Since becoming a new mum, finding the time to fit in exercise into my week has been rather challenging - my days are filled with nappy changes, feeding, running around after the little one and endless laundry and chores; finding someone to mind my baby while I work out is pretty low priority on my already unsurmountable task list. That said, I've always enjoyed my active lifestyle working out several times a week (even when I was expecting) and was keen to get back in shape shortly after birth. Scouring the internet in search of exercise classes that included the baby or provided child minding services whilst I work out, I stumbled upon Kangatraining (the name 'Kanga' is derived from the mother kangaroo character in Winnie-the-Pooh), a baby-wearing, full body workout class that incorporates cardiovascular fitness and strength training in form of choreographed dance routines. And because your baby is part of the training, there is no need to find a babysitter during your workout session!
Once you get the 'all clear' from your health professional to resume exercise, you can begin Kangatraining. Using the 'Find Trainer' search function on the Kangatraining website, I found a couple of Kanga instructors teaching near my suburb and after several emails decided to check out the class taught by Soraya Amor of Camina Dance at A Touch of Salsa dance studio in Kogarah. Prior to commencing the class, your qualified Kangatraining instructor will take an assessment of your postnatal health via a questionnaire to tailor the exercises to suit the class - if you are deemed unsuitable to carry out certain exercises, the instructor will modify the exercises for you. In my first class, Soraya checked my abdominal separation (as part of the postnatal health assessment) and made sure Xavier was strapped on correctly in our Ergobaby 360 carrier. Only carriers with an 'M' position with baby's knees splayed out inwards to your body are suitable for use in class as they better support the natural development of the baby's hips and spine. If you do not have a suitable carrier, you can hire a Manduca carrier for $3 or make arrangements to purchase one with the instructor. The class size is fairly small (which means plenty of space to move around); when I started Kangatraining last year, there were only four mums and bubs but since then the numbers have grown and some days we have up to ten in the class! The class is not limited to mums only; dads are most welcome to join in.
Kanga babies chilling out before class
The structure of the class taught by Soraya with her lovely daughter Ariadne generally starts with a warm up song where mums dance while holding onto their bubs (not in the carrier) - partway through the song, the bubs are held on their front with chest on mums' forearms and 'aeroplaned' to greet the other babies which always brings out the giggles. This is followed by a series of floor work on a mat (mats are available at the dance studio though in limited numbers - consider bringing your own) focusing on core strength and using baby as weights as appropriate. Xavier loves the seated twist, smiling and kicking his cute chubby legs in the air as I lift him from side to side :)
Are you ready, Mummy? Let's go!
Mats aside, we then move on to the main cardiovascular (and fun!) part of the class - the babies are strapped in the front of the carrier as mums shimmy and shake their way through the choreographed moves to a selection of songs, a mix of today's biggest pop hits and Latin tunes. With Soraya's Latin dance background, I got to enjoy dancing salsa, reggaeton, cha-cha and many Latin dance moves that were embedded in the choreographed routines. You definitely get quite a workout with baby as added weight - I can feel my leg and arm muscles burn and often drenched in sweat during the session. Soraya is always very encouraging with her positive words and big smiles, getting the mums to push themselves and hang in there just a little longer.
|Kangatraining in session at A Touch of Salsa dance studio. Photo source: A Touch of Salsa.|
All strapped in and ready to get groovin'
Despite the loud music, lots of movement and sweat, the little ones don't seem to mind - in fact, they all fall asleep soon after we strap them on! To finish, we cool down with some stretches and pelvic floor exercises. And to top it all off, Soraya comes around with a lucky dip bag where each mum pulls out a little note with positive affirmation printed on, a great way to end the class on a high note.
|Happy mums and bubs post workout. Photo source: Kangatraining with Soraya.|
Group selfie! Photo source: Kangatraining with Soraya.
Classes are an hour long and cost $20 casual or $110 for an 8-week block; if you sign up by 5pm on 4th March, receive $15 off the block cost - pre-payment details can be found at the A Touch of Salsa website here. Term 2 commences week of 7th March so get booking now to secure a spot.
Besides getting a workout, Kangatraining lets you to get to know other mums in the area, many who grow to become good friends and the little ones play together outside of class. It is great way to bond with your baby and get a fun workout in a friendly and relaxed environment - I highly recommend giving it a go!