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North Hills

Fit4Mom classes help local women lose weight, gain friendships

| Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, 1:33 a.m.
The North Hills branch of FIT4MOM, the nation’s leading prenatal and postnatal exercise program, meets at The Block Northway.
The North Hills branch of FIT4MOM, the nation’s leading prenatal and postnatal exercise program, meets at The Block Northway.

To Lisa Moffa, a stroller is more than a contraption that helps her transport her kids; it represents freedom, fitness and friendship.

The 38-year-old Ross Township resident runs the North Hills branch of FIT4MOM, the nation’s leading prenatal and postnatal exercise program. Founded in California in 2001, the business boasts more than 1,400 locations across the country.

During the winter, classes are held in the South Atrium of The Block Northway.

On Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays at 9:15 a.m., pram-pushing participants gather for Stroller Strides, a 60-minute workout comprising strength training, cardio and core restoration. Unlike traditional aerobics classes that are set to pop music, Stroller Strides incorporates sing-along songs and fun activities into the regimen.

Lisa Parker, 32, of McCandless has been with the group since its inception in August 2017. Her 18-month-old daughter, Autumn, accompanies her to each class, clapping and squealing with delight each time she completes an exercise.

“I was looking for a way to get out of the house and meet other stay-at-home moms,” says Parker, who is 38 weeks pregnant with another girl. “I’ve gained less weight and I have more energy than during my other pregnancy.”

Tuesdays and Thursday evenings are reserved for the high-intensity Body Back sessions. During this eight-week course, which is paired with a nutrition plan, moms leave the kiddos at home so they can focus on their own wellness.

The gang on Wednesdays performs Stroller Barre, 60 minutes of cardio and strength training that helps improve posture, stability and mobility through moves inspired by ballet, Pilates and yoga. When the weather warms up, classes are held at North Park, near the Boathouse.

On a recent morning, instructor Caitlin Rushlander, who is certified in pre- and postnatal fitness, read a children’s book to the little ones as their moms did burpees behind them.

Rushlander, 31, of Mars, is a former preschool teacher and the mother of two little girls, Sadie, 3, and Hannah, 20 months. She joined Fit4Mom last November as a way to get back in pre-baby shape.

As a student at North Hills High School, she was the captain of her track and cross-country teams.

“I’ve always been an athlete,” she says. “This helped me lose weight and feel like myself again.”

In addition to physical benefits, Fit4Mom also provides a social outlet for moms.

Moffa’s main motivation in launching a franchise was to find other women she could relate to.

She’s forged numerous friendships through the group and even organizes a monthly Moms Night Out for her students, which she refers to as her “village.” She encourages women in every stage of motherhood to get clearance from their doctor and then attend a class. The first one is free. All they need to bring is a sturdy stroller, comfy shoes, water, a towel or mat and a few toys to keep the baby entertained (although there isn’t any judgment if junior starts to cry).

“We’ve kind of started a little community of moms,” Moffa says, explaining that the women give each other advice on everything from pediatricians to preschools. “It’s like a support group.”

Moffa’s kids, Augie, 4, and Nory, 2, also found buddies through Fit4Mom. Every Friday after class, a playgroup is held so the children can burn energy by running laps around the atrium and then wind down with a story or a craft.

Nory can often be seen mimicking mom’s exercise moves by her own toy stroller.

“It’s good for them to see us exercising and taking care of our bodies,” Moffa says.

For more information, visit northhills.fit4mom.com.

Kristy Locklin is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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