We love Fit4Mom, a workout program that offers fitness classes made for moms. (What does that mean, exactly? All workouts are designed to be done while pushing strollers; tending to crying babies or stopping to change diapers is never a problem; and the sweat sessions specifically work on post-baby problem areas.) Christine Lugones and Lauren Houston recently took over the program and they’ve got a variety of classes running all over the city six days a week. See the full schedule of classes and get all info here.
To get you motivated, they’ve put together 7 easy-to-follow, super-effective, body-toning moves that you can do the next time you are pushing baby on a walk or jog around Philly. (Seek out a park where there are lots of benches.) Just remember, says Lugones and Houston, don’t forget to work on your core by keeping abs and pelvic floor muscles tight and engaged throughout the entire exercise. (Psst: Don’t forget to get the all-clear from your physician before beginning any workout routine; for women who have just had a baby, that’s usually around the six-week mark.)
The Move: Mountain Climber
The Benefits: This exercise engages many muscles (shoulders, triceps, chest, thighs, hamstrings) and improves both cardio and muscular fitness. It’s a great way to warm-up and serves as a terrific burst of cardio and toning throughout your workout, too.
1. Start in a traditional push-up position. Be sure that your shoulders are stacked above your wrists and that your head is in line with your spine. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.
2. Lift your left foot off the ground and raise the knee to your chest. Pause and return to the starting position.
3. Repeat the move with the right foot.
4. Alternate legs throughout the exercise, and as you proceed, speed it up and really get those legs moving!
The Goal: Aim for 15 reps (with 1 rep consisting of bringing both knees forward).
The Modifications: If performing this move in a traditional push-up position is a bit too much, try using a bench or step. Working at a slight incline decreases the intensity of the exercise. If you are experiencing chronic wrist pain brought on by nursing or holding your baby, try a Standing Mountain Climber. Stand up, raise your right knee along with your left arm, then reverse. Pick up the speed and get that heart rate going.
The Move: Bench Step-Ups
The Benefits: This exercise tones the muscles while providing a cardiovascular boost. Perform step-ups as part of a warm-up, or squeeze them in between strengthening/toning exercises to keep your heart rate elevated. You’ll feel this in your quads, hamstrings and glutes. As you become more comfortable with the exercise, increase the speed, but don’t compromise proper form.
1. Ensure that the bench is sturdy and stable.
2. Start by stepping on the bench with your left foot. Be sure that your knee does not extend over your toe.
3. Push off the bench with your left foot until you are standing on the bench; extend your right leg straight behind you. Stand tall, maintaining proper form and control.
4. Slowly return to the starting position by lowering your right leg back to the ground, then your left.
5. Repeat the exercise and then reverse sides.
The Goal: Complete 20 reps on each side.
The Modifications: If balancing is too challenging at first or if you feel stress on the lower back, try this variation: Step onto the bench with your left foot. Then bring your right foot up and lift the right leg to a 90-degree angle. Lower your right foot down to the ground, then bring your left foot down so that you are in the starting position.
The Move: Squat Jumps
The Benefits: Ahhh, squats. They may be infamous, but there aren’t many exercises that target your entire lower body quite like them. Squats also serve as a great cardiovascular boost, particularly when performed with a jump. As you get stronger, increase the intensity of this exercise by moving lower into a deep squat before jumping.
1. Begin with feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Squat down, keeping your butt back and knees stacked over your ankles. Never allow your knees to extend over your toes. Keep the weight in your heels.
3. Jump in the air explosively while raising your arms to the sky.
4. Land as softly as possible to avoid injury to your knees or other joints.
5. Upon landing, regain your balance and perform the squat with jump again.
The Goal: Aim for 15-20 reps.
The Modifications: To lessen the intensity, perform a more shallow squat and avoid the jump altogether. Or raise up on your toes after performing the squat.
The Move Bench Push-Ups
The Benefits: Traditional push-ups can be challenging for beginners and stressful on the wrists. Using the bench provides a great alternative for strengthening and toning the upper body, especially the chest. Increase intensity by holding for 2-3 seconds before you push back up. You can also extend one leg straight behind you and keep it off the ground for the duration of the exercise; this creates slight instability, which automatically engages your core muscles.
