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Stroller Strides fitness group keeps moms in shape

Auburn workouts happen three days a week
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Journal Features Editor
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New mothers and moms-to-be have an opportunity to get fit and make friends.

Stroller Strides meets Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn. Moms of all fitness levels gather under the direction of Shannon Smith, a Meadow Vista resident who has owned the franchise since 2010. A mother of six, Smith knows full well the importance of staying fit, even when the pressures of motherhood make it difficult to find the time.

“Fitness is so wonderful,” Smith said. “When we take that time to exercise, we’re better spiritually, we’re better mentally, we’re better physically, and it’s all because we took the time to take care of mommy first.”

The hour-long workouts consist of warm-ups and cardiovascular exercises, including frequent laps signaled by an enthusiastic, “Let’s roll, mamas!” from Smith. She likes to keep the classes interesting, and will often incorporate themes around holidays. Unless weather prohibits, classes are held outdoors, where Smith uses the entire fairgrounds for the workout, including climbing hills, using curbs for step exercises and having fun on the playground.

“It’s the only chance I get to work out,” said Courtney Schroeder, of Auburn, who brings her 7-month-old, Zachary, to class with her. “I just feel a lot better when I move and exercise.”

The only things moms need to bring are workout clothes, a yoga mat or beach towel and, of course, a stroller. Kids are more than welcome, and in fact often join in on the exercise as well. Smith said she has seen her 3-year-old daughter, Kimber, playing Stroller Strides with her dolls.

When Smith discovered Stroller Strides, she said, she was hooked because here was a way to get in a good workout, make friends and not have to worry about finding a babysitter.

That peace of mind about not having to find child care was what motivated Suzy O’Rourke, of Meadow Vista, to join after the birth of her son, Jackson.

“I was a gym rat before I had my baby, and I didn’t realize what would happen to my body,” O’Rourke said. “It’s really tough to get back in shape, not to mention working a baby into that schedule.”

Stroller Strides is also a way to connect with other moms, Smith said. A Moms Club meets after every Monday class; that group is offered free to members and the public. There is also a “moms night out” once a month and the group is active in service work such as fundraising for March of Dimes and the Placer Food Bank.

Smith is certified in pre- and post-natal fitness, and like every Stroller Strides franchise owner, is required to keep her fitness education up to date. She is able to modify all exercises for varying fitness levels, and said the workouts are non-judgmental and encouraging, as even the most advanced mommy exerciser can relate to what it’s like getting back into shape.

“They help each other, they encourage each other,” Smith said. “We always encourage each other that it’s great that you’re there. The fact that you’re even there is awesome. That’s an accomplishment in itself.”

Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at krissik@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AuburnJournalAE.

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Auburn Stroller Strides

When: 9-10 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Where: Gold Country Fairgrounds, Auburn

Cost: $50 per month; one-time $50 registration fee; 10-class pass available for $90 (six-month punch card)

Info: Shannon Smith, (530) 863-3298; shannonsmith@strollerstrides.net

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Heart health tips for new moms

Shannon Smith, owner of Stroller Strides in Auburn, emphasizes the importance of a healthy heart.  “Did you know that exercising during pregnancy can improve baby’s heart health as well as mama’s?” she asked. The following changes, designed to be layered upon each week, can help form habits that can lead to better heart health.

Week 1 – Flexibility is important to avoiding injury. Incorporate 10 minutes of stretching three days each week.

Week 2 – Make it a goal to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. A heart-healthy diet is rich in fiber and Omega-3 and low in sugar and fat.

Week 3 – Get moving. Start with 30 minutes of cardio fitness three days each week: power walking, hiking, cycling, jogging, etc.

Week 4 – Drink at least 64 ounces of water daily. Replace sugary drinks and caffeine with water. Start substituting water for an unhealthy beverage at one meal and work up to the entire day.

Week 5 – Do five minutes of sit-ups or push-ups three days each week.

Week 6 – Get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

Week 7 – Eliminate or replace an unhealthy habit with a healthy one: Quit smoking, anger management, reduce stress, etc. Anger and anxiety are detrimental to cardiovascular health.  Stress and depression are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, while satisfaction with life promotes a healthy heart.