Hi, my name is Tara McDonald and I’ve been Slam’n for over 3 years now in 3 different locations — Washington, DC, Savannah, GA, and (currently) Jacksonville, FL. In case you haven’t guessed, yep, I’m a military wife with 2 crazy toddlers, Bradley (3) and Ryan (2). Stroller Strong Moms became more than just a workout with other moms and babies. It’s become part of my life in ways I didn’t expect and here is how it began.

I met my husband, Christopher, while active duty in the US Coast Guard and got out of the service, so we can get married and start a family. Living in Washington, D.C., we were pregnant with Bradley and tried to prepare in the best way we could like any other first time parents. We took free baby classes, infant CPR, and a lamaze course. I’ve been physically active my whole life and told Christopher that once Bradley was born, maybe I would take a walk in the neighborhood with the stroller to get out of the house to become active. That’s when he told me about this stroller group who comes together with their babies to workout. He happened to be stationed in the same unit as Kelli Berger’s (DC Owner) husband. I was excited to have a plan in place, so after my 6 week postpartum check-up, I attended my first class!

I’ll never forget my first class! It was a small group at the time and everyone was soooo friendly. Something I wasn’t used to, growing up in New York City. It was very unexpected. Everyone had smiles on their faces and were so helpful. The workout wasn’t what I expected either. I thought it was going to be a light workout with the baby, but it was the opposite. Everyone had their game face on when the workout began. They ran fast, pushed themselves hard, and cheered everyone else on. They encouraged me to run faster and really break a sweat!

After a few weeks, I made some friends and we’d vent or give each other advice with the babies. After class, our babies played tummy time or took a nap. We’d walk to Starbucks with our strollers to enjoy a yummy treat! I loved it when we had playgroups every week after class because I didn’t know any nursery rhymes or baby songs. I got to learn them and sing to Bradley all the time at home. We also did arts and crafts and exchanged treats for Valentine’s Day! I didn’t think we’d be doing any of these things until Bradley was in school.

I’ve met amazing women I wanted to be around all the time. I started going to class even when I wasn’t in the mood because I knew one of my friends would be there. I signed up for my FIRST 5k because my friends were doing it! I was very scared and shocked to even BE at 5K, but now I love them! I even did the Fitness Challenge because everyone else in the class was doing it. As a result, I learned to eat healthier (don’t get me wrong, I love dessert and the nutrition videos are a great tool), lost some weight, and was pregnant with baby #2!

The military life can be hard because you meet great people, and then you have to move and start over. Stroller Strong Moms has helped me and my family belong to a community so that I don’t have to start from scratch. Each time we move, I look for the nearest SLAM. If I can get there, I’ll drive to it; and if not, I’ll wait for a VIRTUAL SLAM to start or end up with a different stroller group (even though it’s not the same). At each location, everyone has welcomed me and accepted me just like a sorority sister (or SLAM Sister).

Right now, Bradley’s in school and Ryan comes with me to SLAM! It’s great setting examples for them by showing them exercising can be fun! That’s one of the things that keeps me coming back! It’s the whole package SLAM has to offer, and I love every bit of it!