I knew that when I became a mom, my priorities would change. I just didn’t understand how much they would change until I went through it.
I’ve always loved working out and viewed it as a necessity for my health and my sanity. It was a therapeutic part of my day that I always looked forward to.
When fellow new moms warned me that once I had a baby it would be a struggle to get to the gym and I’d have little desire or energy to workout, I brushed them off. They are not as dedicated as me, I thought.
Then, I actually had my baby, and as expected, fitness was one of the many expectations that did not line up with reality. If I wanted to get to the gym, it meant either going at 6am (and waking up to pump or nurse beforehand) or going late at night after the baby was in bed (I am not an evening fitness person). So, given those two choices, I barely went. Fitness was no longer the priority it had always been.
And for the first few months, that was fine with me. All of my energy was being put into caring for my baby. As many moms experience, self-care was low on my to-list. Now that I’ve been a mom for five months, I’ve realized that bringing fitness back into my regular routine will make me feel more like me. Beyond that, I’ll feel healthier and will have more energy.
But how do I actually fit in my workouts?
I used to be all or nothing. If I was working out, it needed to be at least 45 minutes, five times a week (at a minimum!). I’m changing my outlook on fitness and remind myself daily that every little bit counts. If I can move my body for five minutes, I’ll do it and feel good about it (some naps can be very short!). Whether I get in five minutes of stretching or 60 minutes of sweating, I will reap the mental and physical benefits.
Here are five things that have helped me to tackle naptime workouts:
1. Put your workout clothes on in the morning
Maybe your workout will happen, maybe it won’t. But at least if you’re wearing workout gear, you will have the option when your child is down for their nap. Since nap length can be unpredictable, don’t waste any of those moments getting changed. Be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
2. Have a plan in advance
While this doesn’t need to be super strict, it is helpful to have some idea of what workout you will do. Think about it the night before. Then, as soon as it’s nap time, you can get to work. Without a plan, it’s easy to put it off until later, which can lead to it never happening.
3. Be flexible
At the same time, while you want a plan, understand that it’s not going to work every time. Maybe you wanted to complete your 45-minute routine but only could manage 10 minutes. Congratulate yourself on those 10 minutes. Save the rest for later or another day.
4. Make the investment
As moms, we tend to put ourselves last. If you truly want to make fitness a part of your routine, don’t avoid the investment. This can be as small as buying a couple of dumbbells and resistance bands (which you can get for under $20), or you can go big and invest in something like a Peloton bike. Make the investment that is within your means, whether it’s $20 or $2,000. Remember though, you definitely do not need to spend $2,000 to have a good at-home workout.
5. Find the right fit for you
The best way to guarantee you’ll do a workout is to find one you enjoy. Below are a variety of at-home workouts to try. Some are free, and the paid options often offer a free trial. Shop around until you find the right one for you.
Make Your Own Workout
I’m a certified trainer, so I will admit that I have more knowledge on this than the average person, but once you have the basic tools, it’s easy to put together your own mini-workout. Write a list of moves, note down how many repetitions you’ll do of each movement, and repeat for a designated amount of time. Here are three examples:
Workout 1 (standard sets): 10 squats / 10 lunges per side / 10 push-ups / 1 minute plank // Repeat 3 times
Workout 2 (AMRAP, which stands for “As Many Rounds as Possible”): 5 burpees / 10 dips / 15 jump squats / 20 sit-ups // Complete as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes
Workout 3 (Tabata Style, which is 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of recovery, repeated for 8 rounds and a total of 4 minutes): jumping jacks for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, mountain climbers 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds // Repeat 4 times
Look to YouTube and Pinterest for workout inspiration (there are tons of free workouts online!) and also look online for help with your form.
Tone It Up
Check out Tone It Up for all sorts of free workouts, both printable and video format. Personally, I like a printable version for naptime workouts. It’s easy to know what’s coming next, and you’re not dealing with pausing the video every time you hear a peep from the monitor. Tone It Up has a paid option, though there is tons of free content to start with. The site also features prenatal workouts for expecting moms.
Price: Free or $12.99 a month for membership (more content)
Barre3 was one of my favorite workouts to do while pregnant. I made my way to the studio a couple of times a week and loved how knowledgeable the staff was with modifications for each trimester. Now that baby is here, getting to the studio is a major challenge (though many locations do offer childcare!). Fortunately, they offer an at-home subscription with workouts ranging from 10-60 minutes.
Price: $29 a month
I don’t love the name (BBG stands for Bikini Body Guide), but let’s look past that for now. BBG offers simple to follow, at-home workouts that require minimal equipment. Each workout is challenging and is only 28 minutes (hopefully your baby is napping longer than that!). I’ve gone through the program. The workouts got a bit repetitive by the end, however, they are very effective.
Price: $47 for the PDF download or $20 a month for the app
By far the most expensive item on the list, but if you really want to up your game, a Peloton in-home spin bike might be for you. To be honest, I’ve questioned if this is worth it, but after talking to many mom Peloton owners, I’m blown away by how happy they are with the product. Along with buying the bike, you’ll sign up for a monthly membership that gives you thousands of workouts (spinning, yoga, HIIT, meditation, and more). The community aspect is also a nice touch for moms working out at home.
Price: Bike starts at $2,245 / Without the bike the app is $19 a month, and with the bike, it’s $40 a month
And when naps don’t happen…
Have the baby join you!
It goes without saying that every baby is different. If your baby prefers to snooze on-the-go, pull out the stroller for a long walk or a jogging stroller if your baby is older than 6 months. To take it up a notch, add in mini bootcamp moves along your walk. Pause in the park for squats or do walking lunges with the stroller.
If you’d prefer to stay put (winter is coming!), use your baby as a weight. They’ll have fun being lifted above your head or being kissed each rep as they lay beneath you for push-ups.
Fitness as a new mom might not look the way you thought it would. If it’s an important part of your routine and makes you feel good, do what you can with what you have.