When it comes to staying fit during and after pregnancy, opinions are all over the map. And with the rise of “fit mommy bloggers” showing off rock-hard abs along with their baby bumps, the pressure on women to maintain an ideal body at all times has never been higher. But perhaps the best examples of pregnancy and postpartum fitness are ones that actually focus on what it’s like to try to stick to a workout plan while chasing a little one around or managing the ever-shifting landscape of pregnancy. For example, this woman uses her baby as a barbell in a series of fitness videos on Instagram and YouTube, and the result is not only adorable but arguably doable for a new mom.
The posts come from a blogger and personal fitness trainer named Kristy Ardo. According to her blog at BabyFitGym.com, Ardo led an active lifestyle as a competitive diver before she got pregnant. She also hit the gym regularly throughout her first pregnancy. But, as it does for many of us, Ardo wrote that her whole world changed after her son, Tucker was born:
I was overwhelmingly exhausted and for the first time struggled to get my workout in. How was I supposed to balance everything? I couldn't just leave and go to the gym.
Then, she started bringing little Tucker into her routines and things became far more manageable, she wrote:
After 4 months I started working out with Tucker and finally began to find my groove. It takes a incredible amount of motivation and self discipline to workout everyday while juggling hectic mom life. But it is possible and I want to motivate and inspire other moms to find they're (sic) groove!
The resulting workout videos show a giggling Tucker helping his mom get (or stay) buff by acting as her own personal barbell. In the below video posted on YouTube, Ardo swings the chubby baby in wide circles to work her upper body and balances him on her shins during a set for her legs and abs. And what’s more, much of the the bonding/bodylifting takes place in locales pretty natural for a new mom: at home, in the backyard, and at the park — so they seem even more achievable.
By working her baby into her workouts, Ardo's message to new moms is that getting fit is a choice anyone can make. “Sometimes when I feed Tucker I put him in the highchair and between each bite I do 10 squats,” she wrote on her blog. “SQUEEZE it in where ever you can! Only YOU can make it happen! Be creative!”
When and how to tackle fitness during pregnancy is certainly one of the most hotly debated arenas of the mommy wars. Some argue that women who are already doing the hard work of developing another human — or recovering from the job of childbirth — shouldn’t be pressured to keep up with a strenuous exercise regimen. While others (rightly) say that how much activity a woman’s body can handle is something only she and her doctor can decide — and the rest of us should stay out of it.
Without question, unrealistic expectations do more harm than good. And there will probably always be a market of new moms and moms-to-be looking for ways to boost self-confidence and control after the mind-blowing body changes that come with pregnancy. So maybe moms like Ardo offer the most realistic option: letting moms and babies find their own balance and make getting fit a fun thing. Because how could it not be with such an adorable workout buddy?