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May 18, 2015 5:09 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Cracco Helps Moms Find The Right Fit

Fit4Mom classes allow moms to bring their children to workouts. DIANA LEE
May 19, 2015 10:29 AM

To call Brooke Cracco energetic and passionate is somewhat of an understatement. The 38-year-old mom of twin boys, William and Dean, 2½, never seems to stop moving, chatting, laughing, smiling, and shouting words of encouragement—typically in rapid succession—while holding court in the center of a large circle of moms and strollers, parked at the edge of the playground at Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor. On a recent sunny and warm Wednesday morning, Cracco smiled and laughed, doing jumping jacks, while asking the roughly 15 women surrounding her to take turns answering her warm-up question of the day—what is your pet peeve?

The answers varied, but stuck to similar topics—annoying habits of small children and spouses were popular responses—and there was plenty of laughter and nods of agreement to go around as the group ran in place, high-stepped, and air-punched its way through the warm-up phase of an hour-long workout created specifically for moms.

In December 2013, Cracco, a Northport resident and East Hampton High School graduate, and a Sagaponack native, purchased the Westhampton to Montauk franchise of Fit4Mom (now called Hamptons Fit4Mom), and she runs the Stroller Strides class, a one-hour, full-body workout class geared specifically for moms who bring their children and babies to the class. Cracco teaches the class on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings in Sag Harbor at 10 a.m., and classes are also offered on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings, with Tuesday and Friday classes at the Southampton Hospital Wellness Institute in Hampton Bays and on Thursdays at the North Sea Firemen’s Field in Southampton.

As the class progresses, laughter mostly gives way to huffing and puffing, because this class is not easy. Sprints, planks, squats and lunges, tricep and bicep-burning exercises, and stroller-toting bursts of cardio are all included in a typical session. Of course, interruptions are par for the course, as older children make escapes from their strollers and make a break for the swings or slide, while moms of younger children stop to change diapers or nurse their babies. Cracco takes it all in stride, clapping her hands, shouting encouragement, and keeping the group on task while often chasing down a child herself or providing entertainment—bubbles, puppets, whatever works—to any unhappy attendees. The chaos doesn’t disrupt her; rather, it seems to energize her.

For Cracco and the rest of the moms in the group, the fitness element is only the tip of the iceberg. They agree that the mental stimulation is just as important—perhaps more so—than the calorie burn. Cracco’s energy and enthusiasm spreads beyond the workout, as she organizes moms’ nights out and after-class play dates and arts and crafts projects. On May 9, Cracco and group of Stroller Strides moms competed in the Mudderella Mud Run in New Jersey, a 5-mile obstacle course through the mud.

The total package of a challenging workout plus the motherhood camaraderie is what makes the class appealing to local moms.

“Not only does it provide me with a challenging and fun workout, but more importantly, it gives me a network of support, encouragement and genuine friendship,” said Hayley Gregor of Bridgehampton.

“As a new mom, I found this group to be warm, welcoming and great comic relief,” said Kelly DeSesa of Sag Harbor. “I’m so fortunate to have found this group.”

Ruth Blashock of Southampton agreed. “I came to my first class thinking that it was going to be a piece of cake, but these moms are not messing around,” she said. “Every one of them is an inspiration to come to class each day and push yourself further than the day before.”

Cracco said she cannot understate what Fit4Mom and the Hamptons Stroller Strides class have come to mean for her personally. Before having children, Cracco lived and worked in Manhattan for 10 years as an IT consultant for Madison Square Garden and Time Warner Cable, where she met her husband, Bill. When their boys were 6 months old, they moved to Northport, and Cracco said the transition was challenging.

“I found myself in a new area with a new life and in dire need to get out of the house and into something that would bring my mommy body and brain back to life,” she said.

During a walk one day along the boardwalk at Sunken Meadow, she saw a group of moms with their strollers being led through a Stroller Strides workout. She was at the class the next day.

“I loved the dynamic of a challenging workout, tummy tickles with my kiddos and actual adult mommy interaction,” Cracco said. “It was such a warm and welcoming feeling that we were all there for the same reasons.”

By September, she was a nationally certified Stroller Strides instructor teaching classes in Kings Park. At the advice of her father-in-law, Cracco purchased the Hamptons franchise shortly thereafter.

“I began thinking how great it would be to bring this amazing program back out to my East End roots,” Cracco said. “I knew there was nothing like this in my hometown.”

Now, Cracco refers to the women who come to her class as “family,” and says the mutual support the moms provide for one another is the most rewarding part of the experience.

“Being a new mom, you have no idea what it really means and takes to raise children,” she said. “I know how challenging and emotionally and psychically draining it can be. Finding a group of moms who are in exactly the same position as me, was so life-changing and comforting to me. It really is a village of amazing moms, that I am so blessed to be a part of.”

The author, Press Sports Editor Cailin Riley, is enrolled in the class. For more information on Hamptons Fit4Mom, visit www.hamptons.fit4mom.com.

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