On a warm day at Bettendorf’s Veterans Memorial Park, you’ll likely pass by plenty of stroller-pushing moms.
You might pause, however, when you see a crew of moms launch into a set of bicep curls or hill repeats — with their toddlers along for the ride.
That’s what happens when Fit4Mom Quad-Cities, a group of active-minded mothers, get together for Stroller Strides, classes that next week will start transitioning outside to Veterans Memorial following a season of indoor workouts.
“We’re a sight to see,” Sarah Liddell, 39, a Fit4Mom instructor, said. “We get a lot of people who notice us around. It's hard to miss us."
The Davenport mother of three, who previously lived in Chicago for several years, stumbled upon Fit4Mom Quad-Cities when she moved back to her hometown in 2008, just a few months after the program, which offers pre- and post-natal fitness classes, launched here.
“I was looking for a way to reconnect here and meet new people,” Liddell said. “I walked in and thought, ‘Yes, this is what I’m looking for.’ It’s not just for me, but my kids. We’re both getting something out of it.”
Fit4Mom started in 2001 in San Francisco and has grown into a national franchise with more than 1,000 groups around the country. Chicago, Des Moines and North Liberty, Iowa, also are home to Fit4Mom classes.
Before she had kids, Chelsea Schroeder, 34, of Bettendorf, was a full-time physical therapist who ran marathons, played volleyball and tennis and made daily trips to the gym.
So when she was about two months pregnant, she started asking herself, “How am I going to get my workout in?”
She went to a Fit4Mom session and, as of 2014, owns the Quad-City based franchise, which she calls a boot-camp-type workout.
"You think of Stroller Strides, and it alludes to walking in the park," Schroeder said. "I think some are surprised it's fairly hard ... it's a total body workout."
During a recent class at Beyond the Baseline in Davenport, one of the group’s indoor locations, Schroeder, wearing a T-shirt inscribed with the phrase “Sore today, strong tomorrow,” led a pack of about 20 mothers in exercises such as push-ups, burpees, squats, lunges and sprints while keeping their kids entertained with singing, counting and sounding off the alphabet.
One so-called famous move? Bicep curls to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus.”
“This is the only thing that allows you to bring your kids and make them part of the workout,” said Schroeder, who brings her kids, 4-year-old Stella and 2-year-old Samuel, to classes. “I always tell moms that if you’re active before you have a baby, your baby is a reason to stay active, not an excuse.”
Along with Stroller Strides, available classes include Fit4Baby, a prenatal program, a 5k running program and Body Back, an eight-week no-kids-allowed training session. There’s also a social aspect, such as playgroups, nights out, brunches and occasional self-defense classes.
“I love meeting new moms and feeling like I’m helping them. We all need each other,” Schroeder said. “This is enriching our lives in a way.”
That’s the case for Karen Johnson of Moline and her sons Hank, 2, and 7-month-old Fred, who are relatively new members of the Fit4Mom clan.
“The first time I came, it was the most lunges and squats I’d ever done in my life,” she said. “You’re a little intimidated at first, but you pick up on it.”
She said “being sore every time” is worth it.
“Being a stay-at-home mom can be a lonely thing,” Johnson said. “I’ve made a lot of friends, and it doesn’t matter what stage they’re at. We’re here for relationships as much as the workout.”