The Wall Street Journal labeled 2012 as the “Year of the Fit Mom.” Funny, my friends, who are 1970s babies, and I have been fit moms for about 14 years. I was a three sport athlete in high school (volleyball, basketball, and track) and a College Division I volleyball player. After college I wanted to remain active so I became a group fitness instructor, coach, and personal trainer and have remained so for the last 20 years.
Not exercising was never an option. I was even chosen as a winner of a better body challenge after my first pregnancy weight gain of 50 lbs (placing me at 210lbs). I won because I had to get back into shape. It is my nature. I am an athlete.
Understanding the history of my generation, the Title IX generation, we never knew life not being allowed to participate in sports. The fit mom trend is probably more of a result of a larger population of women who generally has more active lifestyles before having kids and therefore want to continue their fitness activities. The only thing new is corporate marketers catching up with those of us who know that fitness is a lifestyle that does not stop with pregnancy or motherhood.
So, how do you navigate the information all the information being produced to target fit moms and stay healthy while using a research based method of exercise program development?
Stick to the experts. The American College of Sport Medicine is highly regarded when it comes to exercise protocol. They develop and analyze research to ensure they produce exercise guidelines for frequency, intensity, time, and type for all elements of fitness: cardiorespiratory, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition. The top respected fitness certifying agencies in the nation follow these guidelines: NASM, NSCA, ACE, and Cooper. NASM progresses exercisers through an OPT (optimum performance training) model where balance, joint range of motion, and basis of strength are the building blocks of any goal oriented, injury prevention program. The San Antonio Spurs have been training their athletes using the OPT model for years and their recent NBA Championship is proof to the OPT method of training.
There are programs for new moms and old moms like me that are research based, injury preventive, and goal oriented. Many gyms or community fitness centers have certified trainers and fitness instructors who are knowledgeable in the necessary periodization (annual plan for exercise based on the individuals goals and/or competition schedule) for anyone starting a new exercise program. Look for certifications from those listed above. Also, look for a trainer with a degree in the field of exercise science.
Or, get a degree yourself! Often, a master’s degree is perfect for this next stage in life. I got mine when I was 30 years old and had two small children. I wanted to gain the education to propel my career to the next level, and it did. I now teach future trainers, group fitness instructors, and coaches how to train clients and manage their businesses. American Public University, where I teach, offers an all online masters in Exercise Science with a focus on practical application, including NASM curriculum in select courses.
Take it from this Division I athlete, fitness personality, trainer, and coach: do what makes you feel good. Embrace your body. Love the changes and change what you can. Look to the status of your children and the smile of your spouse as a measure of your overall health and fitness. Decide to make a difference in the lives of your children and your community by learning to exercise based on proven research and not in reaction to baseless fads.
About the Author
Jenny is professor at in the Sports and Health Sciences program at American Public University. She is currently working on her PhD from NCU in Education. She is the mother of two (15 and 12). Her passions are her family (married 19 years), volleyball (beach and indoor), and anything having to do with teaching. Her favorite exercise routine as a mom: morning cardio and Bible reading, followed by yoga.