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Train Like a Mommy

To Coach Karli Saur, Family Fitness is Part of the Daily Routine

When Karli Saur wakes in the morning, she takes a quick shower, dons workout clothes, gets her children—Siena, 2, and Stetson, 5 months—breakfast and launches into a morning of fun family exercise. If the weather is nice, she begins by pushing the kids in a double stroller through her hilly Bernardsville neighborhood, doing sets of walking lunges at every incline. “With the kids in the stroller, I’m pushing about 65 pounds,” she says. 

Their destination is a nearby park, where she lets Siena run around the playground while she places Stetson on a blanket and does a series of push-ups over him. “I place my hands on the outside and straddle him on my knees because I have not yet progressed to being on my toes. Every time I lower myself, I give his belly a little kiss or touch my nose to his in an Eskimo kiss, then I rise back up,” she says. “He loves it; he’s giggling the whole time.”

Next, it’s Siena’s turn. Saur jumps up to chase her up and down the slides and jungle gym. “I’m full-scale running, chasing her back to Stetson where we run loops around him. Then, I go back to my push-ups or a plank over Stetson. Now, Siena is next to me, imitating my push-ups and planks—and forming great habits,” she says. “In 45 minutes, we have all gotten our exercise and the wiggles out at the park. I’m fully sweating and we all go home refreshed for lunch.” 

This might seem like a “super mom” thing to do, but Saur—known as “Coach Karli”—is on a mission to show women, especially new mothers, that they can keep a balance between caring for their family, working and staying fit. 

Saur and her husband, JJ, are both lifelong athletes. JJ, a former competitive lacrosse player, and Saur, who played Division 3 soccer and softball in college, are dedicated runners who have completed several marathons and ultra-marathons. “We have this affinity for physical health as a family, and when we got pregnant, we decided that our life would be no different once we had children,” she says. 

After college, Saur worked in the fitness industry for a decade, instructing at high-profile gyms and fitness studios in Miami and New York City before launching Iron Diamond Fitness in 2015, where she focuses on areas such as pre- and post-natal care, weight loss, habit restructuring and endurance training. 

As a full-time mom who balances career and family life, Saur understands her fellow mothers’ struggles to maintain fitness, health and well-being while navigating daily life. “When I worked at the gyms, my clients were mostly pre- and post-natal clients. I understood their needs were different,” she says. “There are so many considerations: morning sickness, concerns about eating enough to fuel your body, questions about exercising and continuing a program if you were a runner or on a weight loss plan.” 

Saur stresses the effect of hormones on overall health during pregnancy. “The extra hormones your body produces to allow it to prepare for childbirth also affects your joints and muscles,” she says. “For example, who expects that their ankles will change in ways other than retaining water during the third trimester? But hormone shifts cause weakness in your ankles, putting you at risk for rolling or spraining your ankle by doing ordinary actions like stepping from a car, wearing high heels or going for a jog.”

Sensitive to busy moms’ schedules, Saur structures fitness programs around her clients’ schedules. “I can tailor fitness programs for you to do on your own, come to your house or have you come to mine. I even meet clients at the park for a fresh-air workout,” she says. 

Although doctors clear most women for exercise six weeks after birth, Saur stresses the need to ease back into a routine. “It takes up to 24 months to return to where you were physically prior to pregnancy. If you start running or doing crazy exercises, you’ll wind up with more issues down the road,” she says. “It’s best to start with foundational work, like exercises to improve balance and stability. So, instead of doing crunches, you’ll do a plank. Instead of running, you’ll do lateral slides on a slide board or work out on a spin bike.”

Finding the time to exercise as a new mom is easy—if you incorporate it into your daily routine. For example, while your child is playing, run up and down the stairs. If they are playing with blocks, squat down slowly, pick up a block, stand up, squat back down and return it. “This exercise helps you with flexibility and range of motion while working your cardiovascular system and filling your body with oxygen,” she says. 

When you’re pushing your child on the swing, see how many squats you can get in before she swings back. “My kids find all of this hilarious,” she says. “To them it’s a game; to me, it’s my workout.” 

Learn more at IronDiamondFitness.com.

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