Both offerings are available through Fit4Mom, which was known as Stroller Strides until this summer. The 12-year-old program, founded in San Diego and now at 275 franchises across the country (including seven in the Washington region), has gradually expanded to incorporate prenatal fitness, classes for moms without their kids in tow and moms’ social clubs focused on nights out rather than working out.
So it was time for a name that better reflected that breadth, says Burke resident Susan King Glosby, Fit4Mom’s vice president of operations. “We’re about strength for motherhood and being fit regardless of what age your kids are,” she says.
That might sound like an obvious goal. But the fitness industry, despite being propped up by millions of women trying to lose that baby weight, hasn’t been particularly inviting to moms. Child care often isn’t available at gyms, and even where it is, kids usually have to be at least 6 months old to be accepted.
“No one wants to wait six months to exercise,” says Jennifer Lungren, who has welcomed plenty of new moms to her Fit4Mom Arlington-Alexandria franchise over the past decade. And once they find a place where they can bring their brood, chat with other moms about their latest sleep woes and meet up with playmates, they get hooked. That’s what kept some of Lungren’s clients showing up for years, through more pregnancies, preschool and beyond.
Other mom-centric fitness programs have followed a similar path. Baby Boot Camp got its start in 2002 when the San Francisco gym where founder Kristen Horler was a personal trainer didn’t have child care. So Horler strapped her baby daughter into a stroller and organized a group of mom friends to meet up in a park. Now there are 154 Baby Boot Camp franchises, including three in the Washington area.
“I can’t tell you how many women have told me they wish it had been around for their oldest children. I wish I had it,” says Nicole Marville, who has led the Montgomery County Baby Boot Camp franchise since January. (Like Lungren, she has four children.)
Traditional gym settings can be especially intimidating for new moms dealing with unfamiliar body issues. Fitness instructor Kathy Corbey recognized the need for an alternative way to work out when she gained more than 70 pounds with her first baby. She spent six years developing her mom-baby classes at rented spaces around Northern Virginia before opening the Mommy Bootcamp studio in Ashburn in 2012.