Workouts with baby: Austrian mom brings KangaTraining to Maryland
By By Darcy Costello
Dec 09, 2015 | 4:45 PM
As the first notes of the Ronettes' "Be My Baby" pulse through the stereo, the women in Columbia's Avalon Gym hold their own babies, marching in unison as a warm-up for their exercise class.
Babies aren’t typically welcome in an exercise environment, particularly during the workouts themselves. But in Jasmin Reif’s KangaTraining class, they’re encouraged — in fact, the routines are designed for mothers with children under 2.
KangaTraining was first developed by Austrian fitness trainer Nicole Pascher in 2008. The workout, which has now spread to more than 15 countries, targets muscles weakened during pregnancy and those most important for carrying a child.
A native of Austria, Reif first took the exercise class in Vienna in an effort to get back in shape after the birth of her daughter, Carolina, in April 2014. When she moved to the U.S. that summer, she saw a need for similar exercise classes for mothers and babies.
The workout begins on yoga mats, with babies lying on their backs as the women do strength-based movements, following Reif’s instructions. Next, the mothers strap baby carriers onto their shoulders and chests, carrying their babies in pouches like kangaroos — hence the name of the class — before continuing with dance and exercise routines.
The class builds not just muscles but relationships, Reif says.
“It’s a good way for the mothers to bond with the children, which is especially important for the very little ones,” she says. “Moms can rebound and the little one is calm, so they don’t have to think about who cares for the baby.”
And those aren’t the only relationships built in the course of class. Mothers bond with one another, sharing their “baby challenge of the week” and sweating side by side, together battling postpartum “baby blues” through exercise and socialization.
Plus, it gives the mothers a welcome break, says Fulton resident Valerie Cassara, 27, who takes the class with her 4-month-old, Kyle. Over the course of the workouts, babies frequently nap in their carriers.
“It’s great because it’s an aerobic workout and it incorporates the babies,” says Cassara, who heard about Reif’s KangaTraining through a weekly mothers support group at Howard County General Hospital. “It’s so nice that the babies sleep during the class; they like the movement and get some rest while we’re busy exercising.”
One by one, as the babies drift off to sleep, mothers catch one another’s eyes and smile — they can relate.