as their body works through those changes.”

She also suggests moms find a fitness buddy.

“It gets overwhelming and lonely. You always feel like taking any time for you is selfish. You have another person to take care of and you feel like you should take care of them or your household. A lot of moms forget about themselves and it’s important to take care of yourself.”

To sign up, visit strollerstrides.com and search by zip code. Lister’s group has a Facebook page under “Stroller Strides NWI.”

Jennifer Pallay Times Correspondent