Be Well Family: Awesome Philly Fitness Classes for New (and New-ish) Moms

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For a long time around here, mom-and-me fitness classes were a somewhat limited genre: There were only a few options here and there, and they weren’t always at times that were accessible to working moms. But a lot has changed over the past couple years. Not only have some places gone out of their way to offer times that were a little friendlier to moms who work on weekdays, but there’s also come to be a pretty big variety of workouts available, too: Pilates, barre, yoga, strength-training, power-walking … something for just about every mom-and-baby duo, if you know where to look. (And hey! We are here to help you with the whole knowing-where-to-look part.)

Active Mom Fitness
The location: Northern Liberties and Washington Square West
The workout: Stronger After Pregnancy, taught by Active Mom Fitness founder Ashley Reid, offers a full-body workout as well as a little mom-bonding (both of the mom-and-baby and mom-and-mom sort) and education. The eight-week series aims to strengthen muscles weakened by pregnancy, and includes all sorts of fitness: Pilates, body-weight strength training, resistance training and more. Babies welcome, but not required. Bonus: Reid also offers baby-friendly personal and group training specially geared toward expecting, new or not-so-new moms. Read more »

Be Well Family: This Is a Mother’s Brain at Bedtime

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The Scene
10:45 p.m., any given weeknight

The Ritual
1. Washes face, brushes teeth, applies moisturizing face oil and eye cream.
2. Climbs into bed. Thinks to self: I’ll just settle in here with my book club book and wind down for a bit
3. Wait, did I pack Luke’s lunch for tomorrow?
4. Yes.
5. Or is that last night that I’m remembering?
6. No, it was definitely tonight because we had that whole conversation about how I couldn’t get the smell of musty old cheese out of it.
7. Ack, I forgot to order a new lunch bag.
8. Puts Kindle down; reaches for phone.
9. Though I wonder what would happen if I bleached the old lunch bag?

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Be Well Family: 9 Awesome Drop-In Gyms for Kids in Philly

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iStock

This time of year is rough: Everyone is dying to get out and run around after a long, cooped-up winter, but the seasonal rain, mud, wind, a freezing day, even — God forbid — snow can really get in the way. On more than one occasion, the city’s (and suburbs’) indoor kid gyms and active-play centers have saved us: Not only can you find spots geared toward everyone from toddlers on up through teens, but without fail, these places are always good for at least a couple of hours of hardcore energy-burning, nap-inducing activity. And while many local spots offer regular weekly classes, every indoor play place on this list also has time dedicated for drop-in open play … meaning no commitment or pre-registration necessary.

Fusion Tumbling and Fitness, Fishtown
This second-story studio is simple but awesome: A big, sun-drenched, open space with floor mats and tumbling equipment and even a small inflatable bounce house for open-play time. The bread and butter of the place are its classes (tumbling and gymnastics for babies on up through teens), but four days a week, there’s time designated for supervised open play for little ones aged one to five, as well as open gym time for kids aged 6 and up. Members pay $5 for open play time; non-members pay $10, with $5 for siblings. Read more »

The Internet Is Killing Happiness. Can We Stop It?

Illustration by Eleanor Shakespeare

Illustration by Eleanor Shakespeare

So, I’ll admit it: I was looking at my phone the moment my two-year-old fell off a stump at our little Fairmount playground and bashed his forehead on a log.

For the record, I wasn’t scanning Instagram or ordering from Amazon; I was texting my husband about dinner. I emphasize this distinction only because it’s what I repeated to myself over and over as I lifted the ice pack to watch the nickel-size lump on my son’s baby skull swell to a goose egg: At least it wasn’t People.com.

