'Strollercise' catching on with Caraquet moms
France Blanchard builds workouts around children in strollers
After France Blanchard had her son, she found the cost of a gym membership to be too expensive. Even getting out for an hour of exercise was out of the question, due to the high cost of childcare.
"I created this initiative for myself. I found there was nothing here to exercise with your baby," says Blanchard.
"I went to bed one night thinking, 'Oh, it's too bad there's nothing here,' and I woke up the next morning saying 'Well, I can do it.'"
Blanchard started the "gym poussette" initiative last year for a handful of other mothers in Caraquet.
Each woman pays $2 and brings her stroller, twice a week.
Blanchard puts the mothers through routines of cardio and calisthenics, using body weight, park benches, water bottles, and, of course, strollers.
No formal training
Vien Fortin has been bringing her son, Bao, to the sessions since last month.
"We walk, we do lunges, pushups, we hold bottles of water and we exercise our arms."
She says Bao, aged two, is starting to copy her healthy habits at home.
"He's doing lunges at home, yes. He says, 'I'm going to exercise, Mommy.'"
Blanchard has no training in exercise science, and takes most of her workout regimens from YouTube, but seems to have a knack for motivating the moms and children.
I invite dads, grandmothers, guardians — everyone can come, as long as you have a baby.- France Blanchard
The hour-long workouts are also valuable social time for the mothers.
"It's huge because, yes, we're off, but we're staying at home, taking care of the baby and you can miss interacting," says Isabelle Duguay, first-time mother of a five-month old.
"There's all kind of situations you haven't dealt with before, so you can talk about it with someone for whom it's happened before and we try to help each other out."
Blanchard says fathers are also welcome to pay their $2, sweat, and socialize, but so far, none have turned up.
"Not yet," she says.
"But I invite dads, grandmothers, guardians — everyone can come, as long as you have a baby. Aunts can steal a baby and come exercise."