Moms say morning 'stroller' keeps them healthy in body and spirit
By KATIE V. JONES
Baltimore Sun Media Group|
Nov 02, 2014 | 7:32 AM
It was close to 10 a.m. Thursday, and the parking lot at Centennial Park's Pavilion H was filled with mothers hopping out of minivans and unloading strollers. Children ranging in age from six weeks to 4 years old were buckled into place and wheeled to a circle, where they joined others to begin a session led by Elkridge resident Joy Emery.
For the next hour, while their children watched from their strollers, 13 moms conducted a workout that had them running up hills, doing push-ups on the curb and performing other strength- and tone-building exercises — many accompanying themselves by singing children's songs like "Wheels on the Bus."
"I run it like a boot camp," said Emery, owner of the Fit4Mom franchise that offers the program, called Stroller Strides. Emery said she discovered the program four years ago when she attended a session; she learned the owner was selling it and grabbed the local franchise.
"She had only two members when I bought it," said Emery, who took classes to become certified to teach. "It helped me get my teaching groove."
Now there are about 40 to 50 mothers enrolled in the program, with about 20 routinely attending the sessions that run Tuesday through Friday. She has hired two instructors to help teach classes when needed and has recently expanded her territory to include Maple Lawn.
After pregnancy, she said, "you're the heaviest you've ever been and you're feeling really bad about yourself. [The other mothers] are all super-supportive and great. I was never an athlete. I never played sports. I became a runner just by doing this."
Andrea Qureshi learned about Stroller Strides from her neighbor. The mother of a 9-month-old, Qureshi started attending sessions a few weeks ago.
"It feels good just to get out and see the sun," Qureshi said. "It feels really good after all the time being pregnant and up all night."
Throughout the hour workout, the mothers chat, sharing stories and asking about each other's families. The group gets together occasionally in the evening and many schedule play dates for their children. After the sessions, many of them head to the playground to let their children have a chance to run around.
"For first-time moms, I tell them, 'Do not let this class stress you out. Do what you need to do,' " Emery said. "It is very good for new moms to come … so they can ask questions. It is definitely a place you feel a sense of camaraderie."