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A Perfect Fit

Standing in front of two-dozen people eager for a body-altering workout can be an intimidating position. But Dara Theodore, an instructor at the boutique fitness studio Fhitting Room, which specializes in HIIT (high-intensity interval training), is up for the challenge.

Not that long ago, however, she was the one being motivated by a trainer.

The mother of two (Lee, 9, and Jude, 6.5), who felt “awful” for more than half of both her pregnancies, enjoyed running and yoga as her primary postpartum workouts. “You lose your weight, but you have that extra ten pounds or so that just kind of hangs out,” she says. “I wasn’t unhappy with that, but I didn’t really realize I could look and feel differently.”

Theodore, who has a masters in adolescent education and at the time was a stay-at-home mom, heard Kari Saitowitz, the founder of the Fhitting Room, talk about her plans to open a studio (the two women’s kids went to the same school). She took a class when it debuted in 2013 and walked out knowing she had found something special. She contacted head trainer Eric Salvador (who became her mentor), took as many Fhitting Room classes as she could, got a kettlebell certification and was hired a year later. After six months of on-the-job training, the studio’s second location in Manhattan’s Flatiron district opened, Theodore’s class load doubled and she became a fixture. (Don’t let her ultra-friendly demeanor fool you—her classes are challenging in the best of ways.)

Expert Advice

When it comes to working with pregnant and postpartum women, Theodore keeps it simple: listen to your doctor and listen to your body. Once you are cleared to work out and are free of any conditions that require specific considerations (such as diastasis recti, aka ab separation), it’s time to ease back in.

The functional movement that the Fhitting Room specializes in is particularly applicable to what a new mom faces on a daily basis. “You’re not always bending over and rowing in life,” she says, “but you sure are squatting and picking up your baby.” Her favorite exercises? Planks (from a push-up position or from the forearms), body weight squats, and push-ups (from the knees or fully extended). She is also a fan of long walks done at an interval pace, alternating jogging and walking.

But perhaps the biggest takeaway is to take it slow. Theodore remembers a woman coming back to Fhitting Room classes five weeks after giving birth for the third time. “Looking at her, I almost forgot [how recently she had had her baby] till I saw her doing some of the core work,” she explains. “I went over and said, just do me a favor, just modify this. Not because I was worried, but because there is no rush. There’s plenty of time.” 201 E. 67th St.; 31 W. 19th St.;

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