Workout with baby: Kanga Training helps moms get back in shape

October 19, 2015

Jasmin 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.

As the 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.

Babies 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 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 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.

The class builds not just muscles but relationships, Reif says.

"Itís 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."

And 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.

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.

"Itís 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 by one, as the babies drift off to sleep, mothers catch one anotherís eyes and smile ó they can relate.



McClatchy-Tribune Information Services