Working Out With Rented Babies: A Primer -The Toast

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Warm Up

Vigorous walking

Muscles worked: Hamstrings, quadriceps

Required equipment: Shoes (any kind, high heels preferred), bag of some sort (paper, cloth, or leather preferred, plastic strongly discouraged), at least one toddler

Arrive at your friend’s house. Set down bag and remove shoes. Walk 10 steps into kitchen. Walk 10 steps back to living room, remove phone from toddler’s grasp. Close bag. Walk 10 steps to kitchen. Walk 10 steps back to living room, remove phone from toddler’s grasp after having forgotten to take it off of the coffee table and put it somewhere out of reach. Set on mantle and assure yourself that toddler could not possibly learn to climb that high. Assess toddler, taking into account dexterity, determination, and strength to body weight to fear-of-death ratio (3:1:-17). Remove phone from mantle. Walk 10 steps to kitchen. Set phone on counter. Pause for 30 seconds. Bend down, accept your right shoe from toddler. Give shoe back when screaming commences. Follow toddler 23 shufflesteps to living room. Admire now enormous-looking shoes on tiny toddler feet.

Repeat x 3, substituting car keys and lipstick for phone in subsequent sets.


Baby lifts

Muscles worked: Biceps, triceps, lats, delts

Required equipment: Two toddlers (medium weight)

Pick Toddler 1 (T1) off the ground and lift high into the air. Bob head to avoid accidental spit from happy toddler mouth. Set toddler down on floor. Turn 90 degrees to Toddler 2 (T2). Lift high into the air while T1 shouts, “Turn!” Set T2 down. Turn 90 degrees back to T1. Lift T1 high into the air, allowing child to lift 2mm maximum above your hands depending on velocity of lift and height of ceiling. Do not fully extend arms if in the presence of a ceiling fan, even when turned off and disconnected. Set T1 down. Turn 90 degrees to pouting T2 and lift.

Advanced variation: Say, “Weeeeeeee!” with each lift, breathing from your diaphragm.

Repeat x 20

Note: If using fewer toddlers, increase number of reps. If using heavier-than-recommended toddlers, decrease number of reps. You should be fatigued but not to the point of failure.

Ankle lifts

Muscles worked: Biceps

Required equipment: One 6-9 month old, two baby socks, extra-large pillow

Lay baby on couch or floor facing you, legs extended. Firmly grasp baby’s ankles and roll baby up until they have been lifted off the ground and are dangling in front of you. Gently touch baby’s head to the floor and gently roll down until they are completely on the ground. Repeat until socks begin to slip off the baby’s feet mid-rep. Increase firmness of grip after momentary heart attack. Complete rep and put extra-large pillow on your lap to cushion the fall you are almost-completely-positive won’t happen.

Complete 3 sets of 15 reps, or as many as it takes for you to consider crying as a viable form of child entertainment.


Baby Roll Ups

Muscles worked: Abdominals, thighs, hip flexors

Equipment needed: Padded floor surface, toddler (light weight)

Sit cross-legged on the floor. Seat toddler firmly on your lap, grasping ankles between thumb and forefinger. Arch backwards, pulling your bellybutton back to your spine, rolling down to the floor vertebrae by vertebrae. Push down through your tailbone, squeezing lower abdominals to bring yourself back to a seated position. For a more high-intensity workout, giggle with the toddler as you roll.

Complete 3 sets of 10 reps, remembering to dodge their arms as they throw them in the air, rollercoaster-style.

Toll Bridge

Muscles worked: Lower abdominals, quadriceps

Equipment needed: Padded floor surface, chair, at least one baby or toddler capable of walking 5 or more steps

Lie on floor, lower back pressed firmly down. Rest ankles on the chair and pretend to take a nap. When this does not convince the curious child(ren), growl. Pretend to nap again when they back away. Try to block all clear exits from the room. Growl again, then lift legs towards the sky allowing access to the hallway. Hold for 3 indecisions – toddler will decide to stay in the room, no, go into the hallway, no, stay in the room. Slowly lower legs as toddler(s) run back and forth underneath them. Repeat 7 times while toddler giggles.

Complete two sets of 7 reps if you can.


Child lunges

Muscles worked: Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals

Equipment needed: One child, any size

Lift whining child from floor. Watch the arc of their pacifier as they throw it on the ground. Step forward with right foot, bend knee to ninety degrees, and retrieve paci from the floor. Step back. Watch arc as child kicks shoe off their foot. Step forward with left foot, bend knee, and pick up sock.

Repeat ad nauseum until all items of clothing, including – mysteriously – their onesie have been thrown on the floor. Pick up bottle and/or sippy cup from floor at least ten times before the workout is over.

Cool Down

Equipment needed: car, house keys, wine

Muscles worked: None that you remember the names of anymore.

Take keys from bag, use to open car. Weep with exhaustion. Put keys in ignition, drive home. Enter house, apartment, or igloo and take a nap. Upon waking, pour extra-large glass of wine. Drink, consider bottle, and finish without bothering to pour into glass. Take two asprin and fall into the deep sleep of the drunk and childless.

Sarah Gundle is a writer whose work has appeared in Dactyl, FOUR Magazine,, and She is working on her first novel.

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