Reif-Medani, front, with her daughter Carolina, 15
months old, and Mindy Gorelik, background, with her son
Micah, 11 weeks old, workout during a Kanga Training
classat the Avalon Community Gym in Columbia, Md.
first notes of the Ronettesí "Be My Baby" pulse
through the stereo, the women Avalon Gym, in Columbia, Md.,
hold their own babies, marching in unison as a warm-up for
their exercise class.
arenít typically welcome in an exercise environment,
particularly during the workouts themselves. But in Jasmin
Reifís KangaTraining class, theyíre encouraged ó in
fact, the routines are designed for mothers with children
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.
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.
workout begins on yoga mats, with babies lying on their backs
as the women do strength-based movements, following Reifís
instructions. Next, the mothers strap baby carriers onto their
shoulders and chests, carrying their babies in pouches like
kangaroos ó hence the name of the class ó before
continuing with dance and exercise routines.
class builds not just muscles but relationships, Reif says.
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 donít
have to think about who cares for the baby."
those arenít 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.
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.
great because itís an aerobic workout and it incorporates
the babies," says Cassara, who heard about Reifís
KangaTraining through a weekly mothers support group at Howard
County General Hospital. "Itís so nice that the babies
sleep during the class; they like the movement and get some
rest while weíre busy exercising."
one, as the babies drift off to sleep, mothers catch one
anotherís eyes and smile ó they can relate.