Is your baby a kettlebell?
Suspension ropes, gym balls, yoga mats — who needs them? In certain circles right now, all that’s required for a decent workout is a baby. Preferably a nine-month-old, of average weight, who you can bench-press in your living room between screaming fits, vomiting episodes and nappy changes. Or is that just my baby?
Kettlebelling your kids, or using your baby as a sort of dumbbell or resistance weight, is the latest yummy-mummy workout trend. “Cancel that gym membership and forget that babysitter! Now you can engage your core while also engaging with your child,” reads the blurb for Peggy Tanous’s Total Body Workout with Your Toddler DVD. “You can finally get rid of those stubborn excess baby pounds while holding your child, which integrates essential resistance training.” It’s fronted by glamorous “Instamums”, so you can take your lead from Gisele, who likes to balance her son on her legs while she practises yoga at sunset (natch).
(Rachael McKenna)Or how about Elena Perminova, the Russian blogger and wife of Alexander Lebedev, who recently posted videos of herself doing planks with a toddler on her back aboard her superyacht? For Miranda Kerr, it’s all about squatting with your baby: “I like to do my workouts at home so that I can be with my son. Sometimes I will do squats while holding him as a weight. He likes that — he thinks it’s funny.”
I think it’s funny, too. Actually, I think it’s hilarious: you can’t help but watch, slack-jawed, when a Lululemon-clad woman starts doing sit-ups while simultaneously pushing her baby on the swing next to you. And try keeping a straight face as she drop-squats while spinning him on the roundabout (this all happened in an east London park near me just last week.) One thing’s for sure — if you’re not Gisele, it takes a brave woman to perform a baby workout surrounded by tired, grumpy and possibly hungover mums.
Fit Moms of Instagram has 185K followersBut for those very same knackered mothers, isn’t the “mummy and me” workout just a canny use of your time? “For women who don’t have time to go to classes, it’s great,” says Joan Murphy, co-founder of the London fitness studio Frame, which has introduced mum-friendly classes that include baby-based resistance training. “The good thing about a baby is you get stronger as they get heavier. It’s like upping your weights gradually. It’s progressive training without having to think about it.”
She is the first to admit there are safety issues to bear in mind, however. “You need to use common sense. To be able to bench-press a baby over your head, they need to be old enough to be able to hold their head up, for example. And make sure it’s a safe environment. Also, if you’re not that familiar with exercise, you shouldn’t be squatting with a 13lb child.”
There was internet outrage after the Russian model Ymre Stiekema was snapped jogging with baby, bikini and BugabooTry telling that to the Fit Moms of Instagram (185K followers). Wedged between the naff quotes (“I have a six-pack, a kid and no excuse”) are videos of giggling babies riding their mum’s backs while said parent does press-ups (#fitmom, #yogamoms, #empowered), and women with stomachs that in no way resemble the “mum tum”. Inspiring or irritating? When Bugaboo recently released a shot of a hot, ripped model in a bikini running with its new buggy — specifically designed to be used while jogging — the online backlash was deafening. “Bugaboo, we need to talk, and by ‘we’ I mean me and whoever decided this is a good way to reach your target demographic of normal, average, everyday mums who might have some soft spots on their bodies left over from housing a foetus for 10 months,” wrote one Facebook user.
For Murphy, it’s not that complicated: incorporating your child into your gym routine is simply part of a “bigger movement of mums wanting to work out”. Her 19-month-old son loves it; my 19-month daughter giggled, then shouted, then did a small vomit over me when I gave it a go. You have been warned.