As their babies watch from strollers, a small group of new moms huff and puff their way back into shape as part of Hot Mamas in Training fit camp.
“After you have a baby, everything changes — from your body to hormones to lifestyle. The camp is a great way for women to care for their babies and work on their self-improvement at the same time,” says Karen McDoniel, 36, Hot Mamas owner and registered dietitian at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. The Fontbonne University alumna graduated in 1993 with a degree in dietetics.
An avid runner who has had a lifelong interest in nutrition and fitness, McDoniel took over the business last year from a friend who moved out-of-town. “I jumped on it. I knew there were a lot of moms who relied on it, and I knew it was an important way for women to stay motivated and achieve their goals,” says McDoniel, who joined the camp three years ago after her second daughter was born.
The camp delivers a challenging and motivating workout for all fitness levels, according to McDoniel. “We’ve all been out-of-shape. Ladies tell stories of how they couldn’t do one sit-up when they first started and now they’re doing sit-up drills for six minutes straight. It’s very supportive, and a lot of women become friends and have play-dates after class.”
Classes are held at four different spots around St. Louis — Des Peres, Francis, Longview and Avalon Hills subdivision. If the weather is too cold or rainy, classes are held at St. Mary Magdalen’s gym and The Lodge of Des Peres. The average cost is $8 per session.
For McDoniel, helping people improve the quality of their lives is what drives her. “At the hospital, I work with critically ill people, providing them with intravenous nutrition in order to get them healthy enough to eat on their own,” she says. “And being able to help other moms feel better, breathe better, walk faster and achieve their goals is incredibly rewarding.”
Although she originally came to Fontbonne for deaf education, McDoniel found a fit with dietetics. “I wanted to educate people and provide them with the tools for a better life,” explains McDoniel, who believes her Fontbonne classes rivaled those she would later take in graduate school. “I had very good science professors who really challenged me and prepared me very well,” she says.
McDoniel and her husband, Scott, who’s the assistant athletic director at John Burroughs School in St. Louis and owns a soccer training school, have two children, Emily, 7, and Maggie, 3. “I think having your kids see you exercise regularly sets a great example. I know my seven year old is excited to go to stroller class.” And apparently so are lots of St. Louis moms.