Written by Christy Hinko Friday, 12 April 2013 00:00
“Go mommies, practice chasing those babies,” cheers a UPS delivery driver walking by a group of mothers with their babies in the corridor of Broadway Mall on any Friday morning. The moms and their babies are members of the local Stroller Strides fitness group that meets at Broadway Mall in Hicksville.
While completing an hour-long circuit training routine, that makes use of the length of the mall, many passersby cheer the moms, give thumbs up or even stop to talk with the babies who are nestled in their strollers.
With the strollers parked in a small circle, kids facing each other, in the Panera corridor of the mall, the moms complete a moderately paced circuit of strength training exercises, yoga, and balance poses. Group owner, Beth Kichel, incorporates the exercise calls and instruction between the verses of nursery rhymes or the lines of a storybook. She uses props like hand puppets or bubbles to stimulate the kids while the moms are workout out to her instruction.
Next, the moms fast-walk down to the Target entrance where they do another round of circuit training. This time, moms line the stroller babies up while they stand in front of the strollers. This series of exercises includes light plyo-metrics and exercises that enable the moms to interact and seemingly entertain the tots. The moms jump high in the air and the babies giggle and coo.
After the moms make their way to the Ikea corridor, they line the baby strollers against the wall. Kichel keeps the babies entertained while the moms begin sprinting laps around the short corridor.
Over the years, the Stroller Striders have developed a relationship with many of the regular mall walkers. Kichel said, “Mall walkers regularly ask if they can join our workout,” the requirement though, a baby in a stroller. This doesn’t stop the mall walkers from showing their support, also cheering the moms throughout their workout and stopping to have a little chat with the buckled babes.
Similarly, random shoppers encourage and cheer the moms. One mall walker stops often; he enjoys greeting each baby, then gives the moms praise for their workout.
Kichel, a certified physical therapist, started the Broadway Mall group about five years ago, after her first child was born. She continues to lead the group now, participating with her third child, Merab. In addition to her background in fitness, Kichel is also certified with the franchise, Stroller Strides, for prenatal and postnatal exercise, under the American Council of Exercise (ACE).
“I took a leap of faith and started the business,” said Kichel. “It’s been a huge success.” Over the past five years, Beth estimates she’s had over a 1,000 participants. One of her longest participating members has been coming for more than four years; some members drive more than 30 minutes to participate, coming from Deer Park and Commack on most days.
"It’s a great support group for moms, it’s not just the exercise,” said Kichel. “They get a sort of play group and they get to meet other moms.” She added, Stroller Strides was her own solution to getting out and meeting people when she had her first child.
The Broadway Mall group meets Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year, with group sizes ranging from three to more than 10 at times. In April, the group makes use of the outside walkways, surrounding the mall.
Kichel explained that at least once a year, she plans a workout session for the dads. “They usually can’t keep up with the moms; they think we just kind of walk around the mall, gossiping.” By the end of the workout, Kichel said, the dads really appreciate Stroller Strides. The moms are at all levels of fitness. Some moms are new to a structured workout; some moms are using the group as a return to prenatal fitness and everything in between.
Memberships to Stroller Strides are on a punch card, so moms can vary their workout, coming to the group for what fits their schedule and needs. “It’s one-stop here at [Broadway Mall], there are two little playgrounds, moms can get their workout in, lunch, errands,” said Kichel.
For more information visit www.strollerstrides.com or call 800-959-0431.