RunMama Fitness class keeps kids and parents healthy
It started as a nickname for Marisa Stack's aunt, an avid runner who Stack would run with and looked up to while growing up.
“We always called her ‘Run Mama,” said Stack. “I always thought I wanted to grow up and be a ‘Run Mama.'”
Stack, a Santa Rosa resident and licensed physical therapist, is now using the term to brand her newly launched business and exercise program “RunMama Fitness.”
Stack builds the program around her physical therapy background, and focuses on prenatal and postpartum health for moms.
The program, launched in May, also incorporates fitness-based childcare, allowing mothers to work out while their children are doing their own workout in a nearby space.
“As a mom it's very challenging to get back into fitness after having a kid, and your body goes through a lot with childbirth,” said Stack, who has two boys under 4. “I was having a hard time finding a program [incorporating] the things I wanted so that's how the idea came about.”
RunMama Fitness primarily takes place outdoors in local community parks like Rincon Valley Community Park and Galvin Community Park in Bennett Valley. Mothers and children warm up together, but then separate to do their own workouts. While moms do a combination of cardio and strength training, kids engage in obstacle courses, parachute workouts, interactive games, free play and sensory activation stations.
“There are a good amount of Pilates-type movements incorporated into each workout, but it also involves a cardio portion that makes it into a true full body workout,” said Stephanie Thompson, a 33-year-old Sebastopol resident who is currently pregnant and also brings her 22-month old daughter to the program. “I find that more rewarding than strictly doing poses and isolated movements.”
Stack wanted to make sure the program not only took care of whole body fitness, but also specifically addressed postpartum issues such as diastasis recti which is a separation of the abdominal wall many women experience during pregnancy or childbirth.
“My favorite feature of RunMama is that (Stack) is constantly checking in on everyone's form, and helping with modifications if needed,” said Thompson. “I had an ab injury with my last pregnancy, and I know I can trust her expertise in physical therapy.”
RunMama Fitness also incorporates an educational component once a month with clinics focused on different topics like heart rate training, and is also preparing to begin an additional group running program for women.
For 31-year-old Rohnert Park mom Morgan Garrison, the accountability of having another group of moms to work out with is a definitive draw.
“It's extremely hard for me to be motivated to work out - I'm a recovering couch potato over here! I have three kids and endless to-do lists, but having a group of people committed to spend an hour working out and sweating together is huge,” said Garrison. “It's a community of mamas and kids excited about living a healthy lifestyle together.”
Stack agrees, and considers the incorporation of fitness for kids as a key component of her program.
“We want to make fitness fun for kids and ingrained into their life,” said Stack.
While Stack noted there are several mom/child workout programs available in the area, they are often stroller-based or have a separate “kids” gym. She feels her program caters to moms who want something different.
“I don't have to drop off my kids in a daycare at a gym - my kids have their own class that they're excited to go to so I don't feel guilty at all because of it,” said Garrison. “This is also how I can show - not just tell - my kids how important it is to stay active and strong.”
Garrison also believes the program helps her promote positive body image to her two young daughters.
“I want to show them that being active isn't just a “box check” or a way to “get skinny,” but that fitness is fun and a great way to feel great,” said Garrison. “It's a mood lifter - I've loved having more energy, feeling stronger and I feel better about myself.”
Positive body image and having a safe place for moms to work out is part of Stack's mission statement.
“My main goal is to provide a safe community and place for moms to go to have a unique camaraderie of motherhood, because when you're a mom you can feel alone sometimes,” said Stack.
“I want to provide a place where moms can feel good about themselves and feel good about their bodies.”