Meet a Health Hero: Carolyn Kaufmann

Read more about Stroller Strides instructor Carolyn Kaufmann, a semi-finalist in our 2012 Health Hero Challenge!

>> Vote in the Health Hero Challenge here!

Name: Carolyn Kaufmann

Occupation: Owner and instructor, Stroller Strides Philadelphia

Who or what motivates you to be healthy?

There are a variety of factors that motivate me daily to be healthy. The determination I have to my family to be strong and active gets me moving every day. The responsibility I have taken on to lead and inspire the women who come to my class each day is a part of it, too. Seeing moms who could only walk a few yards in the beginning and are now running continually inspires me. Or watching them do bigger and better reps and sets, and actually seeing them get physically stronger. I also have the support of an awesome franchise, Stroller Strides, that provides me with the knowledge of what exercise can do physically and mentally for postpartum women.

Describe a health or fitness related turning point in your life.

I have always been an active person since childhood. I competed in sports, participated in 5Ks and Broad Street Runs, exercised at the gym, and engaged in group fitness classes. After giving birth to my first child, I really struggled with finding time to exercise and carving out time for myself. Luckily, a family member introduced me to Stroller Strides—I was hooked. I felt in my heart that this was a program that could not only benefit me, but hundreds of other moms and families in this city, too. Stroller Strides is a total fitness program that moms can do with their babies. It includes power-walking/running and intervals of strength and body-toning exercises using the stroller, resistance bands, and the environment. There were no other fitness programs in the city that allowed moms to work out with their children in tow, and I thought this was the perfect fit for my family. Taking a leap of faith, I purchased the franchise and have never looked back. Stroller Strides has been a turning point in my life, hands down. I have met amazing moms, created new friendships, motivated moms of all stages of motherhood to exercise and be fit, and hopefully am a role model to all kinds of kids and moms who come to class every day.

What “policy” would you institute to make Philadelphia a healthier city?

Like any city, there are plenty of ways to improve the general health of a community. A policy I would like to see instituted in Philadelphia would be for more education to postpartum moms about the importance of fitness post-birth. With the increasing number of young families being raised in the city, this is an appropriate audience to be educated about healthy lifestyles. After the miracle of birth, mothers have so much to face. Your world is turned upside down in a thousand different directions all at once. Exercise has many benefits for a postpartum mother. It breeds positive well-being, increases mental and physical health, fosters sleep, hinders depression and helps with other challenges a new mother may be going through. If new moms can be taught to take time for themselves to do appropriate physical activities every day, even as simple as a 30 minute walk, it can make a real difference. Setting realistic goals for fitness postpartum is key to the process, too. A woman’s body goes through different degrees of transformation, some unexpected, and needs time to heal properly. But, if moms can set small goals for themselves and see the value in fitness, it can be empowering. Teaching moms to have the strength for motherhood will allow them to raise healthy families and children. My goal with Stroller Strides is to create a partnership with local healthcare institutions to educate new moms about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

What’s the most important part of your health or fitness regimen?

There are several important pieces that make the entire puzzle. Since I stay at home with my daughter, one of the most important pieces is that she comes with me to Stroller Strides class. I get the added benefit of her being with me, and as she grows older she will learn and see the value behind health and fitness. Another important aspect is the support that the Stroller Strides family instills in every one of its members, owners and participants. Additionally, Stroller Strides works for all levels of exercisers, from a mom that is six weeks postpartum to a marathon runners. The workout itself can be modified for varying levels of intensity. Stroller Strides isn’t about how many pounds you lose; it’s about being strong and fit for motherhood. My daughter, as well as the moms I teach, are critical to my success; they push me to be stronger and better. These moms don’t only provide me support in fitness but in my overall mental health in motherhood. I’m inspired every day by what this program brings to the new mothers I meet and teach.

What is your No. 1 piece of health0-related advice or encouragement?

Believe in yourself and stick with it. Set realistic goals for yourself and take baby steps with any routine. We all have good days and bad, so just keep empowering yourself to be stronger every day. The longer you stick with something, the easier it becomes a habit in your life. Having a healthy habit in your life with impact all those around you, particularly your family and loved ones.

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