Eek. I am cringing writing that title. If you have seen me out in public (okay, Walmart) in my baggy pants and husband’s old sweatshirt, trying to run in and grab milk before my windows break from the screams of hungry children, it may not look like it, but I am better off under all that sweater material than I was a year ago. So, before we go any further, I will admit that there are many, many more women out there who look, and are, much more qualified to write about being a fit mommy…but I am going to do it anyway!
Two years ago, I joined the YMCA and began going to the Hamilton Family location on Shallowford Road. Every day. You can read more about why here, but the desperateness came from being unexpectedly pregnant while having two children, two years and under, and still sporting most of the previous pregnancy padding. After baby #3 came along, I was too completely exhausted and sleep deprived to care about my physical well being. Which I understand is kind of ironic, considering that if I would have paid a little more attention to my physical well being, I am not have wound up as I did. Finally, after getting through my “fourth trimester” and then some, and still very sluggish, heavy, and breastfeeding NOT doing it’s very well known job of whittling down my hips, I admitted that it was time to get back to the gym. If nothing else, the chance to get 1-2 hours of peace of an elliptical without needing to be the first responder to my three wild men.
Wait, did you hear that?! Did you KNOW that the YMCA is one of the limited fitness centers in this area to offer free childcare while you workout? Hey, I didn’t know until I heard from a friend of mine shortly before I joined the first time. And this is why we go every day we can. The Child Watch team at the Hamilton Family YMCA has become dear friends of my children. They will play basketball with them, color pictures, do interpretive dances, pretend to be superheros, keep up with their current trending shows (what 20 year old knows who Paw Patrol is?), and watch for potty signs and wipe up the accidents if they don’t make it in time. All with friendly smiles and a “Have a nice workout!”
Mothers, if you feel stuck at home or like you are constantly having to find places to go to entertain your children, the YMCA is a wonderful place to bring them, where they can enjoy being with other children, under good supervision, and you can breathe for a little bit.
Or breathe a little harder. The second best thing about joining the YMCA was the focus I was able to put back into improving my health.
Pregnancy does a number of crazy things to your body and then stacking motherhood on top of it morphs you into someone you can’t recognize in the mirror. Any exercise I had done during the last pregnancy had vanished and I entered the Activity Center like a gun-shy horse who really didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. Much less being around people who seemed to know what they were doing! All I had ever done, even though I played soccer in college, was run. Everyone says running is how you lose weight, right? But my body was so tired and the bouncing and pounding on my joints was unbearable.
Thankfully, a wonderful group of true fit mommies pounced on me after a few weeks and demanded I join their workout group. New words were introduced into my vernacular, like burpees, deadlifts, tabata, AMRAP, and thrusters. It was awesome. Lifting weights and building up muscle was exhausting and fulfilling. After a few weeks, I wasn’t as tired when I had to carry the car seat to the car. I could mow the lawn without huffing and puffing. Every time I pushed through a workout, I could tell that it was going to help me have the energy to keep up with the crazies at home.
I completely believe in doing what works for you, but if you are a mother who is lacking in energy, the drive to keep up with children, please don’t pass this by unless you consider first whether your body is able to physically handle the demands of parenting. It may be what you are missing and not knowing you need!
Along with the exercise and the accountability came a wonderful camaraderie and togetherness among our group. We have discussed a wide range of topics while lifting or running together: breastfeeding (usually one of the most common), husbands (close to #1), OBGYNs, politics, tv shows, foster care, how to get a bad sleeper back on track, even Stephen Curry has popped up once or twice. The group dynamics are always changing, always giving each of us time with one another that brings out a mutual desire to share and be shared with advice, trials, joys and the funny stories about our kids no one else really cares to hear. And how important is that? So very, very important.
Females are relational beings who like to know and be known, to be able to share in someone else’s story, to see someone else struggle similarly and give confidence that “this too shall pass.” I come away from my times with these women being enriched, uplifted and relieved slightly of the burden many young mothers feel, that no one knows what they are going through. Our group is only one of many. Well, we might be the only ones who drop weights on our feet, bust noses with medicine balls, and fall over trying to jump on a box, but there are many more normal fit mommy groups to be found at the YMCA.
Other wonderful fitness bonuses that are offered are classes, many of which are offered at all hours of the day. It took me about six months to muster up the courage to do my first class (TurboKick), but I should not have waited so long. The instructors are willing to take anyone, and even give alternative options to moves that may be too complex for a beginner. The fast-paced and upbeat classes are a great way to incorporate workouts which would almost be impossible to do on your own. Even though some of the rooms are full of mirrors, the only person you will end up looking at is yourself…and that goes for everyone else too! These classes can be a great way to incorporate a schedule to your day, if you treat it like a meeting you can’t afford to miss.
If you are now totally and completely interesting in joining this awesome organization (which has three locations in Chattanooga!), click right here to learn more about it. There are a variety of levels of memberships, all of which you can obtain more information about pricing and benefits by emailing or calling. A special that is running right now is that if you join before April 30th, your joining fee will be waived! If you wait too long, you can also have this waived by being referred by a friend. Any questions you have will be answered by the kind, attentive staff that works very hard to make the YMCA a comfortable environment.
The last thing I have to point out is that the YMCA also offers financial assistance. If everything sounds too good to not be a part of, and yet you still aren’t sure you can stretch your budget to meet another monthly payment, please contact them about financial assistance. “The YMCA is for everyone regardless of race, religion, gender, age, income or ability.” And they really do mean it.