Many new moms want to work out, if for no other reason than to get rid of those few extra pounds pregnancy puts on. But the demands of dealing with an infant often put those goals on hold.

The solution: Work out with your baby.

Over the past several years, stroller fitness classes, which go by a variety of names, have been popping up at gyms, community centers and area parks. All you need is a baby, a stroller and a desire to get back in shape.

And for moms such as Lizanne Campbell, 26, of Chesterfield, Mo., the benefits for her 1-year-old, Grant, are even better than for her.

“I’d definitely say I’ve noticed a difference in my fitness level since I started,” said Campbell, who began taking a stroller class called Buggin’ to Be Fit in January. “But the best part is how much fun Grant has. He’s so excited, laughing and giggling the whole time. He loves it.”

Heather Poropat, 29, and Melissa Rademeyer, 27, saw the need for the classes. So they formed Buggin’ to Be Fit as a way to work, work out and spend time with their babies.

Poropat’s daughter, Madeline, is 17 months; Rademeyer’s daughter, Hailey, is almost 1 year old. Both women say they were able to lose all their baby weight by working out, but working out has even greater benefits.

“Mentally and physically, it’s a total stress relief,” Rademeyer said. “Moms need time to dedicate to themselves.”

Poropat said, “But this way there is no guilt in working out.” She said sometimes moms feel they aren’t dedicated to their kids if they spend time on themselves.

“This is also a great way to meet other moms and get parenting advice. And it sets a good example for the kids, to see the parents work out.”

They took classes to get ideas on how to run Buggin’ to Be Fit, read books and got their personal fitness certifications. Then they attended baby fairs and handed out fliers to moms they saw walking around the malls.

“We wanted something different for St. Louis,” Rademeyer said. “We knew we’d have to go inside in the winter, but going around a circle in a gym is so boring. And it’s bad for the knees and ankles.”

So they joined forces with area malls to offer a stroller class inside the malls before stores open.

The classes

Buggin’ to Be Fit begins with a warm-up and some stretching, with the strollers in a semicircle and the babies looking at each other rather suspiciously. Then participants get going with a brisk walk to one end of the mall, then a jog to the other. At that point they stop in front of the pet store to sing “How much is that doggie in the window?” and “B-I-N-G-O” while the moms do lunges and squats. Giggles and coos can be heard over the din of the barking.

Next, there’s more jogging, even some sprints. The laughter is greatest, though, when the moms form a giant circle and then sprint to come together in a tight circle, then out, then in. More giggles and coos.

After that, it’s more running, then a period where the women use hand weights to work the upper body. Then more cardio. For the cool-down, they gather in a carpeted section and get the babies out of the strollers for ab exercises. Sometimes they do some stretches for the babies, approved by the orthopedic office where Poropat works as a nurse, to round out the one-hour class.


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