Stroller Strong Moms SLAMer of the Month – Julia Larsen

My name is Julia Larsen and I have been SLAMing since February of 2017. I am a military spouse with two, (soon to be three) kids and have lived in Monterey since November of 2016.  I have to be honest when I say I never intended to join a “stroller” workout group. I had every excuse in the book: it won’t be a very good workout, my kids won’t sit in the stroller, and who really needs a mom groups anyways. I had been dragging my feet on attending a class, but my friend Kristin Khan who had been a member for years convinced me it would be well worth my time. I agreed to go to a workout and have been a member ever since. I loved it. I was sweaty and tired, sore in places I didn’t know were possible, and welcomed by Alexa and other members with open arms.

Since that day, SLAM has been such a big part of our life in Monterey. This tribe of women has become not only a huge motivation in my fitness journey, but has also been my biggest support system.  When my husband had to travel overseas for 6 months this group of mamas stepped in without question. These are the women who offer to take your kids when you are sick, check in with you daily to ask if you’re doing okay, bring you dinner when they know you need a break, will sit on your couch after the kids go to bed because they know you need some company, drop off wine and chocolate when you have a bad day, and give the best listening ears and bear hugs when you need it the most. These are my people: a group of women, brought together by fitness, but bonded through the amazing and supportive community that has been developed. Alexa has truly fostered a climate where every mama is as accepted and embraced as she is.

Since joining SLAM I have been in the best shape of my life, something I wasn’t expecting after having two kids. Shortly after joining, I started training for a half marathon. I was able to set a PR, dropping almost 6 minutes, and knew it was because of how much stronger I was getting through SLAM. Something had been lit inside of me and I wanted to keep challenging myself so I signed up and trained for my first full marathon. I was cross training at SLAM 3 days a week and started attending weekly track workouts.  It paid off when I completely surpassed my goal of just wanting to finish the race and instead completed the marathon in under 4 hours. I always had a passion for running, but now I was seeing huge results and my hard work was paying off.  Some of the SLAM mamas were signing up for a local half marathon and RAGNAR race and I couldn’t wait to start training with them. I started running with a new SLAM friend who, little did I know, would become my forever BRF (best running friend). This amazing and supportive friend was the one who got me out the door on cold mornings, kept me distracted while running mile after mile, and ran step for step with me in the race, setting another huge PR for both of us. 13 miles of sweat, hard-work and friendship had gotten me to the finish line faster than I ever had before. I loved running these races with friends and found it so much more enjoyable and motivating than running solo. This year I trained for RAGNAR with my SLAM sisters who motivated me to get up early on weekends to climb hills and trudge trails with the reward of amazing views and conversation along the way. This was my first relay race and I loved the whole experience which was full of nothing but support, camaraderie, and laughter.

I am nearing the end of my third pregnancy and SLAM has remained a consistent part of my daily fitness routine. I had never worked out with my other two pregnancies and wasn’t sure how I would feel but I am currently 38 weeks pregnant and still going to class 3-4 times each week. I may have to modify my workouts now, but I feel fortunate enough to have had such a strong and healthy pregnancy and to be led by a group of instructors who are trained in modifying exercises for pregnant and postpartum moms. I have truly enjoyed working out with other women who are also pregnant and to be surrounded by those who understand and relate to the challenges and changes your body endures during pregnancy.

As our family gets ready to leave Monterey, I have such sadness thinking about saying goodbye to this amazing tribe of women. After all, this group has embraced my whole family. My kids have made countless friends and are always asking if we are going to class, my husband has found friends who have become surfing buddies and workout partners, and I have made lifelong friends that will remain in my life long after we leave California. This SLAM community has pushed me to be the best version of myself, even after having two kids and being 9 months pregnant. As a military spouse, nothing is harder than having to say goodbye to your friends who have become like family.  They have been the support system I needed while being so far away from home. I am forever grateful I was “dragged” to my first class because it has truly changed me forever and I can only pray I find a community like this again.