How does one keep fit as a new parent? Between feeding, changing and other hour-by-hour chores, not to mention trying to catch up on the sleep denied to you by your new addition, finding time to exercise can go by the way.
But personal trainer and mother of a young daughter Kirsty Ellson says it’s important to try and make the time to keep the body healthy.
Kirsty, who lives in Cheltenham, said:” There’s always something that seems more important to do – doing the washing, the food shopping, taking the children to play groups, play dates, after school activities. The list is endless.
“However, we forget that if we keep ourselves fit and healthy then we will have more energy to enjoy time with the kids – to get down on the floor and play the games, build the jigsaws, play football and so on.
“Most importantly of all, if our children see us staying fit and healthy then they are more likely to do it themselves. “
But Kirsty, who has a degree in sports and exercise science, admits that it isn’t easy and what’s needed is planning and organisation.
She said: “Plan in the exercise: Slot in time for you.
“Look at the week ahead and work out when you are going to have some time to exercise – perhaps a walk, or a run or maybe an exercise class.
“Find a fitness class which is at a time that is good for you – you are more likely to maintain a routine if the time of the session fits in with the family needs.”
Kirsty runs Parkfit classes at 7.30pm and Fitball at 8pm, when young children are on their way to being asleep, and further sessions at 9.30am after the school drop-off.
“Mothers who have just had a baby should make sure they attend a class where the instructor has experience of working with postnatal clients,” she says.
“Getting some exercise will help you to lose weight and boost your mood so that you feel energised and good about yourself.”
Setting short-term goals is a good way of having something to work towards, added Kirsty.
Suggestions include completing a 5k run, walking some of the Cotswold Way or competing in a triathlon.
“Most important of all is to enjoy it and feel the value from the exercise you are doing,” she says.
“To start is the biggest step – once you start and get in to a routine then exercise will become a part of your life.”
For more information on Parkfit, including sessions with buggies, visit www.trainwithkirsty.co.uk
Karen Archer, Netmums South West regional editor, gives her eight tips on balancing being a mum with staying fit.
1) Stay fit during pregnancy with pregnancy yoga or exercise classes. Ask your midwife for details or there are lots listed locally on netmums.com
2) If you have a newborn baby, find out about local exercise classes for new mums. Many start at six weeks and use gentle moves like pilates to slowly get you back into shape. Some are free.
3) Remember you don’t need to spend a fortune on paid-for classes. You can buy lots of approved postnatal exercise DVDs to do at home. Try to fit in a few minutes when your baby naps. Even if you only do 20 minutes a day, that all adds up to over two hours a week.
4) Try a local pram-pushing class to meet other mums. There are lots of firms that run them like Pushy Mothers and Buggyfit. Or organise your own with a group of friends. It’s hard work and the weight will drop off.
5) If you have older kids at school, why not organise a mums’ running club to meet after the school drop-off. If you spend 45 minutes running a few times a week, you’ll soon see a difference – and it’s easier to stay motivated with friends.
6) Ask your partner if he will mind the kids for an hour at the weekend to give you time to go to a class or out for a jog.
7) If you are a working mum, it won’t leave you much time to exercise, so work simple steps into your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the lift at work, get off the bus a stop earlier and walk that extra bit home. It all adds up.
8) If you haven’t exercised in a while – or ever before – it may seem tough at first. Find a photo that motivates you of how you want to look and pin it on the fridge to curb temptation. Set realistic fitness goals and give yourself a little treat like a pamper session when you reach it.
* Netmums is holding the national Classes for You Awards. It’s a chance for Gloucestershire’s businesses to have their class honoured as the area’s most popular. The competition is open to any adult classes from keep fit to language skills, craft, cookery, art and everything in between. To enter, upload a free listing in the Classes For You section on netmums.com