Training with a New Born

Having a new born in your life makes it harder to fit in exercise. Along with the usual demands in your life, a 9 to 5 job, cleaning, cooking, shopping, eating, you now have the all-hours demands of a baby taking up all your energy. Time is definitely more scarce, but you might also have a new-found desire to stay healthy and active to set a good example for your child, and to keep up with them. Here are some tips:

Find a place to train

When I gave up free-weights I also cancelled my gym membership and moved all my training to the home. I thought this would mean that baby would cause minimum disruption. That was not the case. If I’m at home I’m either with baby or catching up on house chores. I’ve joined a gym near my office to fit in training before work or during lunch. Find somewhere to train thats within walking distance of work, or your home, you can’t waste time commuting.

Have a flexible workout schedule

Bad weather or a traffic incident and the morning bus will crawl into town at a snails pace, add to that a busy day in the office and a fussy baby when you get home and suddenly the pre-work workout you had planned has drifted from 8am to 1pm to 9pm. You’ve got to go along with this and seize your training opportunities whatever the time.

Lazy Workouts

Late nights and broken sleep can mean the you only get a few hours sleep and the next days workout will suffer as a result. Its okay to just go through the motions sometimes, not every workout has to be 100%.

Be prepared to miss some days

I used to say, “don’t let one bad day become two bad days”, now its “don’t let two bad days days become three”. Some workout days will be missed and you won’t catch up, just make sure to get back to it asap.

Equipment-less training

Bodyweight training is a major advantage with a new born. Operating a flexible schedule won’t be as easy if you need big pieces of equipment like bench presses and squat racks that are only at the gym. Having some equipment-less (or close to it) exercises like wall-walks or parallettes will be beneficial for that 11pm session.

Its all great

Baby changes so quickly that if you hit on a routine that works one week, it can easily become obsolete the next. These challenges are real and baby will get in the way of your training goals. Baby will have a negative impact on your training, but rest assured its absolutely, completely, without a doubt worth it. Being a Dad is the best.

Training with baby
Hello, I’m Batman

Underdog Boxing

I decided to try my hand at a boxing inspired fitness class, a bit of a change from the Ballet inspired fitness class I tried before.

IMAG1033The set up at Underdog is great. Lockers, showers, reception, waiting area, and the gym in general is well looked after, and well kitted out, with heavy bags, speed bags and a boxing ring. At my first class I noticed that most of the other people had brought their own boxing gloves, I learned why when we were asked to glove-up and I put my hand into a very sweaty glove. I decided if I wanted to continue with this class I’d also have to buy my own gloves, which I have. Aldi were conveniently selling boxing gloves so I bought them with my weekly shop.

The classes are pretty intensive, lots of jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers. These are exercises that I’m more accustomed to from the Rushfit I do, so I figured I’d make it to the end of this class pretty easily, but when exhaustion set in and I looked up at the clock, we were only 15mins into an hour long class! I knew then I was going to get my moneys worth.

The “boxing” element of these classes comes from the heavy bag work. You work with a partner if its busy, by yourself if its not, and you alternate from IMAG1019exercises like burpees and mountain climbers, to hitting the bag, and the class carries on like this for an hour with variations in the exercises throughout. Hitting the bag is what I found most fun, but by the end, I was hitting the bag a lot softer and slower than at the beginning. Its a shoulder workout like no other. One of the new instructors is adding in more boxing combinations which is a nice change from the standard one-two. A choice quote from the instructor when he asked us to improvise the combinations, “just hit the bleedin’ thing”.

The boy-girl ratio is about 50/50, but it varies on class by class basis. I’ll keep going to this gym from time to time, its a fun element to add to my workouts.

Leg Raises

This is a great exercise for the lower abs. Leg raises can be done hanging from a bar, hanging from the rings, supporting yourself on a vertical bench, or, as in my video, supporting yourself on the rings.

The idea is to keep your legs as straight as you can and lift them up in front of you as far as possible, hold, and then lower them back toward the floor. When in the lowered position, your feet should be hovering above the ground but not touching the ground.

Keep your movement slow and controlled. The effort of hanging or supporting your body is not really part of the exercise, and moving too fast will cause your body to swing which we don’t want, since the focus here is on the lower abs.

Doing this exercise with bent knees will enable you do to more reps, with a longer range of motion. The bent knee version is good if you can’t to full leg raises, or if you’re exhausted from full leg raises but still want to keep going.

No Excuses

One of the hardest parts of trying to stay fit and healthy is winning the mental battle between the part of your brain that wants to be in shape, and the part of your brain that wants to rest.

Travelling is a great excuse not to train. This week I travelled to San Francisco for a few days and the excuses I came up with were:

  • I’ve travelled so far its okay to take a break
  • I’m in the wrong time zone so I’m tired
  • Its a short trip so missing a few days is okay
  • I don’t have access to my normal equipment / routine / food

I came up with these excuses to trick myself into taking it easy, but I also knew that I’d be annoyed with myself if I didn’t train. You have to find ways around the mental obstacles, you may not get the same workout as at home, but you can certainly do your best.

In my case, the timezone change was a disadvantage in the evenings, but an advantage in the mornings. I could get my workouts done in the early hours of the morning. I didn’t want to run around streets I don’t know at 4am, so I used the hotel gym. Normally I prefer the outside world to the human hamster wheel that is the treadmill but in this case, its okay to make an exception and use the hotel gym treadmill. A typical hotel gym with typical hotel gym equipment is not the type of place I like training in, but all I needed to do was move some equipment, make some space, and now I have the room needed for some bodyweight training.

This mirror will do for some bodyweight training
This mirror will do for some bodyweight training

Its also good to not deprive yourself. I’m in America and I want a big American breakfast, so I went for it, more than once. Its not the healthiest but life is for living as well as exercising. My workouts were not as intense as they would normally have been, so maybe a few excuses did creep in, but I can go home happy in the knowledge that I’m still on track and ready to return to normal with only the smallest of interruptions.

Indulgent Breakfast - yes please!
Indulgent Breakfast – yes please!

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