Columbus resident Elizabeth Tolivar has started a “No Excuse Mom” workout group for stay-at-home moms and other people who want to wedge fitness into busy lifestyles.
Tolivar became involved in a No Excuse group when she first learned about “Fit Mom” Maria Kang, who launched the No Excuse Fitness Movement. When photos of Kang, a model-thin mother of three, went viral, Tolivar’s Facebook friends tagged Tolivar in the photos to let her know about the movement. Tolivar later became a group leader of No Excuse Mom here in Columbus.
The group has about seven members on Facebook, and they meet Tuesdays and Saturdays at 9 a.m. at the John C. Stennis Lock and Dam. The group is made up mostly of mothers with small children.
At last Tuesday’s workout, four moms, including Tolivar, gathered under the picnic area at the Lock and Dam overlooking the water and began working out. They started with stretches and then moved into what Tolivar calls “Round Robin.” They formed a circle and each woman picked a workout she wanted to do. Tolivar started them with her personal favorite, squats. The next mom picked lunges, the next planks and so on. Tolivar always begins sessions with Round Robin.
“That way once I do get more people, I can kind of feel out what they like to do, the specific workouts that they’re comfortable with,” she said. “That way everybody’s comfortable coming here and they don’t feel discouraged…I can always tailor the workouts to their preferences.”
Each woman had at least one child with her, and when they weren’t exercising they were talking with each other about their families. The children ranged in age from 4 years to 2 months. As their moms worked out, the older ones played with each other and the babies watched from strollers.
Sometimes Tolivar incorporates the children into her workouts.
“Whether you’re holding (your kids) or putting them on your shoulders, there’s a lot of variations you can do,” Tolivar said. “If you are a little bit more advanced, and you can handle the weight, then I’m all for incorporating the kids…while you do the workouts.”
Tolivar’s group is one of close to 300 No Excuse Mom groups in several countries, according to Kang’s website, mariakang.com.
Kang’s movement is not without its controversies. Type “Maria Kang” into Google, and your results will include accusations of “fat shaming” and articles written by people detailing their own excuses in answer to Kang’s No Excuse regime. This does not bother Tolivar, who says it’s all about how you interpret the movement.
“A lot of people do look at it (as bullying), but I feel like more people look at it as motivating and respectable,” she said. “Because (Kang) can push through and she did all of this great stuff. She owns her own business, she just recently wrote her own book…like I said, it’s all about how you interpret it. And that’s why we try to make these groups, to show moms that we’re just here to help, we aren’t here to bully.”
Tolivar also had advice for those who want to start getting into shape. It’s easy to get up 15 minutes earlier or go to bed 15 minutes later in order fit in a short workout that does a lot of good, especially for fitness beginners, she said. Tolivar also suggested snacking on fruits or vegetables instead of candy bars.
“It’s the little things that start out and help the best,” she said. “It’s a process that we all understand…Everybody makes mistakes, and you’re going to have your good days and bad days. Don’t let that bad day ruin your good days because in the overall picture, a couple of bad days over all those good days aren’t going to do anything.”