Also, I thought, as my kid chomped an ice-cream bar and the knot on his forehead turned a sickly purple, kids fall all the time. Heads get bashed. I’m no helicopter mom. Even without the phone, I wouldn’t have caught him. And so on. Eventually, I let it go. Read more »

Be Well Family: My Christmas Decorating Fail

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iStock

My mother has the most beautiful Lenox holiday china – white, ringed with simple holly leaves. We used that china (along with special holiday napkins) in between Thanksgiving and New Year’s virtually every year of my life. That wasn’t all: She also has multiple nativities; stockings my grandmother crocheted; a snowman that sings a holiday medley when you press a button; an advent calendar we’ve had since 1980; plus several poinsettias, wreaths, mini trees for the front porch, candles, table-runners, Nutcrackers, the whole deal. I realize as I catalog it here that it maybe sounds a little over-the-top, a tad vulgar, but believe me when I say that it really isn’t, and it never was: It was magical. It felt special.

Me? I have a $14 light-up wreath from the hardware store down the street (with no batteries installed yet), stockings I bought from Target, and a Christmas tree with all the usual fixings. We had an advent calendar, but I have no idea where it is. We did manage to find and display a Santa and Frosty salt-and-pepper shaker set, which we only own because my mom gave it to us, and an Elf on the Shelf, which we only own because my mother-in-law gave it to us. (Note: Not sure if tools of child behavior manipulation also counts as decoration?) Speaking of my mother-in-law: She is also a decorator of epic proportions. Her house basically transforms into a Dickensian Village every Christmas. She actually has a 100-square-foot holiday closet. No joke. Read more »

10 Awesome Mommy-and-Me Yoga Classes in Philadelphia and the Suburbs

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Be Well Family is a collaboration with Wee Wander, a site dedicated to helping Philadelphia parents navigate their city. See more in this series here, or keep up with all of  Wee Wander’s tips, guides and Philly related parenting help on Facebook

The thing about mommy-and-me yoga is that there’s often a little more to it than just squeezing in a workout. Sometimes you just want to get out of the house with that baby. Sometimes you have a toddler who needs to work out some wiggles. Sometimes exercising with your kid attached to you is the only way you’ll get any exercise at all. Here, we’ve rounded up 10 excellent options for mom-friendly yoga of all sorts, whether you’re looking for a serious sweat session or just a little postnatal support. There’s truly something for everyone (including the moms who want to drop that kid off for an hour).

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How Philly Moms Are Fighting for the Right to Pump Breast Milk in Privacy

Illustration by Anna Parini

Illustration by Anna Parini

Like most moms, I’ve breast-pumped while perched delicately atop toilets, while wedged into filing closets, while idling in Target parking lots.

This is all de rigueur in the pumping world, which is one of endless workarounds. For one thing, being topless at work and milked by a motorized pump is nobody’s first choice; for working moms, pumping is the only way to feed their kids breast milk for the full year recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Secondly, even though federal and city laws require most employers to provide non-bathroom private space for moms to express milk, there’s wide latitude in what those spaces look like and how consistently they’re available — particularly in our increasingly open-office society. Not to mention all the public spaces that offer, like, zip. So … hello, Wawa bathrooms, hotel lobbies, broom closets. Read more »

Be Well Family: In Praise of My Small Philly House

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Be Well Family is a collaboration with Wee Wander, a site dedicated to helping Philadelphia parents navigate their city. See more in this series here, or keep up with all of  Wee Wander’s tips, guides and Philly related parenting help on Facebook

Like a lot of us probably did, I grew up in a non-rowhome city, where even the small houses tended to be bigger than your average Philly house. Friends who still live in my hometown (friends who spent no more than we did on a home, I might add) have what now seems to me to be insane, glorious amounts of space — like, four bedrooms, a home office, a den, a laundry room. An attic. A playroom. Seemingly innumerable full baths. A powder room the size of my sole upstairs family bathroom. And, oh, my Lord, the closets. So many closets. 

