A mother puts her own spin on fitness.


Fit4Mom founder Lisa Druxman

Lisa Druxman was a new mom when she had one of those aha! moments. All moms are looking to get back into shape after having a baby, she realized. And they were also looking to connect with other new moms. “I decided to blend my passion for fitness with motherhood,” she told Project Otter.

In 2001, she created a class called Stroller Strides. It’s a stroller-based fitness program. Yes, you read that right. Led by an instructor, moms get a total body workout that involves pushing their baby in a stroller, strength training, toning, and songs. “It’s a great way for them to meet other new moms and have fun with their baby,” Druxman says.

Stroller Strides was just the beginning of an ever expanding mompreneurial empire. Druxman is the owner and chief founding mother of Fit4Mom, an umbrella brand that offers all kinds of fitness programs for moms, including Fit4Baby for pregnant women and Body Back, a high intensity interval workout for moms of any age. With some 60,000 moms in her database, 288 franchisees, and over 1,300 class locations in 43 states, it’s clear Druxman is on to something big. The company website touts Fit4Mom as the largest fitness program for moms at every stage of motherhood.

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Classes like Stroller Strides address a number of challenges. Most healthclubs don’t let moms bring a baby in until the child is at least 6 months old. Many don’t offer good childcare. And Druxman says she’s passionate about helping the next generation of kids, which is not getting enough exercise. They’ve been the first generation to be told that their life expectancy could be less than their parents’. “I believe moms’ being health role models is critical,” says Druxman.

The Stroller Strides classes are unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, Druxman says. Women do pushups at tables and tricep dips at benches, but they also do lunges with the stroller and sing nursery rhymes to their babies during squats.

moms at a Stroller Strides class

New moms get in shape at a Stroller Strides class.

Right before becoming a mom, Druxman was general manager at a multimillion-dollar health club. She had worked in every position in the fitness industry, from group exercise instructor, personal trainer, to fitness management. While she didn’t appreciate it at the time, as a general manager, she was forced to wear many hats, overseeing everything from financials to marketing. “Now I’m so grateful or that,” she says. “It taught me how to run my own business.”

Looking back, she says, what she’s doing now is not what she expected to do with her M.A. in psychology with a focus in exercise adherence and behavior modification for weight control. But her goal for moms seems to draw directly from her educational background. Fit4Mom programs really fit your lifestyle, she says. “It’s not just about biceps and triceps,” she adds. There’s a social component as well. The moms can network and share advice and camaraderie both in person and on social media.

In the first year of Stroller Strides, her business grew so fast, she added 12 locations in San Diego.   She started getting requests from all over the country. Figuring out how to replicate the business was definitely a challenge, she says. Ultimately, she decided to franchise the business, because it would be the easiest way to give other moms the opportunity to offer the classes.

Know your “why”

When people turn to her for advice on starting a business, she says, “You’ve got to know your ‘why’.” Her “why” was that she wanted a business that supported motherhood. So she has built her work so that she can be a mom first and foremost the entire time. When we spoke, she had already left her office at 3:00 and was driving to pick her daughter up from school. Most of her business advice is aimed at mom entrepreneurs. Moms need to know how the business will fit into their lives. Do they have a plan? Will they be able to run the business on the fringe hours of the day?

“When asked how entrepreneurs are different from non-entrepreneurs, Druxman said, “Everybody has ideas, but the entrepreneur actually goes for it.”

That said, some people want to run a business, but don’t necessarily want to go entrepreneurial, blazing a trail with a new idea and absorbing all the risk involved in testing it. For them, says Druxman, a franchise might be a good fit. The business model has already been developed and tested. Her franchisees are moms who manage the business on a handful of hours, perhaps while their kids are napping or before or after they’ve gone to bed. As their kids grow up, they have more time to invest in the business. They then begin to grow their business to a whole new level, adding more classes.

Most recently in September 2013, Druxman finished her first season of videos for momonamissiontv.com. The show followed two moms who underwent a total life transformation, including changes in fitness and how they clean their homes.

Even 12 years in, Druxman still radiates excitement about her ever expanding entrepreneurial venture. Says she: “To go after your dream is pretty cool.”