Happy Mom, Happy Baby: Phelan Talks about Her New Class for Moms & Babies

Feb. 23, 2017: “It’s the best decision I ever made,” says Boston-based Pilates instructor and Charlestown mom Jenn Phelan of her choice to leave the corporate world to teach full time more than 10 years ago. While you’ll often run into Phelan out and about with her 3-year-old son and now new baby brother, you may not, however, see her teaching any number of Barre, Bootcamp, or Pilates classes unless you’ve managed to sign up in advance, as they’re oftentimes sold out. I sat down with Phelan recently to talk about getting back in shape post-baby and to get the scoop on her newest class—Mom and Baby Pilates Fusion at North End Yoga—a class where, according to Phelan, “anything goes!”

You just launched a new mom and baby class in the North End (pictured above). What can new moms expect to see and do in this class?

New moms can expect a safe but sweaty workout with their babies by their side. I like to emphasize that this actually is a true total body workout and not your typical mom/baby class. We'll move our bodies, stretch and work to rebuild our core strength.

We use our babies as part of our workout, but if your little one is content just hanging on the mat, they can simply watch (or sleep!) while Mom exercises. My motto for this class is ANYTHING GOES! Your baby may cry, laugh, scream, poop, eat or sleep during the 45 minutes we are in the studio—and that's okay. The best thing about this class is that we are all Moms. and we “get it.” I've found that unless it's your own baby, you just tune out what's going on around you. It's a judgement-free zone where we are all there to help one another and do things that make us feel good. Sometimes this means just coming to the class is success and whatever else happens doesn't matter. It's never easy leaving the house with a baby, so it's an accomplishment to just show up!

Most moms stay after class to feed their babies and chat with the other moms. It's an amazing way to build a new mom community and usually happens organically after just a few weeks of classes.

Why is this different from a regular Pilates class (aside from the fact that you'll have your baby with you)?

Well, for one thing I'm much kinder in this class than I am in regular non-baby classes! For me, this class is all about empowering moms and showing them that their bodies and minds are stronger than they think, even during this tricky and draining time. We do change the pace a bit in this class and really focus on taking it slower and paying particular attention to the areas new moms want to work on most. We break down core exercises with caution and care as we navigate through our postpartum bodies. The class also focuses on teaching moms new exercises they can do with their babies when they are at home.

I actually attended your Mom & Baby Pilates class in Charlestown (above, at Asana Charlestown) a few months ago. It was fantastic! A tough workout, but so liberating to know that you could actually do both—care for yourself and your baby at the same time! What reactions have you seen from other moms who attend your classes?

I think Moms have the very same reaction that you did! It can seem overwhelming to think about packing up your baby, getting you both into a class, and then worrying about whether or not they will “behave.” I've seen that once a mom comes to that first class she is hooked and sees that we truly have a welcoming and supportive environment. Babies cry. It happens, and it's totally ok! I'm here to help, and so are the other moms in the room.

I also think Moms are shocked at how much we actually workout! You can do so much for your body in such a short amount of time. I love hearing moms report back that they are feeling stronger, more stretched, and even more relaxed after taking my class.

You're a mom of two now! How has it been for you getting back in shape since you're little one was born this past fall?

Max is now five months old, and I still can't believe I'm a mom of two! And two BOYS that is! I'm really no different than the people who follow me online and the students who take classes my classes. Of course, it's hard to “get back in shape.” But this time around I'm much more patient with my body. I've done it before, and I know I can do it again but there's no way around it … rebuilding strength and endurance and losing weight takes time and commitment.

I love taking group classes when I can. I think the energy in the room helps me keep going when I'm so exhausted. And I really pay careful attention to what I'm eating. I'm a breastfeeding mama, so I need to eat well regardless, and I'm usually always hungry. So I focus on eating real foods and as clean as I can. I'm actually going to be sharing my food journey on my Instagram account to help inspire others going through a similar time.

Again, I won't say it's always easy but I think it's very worth it in the end.

Can you offer some fitness tips for new moms?

Remember that exercise doesn't always have to come in the form of going to the gym or a fitness studio. There are so many ways to stay fit and active in day to day life. Think of routine chores as your workout! For example, I know many of us here in the city go food shopping and instead of driving fill our strollers with our groceries. Pushing a baby and a stroller full of food is hard work! Treat it as such. Engage your core and glutes as you make your way home (especially when tackling the Charlestown hills!).

Long walks with other new moms are always a great way to move your body, get fresh air and feed your soul. Don't forget to pack your water and hydrate often.

Ask for help and make time for you. It's not being selfish to ask your husband, partner, family or a sitter to watch your baby for two hours while you do what makes you feel best. I used to always feel guilty asking my husband to watch my first born so I could take a class. But with time and his encouragement and support I realized I'm such a better mom when I feel my best. Just an hour away from home, moving my body and having some personal time makes all the difference.


If you’re in the neighborhood, check out Jenn Phelan’s new class:

Mom and Baby Pilates Fusion at North End Yoga
> Open to all moms and their pre-walking babies
Wednesdays, 10:15 - 11:00am
Cost: $20
Sign up: www.northendyoga.com/events.html

STROLLERS: There is secure stroller parking outside. Assistants from North End Yoga are outside to help Moms with strollers and assist them indoors. There's an elevator that brings you right up to the main studio.

PARKING: North End Yoga validates parking at Parcel 7 Garage at 94 Haymarket Square, just two blocks away from the studio on Hanover Street. Validated tickets are $1 for 2 hours, and $3 for 3 hours of parking. Validation can be stamped at the front desk before class.

Kathryn Peck
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