story by Katrice Williams photos by Shelia Scott
Apryl Lee, a Savannah native, is the owner and coach of Stroller Strong Moms and has lived in Effingham for about five years. Apryl and her husband, Justin, have two little darlings, their daughter Ryan, 3, and son Jack, 2.
Interestingly enough, Apryl had a rewarding career as a Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit Nurse (CVICU) prior to committing herself to her current endeavors. She wholeheartedly understands the challenges that moms can face when making decisions about leaving their new little ones to return to work. She, too, faced those same difficulties. However, Apryl explains that when she “looked into Ryan’s eyes,” it was a done deal.
Regarding her decision to become a stay-at-home mom, she confidently remarks, “I would never, ever change it.”
All-in-all, Stroller Strong Moms strives “to inspire a tribe of strong moms” while also pushing “that person to be more than they thought they could be.” In September 2011, Alexa Smith from Columbus, Georgia wanted to start a distinct fitness class for moms, as she had recently become a mother herself. As a long-time fitness and soccer coach, Alexa wanted to use her athletic skills in a way that would help moms stay active. Hence, she created a stroller fitness class, allowing moms the convenience of having their babies and toddlers outside with them while working out and allowing the children to see them making healthy choices. Alexa, a military wife, later moved to Savannah and started an affiliate branch. Actually, most affiliates are coached by “military moms,” as majority are on military bases. In fact, Apryl, having affiliate groups in both Effingham and Statesboro, is one of the few civilian owners in the organization.
Stroller Strong Moms has grown rapidly over the years, and its popularity has spread across the country. Presently, there are a multitude of affiliates throughout the United States. Georgia alone has branches in Effingham, Savannah, Statesboro and Columbus.
Apryl began her journey with the organization in December 2014; she started in the Savannah branch when her daughter was 8 weeks old. Shortly thereafter, Apryl found that she was pregnant with her son. She still continued to work out throughout her entire pregnancy.
She insists, “It really helped me push through forty weeks of pregnancy.” Apryl is still incredibly grateful for all that the group provided, even advice and assistance with “first time mom things like teething.”
She knows that the benefits of the group are priceless; she wants women to embrace the beauty of motherhood, along with the value of fitness, while “empowering women to feel good about themselves.” That said, Apryl knows that there are often “outside pressures associated with having babies–getting your body back and being the perfect mom” nearly all at once…the superwoman ideology. She wants every woman to experience the true and undeniable joy that comes with taking pride in having a healthy body, while being comfortable in the skin they are in.
“The body is a wonderful and amazing thing; you’ve gotten amazing little tiny people out of it,” she said.
Apryl wants women to know their significance in life as moms and embrace the irreplaceable joys of motherhood. Stroller Strong Moms supports, inspires and motivates each other. She adds, “It’s okay to inspire and encourage fellow women. This is not a competition; it is really true friendships. I want to keep building that community. The workouts are wonderful, but you come back for the comradery and the empowerment. You’re competing with the person next to you to try to beat them in a race, but at the same time, you’re cheering them on, which is very hard to find in a group of women.”
Apryl is confident that nearly anyone can succeed in her class. She strives to be as flexible with the members as possible and says that “everything can be modified.” Apryl does not want anyone to be “scared off” or intimidated by anything. She states, “It’s something for everybody, and we can take it to your level; it’s a health and wellness thing.”
Each class consists of a one hour full-body workout outdoors; at present, Apryl’s Effingham fitness class is held at Baker’s Pond and her Statesboro class is held at Mill Creek Regional Park. There are four conditioning stations, which takes about 10-12 minutes each. This time frame works great for the kids, who are watching from their strollers; it is usually just enough time for them to be entertained but not enough to become bored and agitated. There is cardio conditioning, including walking and running paths, cross-hiit (high intensity interval training) and plyometrics. However, that can be modified based on individual preference and needs.
A diverse group of ladies make up the classes, mainly moms with toddlers; moms with older children of various ages also attend. Moreover, there are even ladies who attend who are not moms at all; they merely appreciate the overall benefits. Apryl wants to encourage mothers to take a small amount of time out of the day for themselves without feeling guilty about it.
“Taking that one hour out of the day for you makes the other 23 hours so much better for your child, because you’re happy, you’re in a good head space, you’re confident, you’ll have energy and will be a better mother for it.”
There is also fun outside of the exercise arena. Apryl and the other ladies enjoy a “mom’s night out” once each month. Whether going bowling or catching a movie, they have a fun and relaxing change of scenery. There is even something for the kiddies; after all, they are also little dedicated members of the group. They have a play-date after class once each month. One of the play-dates that is “everybody’s favorite” involves a toddler workout.
Apryl smiles and says, “My kids live to work out.”
Apryl is proud that Stroller Strong Moms support a cause that is “near and dear to her heart”—CURE, an organization that completely focuses on finding a cure for childhood cancers. Apryl has donated to the worthy cause over the years. Each year, Stroller Strong Moms has a consignment sale consisting of designer children’s clothing, where “a portion of the proceeds goes to CURE.”
“Obviously, we’re all mothers; you can never be too grateful,” Apryl mentions.
Going forward, she wants to continue to make more women aware of Stroller Strong Moms and be a voice of empowerment for moms. She, too, is excited about the 10-week fitness and nutrition challenge that the organization is currently involved in, which brings participants “back to the basics” in wellness. This includes the consumption of the suggested daily water intake, enhancing exercise goals, and helping individuals challenge themselves to achieve various points of wellness.
Apryl Lee, alongside Stroller Strong Moms, is certainly leading by example, truly showing that “taking care of yourself is part of taking care of your kids.” For additional information about the organization, visit www.strollerstrongmoms.com.