Ballard moms are getting fit with Stroller Strides

Though being a mother is a full-time job, Joanna Gilchrist still finds the energy to spend six days out of the week to be a personal trainer, without ever having to leave her 14-month-old daughter alone.

As the franchise owner and only instructor for the Ballard-region Stroller Strides program, Gilchrist spends most her time with helping other moms get into shape while sharing helpful parenting tips.

The Ballard Stroller Strides had its grand opening in March and since then, Gilchrist has seen more and more moms sign up for her classes.

“It’s been great,” Gilchrist said. “It’s been growing by word of mouth. And moms love it, they tell their friends and they tell their friends.”

The three classes that Gilchrist teaches are the Stroller Strides fitness program, the Running Club!, and the Fit4Baby prenatal-exercise class. For non-members, Stroller Strides offers a play group for moms to bring in their children to interact with one another.

Gilchrist earned a degree in exercise science from Seattle Pacific University and is a certified trainer under the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine). With her knowledge and experience, she is able to help women with what they need after pregnancy both physically and emotionally.

“There’s lots of pressure from the community and the society to feel certain ways, to look certain ways – to look like you have it all together,” Gilchrist said. “But [the program] is giving women that support after they have a baby.”

Grace Cook met Gilchrist in a playroom at the Ballard Community Center. Cook was invited to come to the first fitness session and now she works out with Stroller Strides at least twice a week.

“I really enjoy meeting the other moms,” Cook said. “You have things in common and it’s like little stress relievers. It’s nice that [the kids] get to have interactions with other kids, too.”

The variety of exercises ranges from cardio to core-strength training. And when the weather is nice, Gilchrist takes the group out on power walks to keep the babies entertained as well.

“I like how we switch it up,” Cook said. “The change in scenery helps me and [the kids] and they get less bored. They’re on the move; there are always new things to see.”

When Treasure Samuel finally felt ready to step out of the house and buckle her 4-month-old daughter in a car seat, she decided it was time to join Stroller Strides and schedule some exercise time into her weekly routine. Now, two months into the program, Samuel said she’s noticed her clothes are starting to fit better and she’s not as tired when she goes on walks around the park.

“It’s not necessarily just talking with other moms, but doing something that’s really healthy for you and doing something good for yourself,” Samuel said. “I get to work out, but I also get the time with the moms and we get to exchange ideas.”

The best part of Stroller Strides for Gilchrist, she said, is knowing that these women are more confident in themselves and that she can offer a program that brings happiness after a stressful life event. It’s allowing these moms to take time for themselves without feeling selfish.

“We’re focused on getting women back to where they were or where they want to be and no one understands that better than other moms,” said Gilchrist.

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