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Q&A with Monica Bencomo, Author & Certified Trainer

Our Expert:

Monica Bencomo


Monica Bencomo believes in using what’s readily available to make workout routines stick. That’s why you’ll often see her using her 40-lb son in her resistance training. She also incorporates strollers and babywearing into her fitness routines. Monica’s approach to exercise helped her lose 60lbs of pregnancy weight all from the comfort of her home with 30 minute or less workouts. Monica shares her advices for new moms on how and why making self-care a priority starting from the newborn phase and up.

Names/ages of your kids?

Eliel, 9; Ariel, 6; Rafael, 2; Immanuel, 6 weeks.

How did your fitness routine change when you became a mom?

In every way. Before becoming a mom, I was dancing professionally, going to the gym, and enjoying my solo jogging and hiking trips. I loved staying active (still do!). When I had my son, I realized I had to simplify things and get creative. I switched to short home workouts, and eventually got certified as a trainer to create my own workouts designed to burn the most fat in the shortest time frame by combining weight training with HIIT style/high rep movements. I also incorporated babywearing, using my stroller, and working out with my kids on days I couldn’t get my home workout in.

Was there an “a-ha moment” when you realized you wanted to focus on helping moms look and feel better about themselves?

For sure--when I hit my own low moment after becoming a mom. I looked up a couple months postpartum, house a mess, behind on work, shirt covered in spit up, and 50 pounds of extra baby weight still clinging to my body. I hadn’t made time for my hobbies like reading, writing, or working out. I was in LOVE with my son and being a mother but felt like I had completely lost myself. I also felt like none of the dozens of parenting books I’d read during pregnancy prepared me for the lack of identity I suddenly felt as a mother. I decided then to create what I needed--tips and tools for busy moms to look and feel their best, be happy and healthy, AND be the best moms they can be.

What do you tell new moms to help motivate them to make time for themselves?

What I needed to hear--that we need to. It’s not a luxury--it’s a necessity for our mental health. I sometimes forget this and take on the ‘martyr’ role, giving up on my hobbies and self-care to prove I can do it all without needing time alone and, ya know what? My kids suffer from their mom not being as patient or happy when I deprive myself of the things I love. Yet when I take time to “selfishly” care for my body, mind, and spirit--even if only 20 minutes in the morning-- I’m a better me. That makes me a better mom.

What are your top 5 at-home exercises for moms-to-be?

I believe in keeping your prenatal routine similar to what you were doing prior to becoming pregnant as that’s safest. But overall, squats are a must! Aside from squats (and its variations), I’d say bicep curls, shoulder presses, back rows, and lunges for functional fitness are great to continue and master.

What are your top 5 exercises for new moms?

The same! As I mentioned, it’s a great idea to master moves above: squats, curls, rows, lunges, presses--as they come in handy for everyday tasks from lifting your precious babies, performing household chores, and staying overall athletic and healthy. I would, however, recommend taking it up a notch after mom is cleared to workout postpartum (slowly of course). Start by increasing the weight (resistance) if looking to build lean muscle or increase reps if looking to tone.

We love your stroller workouts! What’s your fave stroller-friendly exercise?

Thanks! Ah--I have so many! But jogging and lunges are my faves with strollers.

Any tips on how to incorporate your toddler into your workout routine?

Overall, make it fun--try babywearing if you can, and if they’re too big for that, hold them in front or in “piggy back” stance. My toddler, Rafael, is about 40 pounds and is the best “resistance!” We love squatting, lunging, and doing planks with him on my back.

What is the best way to stick to a fitness routine as a busy mom?

Flexibility is key for moms. Every day is unique. You can start with a schedule in mind, for instance, working out in the morning from 9:30-10:00. But, even for moms with a gym membership, our workouts can sometimes get interrupted. I say start with the intention to workout consistently, for instance, doing a home workout 20-30 minutes 4 days a week. But when things come up and you don’t get to it, give yourself grace. But do aim to be active every day. This may look like chasing your kiddos outside in the backyard, going on a family walk after dinner, or a bike ride. After coaching hundreds of moms through the years, I’ve learned that if the fitness or meal plan is too complex or rigid, the likelihood of sticking to it is slim. I’d much rather my client find success in a consistent 15-minute home workout rather than hitting the gym hard a couple of times a month.