I am a FIT4MOM franchisee, because Stroller Strides saved me as a new mom. It saved me from loneliness, from isolation, from potentially returning to a job and career that I didn’t really care about. I had a much longer, more difficult than anticipated, road to motherhood. By the time we brought our oldest son home in 2008, almost four years had gone by since we decided to start trying to have a child. And then I suddenly found myself with this one-year-old toddler, who was so loved, and so wanted – but I had no idea what I was supposed to do with him (or with myself!) on a daily basis. I initially took a six-month maternity leave, but all my local friends had gone back to work full-time.
Motherhood was very lonely and isolating at first. I was so in love with my son, but I found the hours of the day hard to fill. And, shockingly, he didn’t come with a user guide, and I frequently found myself wanting to talk to other moms about things, but not really knowing any.
About two months in, I was reading Shape Magazine (while rocking my son, because, for months, he would only sleep when held), and in the very back, in teeny tiny print, was the smallest advertisement I’d ever seen. And it was for Stroller Strides. I tore it out, so I could check out the website later. The next magazine in my pile was the local zoo’s publication. In there, was a much larger advertisement for the local Stroller Strides franchise (now FIT4MOM of Phoenix & Scottsdale). It was like fate!
I had never heard of Stroller Strides, and then, twice in the span of less than ten minutes, two mentions. I got online later that day, checked it out, called the local franchisee and got signed up for my first class a few weeks later.
Leading up to that class, I was so excited. I actually didn’t care about the workout. I sort of figured we were going to stroll around sipping on lattes (obviously, I was wrong). I just was so thrilled to be getting out of the house, meeting other moms and kids. And then that morning, I woke up terrified.
Well, I pulled myself together. I drove to the location. I parked, unloaded that vast pile of stuff that all first-time moms travel everywhere with, and walked towards the group of moms with BOB strollers, figuring this was the place. This was 2008, so you filled out a paper registration card at your first class. I filled it out, and hesitated as I got to the question of whether I’d had a c-section or vaginal birth. And finally, I crossed it out, wrote “adopted,” and handed it to the instructor.
And she took it, read it quickly, and said “That’s so cool! Can you tell me more after class?” And one of the other moms said, “Oh, by the way, after class we are staying to play at the splash pad – can you stay with us?” And I exhaled a giant breath that I’m not sure I knew I had been holding. And it was okay. And those women became my tribe. They were my village. They were the people I got all my parenting advice from, and had all my play dates and moms’ nights out with. And the people I got amazing workouts in with several times a week. I think if I hadn’t found Stroller Strides I would have gone back to my old job full-time. I’m not sure I would have gone on to adopt two more children. Having that village just made motherhood so much more manageable. A year and a half after my first class, I took instructor training and started to teach Stroller Strides. Four years after that, when the franchise was for sale, I jumped at the chance to be the one who provided local moms with the support system I’d been given.
As a FIT4MOM franchisee, my goal is to give back what I received. To give all moms workouts, and friendship, and all the support they need for motherhood. Being a FIT4MOM franchisee is much more than a job to me. My clients and instructors are still my mom village. While I am adding to my family’s financial bottom line, what’s exciting for me is expanding this circle of moms – reaching everyone who needs a group of moms to do life with.