My fun, sustainable, toddler-friendly workout routine
Exercise hasn’t been the easiest this pregnancy and I haven’t been too consistent with it, but this week I finally adopted a more regular and sustainable routine. As a fitness professional I know and firmly believe in the benefits of exercise during pregnancy, but haven’t been practicing what I preach. After dealing with intense cravings and more pain, I realized I’d better step up my game and take charge of my health.
Here are the criteria that must be met in order for me to maintain a regular exercise regimen:
- It must not require special equipment
- It must be doable with a toddler running around
- It must be possible regardless of weather or time of day
- I must be able to do it from home
These may not seem like much, but they are probably the common excuses I’ve heard from women who have a hard time incorporating regular exercise into their lives. Like me!
So here’s what I do:
First, I pick one or two simple exercises per muscle group. Some examples include squats, torso twists, donkey kicks, bicep curls, adductor raises, overhead presses, planks, or rows. I have some weights I use and some 2 pound weights my daughter uses, but that’s pretty much it. Sometimes I’ll use a resistance band or stability ball but those aren’t necessary. Usually I don’t have any equipment at all.
Next, I map out a route. If it’s nice outside, I’ll make it a loop around either the front yard or back yard. The front yard includes our driveway which is long and steep, and the backyard includes the steps from the deck, so either way I get some incline. If the weather isn’t so nice, I walk through the downstairs rooms, up the stairs, then through the upstairs rooms. Simple as that.
Once my route is planned, I make a station where I’ll complete my exercises. In the front yard, I’ll use the driveway and use sidewalk chalk to trace my and my daughter’s feet (her idea) and that’s where we do our exercises. Inside the house, our station will usually be in the living room where we have the most room to move around.
Yes, she insisted on wearing water shoes. That’s just how we roll.
Now we’re ready to go! We start by walking along our route as fast as we can. Sometimes we chase butterflies along the way if we see them. Following the exact route isn’t as important as enjoying ourselves and getting our heart rates up.
Once we reach the exercise station we’ll do 20 squats, and then start our next lap. Every time we reach the exercise station we do one of the exercises I chose until we’ve completed five laps, then we switch directions and repeat the 5 exercises again, for a total of 10 laps and 2 sets of each exercise.
There are a few key characteristics of our workout that make it sustainable and fun, and something I actually look forward to every day:
- Music – we usually blast the “Frozen” station on Pandora because no matter how many times she hears them, my daughter’s mouth opens as wide as it goes and she lights up like it’s not the hundredth time she’s heard those songs. I’m a sucker for Disney songs as well. But sometimes I’ll switch it up to the Rascal Flatts station or the Britney Spears station.
- Flexibility – I’ve found that the more structured the workout is, the less likely I am to accomplish it and feel satisfied. My goal is to maintain an elevated heartrate for 30 minutes while also working all major muscle groups. When I disregard any time limit or distance limit or calorie limit, I find I enjoy myself more and focus on just completing my exercises rather than hitting a number. Sometimes we get distracted and end up blowing bubbles and chasing them around the yard, or trying to punch or kick them. The point is to move and to enjoy doing it.
Flexibility allows for more creativity and improv, as well. That’s how we discovered bubble-punching and kicking. We also have stepping stones leading up to our door, and those are fun to jump on or lunge from one to the next. Looking for new ways to exercise and incorporate our surroundings into our exercises allows us to switch it up and keep it interesting every single time.
- Side activities – it’s fun to help my daughter do the exercises, but I don’t have any expectations for her. That’s been important. There’s no losing my patience, no getting frustrated from getting distracted or missing an exercise or time limit, and she’s always enjoying herself. In fact, our daily routine usually starts because she tells me she wants to go outside and do the “walk around.” She doesn’t follow me the whole time but she’ll go draw chalk or re-trace her feet or color on my traced footsteps, or find something else to chase or do in the yard. I usually make sure her big-wheel or squirt gun is handy so she has something to do in case she loses interest in exercising. But she’s 2 – she can turn anything she sees into an activity. I’m trying to learn that from her.
And that’s what we do! It may not sound like much, but it usually takes us at least 30 minutes to finish our circuit and I’m dripping sweat at the end. The time flies by, as well, and I’m always surprised when I look at the clock when we’re finished. But sometimes we just end up staying outside and playing more, and that’s okay too. Some days we go swimming or to the park. Some days we walk the dog (I know I should everyday but in the spirit of honesty I just don’t). And on these days we sometimes skip our “walk around” workout. And that’s okay too. Again, the point is to move! It’s to strengthen our bodies and feel our hearts beating harder while enjoying our time together. We’re learning to love and appreciate our bodies together, especially as I prepare to bring another child into the world, and this is what works for us.
Do you have a special workout routine that works for you during pregnancy? What exercises do you do that work with kids running around?
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