by Jamie Siebrase
Between a newborn and a terrible
twos tot, self-care had become passé.
MOMS AND STROLLERS HIT THE TRAILS OF WASHINGTON PARK, with able assistance from fitness proponents Stroller Strides of Wash Park & DU, and Hot Mamas. With friendships forged and endorphins encouraged, both kids and moms can benefit. Photo by Ben Siebrase.
I diligently completed the Edinburgh
questionnaire at my postpartum check-up. Have you been ... Anxious?
Perhaps. Sleeping? Of
course not. Crying excessively?
What parent doesn’t cry nine times a day? I wasn’t diagnosed with depression
(although, I did leave with a DVD suspiciously titled “Postpartum Depression”),
but the doc insisted on two things: a therapist and exercise. Then she handed
me a Stroller Strides brochure.
Wheeler, Stroller Strides of Wash Park & DU franchise owner, and Teddi Bryant, Hot Mamas founder/owner, acclaim
the power of endorphins. “Exercise is a natural anti-depressant,” Bryant
explains. Adds Wheeler: “Research indicates new moms who walk with their
strollers and other moms experience a dramatic decrease in the incidence of
But who said anything about walking? Both
stroller classes offer hour-long, high intensity workouts for pre and postnatal
moms. Bryant and Wheeler focus on the areas women tend to care most about:
legs, glutes, triceps, and core. Wheeler lauds the
benefits of this safe fitness environment. Your calorie-burning comrades know
what it’s like to return to the gym postpartum. “Plus, nobody cares if a child
cries during class.” Mutual understanding fosters community. Gearing up for her
eighth season, Bryant nostalgically recalls the many friendships forged: “When
you have a baby, you feel isolated; that’s why you need good girlfriends.”
Wheeler’s classes incorporate power walking,
jogging, and body toning intervals using resistance tubing and the stroller.
“There’s also an educational element for the children,” says Wheeler. Moms sing
and count aloud during repetitions; after class, kiddos help with stretching.
According to Wheeler, “exercising in front of your child models healthy habits
and sets a great example.” In order to accommodate all fitness levels, modifications
to exercises are provided. The gang meets weekdays at 9:30a.m. at the southeast corner of Wash Park (Louisiana/Franklin
intersection). Classes move indoors December 1. Individual classes: $15; 10
class pack: $95; unlimited membership: $55 per month with one-time registration
fee. First class free. For more information and a current schedule, visit classes.strollerstrides.net/cherrycreekdu,
or dial 303-523-5889.
“Hot Mamas classes are all about looking hot
but strong,” says Bryant, who designed her classes for lifelong athletes
looking for nonstop movement. Bryant’s workouts don’t incorporate the children.
“My philosophy,” Bryant explains, “is that you’re about your kids all day long;
this is your time to pay attention to yourself.” Classes,
held year-round on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9a.m., meet on the paved path at
the corner of Franklin and Exposition. 10 class pack: $100;
unlimited monthly membership for stroller classes: $79. First week free. For
information and a current class schedule, dial 303-296-2609 or visit hotmamasexercise.com.
Can’t make it to class? Bryant and Wheeler
share this DIY workout. Warm-up with a jog or brisk walk that incorporates
walking lunges; stop for squats periodically. Bryant likes plié squats. To
engage arms, add sets of push-ups. If you are newly postpartum, Wheeler
suggests modifying push-ups by using a tree for incline; then work triceps with
dips on a bench. Activate abs with knee tuck planks (start in plank, pull one
knee up, tuck abs in, and repeat alternating sides). Walk and stretch to cool
Some neighbors worry about for-profit ventures
making moolah via park use if financially
unaccountable for subsequent wear and tear. City ordinances and local rules,
which require groups to purchase permits to help offset costs
associated with regular or large-scale use address these concerns.
Permit-holders are charged on a sliding scale that takes into account type of
event, age and number of participants, and length of use. For complete
information, visit denvergov.org/permits.
Denver Parks and Recreation public information officer, opines that a current
lack of awareness surrounding permits creates confusion. That’s why, right now,
strict enforcement and punishment for violations is rare. The first step is
education. “At this point, there isn’t formalized enforcement,” Casias explains. “Rather, a ranger might educate a group on
stroller groups need permits? Casias says no. Not
yet. Three conditions trigger the need for a permit. The first comes from the
municipal code, which states permits are required for all “commercial
activity.” Commercial activity is any exchange of money delivering goods or
services to the public. Hence, if you host an activity where money is exchanged
for a good or service, you need a permit (regardless of size or regularity).
Second, if you host an event with more than 25 attendees, you need a permit
(regardless of whether money is exchanged). Finally, if you host a regularly
scheduled event, you need a permit. This means that, technically, if you and
two girlfriends meet every Tuesday morning to do Carriage Crunchers on one of
the Wash Park athletic fields, you should purchase a permit.
Why are Bryant and Wheeler exempt?
“Currently, we have no permit that allows people to permit roads,” says
Casias. As long as stroller groups aren’t interfering with
others’ use and enjoyment of the park, they aren’t violating rules.
Casias mentions, however, that Denver Parks and Recreation
will evaluate whether a permit should be created to accommodate stroller
given the growing popularity of these workouts.
Permits aren’t cheap. Placing the financial
burden on groups like Stroller Strides and Hot Mamas may make them
unsustainable. At $55 per month and $79 per month, it’s hard to find a more
affordable gym (plus childcare). If you’re a regular participant, why not
consider making a modest tax-deductible donation to Denver Parks and Rec
annually? And, if you aren’t a regular hot stroller striding
mama, come redeem your free classes this month.