Army Wife and Mom Combines Fitness, Playdates, and Mom’s Night Out by Creating Jersey Stroller Moms

One of the toughest things you experience as a new mom (besides finding time to workout) is making friends and having quality adult time! Slowly you start to see less and less of your friends who don’t have kids and start to spend more time with those friends who do…or in the event you are one of the first in your group of friends to have kids and don’t have other “mom friends” to hang out with you start to wonder, “Will I ever have adult friends again? I’m 32 do I even know how to make new friends anymore!?”

Have no fear! There are many ways for new moms to make “mommy friends.” Whether you start with a prenatal yoga class while pregnant or join a mommy and me class somewhere along the way, there are tons of other moms in your shoes who would love to make friends with you and your little love bug (or love bugs if you have multiple kiddos!)

unnamed-5Fit Mom Strong Mom had the opportunity to interview, Jessica Hamel, owner of Jersey Stroller Moms, a fitness group that combines fitness, playdates, and Mom’s Night Out….everything a mom could want!

FMSM: How did you come up with the idea for your business/what inspired you?
Jessica: As an Army wife, I move quite often. Every 2-3 years my life that I know it is uprooted and moved. At our first duty station I was not a mother. I was working full-time as a middle school teacher and was not truly connected to any population of people except my coworkers. I had left New Jersey where I had deep, connected roots and found myself living in the south, not knowing many people. At 12 weeks pregnant we moved from one side of Georgia to the other side of the state to Savannah, Georgia. I started out life in Savannah as a full time 5th grade teacher. I completed the school year at 7 months pregnant and knew I wasn’t planning on returning with the upcoming birth of our daughter and 9 month deployment for my husband.
After the birth of my daughter I quickly realized how isolating it could be staying at home with a newborn. Although I loved my new role as a mommy, I was missing the camaraderie of my coworkers and friends. To add to the feeling of isolation, my husband left for Afghanistan for the 7th time. I knew I needed to find an activity for my daughter and me and wanted to find my place in the Mom world. I quickly learned of a group called Stroller Strong Moms and knew I wanted to join. My daughter and I joined SSM as soon as I could and immediately found my “home” in Savannah. I spent almost every weekday at SSM with the most wonderful women, most of who were also Army wives. unnamed-9We spent our days working out and then playing with our babies turned toddlers at the park each day. Stroller Strong Moms provided a place for moms to be themselves, to focus on getting strong and reaching goals as well as providing social and play time for the children. There was simply no other place I could imagine myself. I became the strongest I had ever been in my whole life POST Pregnancy. I ran my first 5k and then one a month, every month for over a year. (I never ran a mile before in my life before SSM.) I completed a few 10ks and then found myself signed up to RUN ACROSS GEORGIA (260 mile relay race in the hot hot southern sun in May with a group of my best mom friends.. and I did it 9 weeks PREGNANT.)
Naturally, the Army moves you just as soon as you love your life. Ironically, we are now stationed at Ft. Dix, New Jersey and I am now living “back home”. It was strange to be headed home after being away. I was now a stay at home mom and had a completely different life. There was not a stroller fitness group in this area so naturally I started one of my own.

FMSM: What’s your background/education in your area of expertise?
Jessica: I am a certified small group fitness instructor and also hold a certification in CPR and an AED trained. I am forever researching and reading about new and innovative exercises. I taught elementary education for 10 years and love working with children. I also hold a Masters Degree in Administration and Leadership. All of these together have allowed me to be successful in leading a successful and effective exercise program while continuing to be creative in incorporating the children into our workout time. Jersey Stroller Moms often hear favorite nursery rhymes and songs that are turned into rigorous and fun workout routines.

