The Wellness Mom Workout – Q&A with Fitness Chameleon Kate Laird

Photos courtesy of Kate Laird. 

This isn’t your average fitness class. When you first walk in, you might be a bit taken aback by all the kids running around as the super-powered moms partake in CrossFit-like activity. Medicine balls, rowing machines and weights are just a few of the tools that will get your back into those pre-baby jeans and make you feel connected and empowered by all the other people in the class who are going through the same life changes as you are.

I first heard about Mom & Baby fitness from a close friend who, at the time, had two kids under two and was seeing great results from the class. I was told to bring snacks, toys and my runners. My first class was a striking reminder that I hadn’t visited a gym in a while and that if I wanted to get my energy levels back up, I needed to put in the time. What I didn’t expect was to enjoy the classes as much as I did. All of the exercises have different levels of intensity based on your ability, and of course, IMG_0027doctor’s orders. There were new moms with weeks old babies and moms who had all three kids in tow to attend the class. It was welcoming and surprisingly enjoyable.

If you are a new mom, it will take time to settle in to your new routine, but you will soon realize that the routine requires time for yourself as well. For the moms who are looking to find a combination of ‘you’ time and baby time – look no further.

Long-time fitness chameleon Kate Laird opens up about her fitness journey, creating a challenging and motivating environment in her Mom & Baby classes and how she became a better fitness instructor after having children.

Alexandra Gunn: Kate, you’ve been working within the Ottawa fitness community for years now. Tell me a bit about your fitness journey. 

Kate Laird:  As I was graduating from university, I realized that I was interested in helping people get healthier and feel good about their bodies. Fitness had been a big part of my life for years, so I started tackling a variety of fitness certifications. I began working in the little gym that used to be at the Westgate Mall, then moved to Dovercourt where I stayed for several years and enjoyed teaching everything from strength training, yoga, older adults, pre and post natal, aquafit and personal training. I left to manage and teach at Greenboro Community Centre, and then I felt a big pull to move back towards more yoga.  Currently, I’m teaching at Pure Yoga, Yogatown and I’m also teaching lunchtime classes in people’s offices.  I run a bootcamp for moms twice a week at Modus CrossFit in Westboro, as well as lunch time classes in offices around the community. I continue to feel so lucky that I’ve chosen a career that I’m so passionate about!

How did your most recent endeavor, pre and post natal fitness coaching, come about?

Well I started teaching Pre/Post natal back at Dovercourt eight years ago when I was pregnant for the first time. Having a baby is such a special time in a woman’s life and teaching this group was amazing. I strive to teach woman to be gentler with their bodies when they are pregnant and to move and stretch in a way that will lead to a more comfortable pregnancy and easier delivery. In post natal classes, I love the information sharing and community building that happens while we move back towards our pre pregnancy shape.

Why is it so difficult to get back into a fitness routine post natal? How do your classes differentiate from the typical fitness class?  

As moms, we tend to put everything and everyone ahead of ourselves and with a new baby to care for (and often older siblings as well), it can be hard to place ourselves high enough on the priority list. I remember being very overwhelmed with my first baby. Finally, I committed to 15 minutes per day of strength training, a 45-
minute walk and some stretching at bedtime. After the first few weeks, that 15 minutes quickly grew until I was back in my old pre-baby routine. My IMG_1817classes are different from other Mom and Baby classes for two reasons: Number one – this is a mommy focused class. This is your time!  Number two – we welcome all ages of little ones and any and all children that you have in your care can come. Another bonus is that this is a great way for moms to stay in shape through the summer when the kids are home for summer holidays!

What can a mother expect at one of your classes? What does she need to bring?

In my classes, a mom can expect a safe, balanced and challenging workout.  There is a strong emphasis on full body movements, large muscle groups and good form.  It’s safe for all levels and we can discuss and accommodate you with any pelvic floor concerns. You can expect a relaxed environment that you can tend to your little ones as needed.  During the workout, the babies watch and are often held by me and the toddlers and preschoolers play, explore and sometimes join the workout. It’s a wonderful opportunity for unstructured playtime!  All you need to bring is water and a few snacks and toys for the little ones.

What sort of results can the women expect? What is the goal of the session?

The number one goal for the session is to place an importance on self care. We can only take care of everyone else when we are taking care of ourselves. I cannot stress this enough. As a working, single mom with two young kids, I can tell you that this is key. We need to stop feeling guilty about it and realize that we are happier, calmer, more energetic and function better when sleep deprived if we can make this time for ourselves. Although I don’t place lots of emphasis on “results” because I don’t like being overly focused on weight loss, the results that most people experience are a more toned body, and your shape will begin to move back to where you were pre-pregnancy. I’ve even heard from many moms over the years, that after a session or two they feel like they are in better shape than they were before they had kids!

As a mother yourself, what sort of impact has fitness had on your wellbeing?

I learned early on that the key to functioning on next to no sleep was exercise.  My babies were not good sleepers. On the days that I didn’t make it to the gym that’s when I felt like I couldn’t cope. Exercise and feeding my body right gives me patience when I need it, energy (I still rarely have time for more than 5-6 hours of sleep) and I feel good about myself.IMG_0041

What do you love most about teaching Mom & Baby fitness?

Moms are amazing. It’s a very special group to be around. It’s very rewarding watching moms make time for themselves and are enjoying the changes that follow. Also, I really love when I get to hold the babies!

What goals do you have for your business in the next five or 10 years?

I would love to have a team offering what I offer.  My dream would be to have a team running this style of Mom classes and going into offices for lunch time workouts.

What would you like to say to the women who have babies and are hesitant to make the time for themselves to workout? 

Make the time!  If you can’t do it for you, do it for everyone in your life that you take care of. Do it because you’re setting a wonderful example for your little ones.  I often think, what are we teaching our little boys when moms put themselves last?  What are we teaching our little girls? They become what we demonstrate, so it’s incredibly important to show them that Moms don’t come last in the family.

Ready to workout? Register for Mom & Baby Fitness:

You can follow Kate on Twitter: @kateyogafit.