Monday, March 26, 2018

What to Expect at Fit 4 TwoⓇ Stroller Fitness

Trying a new class for the first time can be intimidating. Especially when you’re trying a class with your new baby.  But have no fear! You got this!

Fit 4 twoⓇ Stroller Fitness classes are a supportive environment where new moms come together to be active and create new friendships. We are a safe place, a place where attending to your child’s needs is encouraged!

What should you expect when coming to an outdoor Stroller Fitness class? Classes typically start in the foyer of your community center or park. It is there that you can pay your drop in or registration fee and meet your instructor. After everyone has completed their online intake forms (you can help class start on time by completing this form ahead of time), we’re off for a full-body workout!

As a stroller caravan we set out on our expedition. We begin with a brisk power walk and warm-up moves to raise our heart rate and prepare for exercise. Our goal for the class is to keep both mom and baby happy by delicately balancing our short power walking intervals with cardio and strength training drills along our route.

Although we never actually run with the strollers, you can expect a class that will get your heart rate up, build strength, improve posture and strengthen your core.

During our stops, we like to target common muscular imbalances that are common to new moms. This often includes exercises that help our posture, tone our arms and legs and engage our core and pelvic floor. For example, one stop station may include lunges and partner shoulder work using a resistance band.

Now what is baby doing during all of this? Some babies will be asleep in their stroller, some will happily be watching mom. If baby does need some attention, we understand. Taking a quick break or adjusting your exercise is more than acceptable.

After our strength and cardio work, we dedicate the last 10-15 minutes to postnatal specific core and stretching.  We teach progressively in order to include moms with or without Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation).  We do a full body stretch paying special attention to areas that are typically tight for new parents like the chest and lower back.

And after class? Why not grab a coffee with some of the moms you met!

Check out these two helpful blog posts: Your First Outdoor Fitness Class with Baby, Stroller Fitness Packing List; Fit 4 Two Stroller Fitness Gear Picks; Stroller Fitness vs Stroller Bootcamp.

Click here to find a Fit 4 TwoⓇ class near you

Packing List for Outdoor Fit 4 Two Classes

Stroller Fitness and Stroller Bootcamp give you the opportunity to exercise with baby outdoors! So what should you bring to class?

1. Stroller. You do not need a jogging stroller.  For safety reasons, no umbrella strollers please.

2. Carrier. If baby times out in the stroller you’ll have a safe, ergonomic way to carry her for the rest of class.

3. Full Water Bottle (or two).

4. Yoga Mat or Water Resistant Blanket.  We lie these down on the grass or soft playground surface for the core and stretch. Check out our favourite blanket-to-go on our Gear Post.

5. Exercise Band* Be sure to purchase yours from your Fit 4 Two® instructor so it is professional quality and a good value.

6. Diaper Bag Items. Diaper bags can be heavy.  Consider putting your basic baby needs for two diaper changes and a possible wardrobe change in a small light weight bag or Ziploc bag under your stroller.

7. Feeding needs.

8. ‘Keep Baby Happy’ tools.  For younger babies this might mean soothers and toys.  For older babies and tots this might mean a variety of snacks and toys.  Check out these awesome rings that you can use to attach toys to your stroller.

9. Sun/Rain Protection.  Sun: UV stroller cover, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen. (See our fav picks here) Rain: rain cover, rain jacket.

10. Reusable coffee mug and coffee money. Social health is vital to physical and mental health.  When you can, go for that coffee with the other moms after class.

Find a Fit 4 TwoⓇ Class near you

*Some locations sell gym-quality resistance bands that you can bring to each class and use for your at home workouts.

Your First Outdoor Fitness Class With Baby

Some tips from the trenches...

1. Choose a class time when your baby likes being in the stroller.  This increases your chances of having either a sleeping baby or a content awake baby.

2. Bring your carrier. If baby times out in the stroller you’ll have a safe, ergonomic way to carry her for the rest of class.

3. Pack your stroller the night before.  Then you can focus on getting you and your baby ready in the morning instead of rushing around looking for your keys. Pack: water bottle, yoga mat, resistance band*, baby items, and weather needs. Check out our packing list here.

4. Complete your online intake form ahead of time. This will prevent a late start.

5. Leave a little early. Leave time for the unexpected and avoid feeling rushed.

6. Know the class route.  If you are late, the class may already have left the meeting place.  If you know your route, you can catch up more easily.

7. Speak Up.  Let your instructor know if an exercise is causing you pain so we can give you an alternative.  Exercise is NOT supposed to hurt.  If you cannot see or hear your instructor, let her know.

8. Try to go with the flow.  If you are late, avoid rushing.  We would rather you arrive safe and stress-free. If your baby begins to cry, remind yourself that you are in a safe space.  Attend to your baby as you would at home.  Because we stop and go as well as double back, you’ll be able to find us.

9. If at first you don’t succeed, try again.  It is entirely possible that the very first class doesn’t go well.  We’ve observed that in an eight-class session, most moms will have at least one day they wish they could do over.  Unfortunately, this sometimes happens at the very first class.  If it does, try not to let it get you down.  Try again.  If the second class doesn’t go well either, you might consider a different class type, time of day or waiting a couple more weeks. As you have learned already, parenting is all about trouble shooting.

