Monday, September 10, 2012

Exercise: at home, outdoors, at the gym? (12wbt)

With the 12wbt, we're exercising six times a week. More so than the food, this has been a challenge for me. How do I fit this in with work, caring for Dear Boy and my own exercise preferences and challenges?

I was converted to the gym many years ago and have been a fitness class exerciser for just as long. I get bored working out by myself or going nowhere on the cardio machines.

But with the baby boy, it's become more difficult to fit in classes - or at least the classes I like and with the instructors that make it an enjoyable experience. The primary reason, which is an excuse, sure, but also a fairly legitimate one, is that the creche opening times (8.30-12.30 Mon-Sat) and class schedule didn't really suit my boy's morning sleep. After months of really quite hard work sleep-training him so he did more than just 20-30 minute catnaps, it feels either incredibly selfish of me to wake him up to take him to the gym or unproductive to put him to sleep at the gym where the bright lights and noisy kids mean he'll only go down for the old catnap.

It's a struggle to balance that mama-guilt and the need to keep mama fit and healthy (and sane... and happy). We're working on it, though, and I'm trying to fit in some classes at night after he's down for the evening and Lovely Husband is home. Exercising at 7:30 and then eating dinner at 8:45pm isn't ideal but I figure probably better than nothing. I'm also willing to try and get him to sleep longer in the strange, noisy environment, it'll just take time.

In the meantime, I have the option to exercise outdoors or at home.

My home 'gym' is pretty limited, consisting solely of a set of hand-weights, a Pilates roller (ouch!) and Dear Boy's foam play mat. But I also have exercise DVDs - the Michelle Bridges 3-pack, my pregnancy/postnatal Pilates and yoga, a Zumba set and some really daggy Denise Austin and Aerobics Oz Style ones (I also have the Jillian Michaels and Traci Anderson dance DVDs but not even years of dance classes can make my feet figure those ones out). The benefit of those is I can slip them on when the boy's asleep or even when he's playing with his toys. The drawbacks: the music is terrible and they're pretty boring after you've done them once or twice (sorry Michelle!); I'm also subject to the vagaries of Dear Boy's sleep or his attention span - if he's awake or done with that rattle or that squeaky toy, then I'm done too until I can grab the next few quiet moments.

Outdoor options are my decent-sized but no-frills backyard, the oval across the road when it's not being used for cricket or AFL or the long green corridors of bike track with the occasional park that run alongside the freeway. I love getting outside with the boy, although his tendency to want to eat grass means I have to keep a fairly close eye on him. Melbourne weather is also temperamental but getting sunnier and more lovely by the day. I'm looking forward to days when the ovals and parks are dry and I can lay out the picnic rug smack-bang in the middle of the grass, dump the boy with a small mountain of toys and then just run circles around him. Or rather, run, squat, lunge and jump in circles around him, and crunch, mountain-climb, push-up and stretch beside him.

The other outdoor options are the long, long power walks with Dear Boy in the stroller. We're both entertained, we're both out in the fresh-air, and I don't have to stop and start all the time; there are also plenty of great walks around us, kilometres of bike track and back to back strips of park to follow. We've walked alongside the bay waiting for the water to warm up; we've also strolled through the quiet of country lanes.

Now it's getting warmer, I'm also going to throw the pool into the mix - either swimming with the boy or enrolling him in the pool's creche so I can do an aqua class or laps.

So how do I choose? How do I plan? Let's break it down


  • Dear Boy's sleeps
  • Dear Boy's care/attention span
  • Need to book in advance for creche
  • Melbourne weather
  • Boring or repetitive DVDs
  • Preference to do classes
  • Hard to do serious exercise at the pool without another set of hands
I also have a few lingering structural issues post-pregnancy, but I'll discuss those in another post.

  • Pick two days a week where Dear Boy will go into the gym creche and try to 'retrain' his naps so he can sleep for more than 30 minutes if there are bright lights and lots of noisy distractions. 
  • Book those days in for Dear Boy to attend creche.
  • Sit down with Lovely Husband and schedule in a 7:30pm weekday class, so he's home by 7pm and can get dinner ready while I'm out; and a Sunday afternoon class so he's free to care for the boy (I've already swapped my 'rest' day to Wednesday as I have a really long work day then).
  • When it's sunny (or at least not raining) get outside! Print off the 'outdoors' workout and take Dear Boy to the nearest park/oval. If it's crappy outside, suck it up and do a DVD.
  • Mix it up with the DVDs - do 15 minutes of one and then 15 of another and so on OR do 30 minutes of a DVD and then finish with the suggested 12wbt home exercises and stretches.
  • Challenge myself to figure out those stupid Jillian Michaels and Traci Anderson dance DVDs. Work on a little bit each week until it makes more sense and I'm not tripping over my feet.
  • Download or view workouts online. Bookmark the favourites.
  • Get one of my mothers' group mums to come to the pool and trade childcare. One looks after the two kids while the other swims, then swap OR enrol him in one of the two creche sessions, picking the one that suits Dear Boy's sleeps the best.
  • Take to the pool on the weekend when Lovely Husband can come.
Sorted. Now there's no excuses left.

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