I run only in my dreams.

It’s a joke I tell, but it’s also my truth. On more than one occasion, I have felt what runners describe–a breeze on my face, the moment when you break through the burning in your muscles and hit a stride, the endorphins. And then I wake up. 

Until about a year ago, regular exercise was not a part of my routine. I lost the baby weight from my first son while breastfeeding, then gained 10 pounds immediately when he weaned. A while later, I got pregnant and miscarried, gaining a bit more from the pregnancy, hormones, and the lingering sadness. So after my third pregnancy and the birth of my second child, I decided to do something different. I joined an exercise group for moms. 

And, Fellow Mama, joining that exercise group changed my world. 

After 10 classes, I could hold a 30 second plank and I was jogging during the cardio laps. We bought a double-stroller and I brought both kids with me (they did great!). And I formed instant relationships with the other moms. We talk about all sorts of things–and the conversations are so uplifting. I’m 50 classes in now. I go for the exercise, I go to take care of myself for an hour, and I go for the fellowship. 

If you’re thinking, My kids won’t cooperate:

My infant doesn’t know any differently because we started when he was young, and my toddler learned quickly. The peer pressure of seeing all of the other kids in their strollers made a difference. And at the end of class, he and I repeat some of the exercises together. I love that I can set a positive example for my kids. The instructors and other women are moms, too, and our kids all take turns being grumpy. Everyone gets it, and taking a quick lap with the stroller while the group finishes up their burpees usually staves off the major meltdown.

If you’re thinking, I’m not in shape:

You Do You. In any given class, moms are walking while others are running. Some (including me) adapt different exercises with guidance from the instructor. Everyone has something that jiggles. 

If you’re thinking, I can exercise at home:

Yes, you can. And with the current COVID-19 situation, you’ll have to (see below). But I cannot say enough about how important it has been to be able to leave the house, the laundry, the mess. To just be with other moms. The accountability, the community, the gesture to myself that I get to carve time out of my week for myself–all of that MATTERS.

Have I inspired you to get moving yet, my Fellow Mama?

Here are a few local, Atlanta fitness companies/locations that have programs for women–either with childcare or classes that include young children. Currently, all of them are offering (or are in the process of offering) online content in response to social-distancing guidelines. 

If you aren’t ready, or aren’t in a position financially to join one of these groups, find some friends or fellow mamas and exercise (virtually) together. Or set up a regular time to call a friend while you walk the neighborhood. This week, I joined a Zoom conference in my garage while the baby chilled in a stroller and the toddler played with some sand. It can be done, so let’s get moving, Mama! You deserve it!