When you’re a new mom juggling life with a newborn (or in my case, two newborns), working out can take a back seat to sleep, feeding, and changing diapers. But once you emerge from that fog of sleep deprivation and want to get back into the swing of things, what’s a busy mom to do? You can ask other moms for creative ways to work out with your kids, try our 12-week guide to postpartum exercise, or get your groove back using a chair (no gym membership required!).
Pre-kids, I really loved taking Dance It Out classes with Billy Blanks, Jr. It was an intense cardio workout, but I had a blast shaking my booty to pop hits and learning dance routines. I’m not a great dancer, but I love it. It doesn’t feel like working out at all. After having twin girls, I struggled to make it through my old dance classes. I got winded, and my body felt very different postpartum.
Once my girls got older and I had childcare, I wanted to get back to working out because it’s such a great stress reliever for me and I missed it. I heard about Fat Kid Dance Party after watching a PopSugar video about it, and it looked so fun that I signed up for it at Everybody, a gym that’s all about embracing every single body — no judgments. I chatted with Bevin Brandlandingham, the creator and teacher of Fat Kid Dance Party, who has been a body liberation activist for 15 years. When she moved to Los Angeles a year and a half ago, she was searching for a gym, and when she heard that Everybody was opening, she proposed teaching a Fat Kid Dance Party aerobics class. She loved throwing dance parties in Brooklyn where she used to live, so she thought it was a great way to party and work out. Now, the class meets twice a week.
Before class, I spoke with Bevin about accepting our bodies as women, and how we can embrace the Fat Kid Dance Party philosophy even if we don’t live in LA. Her advice: “Health at every size is basically saying, find movement that’s fun for you and do it. Find foods that make you feel good and eat those. Meet your body where it’s at.”
Brandlandingham has three rules in her class: 1) There’s no wrong way to do Fat Kid Dance Party. 2) If anyone feels awkward, you can shout out, “I feel awkward,” and the rest of the class will cheer for you. 3) High-fives for self-care. If you grab a drink of water or take a moment to catch your breath, your fellow dancers will high-five you.
I joined the class one night with a friend. Brandlandingham led the class in a warmup stretch, then we got down to business. We did some pop star diva moves to Britney and Mariah. We did some country line dancing. We shook our booties. At one point, we gathered in a circle and danced around the room like a conga line, high-fiving anyone who was taking a break. It was so much fun, and I felt great. I’ll definitely go back!
A few weeks later, a friend invited me to Dance Dance Party Party LA, a girls-only dance party. It’s hosted on late Sunday afternoons at a yoga studio called The Sweat Spot. We went and joined a group of about 20 other women. There’s no teacher and there’s no choreography to learn, and the main rules are no boys, no lights, and no judgments. (There are dozens of DDPPs across the United States so check here for where they’re hosted.) The DJs are anyone who has been to a DDPP before and wants to curate an hour-long playlist.
Admittedly, it was a little awkward dancing “solo” around a bunch of strangers (cue Bevin’s cheer for awkward!), but with only a string of lights on the floor, I soon forgot about my awkward and let loose. I busted a move to Paula Abdul’s “Opposites Attract” and stood in front of a fan to cool down during “Zero” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I watched other ladies dance with abandon. It was super fun. After the hour was over, I gave the DJ a high-five, and I’m planning on requesting to be a DJ myself!
What I loved about both dance parties was that I channeled my inner dancer, had a blast, and got my sweat on. No one looked at me weird or expected me to be good at dancing; I just had fun, and that’s the best workout of all.
What’s your go-to post-baby workout? Let us know @BritandCo!
(Photos via Jennifer Chen)