CT MUST DO: Fit 4 Mom’s Stride Circuit Class

f you are a new to motherhood you most likely haven’t had much time for yourself let alone time to keep your body in shape. Worry no more, because Fairfield Counties Fit4Mom is here to the rescue!

This Friday, July 12th go grocery shopping and work out at the same time. Don’t worry about calling the babysitter, because this workout requires your little one (and their stroller) to come along for the fun. The Stroller Stride Circuit class provides high intensity intervals and strength training and is sure to get your heart racing!

The class meets in the grassy area in the back of the Whole Foods Market at the corner of Ledge Road and Post Road. The class is 45 minutes and afterwards you and your little one will receive free healthy snacks provided by Whole Foods.

If you don’t feel like sticking around for the Whole Food’s snacks, check out one of Fairfield counties best lunch spots and treat you and your little one to a fun lunch date.

The class is from 9:45-10:45 am. Be sure to get there a few minutes early to start stretching. Also, make sure to enroll online to reserve a spot.

When people come together to help one another…

One email, one week, over $3000 raised. 

ONE can make a difference.

Thank you for donating to Angelina’s Army.

Noreen Heffernan/Growing Ladies, Araya Rebirth, Live Love Laugh Photos, Lainie Baby, Kristin Dahl Fashions, Johanna Resnick Rosen/Candid Eye Photography, Lori Sargent Origami Owl/Thirty-One, A Little Resource, Karma Fitness, Cooking in Your Kitchen, Yummy Tummy Meals, Your Family Matters, Teresa Communicates, Carefree Life, Aerin Rose Swimwear, Liza Sudol, Alison Harris, Espe Marra and the many other wonderful donations!

What I learned about pre and postnatal fitness

(from my own experience + the IDEA session I attended)

This is something I’m asked about fairly often, but it can be a variable topic since every pregnancy is so different. I figured that I could share my own experience (as you never know when someone will share an awesome tip or trick) along with the research-based information I learned at the IDEA conference. It was the very last session I attended, and was the perfect way for to end my conference experience. Pre- and postnatal fitness have become a huge topic of interest for me; I sat on the floor for this session in a sweaty heap of happiness, ready to soak up all of the information.

Some background information on the presenter:

Her name is Farel Hruska, ACE and AFAA-certified. She’s also a mom of three girls is on staff and contributes to Fit4mom.com. She is the National Fitness Director for Stroller Strides (an awesome fitness program for mamas and their babies, utilizing the stroller during classes) and a joy to listen to. I thoroughly enjoyed her presentation and was frantically taking notes the entire time. 

Some of the info from the slides during the presentation (my thoughts/notes are indicated in bold):

-Effects on the cardiovascular system during pregnancy include a decreased blood pressure, sweating, fatigue. 30-50% increase in stroke volume, a 8-20 beat increase in resting heart rate. Some pregnancy women may experience a 20-25% lower work capacity. According to ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists), heart rate is no longer a reliable indicator of exercise. Rate of perceived exertion is a preferred method, and try to keep your exertion between a 5-8 on a 10-point scale. The “do not go over 140 beats per minute” rule is now outdated. Also, since your heart rate is naturally elevated during pregnancy, it’s not a reliable indicator of intensity. Go by how you feel (avoid pushing yourself to your max) and be sure to properly hydrate.

-Your intensity should not exceed your pre-pregnancy levels. Avoid exercising to the point of exhaustion and follow the 2-hour rule. This means that if you usually run for two hours every weekend and are a distance runner, you can continue to do so (with doctor’s approval and if there are no contraindications).

-Emphasize posterior pull exercises. This is true not only for pregnant women, but for everyone! If you work at a computer (cough, guilty, cough) or find yourself in a hunched over position, it’s important to lengthen and stretch the chest muscles, while working to strengthen your back to pull your shoulders into alignment. 

-An interesting slide on the benefits of exercise for baby:

“The babies whose mothers had exercised more were better able to process repeated sounds, showing a maturity of brain function that their counterparts did not. Exercise increases mitochondrial activity in the brain. The study shows this effect can ‘cross the placenta’ and benefit the fetal brain as well.” (University of Montreal 2013)

That gave me the chills! I was curious to find out what “more” meant in the above statement (someone in the audience asked, too) and after checking out the study, I found out that it compared 60 pregnant women who were provided with an exercise regimen and those without. The active group exercised an average of 117 minutes per week, while the inactive group averaged about 12 minutes. 

-The presenter also showed us how to check for diastasis recti in our clients, which I found extremely helpful.  

(after a 40-week pregnant treadmill walk) The things that helped me in my personal prenatal and postnatal fitness journey:

-Trusting my body. I’m a huge believer in listening to our body’s cues, and found that they were even more apparent when Livi was growing my belly

Before, my body would say “Let’s GO!!! AND HIIT IT AND LIFT ALL THE HEAVY THINGS!” While I was pregnant, I found it saying, “Ehh, I don’t want to run. HIIT feels weird. I don’t want to go crazy with the weights.” So, I listened and did what felt good. For the most part, it was moderate strength training, occasional yoga (with modifications later in my pregnancy), walking (almost every day) and teaching dance cardio (like Zumba!). I did the things I enjoyed and was craving, and was thankful for the ability to maintain my active lifestyle until I delivered. 

