Everyone says that becoming a parent changes everything. In October, I became a mom for the first time and found out that everyone was right.
While I adore this baby and this new phase of life, I’ve quickly realized how difficult it is for new moms to keep up the activities of their pre-baby lives with an infant—specifically, working out.
Tori Levine, founder of Babies at the Barre, felt the same way.
When Levine gave birth to her son in 2015, she experienced the overwhelming feeling common to new mothers—her time was no longer her own. In her pre-baby life, she was a pilates and barre instructor. She wanted to resume work and to get back into shape, but she didn’t want to leave her son with a babysitter to go to work.
“Working moms often don’t want to leave their babies for a moment longer than they have to,” Levine said. “I wanted to provide an option for them to get a good work out and bond with their baby.”
Levine decided to carry her baby while she taught classes. As people asked her about it, she realized there was an interest in this type of exercise—that other moms wanted to resume working out, but didn’t want to leave their babies at home to do so.
“I started teaching baby-wearing classes to other new moms,” said Levine, who holds classes at five locations in the Harrisburg area. “We also focused on how to get back in shape safely and effectively. Many gyms offer boot camp for new moms. I just don’t think that’s the best or safest way to get back in shape.”
Levine’s classes evolved and grew to meet the needs of new moms, and after a few months, Babies at the Barre was established.
Babies at the Barre provides a way for mothers to work out with their baby—literally. Moms wear their babies in carriers or use them as weights while doing all the activities of a Barre class—squatting, lifting and stretching. I decided to take my 8-week-old along to a class to learn what it was about.
We spent the majority of class wearing our babies in carriers. Part of Levine’s motives in starting Babies at the Barre was to provide emotional support and community for new moms, so we began the class by chatting.
“I like for moms to be able to share what they’re going through—what went well this week, what didn’t go well, how they are connecting with their babies,” she said.
After warming up and sharing, we began our workout. Levine likes to focus on small, executed movements to help women recover and strengthen the muscles that are weak after giving birth.
“So many gyms just focus on getting your body back,” said Levine. “You will get your body back, but it’s also about learning correct posture and strengthening weak muscles. It’s about helping your body recover.”
Levine’s classes are about an hour in length. I found them to be movement-focused, and my baby slept happily in the Ergobaby carrier the whole way through. It was a great way to work out, meet other moms, and do something fun with my baby.
For mothers who can’t get to the gym or who live out of town, Levine also offers online classes. Classes are given live and still offer participants the opportunity to meet and connect with other moms.
By the end of the hour, I learned that Levine’s Babies at the Barre classes offer much more than a way to burn calories. They are about restoring your body while connecting with your baby, and they offer a way to meet other moms. I left with a great workout under my belt, and, maybe most importantly, a chance to talk with other new moms in the same stage of life. There is tremendous power and solidarity in being able to say, “Me too!” Levine’s class provided a place to do that over plié squats.
Tori Levine teaches Babies at the Barre classes at five locations in the Harrisburg area. For information about classes, pricing and schedules, visit www.babiesatthebarre.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Other instructors teach classes in the Carlisle, York and Lancaster areas.
Author: Rachael Dymski