PORT CITY STROLLERS TAILORS FITNESS CLASSES FOR PEOPLE WITH YOUNG CHILDREN

Courtney Ceponis moved to Nova Scotia last year; a new mom in new surroundings. She was looking for a way to connect with other new parents and she found it using fitness.

Ceponis lived in the United States before moving to Halifax, but she grew up in the Canadian Prairies. Her husband is in the military so she is no stranger to moving around a lot, but this was the first time she was doing it with a baby in tow.

While living in North Carolina, she joined a fitness class for moms and babies and found it a helpful way to meet other parents while staying in shape. She was hoping to find something similar here and when she didn’t, she decided to create it herself. That’s how Port City Strollers was born. Ceponis now offers several weekly classes for parents and caregivers who can bring their babies and strollers with them.

“I try to do a full body workout each class,” says Ceponis. “But we also do endurance training because, as moms, we can’t always do heavy lifting because we have to be able to take care of our babies the next day.”

Ceponis, who is a certified CanFitPro group fitness instructor and Registered Dietitian, designed the program specifically for new mothers. As for the babies, the classes are made for their enjoyment, too.

“I just have so much fun coming up with the songs and the workouts and testing them out then doing them with the moms,” says Ceponis.

During some of the exercises, participants will sing kid-friendly songs to go along with the movements they’re doing as a way to keep the babies engaged. And Ceponis also finds creative ways to make the strollers a part of the activity.

There are also modifications for students at different stages. Ceponis recommends that babies be at least 6 weeks old and that parents have doctor clearance before coming to the classes. From there, exercises adapt for different levels of fitness.

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For Ceponis and her students, the classes are a great way to stay fit while connecting with other moms. “It’s the networking with other moms,” says student Stephanie Comeau. “But also the support of seeing other moms who are at the same level as you.”

It’s also an opportunity to get out of the house and take baby along. “A lot of new moms get stuck at the house with a new baby who’s not sleeping,” says student Amanda Guitard. “It’s a great place to meet other moms and get a good workout in.”

And crying fits and diaper changes are no problem. Before class begins, Ceponis always explains that it’s OK to stop, make a trip to the washroom, or do whatever is necessary to make sure your baby is comfortable before re-joining the class. Being surrounded by other new parents means everyone understands.

“There’s strength in knowing that someone is going through the same thing as you,” says Ceponis. “The moms compare:  what kind of sleep patterns are you dealing with? How did you introduce this type of solid? So it’s not only working out but it’s getting to know people that are going through that stage of childhood.”

As the popularity of the classes continues to grow, Ceponis plans to add more options at different locations.  Classes move indoors during bad weather but she prefers outdoor venues.

And while moms are in the majority, the group is open to anyone with kids. “Moms, dads, nannies…we’re all care givers and like to get fit while caring for our kids,” says Ceponis. “This supportive environment is great for anyone looking to exercise, meet people and spend time with their kids.”

It’s also a way to find a community if you’re new to the city or parenting, or both,” she adds. “It’s a community, it’s our village, and that’s how we work. We just support and we’re judgment-free and we just love getting out together. It’s a social opportunity, too.”    

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