Strong Together: why fitness matters - MetroFamily Magazine
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Strong Together: why fitness matters

by Callie Collins

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

Oklahoma City family fun is MetroFamily's main focus. We present local events and the vendors who provide products and services for families. Information, too, is in everything we do, whether it's parenting issues or our Thursday newsletter, Weekend Picks. A sense of community is the uniting theme to our efforts; it's what we look for in editorial and hope that our readers take away from the magazine each month. I see all of those factors in Strong Together, MetroFamily's fitness initiative.  

Strong Together is an eight-week sofa2success© program that's focused on gradual fitness, in preparation for a tangible goal: participating in a local 5K. The training is organized by runhers women's club with certified personal trainer Sara McCauley, who offers encouragement along with each week's training regimen,  Training takes place during the week on your own schedule, with group runs each Saturday morning. Runhers staff leads the Saturday sessions, which give participants a chance to meet other women for support. There's also a closed Facebook group for announcements, encouragement and easy communication.

It's a community group that empowers women. Here's why:

Strong Together has three points that I think make it a success. First, it's women-only, so there's camaraderie. I think of motherhood as the great equalizer; we've all been there, at the different ages and stages. Even if you're not a mom, there's a common base and a certain comfort to being able to discuss issues unique to women without fear of judgment that might otherwise be part of a mixed group. Second, you're in charge of your own fitness. Other than a good pair of athletic shoes, there's no equipment necessary and you do your walks/runs when you can. It fits your schedule, whether you're outdoors or walking laps in your own living room. Third, it's free. There's no cost to participate.The 5K does have a registration fee but cost isn't a barrier to getting fit, as the weekly sessions are offered without charge. 

The group is aptly named. It's all about supporting one another, talking about what has worked for you and what hasn't when it comes to exercise. No one is interested in who is the the fastest or the fittest; the only person you're in competition with is yourself. Unlike the gym or a class with mirrors, there's less of that nagging self-conscious feeling. 

As I write this post, I periodically glance toward a bassinet in the corner of my living room. My third child is asleep there, a newborn whose birth has left me scarred and sore. I ran the last Strong Together 5K six months pregnant with him this past October and it felt like all was well. The low hum of Gabriel's Pack 'n Play is calm, especially compared to his noisy entrance into the world: a breech baby, we tried to turn him via an external cephalic version. His heart rate plummeted and the day ended in an emergency c-section. I wasn't expecting a surgery and certainly didn't want one. A month later, I still hurt and continue to review in my mind the events that led up to Gabriel's sudden birth. Like all mothers of newborns everywhere, I am tired. The last thing I want to do right now is run. Sure, it'd be nice to let go of this baby weight but I understand why it takes some time to be physically able to exercise.

"Take care of yourself," people say. These people have not had a newborn recently. I never know what to say in response to that advice because it doesn't seem applicable. The tiny being who demands care and depends on me for it is over there in the bassinet, besides my other children, ages 3 and 7. I haven't left the house in a week since I can't drive. So why put on makeup or fix my hair, right? Who cares? This is what women do with a one-month old. We float through the night and the day and then the night again in one continuous cycle that revolves around feedings and diapers and just getting through the essential tasks. "Sleep when the baby sleeps" also rings false and impossible to new moms. It's a lot harder – and seemingly less urgent – to take care of ourselves. However, that's exactly what we need to do, in order to have anything left to offer, a place from which to draw strength. Maybe not right now, at a month, but when it is possible because it has to be possible again at some point, for my sake. 

After all, we matter too. There are a lot of great reasons to exercise, from literally living longer to setting a good example for kids to follow, but having something for you is a valid reason as well. No one says that out loud but I think that's what they really mean by "take care of yourself." So maybe I can't make this session but when I'm ready, Strong Together will be there and I know it'll offer support from women who know just what it's like to do all that I'm doing now.

If you're interested in joining the spring Strong Together group, it's not too late. Find out more here. I hope to join you soon!

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