As the Stroller Strides moms warmed up with stretches in the middle of Storvik Park, instructor Natalie Gustafson asked how many slept in a bad position because they had a kid in bed with them.
Some of the moms nodded while others were wrapped in conversation, sharing stories about their kids, as they got in a much-needed workout.
Stroller Strides, a national fitness program, is 10 to 11 a.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the park, starting near the Our Town Our Park playground.
“It’s a post-natal fitness program,” Gustafson said. “So it’s for moms after they’ve had their babies … to get their physical strength back but also the needed emotional support from other moms.”
Gustafson, who has a background as a marriage and family therapist, has owned franchises in Mount Vernon and Bellingham for three years. She started the one here in May.
Anacortes instructors Lesa Floyd with her daughter Peyton, 20 months, and Lyndsay Tryba with her son Owen, 3, attended Friday’s class along with about seven other moms and nine children — two moms had double strollers.
Participants pushed their kids in the strollers and did a number of exercises in front of them while singing the ABC song and other children’s verses.
“We use everything we can — benches, stairs — we do a lot of sit-ups, push-ups,” Floyd said. “Everybody gets to work at their own level so no one gets left out.”
The fitness program covers all the basics — strength, cardio, balance and flexibility, Gustafson said. The exercises can be adapted to challenge those more fit or to be easier on those just beginning.
“So there’s a real personal aspect to the class,” she said.
The Stroller Strides motto is strength for motherhood, Gustafson said. New mothers can start coming to the classes once they’re medically cleared at their four- or six-week appointments. Kids are stroller age up to about 5 years old.
Floyd started attending Stroller Strides classes more than a year ago at Hillcrest Park in Mount Vernon. She was working full time and needed to exercise but didn’t want to put Peyton in gym day cares.
“This way I get my workout in and spend time with my daughter so it worked out well,” Floyd said.
Eventually Floyd quit her job and became a stay-at-home mom. She lives in Anacortes, so becoming an instructor and starting classes here just fell into place. She gets to work out near home and gets to socialize with other moms.
“You know you always have bad days — these are the people who understand,” Floyd said. “Or if your kid starts freaking out in the middle of class nobody cares.”
Proving her point, Tryba’s son Owen sang and squealed quite audibly as he sat in his stroller playing with a toy camera. The moms took no notice while they stretched their leg muscles and continued talking and laughing among themselves.
Tryba, who started Stroller Strides in Jacksonville, Fla., said it’s ideal for military families like hers that move around a lot. By learning to be an instructor here, she’ll be able to continue with the program where ever she ends up.
“It’s a workout I can do with my kid and you’re meeting and connecting with other moms,” Tryba said.
The kids also socialize and play, especially toward the end of the workout when the strollers were made into a circle around toys and blankets laid out on the grass.
Floyd teaches classes on Mondays and alternates Fridays with Tryba, who teaches on Wednesdays while Gustafson teaches here and there.
“She’s very involved in everything,” Floyd said. “She has so much energy it’s bizarre.”
Along with Stroller Strides, Gustafson runs a Body Back class without children for moms getting back in shape and Fit 4 Baby, through Island Hospital starting Aug. 13, for pregnant women.
She started teaching Stroller Strides when her son Quincy, who is now 5, was 2 years old. She took her first class in Everett after wanting an exercise program where she could connect with other moms.
“I fell in love with it and said I need to do this.”
Join the group
10 to 11 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Storvik Park.
Unlimited classes are $50 per month and 10-class and five-class punch cards are available for $110 and $65 respectively.
Participants should dress for the weather, wear athletic shoes, bring a water bottle and their child in any type of sturdy stroller.
More information is at www.strollerstrides.com and on the Stroller Strides of Skagit and Whatcom counties Facebook page.
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