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fitness instructor

Family, Fitness

What to Expect at a Babywearing Dance Class

If you have been watching YouTube over the last year, you might have seen viral videos of new parents dancing around wearing their babies like this one. The parents were taking a group exercise class called Groovearoo in San Diego, and they are having a blast. When I saw it, I was 7 months pregnant and excited to try a class in our city. But when baby came, I quickly learned that  we didn’t have any local babywearing classes.

I wish I could say that I decided right then and there to start teaching a babywearing dance class. I used to teach Zumba. I had a baby. Heck, I had four baby carriers. But the thought never crossed my mind. I was a new mom trying to make it through each day.

Then when I was taking a baby and me yoga class last summer, we all started chatting about the YouTube videos of babywearing dancers and lamenting the fact that we didn’t have a local class.

“You know, you really should teach that,” one mom said to me.

Wow. Me? Yeah. Hmmm…Could I? I guess I had the qualifications. I had a baby to dance with, and I started to realize that it really was something I could do. It would just take research and some practice.

And that is how I began teaching a babywearing dance class last fall.

If you are new to babywearing dance, below are some tips based on my experience to help you and your baby have a positive dance experience and actually want to come back again and again.

So what is babywearing dance class all about? 

Parents come to class with their babies, diaper bag (super important) and a baby carrier that provides proper support for baby as well as comfort for Mom or Dad (you are dancing after all).

Although I wore my little one last fall when I taught, most instructors are not wearing babies. The job of the instructor is to keep you both safe while leading you through a low impact workout that allows you to have fun. Please check in with your instructor if you are new to their babywearing dance class. They can check the fit of your carrier and provide you with any information you need to have a fun and safe experience in their class.

 

What kind of carrier should I use? 

Seriously, do not scrimp on a carrier with solid support. And quadruple check that your baby fits properly inside. You don’t want your baby falling out or chaffing against you during class. And absolutely no slings.

Ergo carriers are great. The BabyBjorn One Air is another model that provides back support and is breathable. I have seen multiple brands and styles that have worked very well. It really is all about making sure that the carrier is safe for the baby and is comfortable for you as you dance.

How long are classes?

Classes are usually 30 minutes to an hour and allow you multiple breaks to cool off, check on baby, change diapers, feed, etc. And if you decide you have had enough, there is no shame in leaving early. We have all been there. Sometimes you need to call it a day to ensure you want to come back for the next class.

What else should I do to ensure I’m dancing safely? 

Dancing by yourself is going to make you sweat. Now strap on a 10-15 lb. heater to the front of your body. Sweat will be poring into your eyes, and quickly. And imagine how baby feels as sweat rains down upon them. You need to take many more breaks than you would if you were working out solo to check on baby’s temperature and make sure you don’t overheat.

Also, this is not the time for high impact jumps or complicated moves. You can’t swing your arms like you normally can. If you do, then you risk smacking your baby in the face. It’s best to just not.

A beautiful visual of parent-tot bonding, right? 

It really is the most beautiful visual at the beginning of class before you begin to sweat. Remember, your baby is a little heater. And if you take breaks and keep it low impact, then you both should feel great by the end.

I am an instructor. How do I learn to teach a babywearing class? And should I teach while wearing my baby?

Currently the only babywearing certification I know of is through Groovearoo. Depending on your exercise background, you may be able to design a class on your own. Be very careful if you choose the DIY option. Do your research, err on the side of caution and ask your participants to sign waivers (which is a good practice in general).

I taught while wearing my 6-month-old daughter. I knew going into it that it would be challenging, but I wanted the experience. After a couple of classes, I realized if my baby wasn’t happy, the tone of the class would dissolve quickly. So I had someone standing by to take her in case there were problems. The extra logistics made wearing my baby while teaching unsustainable. Although we had fun, I wouldn’t recommend wearing your own baby while teaching on a regular basis. Dance with your baby at home or as a participant in another instructor’s class. When you are teaching you need to focus on your participants. In fact, you could wear a baby doll in a carrier if you want to model the movements and carrier fit without the risk of a baby meltdown. 🙂

I hope these tips are helpful. Please Contact Me if you have individual questions or feel free to leave a comment below.

Zumbathon 2012
Fitness

20 Years of Teaching Fitness

It’s official. This month I have been teaching fitness for 20 years.

It feels like I was just teaching high impact and step classes while pitching the beat on my mixed tapes. As I think back, it’s amazing how far group fitness has come in 20 years, and I’m not just talking about the move to digital music or the rise and fall of step classes. Now there are so many types of workouts to choose from, and there really is a group exercise class for everyone.

I’ve been a fitness instructor for my entire adult life, and I’ve seen a lot of fitness trends come and go. It’s exciting to see more formats sticking around for longer periods of time. This means that we all benefit from the cross training that various class options provide. Back in the day, I used to teach 10+ step classes a week, and my knees got nice and tired of it. Now with many different classes to choose from, both participants and instructors can cross train to build strength and reduce injury.

I have specialized in fewer fitness formats over the years, and have given up trying to teach everything. This seems to work well as I have less time to spend learning new formats and putting together routines. It just feels right.

OK, so it’s been 20 years. What’s next?

I’ll continue teaching Zumba, of course, and I’m excited to try some new workouts this year. And I look forward to subbing some yoga classes here and there so I can flex my yoga teaching muscles before they completely atrophy.

And I’m going to continue to integrate exercise into playtime with my little one. Whether it’s dancing around the living room or enjoying some giggle burpees, playing definitely burns calories. Also, the jogging stroller is a great way to get a run in when we have a little extra time. She enjoys the fresh air and I get my heart rate up for 20 to 30 minutes. (30 minutes seems to be the top end of my little one’s current stroller tolerance.)

And I plan to stream my workouts again. When I used to take a lot of business trips, I absolutely LOVED streaming yoga classes on my computer in my hotel room. It was an inexpensive way to workout while traveling. Streaming fitness classes is becoming more and more popular, and I’m up for streaming more workouts when I am traveling or unable to make it to the gym.

And most of all, I’m looking forward to 20 more years of teaching fitness and the new fitness trends that are yet to be.

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