Moms on the move
Becoming mums of steel
String cheese: check. Sunscreen and water bottle: check. Cute kid: check and double check. Ready for some outdoor fun.
Whether you’re a working mom with a plate full of meetings and deadlines or a stay-at-home mom with a tight schedule and long list of domestic demands, you’re probably juggling two very important, seemingly incompatible goals: quality time with the kids and a physical fitness program that lets you stay in shape during your first years of parenting. You’ll be happy to know you’re not alone.
Two innovative programs in Reno aim to enrich the lives of parents and children through a regular schedule of exercise and fresh air with like-minded folks. Baby Boot Camp is a physical fitness class designed for new moms and their babies, and Reno Trail Tots is a group of parents who get together for outdoor excursions with their toddlers. Both groups support an increased sense of community, and both have enjoyed immediate success.
EDrop and give me a sippy cup
“The moms seem to really enjoy the workout, especially since they get to be with their kids at the same time,” says Skye Garman, a certified personal trainer and Pilates instructor who started the Reno branch of Baby Boot Camp in June. “Baby Boot Camp is great for women who want to get in shape after they’ve had a baby or stay in shape while they’re pregnant.”
All the classes at Baby Boot Camp combine a sensible cardiovascular workout with stretching and strength training. Pilates, yoga and abdominal exercises help improve core strength, while a brisk pace keeps the heart pumping.
On a recent Wednesday morning at Idlewild Park, Garman and her son, Klein, are joined by Linda Brokaski and her son, Tyler, and Jasmine Cividino and her son, Enzo. The sun shines brightly, and the river meanders past the park as the new moms unload babies and gear from their cars. For the kids: sunscreen, hat, pacifier, toys, rattles, Cheerios, sippy cups and cheese sticks. On the strollers: sunshade, cup holder, safety reflectors, quick release steel hubs, all-wheel drive and rear suspension.
Comparing lack of sleep and various baby issues, the trio starts with a brisk lap through the park, which includes single-file stroller sprints and a muscle-building session with resistance tubes. They obviously have done this before, moving impressively like cyclists during a team time-trial.
“Think about your calves,” advises Garman in a considerate way that suggests our calves deserve a bouquet of roses for their next anniversary. It works. Everyone pays closer attention to form as they use biceps, triceps, glutes and hamstrings. Garman’s personal trainer experience is evident as she spends time with each mom, guiding her seamlessly through the exercises.
The second lap includes sideways skipping and Monty Python high steps. Along the way, Cividino mentions that Enzo had some unpleasant trouble with a jar of peas last night, and the discussion turns to all things pea as the adults examine the possible causes and unfortunate effects of such an episode. Even so, they don’t miss a beat.
“Abs engaged, weight in heels” reminds Garman as the women focus on chest and back muscles. They use resistance bands and also babies for this part of the workout. The babies seem to love the interaction. In fact, the babies are mostly happy throughout the entire 75-minute class. When they’re not, each of the moms helps out.
The group picks up the pace during the next sprint. What happens if one person is slower than the rest? “Oh yeah, I’ve been dropped before,” jokes Cividino, as she leaves an innocent bystander in the dust.
They regroup on a grassy knoll and spread blankets on the ground. Klein, 16 months, immediately finds a comfortable spot to play while Brokaski and Cividino get Tyler and Enzo, both 5 months old, out of the strollers. This is the last session of stretching and resistance training.
“The best part about Baby Boot Camp,” Brokaski says, “is being active and able to exercise without worrying about a babysitter or child care and to meet new moms.”
Garman is proud of the moms as they make weekly progress. Women can stay with this fitness program from pregnancy until their kids grow out of the stroller, and classes will continue, inside and out, through the winter. Participants receive personalized training for $85 per month for unlimited classes compared to $55 per hour for a personal trainer.
“It’s a very supportive atmosphere to accomplish individual goals,” says Garman. “Whether you want to get back in tip-top shape or just get outside with your baby and socialize with other parents, this is a great way to go.”
Laura Brigham started Reno Trail Tots so her family could meet other families with an interest in the outdoors. Their first outing was a muddy trek around the Rancho San Rafael Nature Trail in February. The six toddlers loved it, and so did the parents.
Since then, the group has grown significantly, and they’ve explored a number of interesting places, including Galena Creek and Tahoe Meadows. Sometimes they hike, sometimes they go sledding, and sometimes they spend the morning on the trails along the river at local parks.
“The camaraderie among the kids is great,” says Brigham. “Logan loves it.”
Logan is Brigham’s 2-and-a-half-year-old son, and he’s already a seasoned outdoorsman. He hops happily out of the car at the beginning of a recent mid-week excursion to Oxbow Nature Study Area and immediately starts looking around for fun things to do.
Soon, the place is abuzz with toddler energy, and the group embarks on a walk through the park. An accurate head count is tricky due to the lightning-fast, tangent-taking, laughter-infused trajectory of the kids, but there seem to be 11 of the little rascals.
“It’s a fun way to get to know other people with similar interests,” says Samantha Wallace as she strolls casually along in the maelstrom. Wallace moved to Reno a year ago from Australia, and she has taken her 2-year-old daughter, Lily, on three trips with Reno Trail Tots. “I’ve made some new friends, and our husbands have gone mountain biking together. It’s been great.”
Among the kids, there’s almost no walking—that would be entirely too mundane. There is dashing and darting, running and sprinting, clomping and skipping. The kids run ahead and fall behind; they shout to their moms and beg to be watched. Soon, the lead group comes to a spot on the riverbank, and the kids engage in a round of throwing rocks into the Truckee. Their aim is not very good. Rock-throwing is promptly replaced by sandcastle building.
Two of the girls are obviously best friends. They just met 15 minutes ago in the parking lot. Audry Walther and Kaelyn Miles are both 3 years old, and they have everything in common that matters when you are 3—they are both girls, and they are in the same place at the same time.
The group has moved on, and Brigham’s optimistic parenting technique is inspiring as she successfully steers Logan away from a tantalizing hazard: “Look what you found! Good job! Let’s leave the big, sharp, metal, dangerous object alone and keep moving!” Logan thinks it’s a great idea and runs ahead to join some other kids, who are examining plants and eating snacks.
This is Coralee Walther’s second outing with the group, and she brought her kids to Reno from Incline Village especially for this expedition. “The best part,” she says, “is the kids having fun with other kids. They get excited instead of bored.”
That was the original idea. The most recent Saturday hike drew 21 families for a total of 70 people. The weekend outings are now part of the Sierra Club’s regular schedule, and they’ve become the most popular excursions on the calendar. “We’ll keep sledding and hiking in the winter,” says Brigham with a lilt to her voice. “The kids love it.” And so does she.