Finding time to work out is HARD, especially when you have kids. Mama of 3 (and Insta-fitness star) Jennifer Iafolla explains how working out with other mamas keeps her motivated
We love following the exploits of super fit Singapore mama Jennifer Iafolla on Instagram (check her out at @jlipose), where she provides major inspiration whether documenting her amazingly fit pregnancies, or encouraging her young daughter to get sporty. One of the secrets to Jen’s success is working out with other mamas; they keep each other accountable, and also have an innate understanding of the unique challenges posed by kids, husbands…and basically life in general. If you’ve been struggling to keep up with a fitness routine, read on for Jen’s tips on forming your own mama fitness tribe…
Flash back to 2015: I just had my third baby and wanted to try something different in the fitness area. I was bored of the gym routine and yoga classes that I was doing. I had come across an advertisement for Singapore’s first Spartan race. It was everything I wanted – it had a run, a strength section, various obstacles and best of all, it was outdoors. So I sent a message out on Facebook to see who would be interested. No way I wanted to suffer on my own!
There birthed our fitness tribe. Minus the husbands and other men on our team, we are four mothers with eight kids between us. One of us is a doctor, another a yoga teacher, a jeweler and a former competitive track and field/gymnast. What brought us together was our passion for movement. What makes us follow through in our meet ups and workouts is signing up for competitions (obstacles races, marathons, trail/mountain races).
We make an effort to set our alarm clocks twice a week before the city wakes up to explore the road less traveled by in this concrete jungle of ours…including one run where 10-15 stray dogs chased us through an abandoned cemetery. Part of why we are able to just leave our kids at home and have the daddies deal with the breakfast and getting them ready for school is because our husbands are also part of this tribe, and they understand fitness as a lifestyle.
These trail runs are where we learn to set a pace, talk about life as mothers, struggles with relationships and work. This is our “me” time away from our duties. Occasionally we take different classes together such as yoga, pole dancing, HIIT etc. Or if times doesn’t permit, we might create our own workout or yoga session in the park.
We picked Sunday mornings to be our team workout session. For our weight training sessions, we will meet at my place and drop the kids off at the house while we sweat it out in our garage gym. We create our own interval training based off the limited equipment we have. For instance, we make use of our 4-story carpark ramp by having everyone carry 15-25kg plates each all the way from the bottom floor up to the top floor then drop for burpees or squats.
On other weekends, we will meet in the Botanic Gardens or at a beach club in Sentosa where we can include the kids in the workout, then have brunch and swim there. It’s no easy feat as some of them will venture away from the group to chase a monitor lizard or fight over snacks. You can also add in the meltdowns that happens every 15 mins.
For us, the most important thing we want them to take away from it is that movement/exercising should part of their everyday lives. So besides bringing our yoga mats, battle ropes etc we throw in bubbles, baseball bats, and soccer balls for the kids to play with in case they lose interest in what we are doing. In fact, we recently had a 5-year-old lead our training session, which included bear crawls, cartwheels, lunges etc. Watch out world, one day this little lady is going to be a girlboss!
Most of the kids are now at an age (2-8yrs old) where they are able to sign up for runs and obstacle races, including the Spartan Race, The “Princess Dash” in the Great Eastern Women’s Run, and the Pokémon Run.
For fun family workouts, we’ve also brought the kids to a crossfit box we rent out for just our team. What’s nice with these gyms is that the kids are confined to the space and can’t run off like they do in the park. They love the rope climbs and “heavy” carry with their 5 kg kettlebells. In return we use our kids as our weights for the workouts! And they love being carried over our shoulders. You should hear their infectious giggles (but also our screaming when they start climbing on top of everything….)
By no means is our workout schedule a cookie cutter one. We deviate from it now and then, especially when duty calls with work and family. But we each have made fitness a priority in our lives. Besides our group workouts and runs, we have our own workout routines such as yoga, gym or gymnastics classes. What always brings us back together are the races. We whine about it all the time, yet we keeping coming back for more…
All images courtesy of the author