The Stay at Home Mama Workout: Tips for Staying Fit With Little Time and Money

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

The only exercise some people get is jumping to conclusions, running down their friends, side-stepping responsibility, and pushing their luck!  ~Author Unknown
 I made two New Years resolutions this year:
1) Start a blog, and make it successful as quickly as possible. (First half: Done! Second half: Really trying!)
2) Do some form of exercise Monday through Friday.

The irony is that I had already been doing resolution #2 and had been on a roll with it for quite a while, but in order to make resolution #1 happen, I’ve had to use every free second to do something blog related over the past two weeks. Therefore, this post is not only for my readers, but also a big reminder to myself about how easy it was to make my resolution happen… before I called it a resolution.

Since my stay at home mama gig pays in hugs and kisses rather than cash, the following are 20 creative ways I have exercised with very little money and time:

1) Set the DVR: Find FitTV on your channel guide, browse through the titles of the shows, and set your DVR to record any occurrence of the titles that appeal to you. My personal favorite is Dance and Be Fit. Dance workouts range from hip hop to Samba and Salsa. Each show takes about 20 minutes when you fast forward through commercials.

2) Find an online fitness challenge: I’ve done the Self magazine challenges in the past, but I most recently followed an awesome Facebook fitness challenge run by the Norman, OK chapter of Baby Boot Camp ( Yes, I’m in Massachusetts, and the challenge was run by an Oklahoma group, but that doesn’t matter. Just find anyone posting daily fitness challenges online. Each fitness challenge only took a few minutes, but once I was up and exercising, I kept going on my own.

3) Start your own fitness challenge: Create an email list of a few of your favorite people. Each person is responsible for emailing a fitness challenge to the rest of the group and assigning points to it. For example, do three sets of 20 crunches for 3 points. People reply to the email on the honor system and report how many points they earned. Keep track of the points and at the end of the month, or whenever you decide to end each challenge, the person with the most points gets a prize. Have fun with the prizes: A coupon for friends to babysit, a manicure, a dinner cooked by another friend dropped off at the winner’s house, etc.

4) Take a walk with a companion: My companion is always Baby Jac. Instead of using the stroller, I usually strap him into the Bjorn and carry him. Walking with 18 pounds strapped to you really steps up the workout. Another bonus for using a Bjorn or baby carrier is that the body heat of baby against you warms you both up fast.

5) Peek-a-boo crunches: Sit baby on the couch or on any safe place where you can easily lie right beneath them. Every time you raise yourself up from a crunch, say PEEK-A-BOO to your baby. The smiles you get in response will keep your crunches going for quite a while. Include exercise in your games with your little one.

6) YouTube: Search YouTube for whatever kind of workout you’re interested in. They’ve got video clips of everything from Zumba to P90X.

7) Free gym trials: You can get a pass for almost any gym or YMCA to try it for free for a week. Try to find places that have free babysitting service to give your little one a change of pace too.

8) Free classes: For almost any kind of activity, you can take your first class for free. I’ve seen them in our area for dance, karate, Baby Bootcamp, Stroller Strides, yoga, etc.

9) Join your town’s family or parent network: In our town, we have events called Mom’s Time Out. I’ve gone to fun fitness related night’s out like yoga and Zumba. It’s also a great way to meet more mamas in your neighborhood. Jac and I met our favorite town friends and weekly walking partners through the town’s family network.

10) Cuddle your baby and move, move, move: I have a deliciously cuddly baby who wants to hug and be held a lot. I use this as an opportunity for cardio (plus 18 lbs). Doing laps around the house, holding Jac in my arms or in a wrap, and doing high kicks makes me look ridiculous, but definitely helps me to work up a sweat.

11) Wii Fit: I am a huge fan of Advanced Hula Hoop in the Aerobics section of Wii Fit. I think it’s a great a workout. If you’re also a mama who has abdominal separation and needs to stay away from traditional crunches, the hula hoop action provides a great, safe ab workout.

12) On Demand Cable: Find the fitness section and enjoy the free workouts.

13) Use Netflix, RedBox, or your local library: Try out exercise DVDs for free (or for $1) until you find the right one for you.

14) Add an element of exercise into whatever you do: My thighs burned for 3 days by keeping myself in a plie` or deep bent knee position for Jac’s entire swim class last week.

15) Take a hike: We are a hiking family and love to do it as much as we can. Luckily, Jac and I can easily hike in the conservation land right behind our house and also take in some natural beauty at the same time.

16) Do quick exercises that workout multiple parts of your body at once: Walking lunges around the house, planks, jump squats, etc.

17) Exercise in bed: I would do my physical therapy exercises in bed. Glut squeezes and leg lifts all accomplished in my bed wearing my PJ’s right before I went to sleep at night.

18) Have a dance party: Jac and I had some pretty wild Christmas music dance parties in the month of December.

19) Heavy lifting house and yard work: Raking leaves, shoveling snow, and vacuuming the whole house burn major calories.

20) Get off the computer: After spending quality time on my blog, put the computer down and move around. It doesn’t matter how. As long as you’re not being sedentary, you are making the choice to be a healthier mama!

If you have additional suggestions, I would love to hear them! Please post your ideas in the comments section below.

Don’t let cold weather stop you!

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Morgan S. January 18, 2011 at 2:20 am

Great post! I'm a fitness mommy. :-) I'm currently doing Insanity. You can follow updates on my blog at I also post a lot of health and fitness tips that might help you on your journey! Hope you enjoy it!


2 I Thought I Knew Mama January 18, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Thanks, Morgan! I'm going to check out your blog right now!


3 tsue1136 January 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Thanks for sharing this!
Following from Follow Me Back Tuesday .
Glad to have found you.



4 My Life as a Real House Wife January 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm

I found you on Follow Me Back Tuesday. Thanks for the good work out tips! I'm always willing to try out new things!


5 Survey Junkie January 18, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Stopping by for FMBT. I'm your newest follower.
have a great week,


6 Mass Hole Mommy January 18, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Awesome tips!! Always nice to meet a fellow MA blogger & I shall see you at boot camp!


7 HanneeNz January 18, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Thanks for the lovely comment on my blog. I am really enjoying reading your posts, I can't wait to read more!


8 solsticemom January 18, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Thanks for the exercise tips! I miss walking outdoors. I want Spring!


9 Paula Schuck January 18, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Hi. I am following you back from the Tuesday train. Paula


10 My Boss is Teething January 18, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Cute blog! I just started mine in August, so I'm new to blogging, too. I will definitely have to check out FitTV. Good tip!


11 Grow With Stacy January 20, 2011 at 5:34 pm

This list is full of great ideas! Just what I need, with a new baby. I'm ready to lose the pregnancy weight and have been looking for some ideas just like these! I really need to take advantage of the on demand choices and netflix!

I got some of those shape up shoes and they do give my legs a workout. I also put the baby in the moby wrap and do housework. That really is a work out!


12 I Thought I Knew Mama January 20, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Thank you, everyone!

@Grow With Stacy, Congrats on your new baby! The shape up shoes are a great tip! I should have included that in my list. I use the Reebok toning shoes and love them. I can definitely feel it in my butt and thighs after walking in them.


13 Bob lipply@st. petersburg realtor September 18, 2011 at 10:27 am

Most mums do not do any exercise after giving birth and hence they become very unfit. Thank you for sharing these easy exercises. I am sure many people will benefit from them.


14 Jennifer Hoffman July 22, 2013 at 7:17 pm

You know I love this, mama! Great ideas


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