After delivery, I was excited to get back into my routine, but needed to take time to rest and heal. I listened to what my body was saying, and chose precious sleep when I could, and was able to ease back into my active lifestyle. I found that having those exercise endorphins not only helped me to regain my strength and endurance, but also gave me some much-needed “me time” and chance to zone out during the day.


A huge modification during pregnancy is the inability to remain in a supine position (on your back) for extended amounts of time after the first trimester. (There is mixed research and opinions about this, but ACOG guidelines suggest avoiding the supine position after the first trimester.) A stability ball is a fantastic option (for chest presses, flyes and bicep curls), and many exercises can also be performed in a side-lieing position. Avoid any prone positions on your stomach after the first trimester as well. Performing the exercises on hands and knees instead is an effective modification. 

Yoga modifications:

I avoiding positions on my stomach, and did a cat-cow instead of a vinyasa in my flow classes. It’s also important to avoid crossing the midline of the body (like a twisted triangle) and to emphasize OPENING, instead of crossing and closing across the midline. So instead of twisting, I would open in the opposite direction. (for example, instead of twisting triangle, I would just do a regular triangle. Instead of revolved crescent lunge, I would bring my hands to prayer and open my body towards the center.)

Some poses were done on my side (savasana, happy baby) and I was mindful to avoid over-stretching, as the relaxin makes the body more flexible. I didn’t want to pull anything, so I focused on creating strength in the poses instead of necessarily getting deeper into every pose.

Some preg-friendly exercises:

Bodyweight exercises (squats, lunges, walking lunges, tricep dips). For planks and pushups, when it becomes uncomfortable with the size of the belly, you can perform them with your hands on a bench or against the wall.

Resistance band work (bicep curls, overhead tricep extensions, shoulder raises, overhead presses, resistance squats, bent-over rows and wide rows are all fantastic options)

Core and pelvic floor strengtheners (hip bridges, cat cow, squats, plie squat with a stability ball. Squeeze the ball each time you rise from your squat)

Walking! Walking is almost always a good option, considering that there are no contraindications. It was one of the few exercises that felt great while I was pregnant, and while I was regaining my strength and stamina afterwards.

Low-impact exercises such as swimming, yoga, Pilates and barre can also be great options. 

A good rule of thumb: focus on MAINTAINING instead of ADDING. Don’t add anything crazy or new into your routine -unless you were sedentary pre-pregnancy and would like to start an easy walking routine- and emphasize maintaining your current fitness level, taking it easy and resting as your body tells you.

All of my posts about exercising while pregnant and post-delivery:

 How my workouts changed in the 1st trimester

How my workouts changed in the 2nd trimester

How my workouts changed in the 3rd trimester

How my workouts changed with an infant

Post delivery body

2 month post delivery body

4 month post delivery body

9 month post delivery body

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It's Our Birthday!

FIT4MOM Chicago Loop is one year old! The past year has been an incredible journey of building strength, making new friends, and watching our little ones grow. It is all you moms who have helped build Our Village and I thank YOU for personally giving me the strength for motherhood! -Regina Cook (Owner of FIT4MOM Chicago Loop).

As a thank you to all you fit moms—and babies who make our days challenging and rewarding—we’re offering a FREE week in July! This week is good for Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre classes from now until the end of the month. Email reginacook@fit4mom.com to redeem this special offer!

And we hope to see you at our anniversary party tomorrow, at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, July 18. We’ll have a fun and FREE Stroller Strides class planned and lots of giveaways and prizes from our sponsors, Bob Strollers, Britax, LUNA, Charity Miles, BANDED, FIT4MOM, and more!! We are also giving away a FREE 8-Week Body Back Session! You can still register for our class HERE

In celebration of our 1 year anniversary, we wanted to start a series of FIT4MOM Mythbusters that will cover a variety of topics. We hope you enjoy the first of our mythbusters as written by Amy Bernstein. Amy is a former client turned FIT4MOM instructor. Enjoy!

Mythbuster #1: I don’t have the right stroller for Stroller Strides

When I first heard of Stroller Strides, I thought, “Strides means running. I don’t have a jogging stroller. And even if I did, my baby is too small for one.”

About a month later, I was desperate for a workout and reluctant to leave my baby at a gym daycare. So I clicked my baby’s car seat into a stroller frame and gamely headed to my first Stroller Strides class, hoping we wouldn’t look out of place among the rugged Bobs.

I was happily surprised to find strollers of every kind and moms with babies of all ages. My three-month-old wasn’t even the youngest there.

Best of all, the workout didn’t require running. Sometimes we exercised in front of our strollers, entertaining our babies with our movements and some songs. Sometimes we moved in a circle around the strollers, socializing with each other’s curious babies. And sometimes we pushed our strollers while power walking or doing walking lunges.

