Through pregnancy, postpartum struggles and even a pandemic, fitness has been a constant for me—my reliable companion.
Prior to pregnancy, I could often be found on the elliptical at the gym. About halfway through my first pregnancy in 2017, I found myself struggling a bit with cardio, so I decided to try something different. I purchased a prenatal barre program and fell in love. I loved the low impact—yet incredibly toning—nature of the format. I continued the program until the day I went into labor.
A couple of months postpartum, I somehow found the courage to attend my very first in-person barre class. I was hooked, and within the next 2 1/2 years, I would attend several hundred group fitness classes.
In 2019, I found myself suffering insomnia during my second pregnancy. The anxiety was unbearable. It affected my work, my parenting and my sanity. However, I still attended a few fitness classes per week.
They were a savior for my mental health. They distracted me and made me feel a bit in control.
After the birth of my second child, I returned to fitness classes and then … COVID-19. I followed along with virtual workouts from home but was missing the energy of in-person classes. Once the warm weather returned, I started attending outdoor, socially distant, kid-friendly workouts with my youngest child. I would drive 40 minutes each way to attend. On one of my drives, I asked myself, “Why aren’t these options in my community in northern Baltimore County and southern York County, Pennsylvania?”
That August, I got certified and created my own outdoor, kid-friendly fitness community, marketed via the Facebook group MOM BOD: Outdoor & Virtual Fitness in MD/PA.
We had a great summer and fall. As the weather cooled, I questioned how I could continue to serve the community in a safe, COVID-cautious manner. In December 2020, I decided to shift my community from exclusively outdoors to exclusively virtual—and make it completely free. Within one month, we grew by 2,000 members. We have about two dozen local instructors leading multiple classes per day. During the spring months, we’ll be instructing outdoor classes again and planning events in neighboring counties in our area.
Fitness has been a savior for me, through all my stages of motherhood—the pregnancy struggles, the postpartum anxiety and the pandemic desperation. Movement is therapy. Just 30 minutes a few times a week brings mental and physical benefits.
I encourage you, caregivers, to get moving today—however you can. Whether it is a brisk outdoor walk, a virtual workout or a bike ride with the kids—get moving. Your body and mind will thank you.
Alycia Edwards (@howtogetamombod on Instagram, [email protected]) is a fitness instructor, social media specialist and proud mom of two.