Balancing motherhood and fitness
Between breast feeding, changing diapers, pureeing food and learning a routine that can be, well, not so routine, getting a workout in may just not be on the top of the priority list.
That’s not to say that women who have just had their bodies transformed in a very significant way are not eager to regain their figure, or at least a little more self-confidence in their appearance.
Stroller Strides is a national fitness program for women to exercise with other moms and their babies. Locally, women meet all week long in parks throughout the county, working on their bodies while motivating one another along the way.
“I always have had a passion for fitness and thought that this was great — it’s something I can do, and that’s how it all got started,” said Kristen Hall, owner of Stroller Strides’ Buffalo chapter.
“When I was pregnant, my friend who lives in North Carolina sent me a link and suggested I see if there was a franchise in my area. There was and it was actually for sale, so I called the lady on a whim before I even talked to my fiance and said, ‘I want to buy it!’”
Hall started getting women together in the fall, using the Walden Galleria mall as an alternative space while the weather was colder. She found it challenging in the beginning.
“I started when I was pregnant with my son,” she said. “That was tough, but everything in Stroller Strides is modified to your fitness level so you can be acclimated right away.”
Other moms found out through social media and word of mouth that classes were beginning. Before she knew it, Hall had a following.
“I found it through a website called meetup.com,” said West Seneca resident Kathryn Lata. “I was a member of a moms’ group on the ‘meetup’ website, and I was actively looking up moms that work out. It popped up on a suggestion list.”
Lata and others meet in locations such as Glen Falls Park in Williamsville and Sunshine Park in West Seneca. She explained that sessions usually begin with a warm-up period followed by more intense exercising.
“It’s a well-rounded workout,” she said. “I have to say at this point if I was going to the gym, which I was doing beforehand, I would be in and out and all I can really do is run on the treadmill. This is an hour, it’s with the babies, and we work out everything. I really like that.”
Squats, lunges and abdominal exercises are major parts of the exercise regimen, but sprints are also a big part of the program, which makes parks an ideal location — especially one such as Glen Falls, with its dramatically inclined pathways.
“We can get a fast sprint in up the steeper hills that wouldn’t be stroller-friendly, while Kristen keeps the kids preoccupied,” Lata said. “It’s nice because after running with a stroller, you finally get to run a little bit on your own. It’s funny you don’t even realize how much resistance a stroller gives you.”
When she is not leading group exercises, Hall will stay with the children while the rest of the moms race one another throughout the park. She reads books, blows bubbles, sings — anything to keep them entertained.
“I think it’s good for the kids to see their moms work out,” said South Buffalo resident Sarah O’Boyle. “I know that they’re young, but it’s healthy for them to see us being active and physically fit.”
Being able to have their children with them has been logistically the best aspect of Stroller Strides. Some moms find it difficult to leave their tots with strangers who staff the day care centers, while others feel pressured to get a workout in as quickly as they can so they can get back to their children.
“I actually canceled my gym membership because it was too hard to find a sitter every time I wanted to go,” Lata said. “These classes run five days a week, and I never have to worry about that.”
Depew resident Angela Rodriguez is motivated by another reason for choosing Stroller Strides over the gym: friendships.
“If I don’t go to the gym, no one cares, but if I don’t make it here, I get calls asking why I wasn’t at class that day,” Rodriguez said. “It’s nice that someone cares if you’re not there, and it gives you a little more incentive to go to class.”
For contact information and a complete class schedule, visit www.stollerstrides.net/buffalony.