10. Go for that coffee after class.  Aside from regular exercise and eating well, one of the healthiest things you can do for you and your baby is to connect with others.  As these new friendships grow, so will your support network.  Remember to bring your reusable coffee mug.

Click here to find a Fit 4 TwoⓇ Stroller Fitness Class near you!

*Some locations sell gym-quality resistance bands that you can bring to each class and use for your at home workouts.

Stroller Fitness or Stroller Bootcamp? Making the best choice for you and your baby.

Choose Stroller Fitness if….
You are easing back into fitness or want to increase your fitness level
You want to improve endurance, strength, balance and flexibility
You want to improve core strength
You sometimes/always need low impact options
You need modifications for injuries
Your baby is just getting used to attending classes with you or is already comfortable at class
You have/do not have Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation)
You have/don't have pelvic floor condition
You are pregnant (Ex. You are attending class with your tot and you are pregnant again)

Choose Stroller Bootcamp if…
You want to increase your fitness level
You want to improve endurance, strength, power, speed, agility, balance and flexibility
You want to improve core strength
Since having this baby, you have already eased back into fitness and have been both strength training and doing impact cardio (ie running) for at least 8 weeks. This means your baby is at least 4 months old.
You rarely need low impact options 
You are completely injury-free
Your baby is comfortable at class
You do NOT have Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation)
You have a healthy pelvic floor
You are not pregnant

Check out these other helpful blog posts: Your First Outdoor Class with Baby, Fit 4 TwoⓇ Stroller Fitness Packing List.

Register for a Fit 4 TwoⓇ class in your community

Note: Stroller Fitness and Stroller Bootcamp take place outdoors or, if space allows, indoors on tracks or in large gymnasiums.  Click on ‘info’ when looking at your local class schedule to get full location details.

Our Gear Picks for Stroller Fitness Season

Parents often ask us about our favourite gear for outdoor classes.  Here are a few of our favs.  You can pick up most of these items locally but we have provided Amazon purchase links* as well. 

The Manhattan Toy Winkel

Why we like it: Tiny Fit 4 Two hands have been grasping and holding onto this light weight toy since 2006.  It's made of safe, BPA free plastic for teething and promotes 2-handed play.  
It also easily attaches to rings....which we will get to next.

Click here to purchase. CA$13.01*


Why we like them: These are the epitome of multi-use.  They are BPA free for teething, freezer safe, a toy on their own, attach a few to one main ring and they you have a rattle, easy to grasp and hold onto, AND you can link them together to make a chain and attach baby's toys to your stroller! No more lost toys!

Click here to purchase CA$13.19*

Snooze Shade

Why we like it:
It fits most strollers well, it has very high level of UV protection and the front zipper is perfect for checking on baby.

Click here to purchase $39.99*

Sportneer Water Resistant Blanket 

Why we like it: Durable, water resistant, generously sized, folds up easily, great for core & stretch at Fit 4 Two Stroller Fitness or a picnic at the beach.

Click here to purchase CA$19.99 *

THINK Baby Sun Screen

Why we like it: It has a rating of 1 (that's really good) on the EWG Skin Deep Data Base  and parents tell us it works well. Remember that sun screen is for babies 6 month and up. For younger babies invest in a good stroller sun cover and hat. 

Click here to purchase. CA$21.30*

Baby Bandz

Why we like them: These have been a favourite at Fit 4 Two since 2004. They offer excellent UV protection, babies don't seem to mind them and they stay on even the wiggliest baby.

Click here to purchase. CA$18.99*

Excited for outdoor classes? Click here to find a class near you. Not sure what to expect at an outdoor class? Click here for more info.

*The prices listed here were accurate March 26, 2018 at and subject to change on Full disclosure: We are an Amazon affiliate so if you make a purchase via the links above we will earn a small commission. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Books, toys and more that promote gender equality. International Women's Day 2018

International Women’s Day
is a day to reflect on the past and present, honour the women who have paved the way, take stock of what still needs to be done, and commit to continue working towards gender equality. 

To recognize, celebrate and take action for International Women’s Day 2018, we went to social media and asked our Fit 4 Two® participants and alumni to recommend books, toys and other parenting resources that promote gender equality.  Here is the result.

A Mighty Girl  This website was recommended again and again.  We found out why.  It is an exhaustive collection of suggested toys, books, music and more.  Bonus: Everything is separated into age groups.  Let’s just say we are now frequent visitors. 

Books recommend by Fit 4 Two® Parents. We have included amazon links as this seems to be to go-to for most of our clients, but we recommend checking your local library and independent books stores as well. 

Feminist Baby by Loren Brantz

Girl Power - 5 Minute Stories (this is actually 10 books in one!)
Strong is the New Pretty by Kate T. Parker

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls

I like myself - Karen Beaumont and David Catrow

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

Toys Recommended by Fit 4 Two® Parents

GoldieBlox is the award-winning children’s multimedia company disrupting the pink aisle in toy stores globally and challenging gender stereotypes with the world’s first girl engineer character. They have since expanded their collection to include STEM toys that promote gender equality.  We found the best selection at in store and online.

If you have a suggestion, please share it in the comments below.