Two or three times a week, Liza Gravitt loads her 2-year-old son, Aiden, into the family car for a trip, but they aren't headed for a play date or shopping.
They go to Columbia County Memorial Gardens walking track for a workout they both enjoy.
"He loves it," Gravitt said of the Baby Boot Camp stroller fitness program.
Stephanie McWhorter, of Evans, recently started a franchise of Baby Boot Camp, which provides a family-friendly, custom-designed workout for new and soon-to-be mothers.
"It is called function training," said McWhorter, who involves her 13-month-old daughter, Lilah, in the workouts. "It is basically just working all the muscles that you need to take care of your kids."
During pregnancy, McWhorter said, core muscles in the back and stomach loosen and weaken. The Baby Boot Camp program, designed in 2001 by Kristen Horler, a new mother, includes cardiovascular and resistance training.
Horler designed the program to balance the fitness needs of new mothers with their desire to spend time with their children, according to the program's Web site.
The sessions, which take about 75 minutes, include walking with the stroller, resistance training with elastic bands, and lots of stretching to maintain flexibility and prevent injury, McWhorter said.
Children are expected to attend and be a part of the session with their mothers. McWhorter said she discovered the program shortly before she got pregnant.
"There's really nothing else around here like that," she said. "There's not a lot of family-friendly gyms. There's still not anything where you can have your child with you," she said.
Gravitt said that she likes being able to spend time with Aiden and get into shape without having to join a gym, hire a personal trainer or put him in day care.
"My thing is, because I do work, Aiden is in day care," Gravitt said. "When I do get out of work, I don't want to put him back in another day care just so I can work out. I don't get to see him that much during the day, so I don't want to stick him in a day care again. This is perfect."
Aiden enjoys nature, sunshine and reading his books while being pushed around the track in his stroller. Gravitt said he knows at the end of the workout, he'll get to play on the playground, while his mother works out on a nearby mat.
Gravitt said that she didn't work out much after Aiden's birth but that the program has made her feel stronger in a short period of time.
"You get in shape quickly with this," Gravitt said. "With the resistance training and everything, you start to feel stronger. I noticed really quickly."
McWhorter, a certified personal trainer, said the training is designed for new mothers who have been approved to exercise by their doctors, but many of the exercises can be modified for expectant mothers, too.
Because all participants are, or were, new mothers, the classes provide a family-friendly environment where moms can work out and be parents, too.
Stopping to change a diaper or feed a baby is not a class disturbance.
"I think the big thing ... for all the new moms to understand is that we all know what it is like to have the kids," Gravitt said.
McWhorter offers morning and evening classes Monday through Saturday at the walking track behind Columbia County Library.
The classes are open to expectant mothers and those with stroller-age children.
Costs range from $15 per class to $120 for 12. Monthly prices range from $75 per month or $55 per month for a yearlong commitment.
For more information about classes or to join, visit www.babybootcamp.com or contact McWhorter at (706) 312-6363 or stephanie. email@example.com.
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