It’s the start of a vigorous squat interval during a Monday morning workout class at Tom Tudek Memorial Park when a German Shepherd distracts Noah, who interrupts the instructor by loudly proclaiming his excitement and pointing wildly at the dog.
But the instructor, Noah’s mom Lauren Breon, doesn’t miss a beat. Neither do the members of Baby Boot Camp of Centre County, who grasp the stroller handles in front of them and follow Breon’s lead to squat toward the ground. Throughout the one-hour stroller fitness class, they’ll all take time out to soothe crying babies, pass out snacks and toys, talk to and love on their little ones.
It’s not a typical exercise class, and they wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I feel like I’m getting a workout in and I’m able to spend time with my kids, too,” said Katey Wilber, of Pine Grove Mills.
That’s the point of Baby Boot Camp, a national company that got off the ground in State College about five years ago. Before Breon took over as instructor and franchise owner, she was a new mom looking for ways to keep in shape while spending maximum time with Noah, now 2 years old.
“The first thing I loved was the incredible workout. What I didn’t expect was the community that I became a part of and really grew to value,” she said.
In addition to play groups after most classes, planned outings and scheduled mom’s nights out, every class offers an opportunity for moms to share experiences and helpful hints. When members paired off on Monday for a manual resistance workout, mother of three Dawn Lorenz of Pleasant Gap answered questions from her partner, a new mom, about everything from feedings to nap times.
“It’s nice to have the different ages in the class because you can have that grounding. You’re able to talk to other people who have been through it,” Lorenz said.
And then there’s the workout. A mix of cardio and strength training, classes start with a warm-up followed by interval training — timed bursts of push-ups, squats, burpees. The kids get involved with singalongs you don’t find in many fitness classes, with chants of “one, two, buckle my shoe” putting a sweet twist on hardcore ab exercises.
“I probably wouldn’t work out if I didn’t come here,” said Mary Speerstra, of Bellefonte. “I really pushed myself to overcome and do things I wouldn’t normally do.”
Cardio comes into play with relays and jogs where the kids come, too. For Lorenz, that means a stroller that weighs about 45 pounds, plus the weight of her 4-year-old, 2-year-old and 18-month-old, along with a hefty diaper bag and various snacks and toys. Baby Boot Camp helped Lorenz prepare for a half and then full marathon, she said.
“My favorite part of the class is that Lauren works with you on whatever goals you have,” Lorenz said.
Breon, whose background is in personal training, said that exercise modifications can be made for the moms who take the class. The class is open to pregnant women and moms who are at least six weeks postpartum.
“Pre- and post-natal training is really an untouched demographic still,” Breon said. “This is somewhere where moms can come and feel safe and receive that personal attention.”
Breon believes that Baby Boot Camp is not just a place to bring the kids, but a place to teach kids by example. Speerstra has seen that first-hand in her own family, catching her 4- and 2-year-olds working on their planks.
“Baby Boot Camp starts with the mom but it tends to spread to the whole family,” Breon said. “To me, it’s creating a new generation of kids that value fitness as a part of life.”
In the future, Breon hopes to grow Baby Boot Camp throughout the county and expand classes and class time.
“We really want to be a community and really reach as many moms as we can,” she said.
For more information on Baby Boot Camp of Centre County, visit www.babybootcamp.com/pa-statecollege.aspx.