Looking at Gina Grant’s tight, toned body, it’s hard to believe that she’s ever had a baby. In fact, the 36-year-old has given birth to four (now ages 8, 9, 13 and 15), with the youngest two born just a year and a day apart. Good genes? Perhaps, but she still had to work hard to get back in shape and lose the pooch after each pregnancy. And it wasn’t until after the arrival of her third child that Grant discovered her secret weapon: Zumba classes.
Blending moves from world rhythms that include salsa, meringue, mambo, hip-hop and tango, the high-energy dance workout was “exactly what I needed to get me back to the gym,” Grant explains. With its lively music and fun choreography, it felt more like a nightclub than an exercise class. “I was having a blast and sweating like crazy,” she says.
Before long, the pregnancy pounds had disappeared, along with the bulge around her middle. “It really is the best thing after having a baby,” she professes. “It’s a total-body workout and you’re constantly using your core,” helping to tighten up the muscles that get weakened and stretched during pregnancy.
Losing weight wasn’t always so easy for Grant, especially after packing on a whopping 55 pounds during her first pregnancy. “I did exactly what you shouldn’t do with my first,” she confesses. “I stopped working out and ate everything in sight.” During her second pregnancy, she ate a lot healthier but still didn’t exercise. Her last two pregnancies were a different story. “As I got older, I got wiser,” says Grant, an education specialist for Zumba Fitness. Her body recovered fastest after her fourth—a fact that she attributes to taking Zumba classes throughout her pregnancy.
Now, as a busy mom who travels frequently for work, Grant stays in shape almost exclusively with Zumba sessions. She typically teaches two hourlong classes a week, as well as one or two nine-hour instructor training sessions on weekends. Occasionally, she’ll supplement with push-ups and crunches or strength exercises using a resistance band. And at home, she likes to challenge her teenage sons to push-up competitions. “As my kids have gotten busier with activities, it’s become harder for me to find time to work out,” laments Grant, who stars in the Zumba Fitness 2 video game. “If all else fails, I’ll pop in the 20-minute Zumba Rush DVD when they’re asleep.” (This is one of the seven discs in the Zumba Fitness Exhilarate at-home DVD collection.)
Grant seems to have passed on her passion to her daughters, now ages 8 and 9. They love doing Zumbatomic, a class specifically designed for ages 4 to 12, she says. With her help, they even choreographed a Zumbatomic routine that has become a favorite among instructors. “One day, they were complaining that they were bored,” Grant says. “So I said, ‘Go make up a dance, then come back and show me!’ ” I just modified it a little to make it work.”
If you’re a new mom anxious to get your pre-baby body back, Grant has one warning: Take it slow! “Be sure your body is healed completely before jumping back into an exercise program,” she warns. And remember: It took nine months to gain the weight, so don’t expect it to come off all at once. Just try to stay as consistent as possible with your workouts—and you’ll be back in your skinny jeans before you know it.
Note: You can locate an instructor in your area at zumba.com.