Riverhead fitness trainer Rachel Goodale has verified that strollers are effective workout equipment. The mother of two is fostering a community for motivated moms who are building strength and a sense of community through her Stroller Strong Mamas classes.
The hourlong mommy-and-me classes are designed for moms of all fitness levels to attend with their children of any age. The Stroller Strong program incorporates a mix of low-impact cardio and sculpting for a full-body workout. The exercises are intended to be progressive. Goodale offers an advanced and modified interpretation of each move that members can improve on as they continue to grow stronger.
“It is an easy way for you and your kid to get out of the house and do something together,” said Baiting Hollow resident Stephanie Bogdanski, who has been participating in Stroller Strong since she was pregnant with her first child four years ago and now takes her 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter to the classes regularly. “I always feel like I am getting a good workout. Rachel works with everyone, no matter what level they’re on. She gets it because she’s a mom, too.”
Goodale founded Stroller Strong in 2015, when her first child, Reese, was born. The 35-year-old former elementary school teacher was always active and became passionate about group exercise classes when her colleague started teaching TRX classes at the former Aerial Fitness in Riverhead in January 2013. By June of that year, Goodale became a certified TRX instructor. She also holds certifications in spin, mat science and postpartum/prenatal fitness.
“Group exercise makes it more fun,” Goodale said. “It is a community feel that is more positive and more motivating than going to the gym by yourself. Connection is so important.”
Goodale draws on her diverse fitness training to create a series of different classes — no two are the same. Stroller classes are hosted outdoors at a Riverhead park during warm weather months and are held indoors at BodyRite Training in Jamesport when temperatures dip. Along with her know-how and motivating attitude, Goodale also brings Reese and her 2-year-old daughter, Reagan, to each session.
“One of the biggest drivers of my classes is showing my kids how to be strong and live a healthy lifestyle,” Goodale said. “I didn’t want to leave my children to go to a gym, so I made them a part of my workout.”
Goodale’s concerns about leaving her children home to exercise are common among moms, and inspired Stroller Strong’s convenient, family-friendly atmosphere. No one blinks an eye if one fellow mom stops to breastfeed or handle a toddler tantrum. Classgoers jump in and out of the workout as needed. Moms are encouraged to bring a baby carrier for baby-wearing exercises, a stroller or any other baby necessities while Goodale provides yoga mats, weights and other equipment.
“I work full time and I have two sons, so when I’m off work I have mom guilt when I do things without them,” said Aquebogue resident Liz Sanders, who has been taking the classes for a year. “These classes let me do something for myself and not feel like I am excluding my kids. It is also great because they see me working out and they learn fitness is important.”
The classes are judgment-free, allowing the women to comfortably swap relatable stories and advice while sharing their love for exercising. The kids, many similar in age, get to play and make friends, too.
“You see your toddler melting down and then you see the toddler of another mother melting down, and you have solidarity,” Sanders said with a laugh. “It is good to get out of the house with other moms and realize everything you’re going through is normal. It is great for your mental health and your physical health.”
Goodale, who developed the routines to pursue her passion for fitness with her children by her side, said she is humbled to watch the classes become a community that interacts outside the sweat sessions.
“Relationships grow from this class,” Goodale said. “I have made friends for life.”
Stroller Strong Mamas classes are held two to three days a week at BodyRite Training during the winter months. Goodale also offers private, in-home sessions. For a full schedule, visit strollerstrongmamas.com.