After getting laid off from her job as a purchasing manager, Jennifer Holgerson was trying to find work and work out.
Having recently shed the last of the 80 pounds she’d gained from her second pregnancy, Holgerson was on the hunt for free resources to exercise that did not require her to leave her babies behind.
Her searches proved fruitless. So, one night on a whim, she created the Facebook group Fit Mommas of Long Island.
“Almost overnight, I grew a community of mommas all looking to get out of the house, get in shape and bring their kiddies with them,” Holgerson says.
The sentiment carried weight: Holgerson has amassed nearly 2,500 followers.
Now heading into its third summer, the group has evolved with a new name, Not Just a Mom Movement. The women use the platform for motivation and inspiration, sharing parenting, fitness and weight-loss tips and personal success stories.
ACTIVE ON- AND OFFLINE
Group activity is not limited to Facebook. Holgerson, who studied personal training and fitness at the National Academy of Sports Medicine, hosts classes for the group at Long Island Fitness and Wellness in Commack, MVP Fitness in Hauppauge and DCS Fitness in Hicksville. Throughout the year, as the weather permits, she runs free outdoor fitness classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at Belmont Lake State Park in North Babylon. Benches, bridges and baby strollers have become part of the workout for her two dozen or so regulars. Regardless of the setting, the children are always welcome and willing participants.
“A lot of the allure for first-time moms is they don’t want to leave their baby, so the idea of having them in the same room is fantastic,” says Holgerson, 40, of Deer Park.
Tina Cottone has not missed a meetup since the group’s inception. Cottone says she was timid and overweight when she first joined and had few female friends. “What I like most about this group is that you can go at your own pace and almost everything’s free,” says Cottone, of West Islip.
The women pay a $5 fee per gym visit.
Andrea Boniello, 33, of West Islip also has perfect attendance with regard to workouts.
“I was just looking to do something with my infant,” Boniello says. “Leaving her at day care, I felt selfish.”
It didn’t help, she says, that her now-2-year-old daughter Brianna was “tough” and would cry and scream even when Boniello left her with family. Working out at home on her rowing machine got boring and didn’t allow for the accountability and camaraderie Boniello says she’s found with this group.
On a recent Thursday morning meetup, mother and daughter could be seen doing squats and push-ups side-by-side.
What this group comes down to, Boniello says, is positive reinforcements.
“It’s putting you first but bringing your kids along,” she says.
MORE WAYS TO GET MOVING WITH KIDS
When Andrea O’Keefe recently moved to West Sayville from upstate Rochester, she knew she would launch a branch of Tinkergarten, a nationwide organization that bills itself as “outdoor classes where kids learn through play.” On June 28, she offers her first eight-week morning sessions at Brookside County Park in West Sayville for kids ages 18 months through 8 years.
At a recent free trial class, kids heard the classic folk story of “Stone Soup” and collected items from nature to add to a pot to make their own “soup.” O’Keefe’s sessions — which cost $160 — join already existing Tinkergarten classes in Long Beach, Massapequa, Mount Sinai, Northport and Bellmore. Trial classes are under way in Rocky Point and Wantagh, and are coming soon to the East End.
Hike It Baby
The tree stump nearly stumps Lucas Camhi, age 4, of Jericho as he walks along the tree-lined trail at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, playing Nature Bingo. Lucas and the other kids and adults are seeking chipmunks, ants and other items to check off their boxes on a recent hike organized by the Long Island chapter of Hike It Baby.
This walk at toddler pace is one of a variety of hikes organized each week by the nationwide organization’s Long Island branch, which just celebrated its first year.
— BETH WHITEHOUSE