I've made no secret of the fact that I love my Stroller Strides classes - ever since I discovered Stroller Strides in Virginia 6 years ago, I've been totally hooked. The chance to get a great workout while my kids are with me, while socializing with wonderful, supportive moms and giving my girls the chance to socialize with other kids, to discover new parks that I might not otherwise have seen, all for a reasonable cost? Yes, please.
After my first free class in March 2011 (with 15-month-old Ella in a sad little umbrella stroller, surrounded by more experienced moms with rugged looking BOB jogging strollers) - I immediately signed up for the unlimited monthly membership, and attended class as often as I could. When I found out that I was pregnant with Katie the following month, I remember feeling kind of silly about making some 'big announcement' since I barely knew these ladies, but they were all so excited and supportive when I told them after class one day.
I 'upgraded' to a BOB stroller in Fall 2011 - when my dinky little umbrella stroller took a tumble forward on an uneven grassy area and Ella fell face first onto the ground, it scared me into taking the plunge...it was an investment for sure, double BOBs aren't cheap, but considering it's been used almost every day for the past 5 1/2 years, I think it was worth it ;). I kept coming to class up until the day before Katie was born, and our family was the 'guinea pig' for that Stroller Strides group's meal train - several SS moms brought delicious meals for us during the weeks following Katie's birth, which was SO helpful. I then returned the favor to 5 or 6 moms that had babies during the following year. Even once we moved into DC in 2012, I still came to classes in Northern VA on the 3 days per week that I was taking Ella to preschool there.
When we decided to move to Oregon in 2013, one of the first things I did was look up whether there was a Stroller Strides group, and I was pleased to see that there were a few groups in the Portland area. I signed up for my first class at Summerlake Park to give it a try, and loved it of course, so I signed up for the monthly membership yet again. I was sad to leave the ladies I'd gotten to know so well in Virginia, but the Portland moms were friendly - the first person I talked to was Barb (in the parking lot at Summerlake, I asked if I was in the right spot for class) and she's become one of my best friends since moving to Oregon...our daughters have done dance classes together, gone to preschool together, attended each other's birthday parties...and it all started at Stroller Strides.
The personal connections have been wonderful for me and for the girls, but another great (and adorable!) side effect of the girls growing up at Stroller Strides is that they watch and learn, and become little mini stroller striders - they love doing exercises before and after class, and helping the mamas count reps during our workouts :)
Our franchise owner, Nikki, approached me in the Fall of 2015 about possibly becoming an instructor, and after getting past the initial intimidation of trying something new, I decided to move forward with that plan. Just over a year ago on January 23, 2016, I drove up to Seattle for Stroller Strides instructor training - it was a long day of training, plus several hours in the car on either end. I'd been told to be prepared for the all-day training by bringing lots of snacks, plus I figured I'd want plenty of snacks for all that time in the car...but still, I had to laugh at myself when I lined it all up on the counter before I left - coffee, water, protein shake, banana, giant container of trail mix, apple slices, orange slices, bell pepper slices, and a protein bar. But it was a busy day, and you better believe that I ate all of that, along with a sandwich that I bought for lunch, and refilled my water bottle several times throughout the day!
I took one final selfie in front of the Fit4Mom logo before driving home to Portland - it was such an awesome day, I left totally fired up about joining this amazing organization in a whole new way.
So on March 7th, 2016 - 5 years and 5 days after my very first class at Idylwood Park in Falls Church, VA (I looked it up to check!), I taught my very first Stroller Strides class as the solo instructor. I'd done some 'team teaching' with existing instructors in the weeks prior, but this was my first full class all by myself. It's definitely different being on the instructor side of things - all of the timing and verbiage and writing of workouts and all of that takes some getting used to - but I have been so overwhelmed with the support from both fellow instructors and fellow members.
It's been quite a journey for me with the Stroller Strides/Fit4Mom organization - I went from being the Northern VA SS's first meal train to being the meal train coordinator for SW Portland's SS group - from one 15-month-old in an umbrella stroller to a 3 year old in a well-worn double jogging stroller, who will be joined by a newborn this summer (and occasionally a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old on a bike or scooter next to us!) - from someone who wouldn't even for a second classify herself as "athletic" or "into fitness" to being a certified group fitness instructor. I'm still intimidated about stepping into this new role, and I know I still have quite a lot to practice and learn, but I'm just so excited to be a part of this incredible team! Being a part of this organization has meant so much to me over the past 6 years - I'm thrilled to see what the years ahead will bring.