Book review: The Clean Momma Workout

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2013, 5:00pm

If your excuse for inactivity is "I don't have the time to work out", Carolyn Barnes empathises. After having a second child and gaining 27 kilograms, she found it hard to juggle gym time, housework and looking after the kids.

The turning point came one day about six years ago when her then two-month-old son Jack puked all over her in the kitchen. She threw a dish towel on the floor and used her foot to wipe up the mess while holding Jack in her arms.

The swiping leg movements left her feeling a burn in her inner thighs - the same kind of burn she had felt in her legs training as a professional dancer for more than 20 years. She craved more, so she threw a couple of damp rags on the kitchen floor with some water and soap, and began to use her feet as mops. Her heart raced, sweat flowed, and inspiration struck: she would call this marriage of exercise and housework Taskercise.

Fast forward a few months: Barnes is 25kg lighter, has a blog and DVD based on her exercise routine, huge media interest in her "off-the-wall approach", and lots of Facebook and YouTube fans.

And now, this book: The cLEAN Momma Workout. Barnes, now a certified Pilates instructor and life coach, takes the "workout" to a deeper dimension in the 197-page paperback. She includes not only her exercise routine, but also advice for getting in order your home, diet and your overall life.

Interspersed through the book are "Down and Dirty Tips" - Barnes' cleaning secrets - such as brightening white linens by adding lemon juice to the wash cycle. There's a section dedicated to healthy eating, including a 30-day eating plan with recipes mainly by nutritionist and dietitian Stephanie Lecovin The good: the recipes are easy and fuss-free. The bad: no photos. Even when there are photos, they're not in colour - not an attractive read. There are, however, step-by-step photos for each strength and conditioning move, of which Barnes offers 25 to incorporate into your daily schedule. The moves have been given fun names such as "cupboard calf raise", "detergent bottle dumbbells" and "pillow plump and pump".

Barnes also offers exercise suggestions for cardio, and variations for seniors and children, and also for situations while you're on the road: waiting in a car park, cruising the supermarket, waiting in line or sitting in a plane.

In the final section, Barnes, who went through a divorce and bankruptcy in 2010, offers advice for cleaning up your life. This involves letting go of clutter in the home and in life, calming your inner chaos and setting priorities.

There is really nothing groundbreaking about The cLEAN Momma Workout. Incorporating exercise into daily life has been preached about at length, the healthy recipes she offers are the usual fare, and her motivational tips are self-help staples.

But just as a new pair of running shoes can be the kick in the pants you need to get out the door, a new book could be the spark that you seek in your workout regimen.

In her next book, Barnes should also consider another problem many Hongkongers face: "I don't have the time to clean my home."