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Workout Tryout: B.Y.O.B.

The Basics

B.Y.O.B.—Bring Your Own Baby or Bring Your Own Bump—is the brainchild of personal trainers Melissa Paris and Anja Pierre, two new moms (Paris had her son last fall, Pierre’s daughter is 18 months old) that take fitness seriously. The pair began working out together, babies strapped to their chests, at the beginning of their postpartum recoveries. They soon realized that not only did they get to bond with their little ones while doing what they loved, but the kids acted as “human weight vests,” upping the intensity of their sessions. B.Y.O.B. was born and the group class mixing strength training and cardio found a home at the Tribeca location of Exceed Physical Culture.

The Experience

Our hour-long class, which happened to be my first mom-and-baby workout ever, had little ones ranging in age from eight weeks to 18 months, most tucked into carriers and worn by their moms. (One stuck it out in a stroller.) Pierre and Paris (pictured below, middle), each with their own baby in tow, led us through a warm-up and explained our main circuits: Three rounds of five lower-body exercises (curtsy squats with TRX straps, step-ups on a box, deep squats, side squats, walking lunges) done for one minute each and two rounds of five upper-body exercises (bicep curls with TRX straps, tricep dips on a box, chest presses with kettle bells, push-ups, overhead presses with kettle bells) also done for one minute each.

It took me a few rounds to get a feel for exercising with my 15-pounder strapped to my front, but once we settled in, working at our own pace as Pierre kept track of the time, it felt great—and challenging. Customization is key. If you feel like bringing push-ups down from the wall to the floor, have at it. Don’t feel comfortable hoisting kettle bells over your baby during a chest press? Do the move without the weight. Whatever you choose, Paris and Pierre keep you motivated and honest.

The Verdict
B.Y.O.B. is fun, friendly and, make no mistake, a real workout. While my son slept his way through most of it, I was sore for days—a sure sign of progress, which is pretty satisfying considering how hard it can be to reclaim fitness post-baby. Paris and Pierre are pros. Chatting with other new moms is a nice bonus that you don’t normally get in the gym, and there is something sweet about having a little training buddy—though don't expect him or her to make those squats any easier. Thursdays, 2 P.M.; $40 per class; Exceed Physical Culture, 97 Reade St., 212-406-3600;
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