If you're a new mom and exercise seems impossible, start looking at your stroller as a piece of fitness equipment, suggests Lisa Druxman, founder and CEO of the FIT4MOM franchise. Druxman, along with Christie Bruner, certified personal trainer and owner of Baby Boot Camp in St. Petersburg, Fla., offer several ideas on ways to get fit and healthy with your baby. "With every one of these exercises," Druxman says, "keep these cues in mind: knees stay soft, keep core engaged, press your shoulder blades back and down and breathe."
Simply power walking with your stroller is a perfect way to gain cardiovascular endurance, says Druxman. Keep your hips close to the stroller handles and squeeze your glutes with each step. Challenge yourself by increasing your speed as you walk.
Related: Lisa Druxman and FIT4MOM
Using a stroller -- with brakes set -- for stability, place your feet shoulder-width apart. Inhale to prepare, Bruner instructs, then exhale as you press up onto the balls of your feet. Slowly lower as you inhale and repeat. Keep your abdominals engaged the entire time. Bruner recommends 15 repetitions for this exercise.
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A squat is a perfect lower body strengthener, says Druxman, and so important for all the getting up and down you'll be doing while caring for a new baby. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and lightly grip the stroller handle. Lower down into a squat, with the weight in your heels and your knees stacked over your ankles (not your toes). When you reach the top of the squat, make sure to keep your knees slightly bent.
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Reverse Leg Lift
Facing the stroller, feet shoulder-width apart, hold on to the stroller handle with both hands, Bruner says. Lift your left leg to the back, moving from the hip, and hold for two counts while keeping your posture neutral. Lower your left leg and return to the starting position. Make sure you inhale each time you lower your leg and exhale -- engaging your abdominals -- each time you lift your leg. Perform 12 repetitions per leg, and complete a full set on one leg before switching to the other leg.
Lateral Leg Lift
Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold on to the stroller handle with your left hand. Lift your left leg and hold it at a 45-degree angle for a count of two while maintaining a neutral posture, Bruner says. Lower your left leg and return to the starting position. Inhale each time you lower your leg and exhale -- engaging your abdominals -- each time you lift your leg. Complete a full set on one leg before switching to the other. Bruner recommends 12 repetitions per leg.
Get some great core work done with the front of your stroller as your focal point. Place a foot on either side of the stroller wheel and perform a crunch towards the stroller. Keep your chin off your chest and relax your neck and jaw. Have some fun with this exercise by adding in some toe tickles with your baby, Druxman suggests.
Stroller Oblique Crunch
Target your obliques in a standing oblique crunch at your stroller. "Start with your outside arm up overhead," says Druxman, "and bring it down to the knee while flexing the spine laterally." Think about bringing your rib cage toward your hip bone while tightening your entire core.
Single Leg Lunge With Knee Lift
The single leg lunge with knee lift targets the quadriceps and glutes, Bruner explains. Place your feet shoulder-width apart while facing the stroller and holding on to the handle. Step your left foot back and slowly lower into a lunge. "Now press off from your right foot directly into a knee lift," Bruner says. Inhale as you lower and exhale as you lift, engaging your abdominals on the exertion. Complete a full set on one leg before switching to the other one. Perform 12 to 15 repetitions per leg.
Stroller Plie Squat
For the stroller plie squat, standing sideways to your stroller, lightly place one hand on the handle. Stand in a wide stance, says Druxman, with both toes and knees pointed out diagonally. Lower down into a plie, keeping your torso erect. At your lowest point, be sure your knees are over your ankles and not your toes, Druxman says. Engage your inner thighs as you come up out of the plie.
Some final words from Druxman: Do these stroller workouts in intervals so your child stays engaged and stimulated. Turn your baby toward park activity or scenic views, or talk, count or sing to him as you exercise. If your baby isn't thrilled about the stroller, stay patient and firm and stick to a regular schedule. And most of all, remember to have fun. You're officially on the road to watching those pregnancy pounds melt away!