| Anisa El-Ghussein gets some additional help with her crunches from 2-year-old daughter|
Zaynab, who was along for the ride during the class.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- It takes a strong woman to stand on all fours, then hoist her right leg into the air and hold that pose while a small parade of babies do a slow crawl underneath the tunnel formed by your arms, leg and underbelly.
|Stroller Strides instructor Dawn Stevens, left|
, leads her morning class of moms while the
kids move about freely at Alexander-Carr Park in Derry.
|Moms form a line to provide a human tunnel for the kids.|
“I don’t get a workout unless I come here,” said Kim Yager of Derry, whose two kids, Bailey, 5, and Shelby, 3, seem to enjoy having down time to chalk on the sidewalk, run in circles with other kids their age or just stand and watch their mom jumping around for an hour with her friends.
“Finding time for yourself is one of the big challenges of motherhood. This is something for me,” Yager said.
Stroller Strides is a national fitness program that has grown exponentially by way of franchise opportunities.
Paula Dyer, of Hollis runs the classes in Derry, along with two others in Manchester and Bedford/Merrimack. Dyer said she discovered the mom-oriented fitness classes herself in Nashua after her first child was born and liked it so much she became a fitness instructor.
From there it was not much of a stretch to starting her own franchise.
“This is a great way for moms to get the exercise they need while setting a great example for their kids,” said Dyer, who loves the club’s motto: “Making strides in fitness, motherhood and life.”
Wednesday was the first outdoor class for the Derry group, who gathered under the pavilion at Alexander-Carr Park at 9 a.m. Exercise mats were spread out on the concrete, along with sidewalk chalk, sippee cups, coloring books, tubs of crackers and a small fleet of strollers.
As the moms took their places, kids who are ambu-latory start ambling about — there is plenty of room to run at the park, although toddlers quickly became moving targets for their moms who swooped in on them like heatseeking missiles, between squats, crunches, lunges and kicks.
Instructor Dawn Stevens seemed in control as she guided the group through some impressive lunges.
“Five, four, three, two, and release,” said Stevens, which apparently also doubled as a general round up call for several tots bundled in pink coats, who converged on their moms simultaneously, including Stevens’ 3-year-old, Brooke.
“I’m cold, Mommy,” said the pink-coated, red-cheeked child in flowery rain boots. “C-c-c-COLD!”
She curled herself up into a ball and planted herself on the mat next to her mom.
With only 15 minutes left in the workout, Stevens was confident she could work around her daughter’s waning patience.
That’s when the moms all lined up in a row and did something that resembled a yoga downward facing dog pose. Their formation was familiar enough to the kids that as the moms lowered their heads and lifted one leg behind them, all the children hit the floor and started crawling like miniature Marines on a mission, through a tunnel of love built not only to amuse them, but to strengthen their mothers’ triceps, abs and glutei maximi.
There are also prenatal classes, which is how many of the moms found their way to the program.
“I moved to Londonderry in May of ’07 and heard about the class, so I signed up as a way to meet other moms, and I was here the day before I gave birth to Elizabeth, who will be 3 on Saturday,” said Judy James.
Courtney Linscott of Londonderry said she had been going to a local gym, but found it more and more difficult to get there after her husband got home so he could take over with their 16-monthold, Hannah.
“That’s what I love about this class. I can take her with me, and she gets more exposure to other kids — I’m a stay-home mom, so this is something we can do together,” Linscott said.