Dads with babies have the chance to get fit and strong

Dad strength . . . Dads & Bubs Move'n co-ordinator Matthew Smith and his son, Gabriel Onarheim-Smith, are set for a class for fathers and babies in Catholic Social Services building in South Dunedin. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

A Dunedin dancer is encouraging dads and babies to get moving and join a new class.

Professional dancer Matthew Smith, of St Kilda, was awarded the 2018 Caroline Plummer Fellowship in Community Dance.

The annual University of Otago fellowship is open to community dance practitioners, teachers and researchers from New Zealand and overseas, who have a proposed programme of activity.

He used his training in dance and osteopathy to design a proposal of three classes, exploring the links between movement, health and well-being.

He has started the first of the proposed classes “More Men Moving More” at Age Concern Otago in the Octagon.

Up to nine men, aged between 58 and 92, attended the class.

He also holds a class to complement the existing “Steady As You Go” programme for older people at Age Concern Otago.

The inaugural “Dads & Bubs Move’n” classes begin in South Dunedin next week.

Fatherhood gave a man an opportunity to be more active, he said.

The classes would explore ways fathers and babies could move more to aid their physical development.

Since becoming a father, Mr Smith said he had improved his arm strength by carrying his 9-month-old son Gabriel Onarheim-Smith.

By increasing the carrying distance and building his strength, he could now carry Gabriel for up to two hours.

Both father and child benefited, he said. As Gabriel was carried vertically, his head control developed quicker than if he was in a carrier or stroller.

Another way Mr Smith built strength in his arms was by bracing a Jolly Jumper for his son to use.

“It’s a great kinesthetic experience.”

Another exercise he developed was suspending his son in his arms horizontally and running along a beach.

“People probably think I’m crazy but it’s amazing for your arm and cardiovascular strength – there is something primal about it.”

Caring for a baby gave a man a chance to be “uber-masculine”, he said.

Fathers would be encouraged to share ideas for moving with their babies.

The class was not about learning dance steps but about developing movement for fathers and their baby.

The class would investigate enriching the “movement environment we place our baby in”.

“The surface they move on, the clothes they are in, and objects and toys that can provide more movement opportunities for them.”

The one-hour classes would be held for four weeks in a Catholic Social Services building in Macandrew Rd, either on Tuesdays from 5.30pm or Fridays from 9.30am..

Contact Catholic Social Services to register.