Moms who are committed to being active have to get creative in their quest to take care of their bodies. Many do so by finding a group workout that allows babies and young children, joining a facility that offers child care, asking for the support of loved ones nearby or creating exercise-friendly environments in their own homes. Finding the time and motivation to work out is hard, but many moms recognize that exercising makes them better able to meet the many demands of their new lives.
Holly Fisher, mother to 13-year-old Kate, is grateful she found a child-friendly CrossFit gym when her daughter was 2 years old.
“It’s especially challenging when kids are little,” she said, thinking back to the many times she had to stop mid-workout to check on her toddler.
Similarly, Natalie Fehl, mother of 2-year-old Vincent and newborn George, runs Spartanburg Stroller Rollers, a group fitness program for moms and children in strollers, hoping to help moms prioritize their physical health without feeling as though they have to leave their children behind. A similar organization, Sweat Like a Mother Charleston, welcomes moms in all stages of motherhood – as early as pregnancy – and with their young children, in an effort to support women in health, wellness and parenting.
Unfortunately, child-friendly fitness programs are not common in CrossFit gyms or specialized yoga studios, for example. Many moms who choose these modalities must find child care, plan at-home workouts around babies’ sleep and nap schedules and adjust to unexpected illnesses and issues, a true test of their will to work out. Jamie Touchberry has two older children now, which gives her some flexibility around their commitments, but also has a treadmill and a bike at home, so she can fit in a workout even if she can’t leave the house.
“Fitness is important to me, so I will always make it a priority,” said Touchberry.
Many moms find gyms that offer on-site child care to be an excellent option. The YMCA of Greater Spartanburg, like most YMCA locations around the country, offers free child care for babies as young as 6 weeks and as old as 12 years for those with family memberships. The Childwatch schedule is designed around peak group fitness hours, ideal for mothers who enjoy classes such as Zumba, spin, Pilates and more. Childcare is offered six days a week, and parents are encouraged to use the Childwatch services for up to two hours per day while they exercise in the building. An organization founded on the principles of youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y wants to see families thrive during the early years, when time is limited and stress runs high.
Mothers who are successful in prioritizing their wellness regimens seem to have similar best practices. Both Fisher and Touchberry attain their fitness goals by starting their days with a workout.
“It’s easier to call it off if it’s at the end of the day,” joked Fisher.
Touchberry completed an Ironman, a half marathon and participated in multiple sporting events in 2021. She’s preparing for a full marathon and hopes to complete another Ironman in the near future.
“When I have an event as a goal, I can’t really stop training,” she said, adding that she typically trains in the morning to allow time for her children’s sporting events in the evenings.
Fehl, on the other hand, believes the secret lies in building a community of moms with similar goals.
“The other parents, especially new moms that I have met at Stroller Rollers, have really helped me through this new phase of life,” she said, noting that she recognizes how isolating and difficult it can be to attain balance in the early stages of motherhood.
While it might make them feel a bit torn up about taking time for themselves, regular exercise allows moms to face long days with newfound energy and stamina. It also allows them to set an example of healthy living and balance for their children.
“It’s good for me and the people around me,” Touchberry asserted.
“It’s about keeping myself healthy for myself and my family,” added Fehl.
At the end of the day, or at the beginning, mothers deserve the opportunity to put themselves first, even if it’s only a few times a week. Thankfully, with child-friendly options, planning, and a little bit of creativity, moms can prioritize their physical fitness and overall wellness.
“We know we need to take care of ourselves and we are better for it,” concluded Fisher.
Iron “Woman” and Mom – Jamie Touchberry
Jamie Touchberry started her fitness journey long before becoming a mother. As is the case for most new moms, the demands of motherhood caused Touchberry to put her fitness goals aside. Now that her kids – Sage, 15, and Beckham, 13 – are older, however, Touchberry has found a new motivation to push herself.
Touchberry works for a fitness-based company, is a spin coach and has set out to earn the title of Ironman for a second time. When asked about her first Ironman triathlon experience, Touchberry recalled that the day had its challenges. In addition to finishing a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile run, completing an Ironman means enduring whatever Mother Nature sends her way. No matter the weather or water conditions, the race must go on. Swimming more than two miles surrounded by jellyfish would deter most participants, but it was a reality Touchberry had to endure in September 2021.
“It was my first time doing something that rigorous for that long. Training could be as long as eight hours, but nothing compares to the full day.”
Touchberry believes that fitness and health are integral in allowing people to take care of themselves and their families.
“If you’re not taking care of your body, not finding that regular routine of exercising and eating right, you may have a harder time responding to the demands of life,” she said.
She credits her fitness success across a multitude of sporting events to both her tenacity and her support system. Her husband and children help out, she said, as does her work family. Her friends and family understand that she may not have much free time when she’s training, and they help her reach her goals by encouraging her to believe in herself and supporting her at every race as though it were her first.
By Isabel Alvarez Arata