Kristy Ardo was desperate for exercise after work, but she didn't want to leave her baby son behind. So she made him part of her workout
Credit: Kristy Ardo

brightcove.createExperiences(); After giving birth to son Tucker in August 2014, Kristy Ardo was desperate to get back into her old workout routine, but she didn’t want to miss out on time with her newborn.

“Everything was completely brand new after having Tucker,” Ardo, 25, tells PEOPLE. “I suddenly had to figure out how to juggle my own health while taking care of a baby. With the lack of sleep it was hard to find time or energy.”

“I couldn’t justify going to the gym by myself after getting off work. Spending time with him is my priority.”

Her brilliant solution? Incorporating Tucker into her exercises.

“One day I picked him up and did lunges and squats and he laughed and giggled the whole time. It made my workout fun and enjoyable,” Ardo says. “Now it is a great bonding time for us.”

At first she just kept him nearby as she worked out at home, but once he gained stronger neck control at four months old, Ardo started incorporating him into her exercises.

Now, with Tucker at 19 months old and 26 lbs., the personal trainer and dive coach shares videos of her workouts with him with her 128,000 Instagram followers.

Using him as her guide, Ardo lunges behind Tucker as he crawls, lifts him up over her head as a baby-sized weight, and sits him on her stomach as she does ab exercises for extra resistance, all while he smiles along with her. She aims to workout three to four times a week for about 20 minutes.

And Ardo is loving the positive reactions she gets from fellow moms.

“It gives moms hope that they can still get back into shape after having kids,” Ardo says. “Just because you have a baby doesn’t mean you have to put your health on the back burner! You can turn it into a positive bonding time.”

And she’ll soon have another baby to join her for workouts – Ardo is pregnant with her second child, due on July 4.

“Honestly this pregnancy has been much tougher on me physically. Keeping up with a toddler is a lot of work and I am still learning!” she says. “Working out during this pregnancy has been really important for me, it helps relieve my anxiety and gives me mental clarity.”

But Ardo says working out with the two of them will be double the fun.

“I cannot wait to start doing workout videos with two babies! I know it will be challenging but I am so excited to learn and adjust to having two little ones.”