I don’t want to sound like a spoiled jerk, because, well … look, we have a house. So we’re good, we’re lucky. But I can’t help myself from sometimes thinking about all that we could have — space-wise, I mean — if we lived somewhere else, or if we had chosen a different type of life. (I blame every single show I watch on HGTV for this line of thinking.) And then, last weekend, my mother-in-law asked me (rhetorically, I guess?) if we’d ever want to live in her house. Her sprawling suburban family house with more square feet of storage than my house has … well, square feet. I laughed, and said, “What would I do with all this space?” (Answer: Claim a bathroom as my very own; throw away the under-the-bed storage boxes for ever and ever; buy a giant, hulking couch; do some round-off-back-handsprings in the hallways. For starters.) Read more »

What the Philly Grocery Store Boom Is Really About

Photography by Jeff Fusco

Photography by Jeff Fusco

In early 2008, not long after I came out of a not-excellent relationship, landed a new job and moved to Philadelphia, I found my soul mate at the supermarket. Okay, my soul mate was the supermarket — specifically, the Trader Joe’s around the corner from my apartment.

Like most affairs, this one didn’t really start with love. I just felt lucky that I had such a decent place to shop so close by, even if the cramped store always felt like blizzard shopping, all bumper-carts and panicked grabs for the last box of Puffins. (I once watched a man in the middle of a line so long it wrapped around the store heave a sigh, abandon his basket on the floor — milk and all! — and stomp out the door. As one friend says: “The lines and the parking lot there are like you’re on Candid Camera.”)

But as time went on, I found that it wasn’t just about the convenience of geography: I adored the happy-go-lucky vibe and the friendly (stoned?) dudes in Hawaiian shirts, the punnily named products (“Hold the Cone” mini-ice creams! Adorable!), the famously well-edited selection of frozen meals, the planet’s most addictive chocolate-pistachio toffees. So what if Trader Joe’s didn’t carry fresh shrimp or Ben & Jerry’s or contact solution? The whole store felt like me, or the person I fancied myself to be. Organically inclined, but not overly crunchy. A little more special than Acme, but not as upmarket as Di Bruno’s. Good-humored, not terribly experimental, disinclined to excess and preciousness, with a tendency to overdo it on the snacks and the avocados.

When I moved across town to Fairmount a few years later, I bravely tried to transfer my loyalties to the Whole Foods, which was much closer to my new place and boasted a cult of followers (many of them my friends) so staunch, they made the Scientologists look like Brownies. Somehow, though, it just never took. Sure, the place was gorgeous, the bakery’s cakes were light as air, and the olive selection was basically the eighth wonder of the world. And I was happy enough to pop in for the pre-formed grass-fed burger patties (the best in the city). But I never really felt like I fully belonged amongst its gluten-aware, multi-tattooed denizens. I mean. These people actually remembered to bring their own bags.

“Whole Foods is bullshit,” offers a colleague of mine. “All that effort going into feeling authentic and romanticizing food shopping when the place is all about Ayn Rand-style capitalism.” He prefers Aldi, where “you’re shopping in a gray box with no music; they barely even have shelves. What they have is great stuff, cheap, for which you trade money. That, my friend, is a pure experience.” Read more »

Swim Lessons in Philadelphia: 15 (Indoor!) Spots to Get Your Kid in the Water

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Ah, the children’s swim lesson. It’s an adorable rite of passage for babies and toddlers and little ones, and also the perfect cool-weather activity: The kids get some play time, some exercise, some new skills … and you get some adorable photo ops. Here, a helpful round-up of some of the city’s and suburb’s most popular spots for lessons. In many cases, new sessions of group lessons tend to start every 8 to 10 weeks or so; you can call or go online to see when the registration begins.

IN THE CITY
Christian Street Y, Graduate Hospital
The program: The Christian Street YMCA has a comprehensive swim program, and a large, clean and bright indoor pool. There are group lessons for babies and caretakers starting at 6 months, and group lessons (sans parents) for preschoolers ages 3 to 5, and it goes up from there with more serious instruction and participation on the swim team. (Private and semi-private lessons are also available.)  
The sessions: The programs run about seven weeks; classes are 30 minutes long.
Signing up: To take swim lessons, you have to be at least a program member, and then you pay for the classes on top of that membership. There are several other levels of membership you can explore, as well, and more extensive membership plans mean discounts on classes, as well as the perks of fuller membership. You can check out the deal with memberships here. Read more »

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