In 2013, a group of military spouses on Fort Belvoir, Virginia, formed a running club tailor-made for parents. It has been growing in membership ever since.
The unique organization, Stroller Warriors Fort Belvoir, is part of the global Stroller Warriors network founded by Stephanie Geraghty, who won Military Spouse Magazine's 2012 Marine Corps Spouse of the Year award for her efforts in creating the program. The organization aims to provide a setting where military families can engage in physical exercise and enjoy outdoor activity.
"I established our first chapter at Camp Lejeune, N.C., in January 2010. Since then, we've grown by the hundreds and have initiated new chapters worldwide," Geraghty said. "We host workouts at playgrounds and run on asphalt trails, which allow us to get in a safe workout. This also makes it possible for older children to ride their bikes.
"Afterwards, the kids enjoy a play group at the park while we finish our workout. Standard meeting times are weekday mornings, and our running workouts are usually around 40 minutes, followed by some core circuit training and abs workouts, and play time. All workouts and events are organized and communicated through our Facebook pages."
Fort Belvoir's group was originally formed in March 2013 by Stacy Champe after an internet search for running groups led her to Stroller Warriors, said Amber Pannell, Stroller Warriors Fort Belvoir coordinator.
"We are one of 18 chapters globally, and to date, we have approximately 300 members," Pannell said. "Our overall aim is to provide a free running club for military spouses and their family members in the Fort Belvoir area. Our mission is to help military families around the world live happier, healthier lives through fitness, friendship, leadership, goal-setting, networking, fundraising and community service."
Pannell said an important aspect of the Stroller Warriors program is the strong sense of community and camaraderie that develops among its members and the encouragement the organization provides to reach personal goals.
"Not only does the support come in the form of running goals, but also in friendships and relationships outside of the regular workouts," Pannell said. "We are also here to support each other during deployments, temporary duty, and separation.
"Many members bring their children with them for workouts, and then, afterwards, the children get some time to play. We accept all ability levels, from the first-time runners, just getting back into running, or the regular runner.
Geraghty explained some details about the club:
- Chapters are located only at military installations.
- They are led exclusively by active-duty military spouses.
- All members must have running goals, but the group does not require a certain running pace or standard.
- Workout plans are provided.
"[We] simply ask that you do your best," Geraghty said. "There is no need to be nervous. We promote a positive and comfortable environment for spouses of all ability levels to run together, beginner or marathoner. Children and strollers are not required."
Civilians are accepted as members on a case-by-case basis, Pannell said. The Fort Belvoir group meets on Mondays and Thursdays. Details regarding locations and times are posted on the group's Facebook page.
For more information, call 703-781-0668 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the internet:
- Stroller Warriors: http://www.strollerwarriors.com
- Stroller Warriors Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StrollerWarriors
- Stroller Warriors blog: http://strollerwarriors.blogspot.com/
- Stroller Warriors Fort Belvoir: https://www.facebook.com/groups/StrollerWarriorsFortBelvoir
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