Amanda Freeman is a busy woman. She’s a mom to two young kids—a daughter, 2, and a son, 5 months—and the founder and CEO of SLT, one of New York’s most popular specialty fitness chains. Freeman’s studios specialize in workouts using the Megaformer, a machine that uses sliding platforms and resistance bands to provide an extreme cardio workout that uses every muscle. According to Freeman, Megaformer workouts are great for new moms because they produce results quickly. Nearly every move requires the use of the abdominal muscles, so the core (often a problem area) is constantly working. And, Freeman says, the balance the Megaformer requires can help new moms get used to their new (or rather, old) center of gravity.
The biggest hurdle to getting in shape at any time, and especially post-baby, is motivation. Freeman advises putting on workout clothes first thing in the morning, pre-paying for classes, arranging to meet a friend for a run, or simply writing it down, citing the accomplishment she feels crossing “work out” off her to-do list. Going back to the gym will also be easier if new moms are as active as possible once their doctor allows it, Freeman says, although they should be careful to avoid serious cardio. She particularly recommends light activities like walking and arm exercises.
Freeman lives by the motto “more, worse.” She strives to do as much as possible and accepts the reality that the more she takes on, the less time and attention she has for everything else. Although this philosophy has helped her accomplish some impressive things, it also forces her to compromise in every area of her life—with no exceptions. In order to be at the office on time, for example, she has to forgo dropping her daughter off at school. In order to spend time with her kids, she has to leave the office earlier than she might otherwise like.
There’s no way you can do everything perfectly, Freeman says, and she’d rather be an imperfect mom and an imperfect CEO than strive for perfection in just one area. This attitude means she cuts herself slack for working out only five days a week instead of six, spending nights at home instead of at the office, or missing out on time with her kids. Her new son, she says, only makes the “more, worse” philosophy more important. Now that she has to spend twice as much time with her kids, she has that much less time to devote to other aspects of her life like work, spending time with friends, or catching up on her favorite TV shows.
This struggle new moms face to find time for everything in their lives is a main driver behind many of the trends Freeman sees in postnatal fitness, like a greater emphasis on flexibility. Many women creating fitness programs for mothers are “momtrepreneurs,” using their own experience to provide workouts geared towards other moms and their busy schedules. Between on-demand online workouts and fitness studios that only offer prenatal fitness, there are plenty of options for women looking to balance working out with their pregnancy.
Easy Exercise Moves To Do With Your Baby
Ease back into the fitness game with these three moves that don’t make you choose between me-time and mom time.
Side plank (over your baby): Place your baby on a play mat or blanket on the floor. Drop to a side plank on your right forearm and the outside of your right foot (with your baby placed in the space below your side waist). Left leg is stacked on your right leg. Hold for 45 seconds using your right side waist to hold you up. Follow with 45 seconds of the same move on your left side.
Sliding Lunge (with your stroller): Start standing with both hands on your stroller (with your baby in it). Place a towel under your left foot and step onto the ball of your foot with your heel lifted. With weight loaded in the right heel, slide the left foot back for a four-count, slowly bending the right leg. Then slowly return your left foot to the original position with a four-count. Continue for 90 seconds. Then repeat on the other side.
Rip-Cord (over your baby): Place your baby on a play mat or blanket on the floor. Get on your hands and knees with your baby below your belly. Lift your right leg and left arm to an extended straight position. Hold for five seconds and then slowly bend your knee and elbow so that they touch (or nearly touch). Repeat for one minute. Then switch sides and repeat for another minute.