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Bundles of joy in Baby Boot Camp

New moms can get into shape and bond with their baby in new program

Posted: June 4, 2009 10:16 p.m.
Updated: June 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Rebecca Valencia, front right, and Ricki Macken Chilvers line up their babies along with other mothers and their children on a paseo off of Valencia Glen Park .

 
Having a baby can be quite a workout, but now that Baby Boot Camp has come to the Santa Clarita Valley, there is a better way for mothers to stay in shape.

Valencia resident and mother of two, Elizabeth Stone, is the franchise owner of the local camp and has plans to share her passion for pre and post-natal fitness with other mothers in the community.

Baby Boot Camp originated out of the San Francisco Bay area in August 2001 by Kristin Horler, founder and chief executive officer.

It was created for mothers who wanted to regain pre-pregnancy fitness levels while spending quality time with their babies.

For Stone, the franchise owner for the new SCV camp, the program fit right along with her own beliefs about the importance of new mothers connecting with their babies, themselves and others around them.

"I have always been naturally driven towards creating a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle for myself and my family," said Stone, who has lived in the SCV for more than 14 years. "And now, I want to help others discover ways they can do this too and build stronger connections with their families and community members."

After the birth of her son Gavin in 2004, Stone developed "the baby blues" where she felt detached from society and herself.

It was then that Stone began looking for a way to connect with her baby and to re-connect to her life.

"I found that it wasn't until I joined a fitness program and got back into the swing of life that I realized how much family and community I was missing," said Stone of her experience battling signs of postpartum depression. "By incorporating your new baby into activities with you, there are many opportunities for bonds to be made and new strengths to be found."

Stone joined a fitness program and enrolled in health classes at College of the Canyons, where she re-invigorated her interest in health and set herself on the path towards her next venture.

By the time Stone gave birth to her second son, Blake, in the summer of 2008, Stone had received a National Certification as a personal trainer and was ready to take the next step in healthy living - for her fellow mothers and their children.

"A good friend of mine approached me about looking for a fitness program where she could incorporate her newborn son," said Stone. "After a lot of research on the subject, I discovered a great opportunity."

The opportunity Stone discovered came in the form of this unique "boot camp" experience for mothers and their babies, offering a 55- or 75-minute workout throughout the week.

During class, the workout formula often incorporates baby strollers or baby joggers into the routine, increasing strength, muscle tone and boosting much-needed energy levels for the real workout of being a mother.

"It's great because you can connect in a social network of friends and your baby will also be more engaged," said Stone.

Aside from connecting to others in the community and bonding mothers and children together, the program is also an effective way to cut the costs of child-care that would be needed if the mother were to work out separately. Class sizes are small, giving mothers the individualized attention they may need in order to meet their goals. But the program isn't just about looking good.

"It's about feeling great and having energy to spend with your children," says Horler, founder of the original Baby Boot camp in San Francisco and an ACE certified personal trainer. "In addition to offering a great workout, it's also a kind of support group."

Studies have shown exercising with other new mothers helps alleviate symptoms that may arise from postpartum. A study in the International Journal of Nursing showed moms who engaged in a stroller-based fitness program, like what the boot camp offers, significantly reduced their symptoms of depression compared to those who attended a regular support group with no exercise.

Stone knows the importance of exercising with family and friends.

"Bringing parents and children together in this kind of active and engaging atmosphere creates many opportunities for family bonds," said Stone, who encourages fathers as well as mothers to join the group while they work out. "These bonds will be strengthened and will bring about more proactive families in the community as a whole."

Building a stronger community and making new friends is something Stone is familiar with. Following the birth of Blake, now 9 months, Stone joined new mothers and their babies at the support group entitled, First Weeks of Lactation, held at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital.

The bonds that were created during that time, led Stone and other group members to form their own mother-baby playgroup, still active today.

"We have all gained such great friendships, memories, support and everlasting bonds that have pulled us through these new chapters in our lives," said Stone of the group, which encompasses parents of all kinds, first-timers or seasoned professionals alike.

Now, with boot camp in the SCV, Stone hopes mothers and their children take the opportunity to get healthy together and make friends in the process.

Certified fitness trainer and instructor Michelle Heneise will be instructing mothers and their strollered-babies during the workout classes.

"I know that this instructor will bring motivation, support, knowledge and devotion to the students," said Stone of her hopes for Heneise, certified by the American Heart Association in First Aid and CPR. Heneise has also instructed Adventure Boot Camp of Santa Clarita.

"I can't wait for this motivation to be brought to the students," Stone said, who will be in class with her son, Blake.

Stone's ultimate goal while owning the local franchise is to become a registered dietician and help families and individuals strive lead healthier lives.

Class times are flexible for working and stay-at-home-moms, and offer discussions after each class as well as "Mom's Night Out" activities for the mother who needs some time out with her new friends.

In addition to postpartum stroller fitness classes, the boot camp will also offer prenatal fitness classes, designed to help pregnant women better prepare for delivery and the strenuous physical demands of motherhood.

Regular classes began June 2 at Valencia Glen Park and membership varies from $15 a class or monthly packages offering special deals, including a 12-month package of classes for $50 a month. Classes are open to all different family members, not just mothers, and includes unlimited training, consultations and workout tips to help re-invigorate a healthy lifestyle.

Stone anticipates providing a healthy environment but also hopes that participants gain another bundle of joy from the classes.

"This kind of connective experience is what has brought joy and happiness to my life," said Stone of getting healthy with her family.
"The boot camp is the chance and ability to teach others to lead a healthy lifestyle and create irreplaceable friendships that will form a thriving community."

Classes offered Monday-Friday at Valencia Glen Park: Monday, Wednesday and Fridays offer 75-minute classes from 8:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday offer 55-minute classes from 8:45 a.m. to 9:40 a.m. For more information about Baby Boot Camp and to register for your first class, visit the Baby Boot Camp Santa Clarita www.babybootcamp.com or call Elizabeth Stone, franchise owner: (661) 373-8243.

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