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Parent and baby exercise classes in Sussex

A young mum lying on the floor wearing a activewear abnd exercising by holding her smiling baby above her head
Mum Claire Vivaldi exercising with her daughter Siena

Why one mum decided to start her own parent and baby exercise class

When Emma Parnell became a mum she wanted to continue exercising, but struggled with keeping her son Jude entertained.

“I found there was a real gap in the market for exercise classes you could do with your baby,” explains Emma, who works as a senior leisure development officer for a local authority.

“There were other classes where you could take your baby with you, but they were on the sidelines while you exercised. 

“I wanted to go to a class that would be fun and beneficial for Jude as well as me.”

She added: “Before I had my son I used to teach swimming part time. I am a qualified personal trainer and level 3 pre and post natal exercise instructor. Personally, I love being active; hiking, running, swimming and cycling. I have taken part in two marathons and two triathlons.”

Realising she was not the only parent in this situation, Emma took the decision to start her own class in Horsham – You and Roo Fitness.

Each exercise is performed to a nursery rhyme and the parents use scarfs, maracas and sensory toys to keep the babies happy throughout. 

“The response has been really positive and parents who don’t usually enjoy exercise have commented that they love coming to the class as it’s fun and doesn’t feel like exercise. 

“It’s a lovely opportunity to bond with your baby whilst getting some feel-good exercise too.”

One mum who attends the class is Claire Vivaldi, 27, who started the class when her daughter Siena was six months old.

Claire, who lives in Burgess Hill, admits she ‘normally hates exercise’ but now she ‘really looks forward to the class’.

“After having my daughter I struggled with getting out. I wanted to push myself.

“I was never brought up around exercise. Now, after having Siena I thought I had better do some. My wedding is next month so I wanted to get a bit fitter.”

The exercises involve a whole body workout, focusing on legs, glutes, back, chest and abs as well as cardio to improve aerobic fitness.

“I did some research and there are a lot of exercises you can’t do after having a baby because it can separate your stomach muscles more,” Claire says.

“Emma teaches you what you can do and if you find your exercise too hard there are easy options.”

Claire says not only has it benefited her physically, but socially too.

“I have been speaking to lots of new mums and have got quite friendly with them. Some baby groups can be quite clique, but everyone here is really nice and they are all different ages,” she says.

“Some of them do not usually do exercise, but they come to the class and really enjoy it.”

Open to both mums and dads, the class is held on Fridays at Tythe Barn, Pondtail Road, Horsham at 11.40am-12.25pm, there is then 20 minutes of stay and play until 12.45pm. 

Emma also now runs a pregnancy class and is launching an intermediate class on April 21.

To book, visit the Booking Page or follow You and Roo Fitness on Facebook and Instagram

#TimeTogether campaign

The Women in Sport #TimeTogether campaign looks at how mums and their daughters can exercise together.

Although in this case Claire’s daughter is only a baby, Claire hopes by getting Siena used to exercise it will become a lifelong habit for the two of them.

Did you know:

  • 6 out of 10 teenage girls are not meeting the physical activity guidelines of 60 minutes activity per day.
  • 1.3 million teenage girls opt out of sport when transitioning from primary to secondary school.
  • 48% of girls tell us their mum encourages and supports them to be active.

Find out more about the campaign here.

Read here the story about how a boxercise class has given a mum and son the time to bond.

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