unnamed-6FMSM: What is the ultimate goal for Jersey Stroller Moms?
Jessica: Stroller fitness has been around for a LONG time and most people think it’s a bunch of moms walking around with strollers and socializing…and they couldn’t be more wrong. I had a vision for Jersey Stroller Moms and wanted it to be different from other Stroller Fitness Programs. I wanted to create a mom-community and support system. JSM is an exercise program, and it is one that is tough enough for someone training for a marathon and yet appropriate for a mom working out for the first time. If you ask the members of JSM they’ll all describe it differently. We are a support system of moms. We all get up and get moving each day with a common goal to better ourselves for our children. I wanted moms to have a purpose for themselves and to feel a sense of belonging while home with their children. I wanted to create a supportive, non-judgmental atmosphere where moms push themselves harder than they would working out alone and educate them on what is was to be strong and fit not “skinny”. And after the hour long exercise class is over I wanted a place where moms could chat about anything from potty training to breastfeeding and places to go for date night. I’ve seen friendships bloom as much between the moms as the children on the playground. I wanted my children to have playdates daily that aren’t so prepped and planned where they can explore and make friends on their own terms. Overall, I wanted a place where moms could get fit and kids would play safely. unnamed-11
This vision of Jersey Stroller Moms has come to life and surpassed my expectations. This group is a diverse group of Stay at Home Moms, Working Moms and Moms on Maternity Leave. The best part is having moms come back on their days off to join us for workouts or our teacher friends who spend the summers with us. Our population is ever changing adding new moms and saying see you later to others. It is a fantastic, supportive group that works hard and enjoys being around each other each day.

FMSM: What can a mom expect when coming to Jersey Stroller Moms for the first time?
Jessica: We are a group of welcoming moms. New moms are instantly absorbed into the mix and quickly find themselves working with a partner, chatting with one of our FOUR instructors and of course start to break a sweat. Class always begins with stretches and brief conversation about something baby/mommy related. We then continue class staying on the move to do our best to keep the babies happy. Each class has several stations where the instructors give directions, examples both verbally and physically and demonstrate modifications for each exercise to meet the needs of each mom. Exercises include Tabata, HIIT High Intensity Interval Training, Body Weight Exercises, Yoga, Weight training, kinesthetic, balance, core, mobility and more. You’ll never have a class that is the same. We have yet to do one class exactly the same in a year. We use our strollers as equipment, hand weights, resistance bands, speed ladders, jump ropes and all of the park equipment to complete a dynamic calorie and fat burning workout. unnamed-13You can even catch us breaking it down to choreographed exercise routines. Uptown Funk and Shake it Off have been two of our favorites. Some of the moms will never look at their children’s nursery rhymes or favorite pop song the same way again. We also incorporate the babies into our workout as much as possible singing, dancing, blowing kisses and moving them around. Overall, you are guaranteed to be successful and sweaty and get some smiles from your little one.

FMSM: What future plans do you have for Jersey Stroller Moms?
Jessica: Jersey Stroller Moms was so successful in Freehold/Howell that one of our favorite fit mamas began a second location in East Windsor/Monroe. Both locations are thriving and have gone beyond my expectations. With the dedication the instructors have to bring new and creative workouts and the love the moms have for the program we can only get better. I would love to see Jersey Stroller Moms continue to grow to communities where it is needed. We receive requests weekly to come to different parts of the state and hope to join some of these areas in the near future.

FMSM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in NJ? unnamed-8
Jessica: New Jersey is a special place. We have cities, beaches and country at our finger tips and only a short drive away. While always looking for things for your children to do, don’t forget about taking care of yourself. It is not selfish to take an hour a day to focus on you. A fit and happy mom is a better mom. Jersey Stroller Moms provides a place for Moms to get the best possible workout in an hour and a place for children to play every single day. My daughter loves to go see her friends each day. JSM provides a beautiful group of supportive mothers who share the passion for being healthy, promoting positive socialization for children and sharing their mornings with like minded individuals.  

unnamed-14FMSM: Where can a mom who is interested learn more about Jersey Stroller Moms?
Jessica: All of our information is online at www.jerseystrollermoms.com and we are also on Facebook as “Jersey Stroller Moms” and “Jersey Stroller Moms – East Windsor” or Instagram @jerseystrollermoms.

FMSM: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us!

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