Raising three kids is hard enough, so raising them with a deployed husband is even that more challenging.
But Hannah Conser, 26, has never been one to back off from challenges, so she started a local chapter of Stroller Strong Moms, a national program that brings mothers together to work out, socialize and support each other.
“It’s really nice because we have moms come who are athletes, but we also have moms who have maybe never worked out in their lives,” Conser said. “We get them exposure to these hard things, and we help them realize that just because they’re mothers now doesn’t mean what’s important has to stop. We don’t have to sacrifice our fitness journeys or give up our happiness when we become moms. We can still train, we can still race, and we can also be great moms at the same time.”
As part of the program, Conser leads the mothers through various exercises all around City Park each morning, jogging in a caravan of strollers. Throughout the workouts, Conser gets the mothers’ attention with a “Hey, mamas!” and encourages them to work through the dripping July heat, interspersing minutes of workout with minutes of breaks so that the mothers can check on their children in strollers.
Ingrid Tripple, a military mother who just arrived to Fort Riley earlier this month but has known Conser since they met in Alaska a few years ago, said Conser has been an exemplary friend and workout instructor.
“Hannah always does an amazing job of pushing all of us to our limits,” Tripple said. “She has so much knowledge about fitness and health.”
Conser, a lifelong athlete, first joined the program when her husband was stationed in Alaska.
“When I became a mom, I lost my groove, I didn’t like running by myself, and I just wasn’t motivated,” Conser said. “This group really challenged me, and I even participated in Run Across Georgia (a 260-mile relay race across the state) with my husband. I know I never would have trained for that without this group.”
When they relocated to Fort Benning in Georgia, she was asked to become an instructor, and when her family moved to Fort Riley in April, she knew she had to start a chapter here.
“I got involved with Stroller Strong Moms when my oldest son was just a few months old, so he’s known nothing different,” Conser said. “When we moved here and I brought them to this park, I was thinking about opening Stroller Strong Moms here, and my son asked me, ‘Is this where Stroller Strong Moms is going to be?’ That’s when I knew.”
Across the nation, Stroller Strong Moms has become a household name in military households, Conser said.
“We’ve had a lot of moms from the Army community, but there are also a lot of moms who have lived here in Manhattan their whole life,” Conser said. “One mom told me that Manhattan has needed this their whole life, and they’re so glad it’s finally here. It’s affirming for me to know that this is where I’m supposed to be and this is what I’m supposed to be doing, serving the Manhattan community.”
She hopes to work with the Stroller Strong Moms group at Fort Leavenworth, she said, and get groups of mothers to train to compete in local races. Beyond the workouts and training, the group will also host special activities for the mothers and their kids to socialize.
“This group not only has a strong impact on me, but on other moms and on their kids,” Conser said. “Kids are great imitators, so we might as well give them something great to imitate. My kids ask to play Strong Moms at home, and they love it. They start doing burpees and doing races on their own.”
Conser said she encourages all mothers, regardless of previous athletic experience, to try the group out.
“Motherhood can be very lonely, so I encourage moms to come and give us a try because more than anything, we support each other through our workout goals, our motherhood goals and our life goals,” Conser said.
“As human beings, we were created for community, and we aren’t meant to walk through life alone. This is an important community for mothers to be supported for who they are as mothers and realize that being a mother doesn’t have to stop you from accomplishing your goals.”