Oh, baby! Fitness class helps mothers get in shape without a sitter

LIHU‘E — Getting back in shape is on many to-do lists. But new moms have the added pressure of losing their baby weight while juggling the challenges of being a new parent.

That’s why fitness instructor and new mom Jodee Burris created Fit Mom, an exercise class designed to help moms ease back into exercising.

“I created the Fit Mom class for moms with their babies post pregnancy,” said Burris, while tending to her five-and-a-half month old daughter, Jacy. “I came across several moms who said, ‘Oh yeah, I want to get my baby weight off,’ and their babies are a year-and-a-half old, and they are still struggling to get that baby weight off and get back into shape.”

The class is held at 11 a.m. Saturdays at the Kaua‘i Athletic Club in Lihu‘e, and mothers with newborns six months and younger are invited to bring their babies to class.

“During some exercises, we will use the baby as a weight,” Burris said. “But a lot of times, the babies are sleeping or they just want to be held and not moved around a whole lot, so I’ll show moms what to do with the baby depending on the exercises we are doing.”

But Burris is quick to point out any mom can attend the class, whether their child is a newborn or a five-year-old.

“Two weeks ago, grandmothers came to class,” Burris said. “They wanted to do ab work and see the babies.”

The 60-minute class uses routines Burris teaches in her cardio, strength and sculpting classes while addressing what women need post-pregnancy. It focuses on strengthening and toning the abdominal and core muscles.

“Being healthy is really important,” Burris said. “Believe it or not, pregnancy is a good time to get healthy and keep those lifestyle changes, even after you have the baby.”

In addition to Fit Mom, Burris teaches a 60-minute prenatal class at a private studio in Kalaheo.

“I had all intentions of continuing to exercise throughout my own pregnancy, so I created a pre-natal exercise class,” Burris said.  

The prenatal exercise class focuses strengthening back and abdominal muscles, which helps with posture and alleviate back aches, plus strengthening the pelvic area and the legs.

“Exercising makes you feel better,” Burris said “There’s a lot of benefits for the baby and the mom.”

Prenatal exercises have been linked to fewer prenatal discomforts, improvement of posture and body mechanics, reducing the need for c-sections and forceps (which encourages a natural and shorter labor) and less postpartum depression, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Burris recommends checking with your physician if you are pregnant and want to exercise.

“If you have a normal pregnancy and you are healthy, there is no reason why you can’t exercise while your pregnant,” Burris said. “I think there’s a misconception in society: A lot of people see pregnant women as maybe helpless or weak, but that’s not the case.”

Burris herself kept teaching exercise classes until three days before she gave birth. When her doctor gave her the OK to exercise six weeks after delivering her daughter, Burris raced to the gym to take an exercise class.

“It took me four-and-a-half months to get me back to my pre-pregnancy weight, and now I’m less than my pre-pregnancy weight,” Burris said. “ I think that’s where the Fit Mom class comes in. If you don’t have someone to take care of the baby, this is an option for mom.”

• Andrea Frainier, special sections editor, can be reached at 245-3681, ext. 241 or afrainier@ thegardenisland.com.

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