Fun and FREE fitness for Ottawa’s new moms: Strollercize!

by DaniGirl on February 22, 2012 · 8 comments

in Ottawa Family Fun, Ottawa's hidden treasures

It’s hard to believe a whole ten years (!) have passed since I showed up for my first Strollercize outing at Boomerang Kids on Bank Street. I can barely remember being that girl, shy and still overwhelmed by being a new mom, looking for any excuse to get out of the house and interacting with grown-ups for a change.

I remember showing up clutching my signed waiver, trying to stand near the back and getting pulled in with a warm welcome. I remember loving the circuitous loop we did along Queen Elizabeth Drive and the Canal, and the way the instructors made it possible for everyone to work at their own speed and their own level while still challenging us and keeping us energized. I remember sitting in the sun on the grassy bank near Lansdowne Park doing stretches, and doing pushups against benches and the rail along the Canal. I remember those outings becoming the highlight of my week. And I remember in October of that year I ran my first 5K, pushing Tristan’s stroller in the CIBC Run for the Cure, something I’d worked toward that whole summer at strollercize.

It’s a shame, really, that I haven’t blogged about how great that experience was before now. I’d more or less forgotten all of it, though, until I got an e-mail a few weeks ago from Jules Hilliker. She’s the coordinator for the (completely FREE!) strollercize program offered through Boomerang Kids stores in Ottawa, and the energy behind Fitness with Jules. You can’t read an e-mail from Jules without feeling energized and enthusiastic — she’s got that infectious kind of energy that radiates out of even her written words. And when she asked for my help to spread the word about the strollercize program, I couldn’t help but say yes. Jules’ e-mail said in part: ‘Over the years hundreds of new families have found Strollercize through word of mouth, the only thing that saddens me is when a Mom shows up with an 8 month old and says, “This is amazing, how come I did not know about this earlier?”‘ And I was smiling, both from Jules’ enthusiasm and from the warm memories from my own strollercize experience.

Strollercize runs all year long out of the Bank Street location, but the program will be returning to all stores in March. If you’re looking for a fantastic FREE way to get out of the house, meet other moms and get a little exercise, I can’t say enough great things about it. Interested? Here’s the details from the website:

WHAT you need…

The baby!
Comfortable walking shoes
Dress appropriately for the weather – we walk rain or shine
Water bottle (for you)
Small snack

HOW to join…

Just show up on the day of your choice, and bring the signed waiver (available at the stores, or download one from the site).

Call Boomerang Kids if the weather forecast is calling for +30C or -30C.

Thanks to Jules for reaching out and reminding me about this terrific program. Makes me want to have another baby — or maybe I can borrow one and join in?

If you’re looking for another great suggestion for free outdoor fitness, stay tuned! I have a great suggestion for you coming up. No babies required!!


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chantal February 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I never participated in Strollersize although I wanted too. it was a combination of being too shy and thinking I lived too far away (I lived in Osgood when D was a baby). And then when I had my next kids I didn’t think I could do it because, well, I had other kids to lug around. Such sad excuses. I wish I had just done it. Excuses be damned!

2 Nolie February 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Does the waiver say I agree not to sue them for feeling like I am going to die? I am so not an exerciser. Really wish I was but so terrified of asthma attacks.

3 Valerie February 22, 2012 at 9:30 pm

I remember when… πŸ™‚ I even took it up again a bit after baby #2. You can walk or run or combined – you don’t have to overdo it and the social aspect is so great for a new mom.

4 andrea February 23, 2012 at 8:05 am

When I first went on leave with my first child, I felt overwhelmed and surprizingly alone. I would see mom’s walking around my neighbourhood with other mom’s and wanted to run after them with my baby and stroller and say ‘hey! I’m just like you!! Please, talk to me!!’ Then someone recommended strollercize. So at 12 weeks old, I bundled up my little one and myself and joined the still-strong mid-winter group of mom’s and babes on Bank St. I walked that first day and got to talk to a few mom’s. I was even invited to Starbucks afterwards but, unfortunately, I had an appointment to go to and, swearing I’d be back, I left for tthe day. I returned to strollercize…with a vengeance!!…watching the leaves on the trees grow their spring buds, unfurl into summer, change color in the fall and finally fall to the ground in the winter. In that year I learned more than I could have ever gotten from a book; I met mom’s who were asking themselves the same questions about baby-raising, feeding etc and made friendships that last still to this day. With Jules’ amazing energy, enthusiasm and encouragement, I also saw my body change in ways I had never thought possiblle and ran my first 5k that fall. Whether you walk, jog or run, there is always someone to keep you company and Jules’ face to meet you at the other end with a smile and stretching at the end πŸ™‚ To say that strollercize made my mat leave enjoyable would be an understatement; it really did change my life and introduced me to some amazing new life-long friends. I enjoyed it so much that I am back at it again–with baby #2. And there are a few of us that must have felt that way as there are a number of us from our first tour with two kids in tow now πŸ™‚

5 Rebecca Simpson February 23, 2012 at 9:15 am

What a great reminder of Jules’ wonderful strollercize program! I did strollercize at the Westboro location when my first son was little and it was so wonderful to be out with other Moms. Jules really is an inspiration, in a very non-intimidating way! I’m pregnant with my second and will hopefully make it out again. Thanks for the post.

6 Caitlin February 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I go to Jules’s boot camp on Sunday mornings, and it’s the highlight of my weekend. I sometimes even find myself wishing I had a baby so I could spend a year on mat leave working out with her every day!

7 Mary V. February 24, 2012 at 9:49 am

Loved, loved, loved strollercize! When my twins were born, we lived in Toronto and did strollercize by the beach. It was one of the few exercise activities that was easy enough to do with two wee ones – I’d just strap them in the stroller and off we’d go. Our group also had a little chat during the cool down portion, covering everything from feeding, napping to not losing your mind.

8 Jules Hilliker February 26, 2012 at 1:14 pm

I wanted to thank everyone for their kind words and support. I am the luckiest Mother in the world to be able to spend my days with Ottawa Moms and their babies! ( lots of Dads too!). Strollercise is such an amazing experience because of the participants. The energy, support and enthusiasm found each and every morning is such an incredible event to experience. Having weighed over 300 pounds after my pregnancies, I had several medical reasons for feeling like I could not participate in any type of fitness class. I feel this is one of my main reasons for making sure that Strollercise has something for everyone. Strollercise is all about making the program work for every body. We have several different fitness levels and some days just getting to Strollercise is the workout! We all train differently, walk, jog, run and some days we may feel as if we are crawling…but we all start together and end together we lots of common interests questions and tons of laughter. A huge thank you to Dani for writing such a lovely article about an experience that I hope every new parent decides to try! I do hope to meet you all and Caitlin, I too, hope that you have a baby so that we can spend every day together!!!! All the best, Jules

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