Before my first pregnancy, ‘exercise’ was walking 200m to the shops, to buy chocolate. If you had told the ‘pre-kids’ me, that one day, not only would I join an exercise class . . . but I’d still be there over two years later, I would have laughed at you.
But Kangatraining isn’t just any exercising class.
Kangatraining is a babywearing fitness class for mum and babies. One of the biggest positives of Kangatraining, is that not only do you bring your baby to class, they are an active and important part of the workout!
Yep. Your baby is part of the workout. You exercise with them and dance with them, and as they grow heavier, your body grows stronger. There’s no need to arrange childcare or creche or pay extra to have someone else look after them, save that money and use it on much needed coffee instead!
For me, Kangatraining is as much special bonding time with first Ziggy, and then Jagger, as it is time to focus on my physical wellbeing.
What if you have more than one child? Do you need to work in Kanga with Kindy days or arrange childcare for your older child? Nope! In our Kangatraining class (and others around New Zealand) older children are welcome. Many older children come along to our class and dance with their favourite doll in a doll carrier, or play on the stage or under the stairs. Some also try to kill us by weaving through our legs as we dance, but those of us with cats at home have had plenty of ‘death-weave’ practise and avoid them with ease.
Kangatraining Hamilton’s awesome instructor Georgie.
The other special part of Kangatraining is the focus on your body as a woman who has given birth. Which might seem like a weird thing to mention, but seriously, until you have a post birth issue, whether that be prolapse or incontinence, you just don’t realise how little importance is placed on the health of a women’s body post birth.
Until Kangatraining, my ‘post birth’ check went as far as a ‘so how are you doing?’ at my baby’s 6 week GP visit.
My Kangatrainer was the first person to check me for abdominal separation; she was the first person to show me how to do an effective pelvic floor movement; the first person to share with me the magical words ‘You should go and see a Womens Health Physio’.
And not because I am a special case, but because that’s an integral part of Kangatraining. Yes you work out your legs and arms and thighs and abs, but you also adjust your movements if you have abdominal separation, and there is time taken, not just to stretch, but for pelvic floor work, and conversations are had and nothing is off limits.
It wasn’t until Kangatraining that I realised how useless the gym I had attended in the past was, when it came to showing care for my body.
During my first Kangatraining class I was nervous as hell. You see, while there was ‘easy’ stuff, like floor work and arm reps and squats and lunges (I say easy based on the level of coordination required, not effort) there was also . . . gasp . . . choreography! To actual music!
I don’t dance. Anyone who has seen my recent Insta Stories will tell you my body does not flow to the music. I have no grace and very little rhythm. And while the steps at Kanga were simple, and the level of ‘co’ needed was low, it took me right back to being a nervous, self-conscious teen who skirted the edge of the dance floor looking for a dark corner to hide in.
It was so far out of my comfort zone I almost didn’t go back to my second class.
But you know what? Very few of us are born with antelope-like grace, and while I was a tripping mess, I wasn’t the only tripping mess, in fact, everyone was quite happy to laugh at themselves and just how terrible we all were compared to our rhythmic Kangatrainer.
And so, I went back. And I went back. And I stopped a bit when I was pregnant with our second baby, but once I was okay to exercise and my vagina had fallen back in again, I went back.
Why did I keep going back? Exercise and I have never been friends. PE class gave me anxiety. You know the kid no one wants on their team cause they are can’t catch the ball and they get picked last for everything? Yeah, that was me.
So to join a group exercise class was so far from what I ever imagined doing, and I have no idea what made me sign up, but I was seriously sleep deprived at the time and making questionable decisions.
But I went back.
Because Kangatraining is so much more than an exercise class. Yes, it feels good to get out of the house and get the heart pumping. Yes, it feels good to work up a sweat. Yes, it feels good to realise that hey, I’m getting stronger and fitter and I no longer pee when I sneeze.
But mainly I go back to Kangatraining because it’s for ME, not just as a person needing exercise in her life, but for me as a mum with a baby. Kangatraining understand that I am a MUM, with a BABY, and all that entails.
I don’t have to apologise for being a mum. I’m not made to feel bad if I turn up late, or if I’m having an off day, or if my baby is crying and I have to sit down and feed in the middle of arm reps. Because every other woman in class is a mum too, and they get it.
They get the bad days, and the struggle days, and the days where it was a challenge to get out of bed. They get the exhaustion and the irritable baby and the tears for no reason. And they understand, and they smile, and they hug and they make sure you are okay.
Kangatraining is more than just an exercise class.
It’s a community.
There are Kangatraining classes throughout New Zealand, and opportunities to become a Kangatrainer yourself. Have a look.
This blog was written in collaboration with Kangatraining Hamilton. Except for the very first photo, all the beautiful images used are by Lara Connors Photographer.
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I wish we had this in Canada!