On a recent Thursday at 10:30 a.m., one mother holds a plank position as her pigtailed toddler breastfeeds from the yoga mat beneath her. Five other mothers, some pregnant, exercise beside her. Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” blasts from the speakers. Five toddlers scurry around the gym, chasing each other and playing with yoga balls and ankle weights. Their mothers watch them in the studio’s floor-length mirrors. From his carrier, one infant tracks his mother as she smiles and works out in front of him.
“Lets take a quick break, get some water, and check on the babies,” announces Kim Goodman, creator and trainer of Mommycise Fitness.
It’s just a typical morning at this baby-oriented gym in Fort Lauderdale. Disappointed by too-easy Mommy & Me workouts and limited daycare options at local gyms (especially for mothers with newborns), Kim Goodman created Mommycise Fitness in February 2014. Rather than treating children as an obstacle to a mother’s workout routine, the single mother of three turned exercise trainer knew there was a way children could be used to a mother’s advantage. So, she baby-proofed her gym and created a regimen with modifications for pregnant mothers and those who need to hold their children during workouts. In turn, women receive butt-busting workouts aimed at shedding stubborn baby weight. For children, the gym is like a giant playpen. They spend the class socializing with other kids or watching their moms (it all depends on age and clinginess).
“It’s a win-win,” Goodman says. “Half the moms here are pregnant and have [their workouts] cleared with the doctor. They’ll keep coming until 39 weeks and come back as soon as the next day after delivering.”
Moms feel relieved here. Goodman's children typically run around the gym. There's no minimum age for babies. Most gyms require children to be at least six months old to be watched at daycare — and even then, mothers worry about the quality of the supervision and cleanliness.
Stephanie Holmes, a mom who comes to the gym with her toddler, Kelea, agrees. “You can actually work out with your baby, and you never have to worry because it’s a safe place.”
Whereas a trainer at another gym might berate you for stopping midworkout, Goodman understands that sometimes children need to be tended to. Leslie Pegg, a pregnant mom who comes to the gym with her toddler, Mila, says breastfeeding and diaper changes are common during a session. “No one judges if you have to nurse in the middle of class or when your kids are fussy,” she says. “It’s so convenient. A little mishap happens, and you get to run over and talk to them.”
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The biggest misconception at Mommycise is that the workouts aren’t intense. Amanda Arana says that she gained 60 pounds during pregnancy with her son, four-month-old Nico. She came to Goodman and worked out three or four times a week. Now Arana says she is in the best shape of her life.
“The exercises are painful. My thighs will hurt so bad the next day,” Arana says. “But this is also the most muscle I’ve ever had, and I can carry [Nico] now for longer distances.”
The gym also socializes kids, who often haven't interacted with others. It’s an added bonus that the moms get to catch up too. “Nico started crawling and walking here... Two little girls have kissed him,” Arana says. “I also get to socialize with the moms.”
Mommycise Fitness. 1845 Cordova Rd., Fort Lauderdale. There is a second outpost in Palmetto Bay in Miami.