Parent-and-child workout teams hook up at ‘Mamapalooza.’
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Soccer moms beware. There’s a new generation of parents in town. Their mode of transportation isn’t some souped-up minivan. It’s something much more economical and (snap snap) very now. Feet.
These parents are armed—with babies, bottles, spit rags and rattles. They’re taking to streets and neighborhoods, sweatin’ with their newbies. Maybe you’ve seen them, passed them in the park or gawked as they strode by.
Melissa Tufts of Oak Hills is one of them. She joined Stroller Strides Monterey in December. Five days a week, Tufts loads her two young children, Cody and Eryn, into the car, and goes to wherever the Stroller Strides group is meeting that day: Toro Park, Lovers Point, Las Palmas. For an hour every day, she works out with other moms and dads. The plus for Tufts is that her kids get to be part of it too.
“I joined because I wanted to lose weight, and I wanted to do something where my kids could go with me,” Tufts says. She scored on both fronts.
Stroller Strides’ philosophy is simple: Come get some exercise, some fresh air, have a little fun, make some new friends, and for God’s sake bring the kids.
Classes are held several times a week at 11 different locations around the county. Parents meet, strap their kids into strollers, warm up, then power walk, jog, or run with the group. The workout is self-paced, and includes stretching, toning, cardiovascular and abdominal work, strength and flexibility training.
“We use body weight, tubes and the environment in our groups,” says Corina DuBois, who co-owns the business.
DuBois bought Stroller Strides Monterey in November with
“I found the group when I moved here as a Navy wife,” DuBois says. “I used it as a support group. I was the mother of an infant, and I needed that connection. It was the most personally empowering thing I’ve ever done.”
DuBois first became a regular client, then its co-owner. It was a wild deviation from her former career in public relations and lobbying for the Pentagon on the subject of base realignments and closures.
“It’s a very funny thing,” DuBois says. “Everyone chuckles about what a drastic change it is. It’s definitely a different way of life.”
Now the mother of a one-year-old and three months pregnant with her second child, the inclusion of the kids was and remains paramount to DuBois.
“They’re the reason why it works,” DuBois says. “We sing songs to the kids. We let them be kids. We have playgroups for them, activities for them. And no one has to worry if their child is having a bad day or that other parents are staring and judging.
“There are those days when they’re all screaming together. But for the most part, all of the kids love being out there so much, they’re really, really good. Even if mine are throwing fits before we go or are having a bad day, they turn into absolute angels when we get there. All of the kids just really seem to calm down when we’re together.”
No doubt that’s good for both parent and child given the connection between fitness and mental health.
“We’re out there forging true relationships with each other,” DuBois says.
Stroller Strides costs $10 a session or, for $50 a month, parents and their kids can participate as often as they like. Sometimes, it’s the kids who are the driving force in the motivation.
Tufts’ daughter Eryn now loads her own baby carriage with her dolls and announces she’s off to Stroller Strides.
“If there’s ever a day that I just don’t feel like going for whatever reason, she’s the one pushing hard for it,” Tufts says. “She gets mad at me and says, ‘Come on, Mom, let’s go. Let’s go.’” Like most three-year-olds, Eryn usually wins.
The group now boasts over 100 clients.
“I really needed the adult interaction,” Tufts says, “and I’ve started to lose the baby weight. It was a way to get what I needed and to spend time with my kids. It’s the best of all things for all of us.”
It’s kind of hard not to notice a dozen or so walking/jogging/running/stretching parents working out with elastic bands and pushing doublewide strollers down the Rec Trail or in a neighborhood.
“People stop and stare, and they cheer us on,” Tufts says.
Those cheers may well be encouraging those tired-but-exercising-with-kids moms and dads to take that extra stride. Even if not, no one’s keeping score like in some rogue soccer game. What fun would that be anyway? Besides, Stroller Strides Monterey moms, dads and kids may be having the much better time—probably because neither parent nor child has to sit on the sidelines.