There are so many excuses not to exercise, especially if you have young children. It’s hard to stay motivated if you exercise solo. Group classes can be expensive, and even more so if you have to pay for child care. And once you do pay for classes, young kids make it tough to stick to a consistent schedule.
Reston resident Jacqueline Carr faced these problems after she had a baby last year. She struggled to lose her last ten pounds of baby weight, but couldn’t motivate herself to exercise on her own. As a stay-at-home parent, Jacqueline tries to save money where she can, so she searched online for a free fitness group that she could join. When she was unable to find such a group, she decided to create her own.
Thus began a Facebook group called Free Reston Workouts. It’s a community of mothers who are seeking support in fitness, nutrition, and healthy living. One of the main goals of the group is for members to organize free group fitness classes, walks, and runs. They also share recipes, fitness challenges, tips, and support. The community is growing rapidly, and they welcome new members.
The group is really informal and flexible. Currently they hold two group workouts per week at Reston North Park. Jacqueline has been leading the group workouts, by following exercise routines that she finds online. Other members contribute ideas, as well. They are not fitness experts or certified instructors, so they rely on their internet research for ideas. They would love to have experts in fitness or nutrition join the group and offer guidance, but they are content working together to figure it all out.
After about 20 minutes of strength/toning exercise, they take a power walk with their strollers. Jacqueline hopes that eventually other groups will form for people who prefer running to walking.
As the group continues to grow, she also hopes other members will organize additional workouts in other parts of town. She wants people to find other like-minded parents in their own neighborhoods, and let their kids get to know each other, too.
The kids do play with each other during the workouts, and sometimes even join in the exercises. Giselle Garrett, a mother of an 18-month-old girl, joined Reston Free Workouts so she could involve her daughter in fitness from a very young age. “I want my daughter to see me lead an active life, so she will learn to be active out of habit, instead of out of a desire to look a certain way,” Giselle explained.
Giselle had considered joining a similar exercise program called Stroller Strides, but chose against it due to its cost and regular schedule. She found it difficult to stick to regular classes with a toddler, and didn’t like the pressure of paying in advance for classes she couldn’t always attend. Free Reston Workouts gives her the flexibility she needed, and the group camaraderie she was looking for.
Fellow member Kati Andresen joined the group for support as she establishes new, healthy habits as part of a weight loss journey. She has lost 105 pounds in the last 15 months, and has turned her life around. Now she has a five year old son and twin toddlers who see their mom exercising regularly, and they even join in the fun.
As Giselle put it, “If kids see their parents taking care of themselves, they will learn the importance of taking care of themselves, too.”
Free Reston Workouts is a Facebook group is that welcomes new members. If you are a mother seeking group support and free workouts, you can request membership on their Facebook page. Workouts currently take place at Reston North Park, but they can take place anywhere members choose to organize them.
Many thanks to Jacqueline, Giselle, Kati, and Maria for inviting me to tag along last week!