Mommy & Me classes have become permanent offerings at both the BBS studios over the last few months and both kinds of babes (actual babies and the hotties who birthed them) are big fans! It shouldn’t really come as any surprise since these classes offer a killer burn without the new mommy participants having to leave their cuties at home, but you don’t just have to take our word on the benefits of barre for new mothers, take the word of a couple of the medical professionals who take these classes at BBS themselves.
Elisabeth Catt is a Resident Physician in Obstetrics and Gynecology, currently on rotations in all four Calgary hospitals and she and her baby girl Liv are fixtures in the Mommy & Me classes. We also have a seasoned Obstetrician and Gynecologist in regularly with her little one, Molly, but she’s a bit shy and prefers to keep herself anonymous. We caught up with both ladies recently to get the medical point of view on the benefits of barre for all the mommies out there.
How long have you been attending classes at Barre Body Studio?
Elisabeth: Two years now. Molly’s Mom: Two months.
Why did you choose to start taking the Mommy & Me classes and how long after giving birth did you get started?
E: I started the Mommy & Me session when Liv was a month old. I knew I wanted to find ways to exercise with a baby and to meet other mamas and these classes seemed like the perfect way to do both!
MM: I choose the Mommy & Me class based on a recommendation from a friend who had been to barre classes prior to giving birth and absolutely loved the classes—she said they were a great workout. I started the Mommy & me barre classes after my six week postpartum check with my obstetrician.
Given your profession, what do you think the benefits of barre are? Why did you choose this exercise program?
E: I love barre because you get full body toning with the extra focus on abs and glutes, and you're working multiple muscle groups at one time so you get a good workout in an hour long class. In pregnancy you ideally want a workout where you're not at risk of falling and where cardio is a moderate intensity ( you can maintain a conversation through it). Barre meets both of those requirements and there are always modifications available if sore joints are a problem! I did barre while I was pregnant and it was inspiring to see instructors who were farther along in their pregnancy than I was and were able to both do the workout and to teach modifications for pregnancy.
MM: The benefits of barre classes are that they are a wonderful opportunity to bond with your baby in a social situation. Furthermore, they are an excellent source of exercise focusing on strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and the transverse abdominis which both can be weakened by the growing fetus in pregnancy. I chose this exercise program for both the social aspect and that it is lower impact by focuses on the core muscles to regain strength postpartum.
What other types of suitable post pregnancy exercise are out there to get your body back (i.e. what muscles should women focus on and why)?
E: Ultimately, you can usually do any kind of exercise you loved pre-pregnancy, as long as you listen to your body and ease your way back into it gradually! That being said, in the first 6 weeks you need to avoid heavy lifting and a lot of ab work if you deliver by cesarean and you should always check with your obstetrical care provider before getting started. Abs and pelvic floor are the muscle groups that go through the biggest stretch with pregnancy and need that extra work to get back in shape!
MM: All exercise (once given the ok by your obstetrical care provider) is extremely important in the postpartum period to assist with losing any excess weight gain that may have occurred in pregnancy. It is extremely important for the health of subsequent pregnancies that women attempt to start the pregnancy with a normal Body Mass Index (BMI less than 25). In women who have not been consistently exercising in pregnancy, starting slow and working up is very important for preventing injuries. A combination of cardio, weight training, core stability, balance and stretching are part of a balanced exercise regime.
How is barre working for you? What changes have you noticed?
E: Barre has been great for toning, especially abs and glutes!
MM: Barre has allowed me to regain some core strength, improve my posture, increase my strength, bond both with my daughter and make new friends. I’ve noticed my stamina and energy have increased since I started attending the class at the beginning of May.
Would you recommend the barre program to other new moms? Why or why not?
E: Absolutely I would recommend it! As a new mom it was great to find something like this that both baby and I loved, to get a great workout and meet other mamas and babies all at the same time!
MM: I would most certainly recommend the barre program to other new moms for both the social aspect and the physical activity of the class. As well, the instructors are very familiar with postpartum exercise and give modifications and cues to improve a mother’s performance in the class.
What do you love most about the Mommy and Me classes?
E: The munchkins!! They all have such little personalities already and they are constantly learning new things from week to week. It has been just hilarious and adorable getting to know their likes and dislikes (they really make it obvious!) and watching them learn new things—like the ability to roll off the mat.
MM: I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I really love both how social and friendly everyone is who attends the class but also how great the workouts have been. The fact you can bring your baby and the class is still challenging is a great way to get out of the house and workout as a new mother.