Few places exist where moms can practice self-care and supervise their young children simultaneously; a new fitness studio in Mattituck provides the opportunity for both.
Stroller Strong Mamas, which began as pop-up workout classes at parks and various indoor spaces in 2015, now has a brick-and-mortar location where moms and caretakers can bring kids along to exercise — and connect with one another as well.
“It has always been a dream to have a space like this where moms can come in with their kids for so many reasons,” says Rachel Goodale, founder and owner of Stroller Strong Mamas. “It’s more than just about the workout, but really it’s a community.”
The new space offers strength training, cardio and yoga, as well as special fitness classes that help expectant mothers prepare for pregnancy and postpartum. It also hosts kids’ classes, such as baby playgroups, toddler time, yoga and meditation.
Goodale, who was previously a teacher, switched careers in 2013 when she started working as an instructor at the now-closed Aerial Fitness and Wellness in Riverhead. After giving birth to her first child in 2015, a light bulb went off to hold exercise classes that included kids.
“I started babywearing because my son was fussy and wouldn’t nap,” Goodale says. “I didn’t have day care or anywhere to watch him, but as I was swaying him to sleep, I was squatting and picking up weights and realized I could do a whole workout while wearing him.”
Goodale first started leading babywearing workouts with friends and others who heard about it through the Riverhead studio. The moms would meet a few times a week, oftentimes at a nearby park on the North Fork, to exercise with babies and small kids in tow. The program started with a few friends who met at the park once or twice a week to a client base of hundreds of moms, dads and even grandparents filling several classes offered throughout the week.
When Goodale had her second child in 2017, the classes gained even more popularity. She held many of them outdoors, as well as at libraries and different fitness studios. When the pandemic hit, the parent-and-me workouts continued via Zoom, which Goodale still offers in addition to in-person classes.
Three years ago, Goodale had a vision for a cozy, intimate barn setting that Stroller Strong Mamas could call its own. She eventually found it at the new space in Mattituck.
While some gyms have a day care room where parents can leave their kids during their workout, Stroller Strong Mamas is different. Kids stay in the space with their mothers or caretakers and can either join the workout or play with each other. The studio provides baby weights, toys and coloring books to keep kids occupied.
Dana Lamendola, of Mattituck, has been bringing her 4-year-old son to Stroller Strong Mamas classes since he was only 5 months old.
“It’s nice because there’s other kids who have grown up in that class, too, and they all became friends,” she says. “When I bring him, he re-connects with all the kids he grew up with in the class, and it’s like a little community.”
When participants sign up for a class, they must mention the number of kids they’ll bring with them and their ages. Each class typically has between six and eight adults participating.
“We keep class sizes small so it’s not chaotic,” Goodale says.. “Outside, kids can run around a little more, but this is more contained. It’s not a huge fitness class. It’s personal.”
That personal touch is what keeps people returning to Goodale’s classes. Kat Donoghue, a mother of two, moved to Wading River from Syosset just before her kids were born. At the time, she didn’t have friends in the North Fork area, but she has found a solid support system in Stroller Strong Mamas.
“It’s like therapy and a workout all in one,” Donoghue says. “It doesn’t matter if you’re having a great day or a horrible day. I’ve been there in tears, and everyone has just lifted me up and offered me advice.”
Stroller Strong Mamas offers a free trial class for anyone who is interested in joining the fitness studio. A single class pass at the Mattituck location is $20. There are also several class packages to choose from, including $95 for five indoor classes and $10 to add on a kid's class after an adult workout.
13105 Main Rd., 631-766-6672, strollerstrongmamas.com