I went to my first class nervous that I wouldn’t fit in—that me and my little stroller would be left behind by a bunch of fast, super fit moms pushing big-wheeled strollers. What I found was a community of moms feeling just like I did—nervous about adjusting to new lives, new bodies, and new schedules. And while the strollers ran the gamut from clip-in frames to futuristic modular systems, and, yes, big-wheeled Bobs, we all had one thing in common: We were there to seize an hour for our own health.

By: Amy Bernstein

Balance Building Workouts


Nearly any exercise that’s safe during pregnancy will help with your stability—just be sure to keep at least one foot on the ground (no box jumps!) and slow down a little in dance cardio classes with complicated footwork. That said, these practices may give you more balance bang for your buck.

Read More

Light up your energy & metabolism this month with summer HIIT 1x per week and then increase to 2x two weeks into June, a great supplement to your current fitness routine! H.I.I.T (High Intensity Interval Training) has proven to increase athletic performance, cardiovascular endurance, and burn more fat.

Get Centered. You Deserve It!


I have always loved this quote that I heard from one of my instructor trainings, ” A strong center gives you distal freedom”. These are such powerful words to me. If you, as a mom, are strong mentally and physically at the center, then you can take care of your loved ones around you. So take that time to yourself to become centered. Take a deep breath every once in awhile. Get focused, and don’t forget about YOU! Exercise, practice a bit of peaceful living through mediation, get a massage or even take a walk in the park. Practice Opti-Mom health and do something good for yourself this Mother’s Day. YOU DESERVE IT!

Bubble Wrap & Helmets


By: Dr. Nidhi Kukreja

April 3, 2014

During attendance at a sports medicine conference, I began wondering what sports would be “safe” for my two boys. It quickly became clear that there would be none; even if I wrap them up in bubble wrap and keep a helmet on their heads at all times, sports and life will put them at risk for all kinds of injuries, both physical and emotional. Football can lead to concussions; baseball can lead to “Little League Shoulder”; swimming and tennis other shoulder injuries. And if you’re reading this and thinking “thank goodness I have girls”…well, you are not out of the clear: gymnastics, ballet, and figure skating can lead to vertebral fractures (ack!) and soccer and basketball can lead to ACL injuries more so in females vs males. Phew! What a long list. Basically what’s left is bowling. And I’m sure there are wrist overuse injuries associated with that too. Even bubble wrap and a helmet can’t prevent that! And then I began to think about the conversation that I had over lunch with a physical therapist who had a 3 year-old patient with growth delay (basically he is the size of a 1.5 year old but otherwise is completely normal) whose parents were wondering what “sports” he should participate in. My answer to them would be “whatever he likes”. He should have the opportunity to use his developing physical skills as any three-year-old by playing outdoors, throwing a ball, trying to hit it with a bat or a racket, swimming- things that let him just be a kid. There really should be little concern about him playing “contact sports”.

But as they get older and choose to participate in some of the “riskier” sports, do we just not let them? Some of the injuries I talked about occur randomly, but many are preventable. These can occur because of poor mechanics or in athletes that are forced to use the same muscle groups over and over, without necessary “balancing” out their strength. In growing children this can be even more difficult because muscles tend to be stronger than bone, making bony injuries more likely. Plus, kids sometimes don’t know “when to say when”. Let’s face it: kids and especially teens are risk-takers by nature (their frontal cortex which allows us to plan for the future is not fully developed) and they cannot see the long-term consequences of an early “return to play” or “playing through the pain”, such as worsening injuries. We, as the adults, need to be their guide. Fortunately, sports organizations are beginning to recognize the importance of limits; for example enforcing limited “pitch counts” reduce shoulder and elbow injuries in Little League. Return to play in concussions has become a huge issue in the NFL and new regulations came out this year for every state down to the high school level.

With this all said, sports and physical activity in general have countless benefits beyond obesity prevention that in my opinion outweigh the risks. The recommended 60 minutes of daily activity can even be difficult to achieve even for children, especially during Chicago winters. Sometimes organized activities are helpful in that regard. With proper regulations and developmentally appropriate activities that don’t push them beyond their limits, sports and exercise in general can be extremely valuable, even if done without bubble wrap.

April Spring Crunch Fest


Are you up for our April Abs Challenge?

Why is your core important? It all starts with your core. All movement starts with core. Your core is not only your abs. It is your entire trunk and pelvis and it is where all movement originates. A strong core gives you better posture, movement, protection and stability. Engage your core throughout all movement in life and in exercise.

Description: Sit down on the floor, with feet flat on the ground and knees bent, lower upper body to the ground. Keep hands behind the head. To start the movement, slowly lift your head and shoulders up and lean forward until your shoulder blades are a few inches off of the floor. Squeeze your ab muscles at the top of the movement, and hold the position for at least one second. To finish the repetition, slowly lower yourself back down, but do not let your head touch the floor.

Tip: Keep core engaged, lightly touch your head with your hands, relax neck and jaw, BREATHE!