Parents take fitness in Stroller Strides

A newborn child often brings joy and happiness to its family, and that same newborn often brings sleepless nights, a change in schedule and an upheaval of family routines. One of the routines that usually takes a backseat to a baby is that of physical fitness.

If the lack of sleep doesn't make parents too tired to think about a workout, the hassle of arranging for child care can deter folks from making the effort to workout. Parents who want to maintain their physical fitness while spending time with their children were in need of an alternative solution to their dilemma.

Stroller Strides of Seattle provides that solution for those parents seeking to remain fit while spending time with their babies.

Stroller Strides is a national franchise of classes designed to help parents stay physically fit while spending time with their young children.

According to its website, www., it offers a 50-minute, total-body workout that improves cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility.

A complete workout

North Seattle resident Nicolle Hill was one of the many parents who needed an alternative solution to her workout problem and learned about Stroller Strides from another parent.

At the time, the only location in the Seattle area was on the Eastside, so Hill decided to start a franchise of her own closer to home. She soon began working toward gaining the certification she would need to become a trainer for the classes.

Hill's classes take place at Magnu-son Park and accommodate the Northwest weather. During the wet months, the workouts take place in a warehouse at the park, and in the warmer months, the classes are outside.

Hill said response to the classes has been so positive that other North End classes are being added by mid-June, in Green Lake, University Village, View Ridge and Woodland Park Zoo.

Each class is designed to offer a complete workout. Hill explained that the classes include power walking with the strollers, walking lunges with strollers, triceps dips with benches and exercises with tubing.

"The tubing is like a portable gym. Parents can select different strengths of tubing to fit their physical needs. We also like to incorporate the physical environment at our locations to create workouts. Parents only need to bring their strollers, their babies and their tubing," Hill said.

"Stroller Strides is not only for mommies," she added. "Classes are open to fathers, grandparents, nannies or anyone else who is caring for a child and wants to get a good, solid workout."

A social activity

Stroller Strides participant Sarah Callender joined about six months ago and has thoroughly enjoyed her workouts.

" I love it," she said. "I never paid for exercise before, but I've been really happy with it. I was skeptical at first; I didn't think you could get much of a workout just pushing a stroller around, but it's a surprisingly tough workout. If I skip a couple of days, I'll be sore after my return workout.

"I'm hooked now," Callender added. "I was just going to do it during the winter, but I plan to stay throughout the summer, too."

Hill explains the allure of being able to bring babies to workout: "Parents can network with each other and discuss the ups and downs of parenting life. The kids are also being brought up in an environment of proper physical fitness."

Also included in the Stroller Strides program are extracurricular activities, such as the Free Mom's Night Out gatherings, where members go out for dessert, dinner or even concerts.

Another activity is the free play group that often occurd once a week after a workout class. Kids play with each other while parents get to know one another to plan future play dates for their kids.

Guest speakers are also invited to speak to the members about different aspects of parenting and staying fit.

"This isn't a group of moms pushing strollers in their flip-flops," Hill said. "Members must have the proper footwear and attire. This is a full-body workout that will improve all areas of your physical fitness. We have a lot of fun, but we are also serious about our workouts."

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