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Go Time: Fitting in Fitness

Fitness instructor Jessica Watkins helps us find time to workout, even if you have more than one baby in tow.

Go Time: Fitting in Fitness

Now I get it. I totally get it. I never quite understood the “I have no time to exercise” excuse. I always replied, “just prioritize and find the time.” I happen to be a personal trainer so fitness is my job, and it is ingrained into my lifestyle. And as a mother to one, I managed to keep exercise part of my daily routine. But now that I’m a mom of two, the story changes. That popular “excuse,” as I see it, became all too familiar in my own life – yes, coming from the mouth of a fitness guru.

Before having my first child Emory, finding time to workout was a breeze! I often commuted via bike or ran from the subway stop to the gym, and if I had a spare half hour in between training sessions, I used that time to hop on an elliptical or lift weights. But after having my first child and becoming a full time mom with a few hours training clients each week, I was forced to find new ways to incorporate my workouts.

Between all the hours spent feeding, changing and frantically calming my new baby, I still prioritized working out. How? I put Emory in her bouncy seat right in front of me as I jumped around the living room and lifted my free weights. I usually could squeeze out a minimum of 30 minutes before she grew tired of the bouncy seat. As she got a bit older, the jump-a-roo became her new workout station. The more I jumped, the more she jumped with hysterical laughter, almost catapulting out of it on numerous occasions.

Probably the best way I incorporated a workout into my day was putting her in my City Mini stroller and running. Although that stroller isn’t intended to be a jogging stroller, I used it as one. Living in Brooklyn at the time, I ran everywhere: to the nearest park, to meet a friend for coffee, to run all my errands. That City Mini stroller has many hard-earned miles on those wheels. This worked for me – I had it figured out. And I expected the same out of every other parent who wanted to workout but couldn’t “find the time.”

And then, there was the birth of my second child Clayton. Suddenly taking care of two children and maintaining my workout regimen seemed flat-out impossible. Working out was just not going to happen. From the very second my eyes open in the morning, its go time! At ages 3 months and 2 years, my kids demand so much out of me that finding a spare second to run a brush through my hair is quite an accomplishment. These are the days when having the ability to shower with the curtain fully closed and no one crying for mama is a glimpse of heaven, even if it only lasts 30 seconds. So the question always runs through my head, do I shower or do I workout? But after a couple weeks of this nonsense, I was tired of feeling defeated. The days of me starting the day in workout clothes and ending the day in workout clothes, only to not have worked out at all, had to end.

Here is how I have conquered the “I have no time to exercise” struggle:

Workout before the kids get up. And yes, that means well before the sun gets up too. After one of Clayton’s early morning feedings, I get my workout out of the way. I let my husband know that I’m going for a run around the neighborhood or I host my own workout in my living room with cardio exercises and free weights. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a chance to shower before the kids get up too!

Workout after the kids go to sleep at night. This option isn’t my ideal time to workout because it’s after the mealtime, bathtime, bedtime marathon, which leaves me wanting nothing more than to be comatose on the couch. But at the same time, working out at the end of the day gives me a sense of renewed energy and allows me to focus on myself. And I finish with one of those heavenly, silent, closed-curtain showers to wind down.

Give the kids an adventure. I load them into the double stroller and run. I’ve tried a few and The Summit X3 jogging stroller by Baby Jogger is my personal choice. Its all-wheel suspension allows my infant to ride without getting tossed about, and the swivel front wheel makes this stroller easy to maneuver. The seats are side-by-side and adjustable, so I can recline my infant’s seat while my toddler’s seat sits up. Another big feature is the extra-long adjustable canopy over each seat that does a fantastic job of protecting the kids from the sun. Each canopy also has clear view windows on top so I can check on them without disrupting my run to go around to the front of the stroller. This stroller has made my workout attempts so much easier.

Alternate running with interval and strength training to keep things fresh and different. On the days I do interval training, I use my living room as my gym. I usually fit it in when Clayton is down for a morning nap or seems content chilling in his swing or bouncy seat. As for Emory, she exercises with me copying everything from lunges and pushups to downward dogs and butterfly stretches. By making exercise an activity we both can do, it allows me to workout while spending quality time with her (still assuming Clayton is snoozing or chilling).

So here I admit it – finding time to workout is easier said than done. Even as a personal trainer, I thought my fit days were squashed with the birth of my second child. But after going through the challenge myself, I still stand saying “just prioritize and find the time.” Gain control of your schedule and your well-being, and you will certainly feel more accomplished, happier and healthier.

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