GroovaRoo is a "babywearing dance class" where quite simply you dance while wearing your baby in a sling or carrier. Originally set up by Amber and Meeshi in San Diego... Veronika Kanska (a professional dancer with babywearing training) is responsible for bringing the franchise to West London, running classes in Mortlake, Chiswick, and Wimbledon.
I have to say, in general the idea of combining baby wearing and exercise makes me pretty nervous. There always seems to be so much pressure on new mums to get their bodies back and excel as a parent, while juggling home and work and well frankly everything! When really the only things that should matter for a new parent is bonding with their little one, allowing time for their body to recover and heal and most importantly adjusting to your new normal. What I really respect about Veronika is that she shares this exact philosophy. Her first words when we met for a cuppa were "this is not an exercise class, it is a chance to bond and have fun."
So Rachel and I went along. And true to her word, her class is very relaxed and laid back - and most importantly fun! She kicks off with making sure everyone is comfy in their carriers and carriers are correctly adjusted to ensure both mum and baby will be well supported throughout. Then its onto the dancing! Her style is soul line dancing and her class is very gentle on a post-natal body. What I loved about this class was it required a nice amount of concentration learning the steps - really helped wake up my foggy mum brain! While also moving and getting those serotonin levels up! Veronika is great at catering for different levels of ability, both in terms of intrinsic dancing skill (I have zero) and overall fitness. And it really didn't matter if you went the wrong way - which I did frequently!! The whole class were such a friendly welcoming group, no one minded or really even noticed if you forgot half the steps almost constantly.
I would heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a welcoming class where they can meet other parents, make friends and most importantly have fun with their baby. In particular, I would really recommend it to anyone who is maybe struggling with the transition or with anxiety. One of the reasons I love helping people find the right baby carrier, is over and over again clients have told me (often months later) how much carrying their baby helped them through postnatal depression or anxiety. How much the simple act of wearing their baby helped break that downward spiral, bond with baby and just make life a little bit easier one day at a time. I can well imagine that getting out to a lovely, laid back and relaxed class like this where you can simply have fun with your baby and meet people in a zero expectation or pressure environment would help build on this for many parents struggling with similar feelings of anxiety or depression.
So what sort of carrier would I recommend if you wanted to go along to a Groovaroo Dance class? Well the first consideration is that Groovaroo stipulate that it must be a 2 shoulder carrier with a waist band. They also stipulate that it is either a Buckle carrier, stretchy wrap or Meh Dai. While I do think there are plenty of other carrier types that would work just fine these are Groovaroo's rules and worth being aware of!
Second consideration from my point of view is to select a carrier that you are comfortable in! The class is an hour long (with breaks) so it needs to be a carrier that both you and baby will be comfortable in for an hour.
If you don't have a carrier that fits the criteria above Veronika has a small but perfectly formed collection of carriers for you to borrow and try. Likewise I have a huge collection (over 80 at last count) and several years of experience in finding the right sling for the right person... so well worth coming along to a consult or drop in session and trying a few and finding the carrier that gives you the best fit. Not only for the class but for your life in general!
Particular brands I'd suggest investigating would be:
- Stretchy wraps - something easy to tie but not too 'bouncy'. The Lifft or Ergo Aura wraps would be my top too but really any stretchy wrap that is well tied would be great.
- Meh Dais - The Hoppediz Hop Tai, Baby Hawk or Soul Tai would be great options
- Buckle Carriers - these are the most important to find one that fits you well. All baby carriers are a bit like jeans and its really worth trying a few to ensure a good fit, but this is most true of buckle carriers where there is the biggest variation between brands in terms of fit. Brands worth checking out include Ergo, Beco, Connecta, Izmi, Sleepy Nico, Lillebaby, JPMBB and many more. These are also often the most expensive type of carrier so do take your time to try a few and check whichever you go for works for you both in your normal day to day life and while dancing!