When I was pregnant with my first son, I saw a First 5 Sacramento flyer at our local mall. The flyer encouraged groups targeting children 0-5, to apply for small grants up to $5k. The First 5 Commission receives funds in accordance to Prop 10, which mandated a .50 tax on tobacco products to be used to fund early childhood development programs. Since I was a writer and was already familiar with grant writing via my nonprofit, I decided to start a fitness group that will focus on fit mothers and fit children.
I didn’t have any friends who were mothers (except one) and I knew becoming fit after pregnancy was going to be a challenging experience. Starting a meetup at the park allowed me to stay with my child, while networking with local parents and engaging in fitness activity as a family.
I worked with a great First 5 coordinator named Linda, and was approved for a grant in November to begin the group in January 2009. We utilized the funds to purchase some equipment, snacks, marketing supplies and parties/events. Me and my friend, Ana, strolled (literally) around our neighborhood, posting flyers on mailboxes and around community boards in the city.
At our first meetup only Ana and I were present. It was cold that day so it may have been a deterrent. Regardless, we started exercising and continued to meet at the same place, same time every Tuesday at 10am. Eventually our members started picking up. There were no fees (now we have a $10 annual for meetup.com dues), no obligation, no awkwardness….just moms wanting to meet other moms and get healthy again with their kids.
In the past few years the group has seen me become pregnant year after year. I have watched their children grow, attend preschool and join little leagues. I’ve seen mothers get motivated, become great friends, leave for work purposes, but rejoin during weekends and holiday events. Our children have become friends. They learned to count while we performed jumping jacks. They love to get on our backs while we plank or join as we perform walking lunges across the playground.
Now we meet Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. I only lead on Tuesdays. Moms like Jen, Araceli and Anita encouraged and led the other meetup dates. Other moms initiated meetups for biking, hiking or just a mommies’ night out. Many have become close friends.
I’m truly appreciative of the group that exists today.
We come from all walks of life. While we come from different backgrounds and have different goals, we all have the same desire: which is the fit for our kids and to be great role models and leaders in our family unit.
If you are interested in creating a mommy group in your area, you can absolutely do it! Here are my tips:
- Join meetup.com
We receive a lot of new members from this site. It can be costly ($140/year) but if you have a small annual membership it will pay for itself.
- Notify your local paper
We have been featured a couple times by our local paper and are always listed under “Calendar of Events”
- Print flyers
You can post your flyers on community boards or other areas that are allowable (mailboxes are off limits now). I also stood outside of preschools at one point and handed flyers out while the parents were walking out.
- Create a binder
Your binder will keep you organized with member’s contact info, payment, workout routines and additional info for events.
- Create a Facebook page
Meetup.com is great for new members but the Facebook page is great for socializing.
- Collect great workout ideas
We do a lot of lunges, squats, pushups, etc. There are a lot of ‘home’ routines that you can use without using any equipment. Especially when performing core exercises!
- Get Started
If you think you need a handful of people to create a group, you don’t need one! Take me as an example. I just started with me and one other girlfriend. Just keep showing up: week after week. Talk about it with friends. Talk about it with other moms who are at the park while you are exercising. Allow the group to grow through engagement, marketing and consistency.