1. Make sure that the bench is sturdy and stable.
2. Facing the bench, place your hands slightly beyond shoulder-width apart firmly on the outer edge of the bench.
3. Hold your torso up at arm’s length with your toes on the ground.
4. Bending your elbows, lower your body until your chest nearly touches the bench.
5. When your elbows reach a 90-degree angle, push yourself back up to the starting position.
The Goal: Aim for 6-8 repetitions per set and try to complete 2-3 sets.
The Modifications: To decrease the intensity, use a higher bench or even a railing.
The Move: Tricep Dips
The Benefits: This particular exercise helps you strengthen and add definition to the triceps. Increase the intensity by lifting toes slightly and keeping heels on the ground. Try pausing for 2-3 seconds before you push yourself back up to the starting position. You can also add some extra oomph by extending your leg straight in front of you and keeping it off the ground entirely throughout the duration of the exercise. Note: Dips can potentially aggravate wrist pain. If that’s the case for you (especially true for nursing moms), move slowly through this particular exercise or consider alternative ways to engage the triceps.
1. Ensure that the bench is sturdy and stable.
2. Facing away from the bench, place your hands shoulder-width apart with your fingers facing forward and elbows pointing backward. Make sure that your hands are placed firmly on the outer edge of the bench. Maintain a slight bend in the elbows to keep tension in the triceps.
3. With a soft bend in the knee, bring your legs in front of you, heels on the ground. Keep your body close to the bench.
4. Lower your body until your shoulders are below your elbows. Be sure the elbows point directly behind you and not out to the sides.
5. Push back up to the starting position while maintaining that slight bend in the elbows. Make sure that your arms are supporting your weight (and therefore doing the work!) throughout the exercise.
The Goal: Aim for 10-15 repetitions per set and try to complete 2-3 sets.
The Move: Wall Sit
The Benefits: This exercise looks easy, but it’s guaranteed to get those quads and glutes burning! Increase the intensity by moving lower into the wall sit or by lifting your heels while keeping your toes on the ground. Note: You should feel intense burning in the quads, but if you experience pain in your knees at any point, check your form and be sure that your knees are above your ankles and not your toes. Consider moving into a 45-degree angle sit. If your knees continue to hurt, stop the exercise.
1. Begin with your back flat against the wall, with your feet shoulder-width apart and about two feet away from the wall.
2. Slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground. You want to ensure that your hips and torso form a 90-degree angle with your thighs and knees. Your knees should be directly above your ankles.
The Goal: Keeping your shoulders and back flat against the wall, hold the position for as long as you can, ideally between 30-60 seconds. Keep your arms at your sides, straight out in front of you, or raised overhead, but don’t allow your hands to rest upon the legs, as this will decrease the intensity of the exercise!
The Modifications: To lessen the intensity, shoot for a 45-degree angle (rather than a 90-degree angle) between the hips/torso and thighs/knees. You can also hold the position for a shorter period of time and increase the hold time gradually as you become stronger.
The Move: Plank
The Benefits: This deceptively simple move is quite possibly the best way to work your core (along with your upper and lower body), giving you a full-body workout. To target deeper abdominal muscles, like obliques, try a side plank.
1. Begin by getting into a traditional push-up position.
2. Bring your hands closer together so that they are directly under your shoulders. Lower your butt and bring your feet closer together so that your body forms a straight line from shoulders to ankles.
3. Engage the core by sucking your belly button into the spine.
The Goal: Hold the position for as long as possible, ideally 30-60 seconds to start, and build up gradually.
The Modifications: Bending the elbows and resting your weight on the elbows/forearms rather than the hands allows you to work those abs while decreasing tension and stress on your wrists. You can also try lowering onto your knees while lifting the ankles and heels.
Read More Helpful Wee Goodness:
Awesome Outdoor Workouts in Philly for Busy Parents
Essential Guide: Gyms with Childcare
Photos: Philly Fit4Mom