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Rachel Goodale at Stroller Strong Mamas. (Courtesy photo)

After years of conducting classes in and out of local studios, public parks and in her own home, navigating fitness during the COVID-19 pandemic and facing her own pregnancy struggles, Rachel Goodale has now found a permanent home in Mattituck for her Stroller Strong Mamas fitness classes. 

“It’s an overwhelming sense of excitement and relief,” she says. “It’s been a long time coming and it’s just unbelievable that I am able to create this space.” 

Stroller Strong Mamas’ new studio, which opened the first week of December, is located inside a big barn behind the Glenwood building at 13105 Main Road, Mattituck, and will host a variety of indoor parent-and-me classes and workshops — serving as an expansion of the program’s current services.

In addition to the fitness classes, Goodale says she plans to jump-start collaborations with local services specifically designed for kids, such as sensory play activities. She’s also planning to conduct kids’ fitness classes, baby-and-me play groups and toddler time. 

“It will be a chance for parents to come with their kids for more than just a workout,” says Goodale. “This is going to be a space where parents can come for so many different reasons — to get out of the house in the winter, to promote that ‘lead by example’ — and just be able to reach a different clientele out east.”

A business is born

Almost a decade ago, Goodale gave up her longtime teaching job to become a fitness instructor and start a family.

The former elementary school teacher was always active and became passionate about group exercise classes when a colleague started teaching TRX classes at the former Aerial Fitness in Riverhead in January 2013. By June of that year, Goodale become a certified TRX instructor. She also holds certifications in spin, mat science, postpartum/prenatal fitness and youth exercise.

In the early stages of Stroller Strong Mamas, which she officially foundedin 2015 when her first child, Reese, was born, she began teaching prenatal classes to better understand how to continue working out safely while pregnant. Once her son was born, she recalled naturally turning to “baby-wearing” fitness techniques. 

Before acquiring her own indoor space, Goodale hosted stroller classes outdoors at Riverhead parks during the warm weather months and moved the classes indoors to Riverhead Free Library, BodyRite Training in Jamesport and other local spaces when temperatures dipped. With this new studio in place, she’ll be able to offer a brick-and-mortar extension to the community. 

Lead (and lift, stretch and strengthen) by example

The Stroller Strong Mama mommy-and-me classes typically last 45 minutes to an hour and are designed for moms, dads and grandparents to attend with children of any age. The program combines  low-impact cardio with core and strengthening exercises for a full-body workout. Participants can join barre, kickboxing and yoga classes as well. The exercises are intended to be progressive, based on physical fitness. Goodale offers an advanced and modified interpretation of each move so members can improve as they continue to grow stronger. 

While the wee ones in attendance are never forced into the classes, Goodale says that most of the time, at some point in the class, they can’t help but jump in. 

One of the main missions of all Stroller Strong Mamas classes is to “lead by example.” When working out with the kids, she says, it is important to be mindful that they are watching and learning from what their parents and the instructors do. 

“You are coming to get your workout in, kids in tow,” she says. “Regardless of what they’re going to be doing, they’re still watching you take care of yourself.”