While their babies watch, mothers get together to jog, skip, do strength work — and sing.
COMPARED TO THE rest of the moms at Stroller Strides, I had it pretty easy. My stroller held a shirt and my purse, whereas the rest of the moms were pushing several pounds of baby, sometimes more, if they had two kids with them.
Any mom will tell you carrying kids is its own workout, but a Stroller Strides class provides a social outlet plus a workout.
Stroller Strides was developed by FIT4MOM, which has franchises in several states. I went to a class in Wallingford, packed with moms and kids of varying ages, mostly 5 and under. The moms told me the class helps them get out of the house with their babies, get in a daytime workout that doesn’t require a baby-sitter (there also are evening classes) and spend time with other moms.
The workout is thorough, and tailored to physical challenges particular to moms.
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Class started with easy warm-ups, as we circled up, and moms took turns sharing their favorite diaper-bag essential. Soon, we were trotting in a circle around the gym, pushing strollers, and mixing up the jog with lunges and butt kicks.
We got even warmer when we moved into wall sits, with kids parked facing their moms. We sang a song about a rocket (clapping as we sang, “Zoom, zoom, zoom”), then stood and jumped for the countdown and blastoff. The kids looked at us, curious.
The class uses resistance bands for strength training, and we did triceps work, plus a couple more rounds of wall sits.
It was a nice day, so we headed outdoors for a jog around the block, then parked the strollers on grass. Teacher Cara DeCarlow showed us how to use our resistance bands for dead lifts and shoulder strengthening. In between, we sang another song. Mila, 16 months, watched me and her mom, Lisa Martinez, while eating string cheese. Snacks are key for the kids, Martinez said.
After skipping up and down the block, we jogged to a new location, where we did squats while singing a song in Spanish about an alligator eating, sleeping and drinking. We did more strength work and side lunges.
During jumping jacks, DeCarlow showed modifications for women coping with pelvic-floor issues. Bridget Dwyer, owner of FIT4MOM Seattle, encouraged women to ask questions about health-care providers if they were having physical challenges post-pregnancy. You do not have to suffer, she said.
We jogged back to the gym to circle up for core work, and Dwyer gave additional suggestions for women coping with ab separation, or diastasis recti.
We finished up with burpees and stretching. Most kids had snack cups, which were by then empty and dropping to the floor. At least one kid came out of his stroller, ready for his mom to be done.
We had moved for pretty much the entire hour, whether it was jogging, skipping or doing strength work; I was tired.
Dwyer said she wants to help women get strength back and put strength where it belongs, rather than focus on weight loss. I appreciated the references to the physical challenges women face postpartum, as well as an environment where you can bring your baby to the workout. The atmosphere was supportive.
While some moms come several days a week, others come when they can; Stroller Strides is a great option to move and connect for any mom, new or not.