HARKER HEIGHTS — The morning sunshine beamed off the bright red roofs of the picnic units at Purser Family Park, luring early birds out to take a quick walk, let their dogs roam and their kids enjoy the playground.
A group of moms with jogging strollers stood at the park entrance but, unlike the others, they are not here to play — at least, not yet. First, it is time to work out.
“Stroller Warriors is a global running club for military spouses,” said Brianna Hartman, founder of Stroller Warriors Fort Hood. “The goal is to get all levels of runners together, to support and encourage each other. And the kiddos are always welcome.”
The free running club was originally established by former CEO Stephanie Geraghty at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in 2010 with the mission to live happier, healthier lives through fitness.
Considering the great success, this was something many military spouses were waiting for. By providing camaraderie and making training more enjoyable, Stroller Warriors quickly turned into a running club with chapters all over the world.
“I was in an awesome chapter that had just started at Fort Riley, Kansas,” Hartman said. “I was surprised there wasn’t one here at Fort Hood.”
After enjoying the running and community support at Fort Riley, Hartman decided to give back. “I definitely wanted to get something started that I was familiar with and that would keep me accountable with my running.”
Running they do. This particular time, each participant ran the track around Purser Family Park for thirty minutes at their own pace before getting the group back together for strengthening exercises.
Hartman, mother of a 4-month-old daughter and a two-year-old boy, knows how important it is to stay active with young children. As a certified athletic trainer, yoga instructor and strengthening and conditioning specialist, she puts together the workout schedule.
“We have moms who just had babies and start off walking, (and) we have beginners who just started to jog,” Hartman said. “As long as you have any goals of just getting better with running, then the club is for you.”
After a quick welcome and friendly introduction of new members, the moms start with their morning walk or run. Whether with a double running stroller, a single buggy or on their own, each one takes the track on their own ability.
“I am so not a runner,” said Emily Kim, a mom of two who originally found out about Stroller Warriors in Honolulu, Hawaii. “It just takes the initial step — that’s how I started.”
Now she enjoys the workouts with her fellow moms, regularly competes in local races and encourages others to not be nervous.
“Take the initiative to come out and try it out,” Kim said.
Erin Bisesi, an experienced runner for more than 10 years, led the way with her 1-year-old son Vincent in the running stroller. She joined the group after seeing an advertisement for Stroller Warriors on Facebook, she said. “Ever since I left college I’ve been doing solo-runs, and it’s nice to get back into a group atmosphere where people support each other.”
Hartman, tackling the track with a heavy double stroller, especially loves the variety of members. “There are all levels of runners who can encourage you and give you tips and tricks along the way.”
The members reunited in front of the playground to take a sip of water and send their kids off to play before the strengthening part of the workout began. This time a pyramid training consisting of squats, push-ups, planks and lunges is on the program.
Leighann Grifford, mom of five, likes the opportunity and encouragement Stroller Warrior Fort Hood gives her.
“I just like to be more fit,” she said.
According to Hartman, there is no excuse not to come out.
“All you need is a good attitude, the right sneakers, water and a recovery snack,” she said. “And a jogging stroller if you bring your kids.”
While the moms chat and recover from their workout, the kids tire themselves out on the playground — a win-win for everyone.
Stroller Warriors Fort Hood meets on a weekly basis at different locations on and around Fort Hood. All trails are stroller friendly and located near playgrounds and restrooms. Besides their weekly runs, Hartman organizes Warrior Nights for moms or children as well as a Mini Miles Program for children old enough to run.
More information about events and how to become a member can be found on the Stroller Warrior Fort Hood Facebook page.