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Moms making healthy strides with strollers in hand

Ex-trainer turns maternity leave activity into booming business

Lisa Druxman
Lisa Druxman, a former personal trainer, started Stroller Strides while on maternity leave.

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(CNN) -- Looking for ways to get in shape while bonding with her newborn son, Lisa Druxman, a former personal trainer, wound up creating a rapidly growing workout club for new moms.

From a small group of friends five years ago to 16,000 participants nationwide today, Druxman's workout business -- Stroller Strides -- is giving new moms a way to burn calories, build muscle and bond with their kids.

"I was working out with my own son because my maternity leave was so precious. There was no way I was going to drop him off in a gym daycare," Druxman said.

"So we were doing a stroller workout together and I found that was our best hour together. He loved it and I loved it. And I thought, 'Well, if I did this with a couple other moms that would be a great way for me to meet some other moms and get that social contact.' "

So, Druxman figured she'd invite a few friends to work out with her. A local TV station caught wind of her group and decided to do a profile on her. Druxman presented the story as though she was running an actual business, not just hanging out with some friends and their kids.

When she got home from the TV station, 75 e-mails were waiting.

"It was just amazing," Druxman says. "So, I did this grand opening class here in San Diego. We had 40 moms show up and two news stations, and that day I realized, 'Wow, this really could be a business.' "

Today, Stroller Strides has more than 300 locations nationwide and more than 16,000 participants at all fitness levels, according to the company. For Druxman, the appeal of her program is that it allows mothers to be with their children as they get in shape. They use strollers as part of the workout.

"So, we do a few-minute warm-up. And then we do about a 45-minute power walk, where we walk the stroller and every few minutes we stop and do a body-toning station. And that station might use the environment -- like we might do push-ups at a table or tricep dips at a bench -- or exercise tubing, which we provide the moms with," she said.

"Or we use the stroller, which is just an amazing workout tool. You can do lunges with the stroller and squats with the stroller, but beyond that, think about the added workload by actually having to push this new weight."

Druxman said fitness levels of moms in the class often progress with the development of their kids.

"What is kind of neat is that when moms are at their weakest, their baby is the smallest," Druxman said. "And so the weight is not too bad. But as the baby gets bigger, the stroller gets heavier and moms get stronger. So they really progress in the workout."

After she saw so much initial interest in Stroller Strides, Druxman decided to quit her job to focus full time on growing her business and raising her child.

"I didn't want to go back to work full time, and I worked really hard that first year, because I needed to bring in an income and replace the salary that I had lost," Druxman said. "So we grew very fast. We added a location a month. For the first year, we ended up having 12 locations and over 1,000 moms participating."

Druxman says running Stroller Strides allows her to have a full-fledge career without missing out on raising her son.

"It fulfilled what I needed," she said, "Which was my personal mission to be a mom first and foremost and have a career that was supportive of motherhood."

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