Lindsay Peyton

West Seattle moms are working up a sweat

– and their babies are invited along for the ride, in a stroller-side seat

by Lindsay Peyton

Emily Williams, owner of the FIT4MOM West Seattle franchise, offers clients a number of options to get in shape.

There’s Fit4Baby, an interval-based class for pregnant women, which is held at 7 p.m. on Monday evenings at the American Legion in Pershing Hall, 3618 SW Alaska St. or at 7 p.m. on Thursday evenings at Youngstown Cultural Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW. The course is $89 for a six-visit punch-card or $18 per session.

Once baby is born, moms are invited to sign up for Stroller Strides and Stoller Barre classes. During these fitness programs, which combine cardio with strength training, the stroller becomes part of the exercise equipment.

Stroller Stride classes are held at 9:30 a.m. on Alki Beach from April through October and at the VFW from November through March. Stroller Barre meets during the Thursday time slot. Monthly membership costs $64 and the first class is always free.

There is also the option of a moms-only Body Back class, offered at a variety of times. The eight-week course is designed to help women lose weight after pregnancy and return to their pre-baby bodies. The cost to attend is $319 per session.

Williams said all instructors are certified, with special training in how to help women before and after childbirth.

Moms of all fitness abilities are welcome. “Just show up and do your best,” Williams said.

She said the course is not only an ideal way to get exercise – but also offers mothers a ready-made community, complete with weekly play-dates and monthly moms-nights-out.

Williams said both the exercise and the social engagement helps women fight postpartum depression. “A lot of moms struggle with some form of the baby blues,” she said. “Having a reason to get out of the house, put on your clothes, is absolutely helpful. Exercise is great for our mental health.”

And the exercises are programmed with the on-looking babies in mind. The women sing songs to their babies, count and play games, while they complete their reps.

Williams discovered FIT4MOM when she was pregnant with her first child and had relocated to Idaho with her husband. “I knew no one, and I had heard of stroller strides,” she said. “I started just to get out of the house and to make friends. I went to a trial class – and signed up on the spot.”

After her pregnancy, she trained to become an instructor. When her husband relocated again and the family settled in West Seattle, Williams, who has pregnant with her second child, already had a game plan for meeting people in the area.

“I did the same thing,” she said.

She joined FIT4MOM as an instructor this time – and when the owner mentioned an interest in selling her franchise, Williams jumped at the opportunity.

“I want to grow the program and make it a staple in West Seattle,” she said. “I want to give back, because it’s been so great for me.”

And the moms in her classes are glad she did.

“Emily is amazing,” Meghan Tavelli, who has been in the program for three years, said. “She has created such a great community of moms.”

Tavelli said the exercises have helped her stay fit. “It’s a well-rounded program,” she said. “It’s health of the mind and body. It’s a lifesaver.”

She also enjoys spending time with the women she met in the group. “You can bounce ideas off the other moms – and know that you’re not in this alone,” she said.

Allison Miskell joined the group in February as a way to get back into her fitness routine after childbirth. “It’s a good workout,” she said. “And there are four or five of us that grab coffee afterwards. Everyone is in the same position.”

She recommends the program to all moms. “The workout really makes you feel better, anything to get the endorphins going,” she said. “Getting back on schedule and having something to leave the house for, it’s necessary. The community is awesome too.”

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