Moms help others find time to exercise with kids in tow
Mandi Hebert started her business about three years ago so she would be more active after giving birth. Hebert never expected the business to affect new mothers the way it has.
She said she was just trying to lose some of the weight she gained after having her third child, Gabriella, and suffering from postpartum depression.
Hebert said she had been a competitive gymnast most of her life but found it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“After I had children, I was kind of trying to find myself,” she recalled. “I was struggling being at home. I had been an athlete all my life, and it was very hard not being in shape.”
Hebert, 32, heard about the success of Baby Boot Camp in her hometown of Baton Rouge and decided to bring the program to Lafayette.
The stroller fitness program allows moms to exercise while spending time with their children.
“It took awhile for people to understand what it was,” said Hebert, who went from having one mom in her program to having about two dozen.
She said this is not just “a walking group” but a 60-minute session that includes cardio to work every major muscle group in the body.
“When they come, they’re surprised at how much exercise we do,” Hebert said.
The class involves jumping, squatting and even singing. She also incorporates exercises that allow moms to interact with their children while they’re in their strollers.
“One problem that new moms have is finding the time to exercise because they’re with their babies all day,” Hebert said.
Brittany Waters was one of those moms. Waters was pregnant when she moved to Lafayette after working in New Orleans for renowned chef Emeril Lagasse for years.
“I needed an outlet,” she recalled. “I was pregnant and eating (without exercising).”
Waters, 28, and her husband moved to Lafayette to work at the now-closed Cochon Restaurant. Her husband is now the chef at Ruffino’s on the River and she works two days per week as a pastry chef at Social Southern Table & Bar.
She said she is constantly tempted by good food. After joining Baby Boot Camp, she has lost more than 30 pounds, instructs a class in the program and is training for her first half-marathon.
She enjoys being around a group of women in similar situations who are teaching their children to be healthy at a young age, Waters said.
“I still love great food. It just takes balance,” she explained.
Waters urged those struggling with weight loss to eat healthy on weekdays and enjoy some of the local delicacies, such as crawfish and king cake, on the weekends.
“Find something that keeps you motivated,” Waters said. “It changed my life for the better.”
Other moms have told Hebert the same thing. She said she’s happy to offer them a place where they can connect with other mothers and be free from judgment.
“It kind of makes me emotional to talk about it,” she said. “That’s been an enormous blessing.”