I have always been quite versed at making up excuses to avoid exercising. In summer 2015, I was full of them. I was on maternity leave after the birth of my daughter, still debating if going back to work was the right choice for our family. Thumbing through the Bainbridge Island Parks and Recreation events catalog trying to find ways to get out of the house, I saw a listing for Fit4Mom Stroller Strides. It sounded like fun and one of the few things we could do while she was so small. But then the excuses started to fly. It said Stroller Strides was “a 60 minute total body workout”. After 7 years working a desk job, I was seriously out of shape. My petite figure hid it pretty well. Actually, lets be really honest, I had NEVER really worked out even before then. I had tried working with a personal trainer for a while before I got married and there were a few times when my college roommate dragged me to the university gym. But every time my excuses got in the way after just a couple of days. And the more I read that listing, the more I convinced myself there was no way I could handle “that kind of workout” for an hour. I told myself I needed to get in better shape before I could even try Stroller Strides. I decided I would go for walks around the block . . . starting tomorrow . . . or next week. And of course I made excuses and never did.
A little while later I made a few new mommy friends. They were doing Stroller Strides and told me I should give it a try. I tried to give them some real superficial excuses like how I didn’t have a jogging stroller. (Side note: Upgrading my stroller from my small infant car seat stroll frame to one with air filled tires has been a good investment for my family. However, read to the end for my response to this excuse.). Finally, one of my friends looked me straight in the eye and said, “We are all moms. We get it. No one is going to judge you if your kid cries or if you need to pee after doing jumping jacks. We are all in the same boat. Just come and give it a try.” So I did.
I won’t sugar coat it and say my first class was a walk in the park. I was out of shape. I couldn’t hold my plank for very long. I had to pee after doing jumping jacks. I was winded after a cardio burst. My legs felt like Jell-O after lunges. And by the end of class, my daughter was done. No one judged me or looked down on me. In fact, it was the exact opposite, everyone was right there with me, encouraging me through it all. Our instructor, Magda, offered various modifications for each work out depending on where you were at that day. No one blinked an eye when I could barely do a sit-up (not using your abs for 9 months will do that to a person). Some moms did their planks on their knees and some moms did their planks on their toes, but we were all doing them together. When I couldn’t quite figure out how to get coordinated enough to do a grapevine, Magda told me “It’s ok. The important part is you’re moving.”
I discovered the more I went to class, the more I could do. I wasn’t getting winded after a quick jog, I could actually do a push up, and I could squat lower. The impact wasn’t just limited to class. I had more energy in my daily activities and had the strength to do things I couldn’t before. And most importantly, getting out of the house made both my daughter and me happier.
After months of going to Stroller Strides, I find myself making excuses why I can’t go. I will have a sleepless night, but then I go to Stroller Strides and find another mom who says, “I had a sleepless night too!” I think I can’t hold my plank any longer, but then my instructor says, “Just 10 more seconds more. You can do it.” And I can! I think my daughter is way too fussy to leave the house today, but then the change of scenery changes her tune. There is never a day that I regret our decision to get out of the house and go to Stroller Strides.
Even after hearing my story, you probably still have an excuse or five. As the queen of exercise excuses, let me offer these counter arguments to some of the common excuses I have heard (and used myself).
· My kid will totally lose it in the stroller. Yep, kids do that. We all get it. During Stroller Strides, we sing songs and make goofy faces to help distract little ones from the fact they are strapped into the stroller. Every kid has one of those days when they need just a bit more attention and movement. Being moms as well, we get it and pitch in to help. Many times after just a couple of classes, kids learn that this is mommy’s time and they can get all their wiggles out when class is done.
· My baby needs to eat all the time. Totally cool. If it’s the middle of class and your little one decides its time to eat NOW, everyone understands. You can step aside, feed your little one and join us when they are done. Bottle, boob, cup, or whatever. No judgment here. Typically, after class is done, everyone gets their little ones out of the stroller to eat and get their wiggles out.
· I don’t have a jogging stroller. This one got me, too. The strollers are really containment devices for the kiddos. When we are indoors during the winter, many moms have gotten away with very lightweight strollers. When we are outside during the summer having a stroller that can move through the grass at the park is helpful. I encourage you to give it a try before you decide you need to get a new stroller to do Stroller Strides.
· We are on a tight budget. Budgets can be difficult especially if you are down to a single income like my family and so many others. My husband and I took a careful look at our budget and decided to fit this in. I look at it as an investment in my health both mental and physical. There are multiple plan options to fit different needs.
· I work during the day. Some moms take an early lunch break to come to Stroller Strides or only come on their days off. Even if your little one is in daycare, you should still come. Be prepared for some longing looks when our little one is throwing a fit. But I think you will find having a network of moms like you is worth the schedule adjustment.
· I have nothing to wear. There is no need to run out and buy new Lululemon pants or a fancy workout top. Grab those maternity leggings you love so much, put on an extra bra and come join us! We modify our jumping jacks to hold the “girls” in and being moms as well, we are proud you got out of the house with pants on. High five!
· I have a baby in my belly. Congrats! All the Stroller Strides instructors are trained to provide modifications for pregnant and newly post partum moms. You should, of course, make sure it’s ok with your doctor.
· My doctor hasn’t cleared me for physical activity. Ok. Ok. You win. This is the one excuse that is allowed in Stroller Strides. If you haven’t been medically cleared after delivery, it is time to stay home and heal. But once you have been cleared, we would LOVE for you to join us!
· I’m not in shape. Seriously? Did you read my story? You have to start somewhere. No excuses! Give it a try!