Exercise With Tots in Tow

At a StrollerFit class in Reston, even instructor Michelle Porter, right, brings along her children (not pictured).
At a StrollerFit class in Reston, even instructor Michelle Porter, right, brings along her children (not pictured). (By Jay Paul For The Washington Post)
By Leah Ariniello
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, August 5, 2007

Love the idea of reclaiming your pre-kid svelte self but hate the prospect of leaving your bambino with a sitter while you hit the gym? Then it's time to think outside the crib. The D.C. area offers many ways for moms and dads to exercise with their tots in tow. For example, you could . . .

Bring the Baby With You

A 50-minute exercise class called StrollerFit, conducted at Reston's Southgate Community Center and other area locations, provides an experience similar to a typical body sculpt class at a health club. With no worries about outside air quality or pending storms, participants do cardio and strengthening drills in a large temperature-controlled room using free weights, medicine balls and jump ropes while music plays in the background.

But unlike an ordinary health club class, moms and the occasional dad bring along stroller-bound babies, toddlers, even preschoolers to take part in the fun -- er, workout. The kids enjoy the ride during jogs around the room or watch as parents count reps in Spanish, patiently waiting for the last 15 minutes of class when the grown-ups do floor exercises and they're set free to play with an assortment of balls.

12125 Pinecrest Rd., Reston, 703-598-7136. $75 for 10 Saturday classes. $105 for 15 classes. $150 for 25 classes. Also available in Sterling, Haymarket and Frederick; prices vary. For details, visit http://www.strollerfit.com.

Strollercise While You Sightsee

Another stroller-friendly fitness program, Stroller Strides, offers scenic outdoor classes during milder months. In one D.C. class, carriage-pushing participants power-walk in the shadows of the U.S. Capitol past gawking tourists, security guards and the occasional senator, then take periodic timeouts for muscle-toning exercises. When kids fuss, the group breaks into song, squatting to "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and the like.

While it may not be for the self-conscious, the hour-long class does provide a decent workout with a perk: It's part support group. During exercises, chatty parents discuss topics from the best remedies for teething woes to whether having a newborn will get you out of jury duty.

D.C. prices: First class is free. $15 for one class. $75 initiation fee plus $55 per month for a membership that includes unlimited classes in the District. $120 for 10 classes over six months. $250 for up to three classes a week for three months. Available throughout the District and in Maryland and Virginia; prices vary. For details, visit http://www.strollerstrides.com.

Try Downward Dog, Upward Baby

At Tranquil Space Yoga's Baby and Me Yoga class near Dupont Circle, parents strengthen core muscles to aid tot-toting while squeezing in some bonding time with their infants.

During the 90-minute class, participants hover over or hold their child as they do a series of poses, including the traditional downward-facing dog and warrior. They also practice such moves as the flying baby pose, which requires a parent to lie on his or her back and lift the child up on the parent's shins. In the smile-filled tummy time segment, babies practice head control as parents mimic their arched movements face-to-face in the locust pose.

Studio recommends that babies be at least 6 weeks old. 2024 P St. NW, 202-223-9642. $20 for one class. $92 for six classes over three months; good for all yoga classes. Also available at the Bethesda location, 7475 Wisconsin Ave., 301-654-9642. For details, visit http://www.tranquilspace.com.

Work Out With a Kid-Friendly Trainer

About seven years ago, when Nancy Karabaic's son was 9 months old, she met some other new mothers looking for a child-friendly place to exercise. Ever since, the certified personal trainer has led hour-long classes where tots can tag along in the combination basement, exercise studio and playroom of her Wheaton home. Moms follow a personalized workout routine with cardio and strength training while their children remain snug in a baby carrier or play close by.

$30 per class. For details, call 301-942-3399 or visit http://www.nancykarabaic.com.

Find Like-Minded Moms Online

Can't find a good workout option in your area or don't have the extra cash to pay for a child-friendly class? Beltsville mom Holly Baun was in the same boat until she stumbled upon http://www.seemommyrun.com, a site that helps mothers find or start a stroller-pushing, running or walking group.

Baun started the Beltsville Strollers through the site about two years ago when she had one child. She continues to lead power walks near the Beltsville Community Center while pushing her 3-year-old and 16-month-old in a double-jogger up to three times a week.

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