Baby Boot Camp: Instructor teaches how to get your bod back
-By Victor R. Martinez \ El Paso Times
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The class combines strength-training exercises with cardiovascular drills -- and babies. Yes, babies!
"It's definitely a workout," said Michaela Dorf, who was working out with 8-month-old Hayden in his stroller. "When you're running, you have the resistance of the stroller, so it's almost like running uphill. It seems like a continuous uphill workout."
Baby Boot Camp is designed specifically for prenatal and postpartum women.
"The kids see you work out, so it sets them up for a healthier lifestyle," Dorf said. "I have a 4-year-old named Saskia, who did this with me when she was 10 months and she knows what a squat, a lunge and a push-up is."
Each hourlong class is a mixture of cardio, strength training and core work for moms, with sing-alongs and other fun activities for the little ones, who range from 6 weeks to 4 years old.
Angelica Talavera, a certified group fitness instructor and mother of two, is the first to bring the national program to El Paso.
"I had my two children really quickly," Talavera said. "Pablo was five months old when I got pregnant with Ana Sophia and I gained about 50 pounds with him." Before having Pablo, Talavera weighed between 110 and 115 pounds.
"I went up to 164, so you can imagine how mortified I was," she said. "I never weighed that much in my life. I used to run a lot. I ran the Chicago Marathon in 1999 and after that I ran several half marathons."
After giving birth to Ana Sophia, she weighed 145 pounds. "Now I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight of 115," she said as she pushed 28-month old Pablo and 14-month old Ana Sophia in their stroller.
"When Ana Sophia was born, a friend of mine encouraged me to meet her to walk and run," she said. "If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have gotten out the door because I felt I was in the worst shape of my life."
In addition to offering a great workout, studies have shown, exercising with other new moms can help alleviate the postpartum baby blues.
A recent study in The International Journal of Nursing showed that moms in a stroller-based fitness program, like Baby Boot Camp, significantly reduced their symptoms of depression.
"I really didn't experience postpartum depression but I was feeling discouraged because I put on a lot of weight," Talavera said. "I was still 30 pounds overweight when I got pregnant with Ana Sophia and I thought, 'How am I going to get this off?' "
Gradually, through walking and running, the pounds began to shed enough that she was able to run the El Paso Half Marathon in March 2010.
"It's great to work out with other moms because we understand what each other is going through and the demands of caring for babies," she said. "After that experience, I felt good about myself because I had taken off the weight but I also realized how important it was to have another mom with me to help me and encourage me and to offer that support."
In addition to the workouts, Talavera sets up weekly play dates for moms and babies, as well as "mom's night out" activities.
"It could be anything from bringing food and having a picnic in the park or going to the Downtown library for story time," she said. "It's really all inclusive. You're addressing not just the physical needs of postpartum mom or a mom going through a first time pregnancy but her social needs as well. There are moms who are military moms and moms who are not from El Paso, and it's important for them to network and to stay active."
One such mom is Tiffany Ormon, who moved from Boston three months ago.
"I was really exercise-conscious," said Ormon who was a kickboxing teacher at Health Works in Boston. "Then you have baby and you slack and you use the baby as an excuse not to work out. But then a class like this comes along and you have no excuse because you can go with the baby. It's been fun."
Ormon said being able to have 5-month-old Ivy with her eliminates the stress and expense of finding child care.
"The first couple of months I was in El Paso, I would barely get out," she said. "I would walk with the baby by myself, but that was it. Being active and to be out in the sun and in the trees at park with your baby, I feel strong again. It's empowering and it's a great bonding experience as well."
Allison Campbell said that if it weren't for Baby Boot Camp, her mornings would be filled with cheddar-flavored Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers and coffee.
"This beats the alternative," she said as she took a break to feed 8-month-old Elaine. "Thank goodness my baby is hungry -- I was getting tired."
Campbell said it's been two years since she really worked out.
"And even then it was reluctantly," she said, laughing. "My husband is really athletic and always pushes me, but I've never been one for working out."
She said that if it weren't for the classes, she would be "shopping and spending money I didn't need to spend."
"I love this program," she said. "It says a lot that I keep coming because I'm in really bad shape."
Campbell highly recommends classes and support groups such as this one for new moms.
"It could be very depressing for new moms," she said. "All of a sudden your entire life changes and you cater to one person all day and all night. Now I'm doing something for myself and I get to bring her with me."
What: Baby Boot Camp West El Paso.
When: 9:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Class times are flexible for working and stay-at-home moms.
Where: Call for locations.
How much: First class is free. Two price (monthly and per class) packages available. Range from $50 a month to $10 a class.
Information: Angelica Talavera 269-0514 or www.babybootcamp.com