To the Mom Returning to Exercise After Baby: You Go, Girl!

Exercise after baby

“Do you have any tips?”

It is 3:56 p.m. at the YMCA, in the group exercise room. The 4:00 p.m. cross training class is about to start, a.k.a. the most challenging group exercise class offered by the Y (in my opinion, anyway).

I’ve been going to this class on Mondays pretty consistently, so I’m starting to recognize the regulars. Another woman I’ve seen in class is next to me, as we select which dumbbells are going to punish us today. The other woman, who asked for tips, continued, “I’ve never done this class, and I had a baby five weeks ago.”

Whoa, I thought. You go, Mama.

When I had a five week old in my house, the only exercising I was doing consisted of walking up the stairs to find the breast pump.

“Use light weights,” I suggested, explaining that the class was pretty intense. The routine is typically intervals of weights and cardio, but every class is different. That’s what I like about it: not knowing exactly what kind of torture lies ahead.

She thanked me and selected her weights. That particular class was on par with what I was used to. At one point, we did 100 body-weight squats followed by running a few laps around the gym, then there were some bicep exercises and pushups and burpees… and it’s really all just a blur.

I was so proud of this woman. She held her own throughout the whole hour, as I observed from my regular spot in the back row (I hate looking at myself in the mirror while I’m working out). Later that evening, I kicked myself for not telling her that. I tend to forget how trying that postpartum period can be for a new mom. And I have no idea if this woman was a first-time mother or if she already had two or three kids at home. I should have asked.

Being a mom is tough, especially to a newborn. Regaining your own identity and taking care of yourself is a challenge. We need to be supportive of one another, since we’ve all been through it — even if we don’t know each other.

I should have given this woman a high-five at the end of class that day … and perhaps a trophy. At the very least, I should have said, “Way to go.” In my defense, I was drenched with sweat and could barely breathe. But next week, maybe she’ll be back, and I can tell her how much she impressed me. And maybe this experience will help me push myself just a little bit harder when I want to quit.

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