Modern mothers are as busy as ever. Many work full time and raise children full time, making it more and more challenging to find time for anything else. Despite constraints on their time, local moms are staying active and social through the Stroller Strides fitness classes at Eton Chagrin Boulevard. This class allows the moms to work out with their young children in tow and socialize with other young mothers.
Stroller Strides is one of several fitness classes offered by Fit4Mom, a national business empowering women to be leaders in their own communities. Sarah Andrecheck leads the Shaker Heights/Beachwood chapter, which meets weekly at Eton in Woodmere.
“This incorporates so many of my interests as a mom and as someone interested in fitness and someone who has a background in music and someone who is social. There are so many elements that are so appealing to me,” Ms. Andrecheck, 36, of Shaker Heights said on Friday. “Sometimes I can’t even believe how great it is. It’s such a great fit for me and my life. It’s a good opportunity for other moms in the community to come and meet friends and have a place to go, especially during COVID.”
Ms. Andrecheck said she relocated to Arizona for a few weeks for her husband’s job when her daughter was 10 months old. A friend recommended a Stroller Strides chapter there, where Ms. Andrecheck found a welcoming environment and plenty of new friends. When she moved back to Cleveland, friends and family told her to start her own chapter. Ms. Andrecheck’s chapter has been operating since 2017.
“It was one of those things that falls into your lap that you never think is going to happen,” she said.
The classes are held outdoors in warm weather and move inside for the winter. The summer locations are Beachwood City Park and Horseshoe Lake in Shaker Heights. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Stroller Strides group did not meet at all at Eton last winter. Ms. Andrecheck requires COVID-19 vaccinations for participating mothers.
Stroller Strides brings together a group of fun, high-energy women who excel at multitasking. Their children remain seated in the stroller while the moms do lunges, squats and exercises with resistance bands and yoga mats. They prepare with a warm-up before running up and down the hallway inside Eton, all while occasionally feeding their children healthy snacks. The mothers are dressed for a workout, but the children don stylish outfits from stores such as from H&M and pink ribbons to accessorize.
“I love working out and trying to stay active. This gave the perfect opportunity to work out, spend quality time with my kids and meet other moms with kids the same age,” Marie Capichioni, 33, of Lyndhurst said. “We encourage each other to work out and share tips on parenting and our struggles. It’s a nice community and sets a good example for our kids.” She brought her 4-year-old son, Nick, and her 1-year-old daughter, Nina.
Stroller Strides is not just a workout for the moms, it also includes quality time with their small children. Ms. Andrecheck said she has a background in music, including piano, flute and voice. She likes to incorporate music into the workout as much as possible. The group sings nursery rhymes and children’s songs with new lyrics about moms and their kids.
The group sang “The Moms Go Marching One by One” to the tune of the Christmas carol “I Saw Three Ships” while marching in place in front of the strollers. While doing a core exercise on their yoga mats, the mothers sang “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” to their children. While singing “The Wheels on the Bus,” the moms replaced a line with “The mommies on the bus say I love you.” The children’s giggles could be heard throughout the mall.
Becca McAvinue, 33, of Cleveland Heights comes with her 1-year-old son, Max. She said her family moved when she was pregnant with Max and she did not know anyone in the Cleveland area.
“It’s a nice way to meet people and I love working out,” she said. “It’s a good mix of exercise and socialization.”
Ms. Andrecheck said a “hallmark” of Stroller Strides is to keep moving, so the group runs to different stations between Barnes and Noble and Mitchell’s Fish Market. The change in scenery, in addition to the music, books and tickles, keeps the children entertained. Ms. Andrecheck’s 5-year-old daughter, Adeline, helps lead the class when she is not in school. The class is open to all children small enough to fit in a stroller.
“This is a very convenient way for moms to still have childcare and continue to engage with their kids, without dropping them off at a daycare,” Ms. Andrecheck said. “This is meant to foster that connection between mom and baby as well. Not only do you get to bring them but you’re also engaging with them. I see so many moms smiling and laughing because their kids are having a great time. A happy kid is a happy mom.”
About 35 women are members of the Shaker Heights/Beachwood chapter of Fit4Mom. Although the classes operate within the 44122 and 44120 ZIP codes, Ms. Andrecheck said the classes attract women from Bainbridge, Chagrin Falls, Chester, Pepper Pike, Shaker Heights and Highland Heights.
The class attracts a lot of “transplants,” she said, who are looking to make new friends in the Cleveland area. Mothers also join the group while they are on maternity leave. Ms. Andrecheck said the first class is always free then mothers can purchase a membership or class pass. The group also has social gatherings, such as cookie decorating, wreath decorating and spa days. Some events are now virtual due to the pandemic.
“Everyone gets excited with new people. They’re very warm and welcoming and that’s a really good culture that I’m proud of with this group. We’re a really inclusive, kind group.”
There is more information about Stroller Strides at etonchagrinblvd.com.