Palo Alto JCC offers new moms way to shed pounds

Allison Pereur put on 55 pounds during her pregnancy. About four months after her daughter was born, the Redwood City mom decided to do something to try and get back into shape.

She began going to a class called “Stroller Strides” three times a week, bringing her infant daughter, Hadley, with her. Within six months, she lost 65 pounds — 10 pounds below her original weight.

“My daughter loves it, too,” she says. “She lights up whenever we pull into the parking lot.”

And she doesn’t even have to pay for child care.

Pereur still goes regularly, and was spotted recently at the Albert L. Schultz Jewish Community Center, huffing and puffing on the track, while pushing Hadley’s stroller. Occasionally, she took breaks to do squats and sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round,” while her daughter peered at her from the comfort of her stroller.

The Palo Alto JCC is the only JCC in the area to offer this program, which was founded by Lisa Druxner, a San Diego-based fitness instructor and new mom several years ago. It has since taken off nationally, with seven franchises on the Peninsula alone.

Wendy Johnston, the franchise owner of all Stroller Strides locales on the Peninsula, says that not only do new moms get a great workout, but they have camaraderie with other new moms. It also sets a good role model for their children — especially in this era of childhood obesity.

“Our children see us outside and getting fit, not sitting on the couch watching TV,” she adds.

Pereur notes that the new moms she has met in the class have formed a community, sometimes having “Mommy’s night out” while their partners stay at home with the kids.

The Stroller Strides workout takes about an hour, with lots of jogging while pushing the stroller, and breaks full of crunches and squats. In between lunges, moms are instructed to “kiss your baby!”

And in a group like this, the moms are bound to be forgiving if a baby gets a bit fussy.

“Kids have meltdowns sometimes,” says Johnston. “They get hungry or they cry, but it’s OK here.”

The program is proving popular with lots of new moms, both Jewish and non-Jewish.

For Lisa Rothstein, who was at class with her 12-week-old daughter Sophie, Stroller Strides was her first taste of the Jewish community in Palo Alto.

“I thought it would be a good way to meet some other Jewish moms,” she said. She was interested in finding a moms and babies group, but found this instead.

“It’s a good way to make yourself exercise,” she said. “It gives me an excuse to get out of the house.”

Tracy Schuleman, director of sports, camp and recreation at the Palo Alto JCC says, “Stroller Strides is one of the many fitness programs we offer to the local Jewish and secular community. Fitness, like our other departments, is used as a medium to connect the Jewish community to each other and the JCC.

“Many of our most dedicated members, active preschool parents and inspiring board members were first introduced to the JCC through a fitness class.”

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."