Nonprofit puts exercise equipment for moms in children's parks

SEATTLE -- Lynnwood mom Sarah Gaul is trying to lose weight to improve her overall health, but raising three boys under 10 years old makes that difficult.

"Whenever I've got a few free minutes I've got a million other things to do," she says. "I know I need to be exercising more, but it's tough to balance my duties at home and keep myself healthy."

A local nonprofit is helping busy moms like Gaul find the time to work out by putting exercise equipment in public parks, and they're looking for community support as they expand to the Bitter Lake Reservoir in North Seattle.

Paige Green Dunn remembers what it felt like to be a new mom. She says she wanted to lose her "baby weight" but was too tired to go to the gym.

Dunn says working moms just want to be with their baby after coming home from work.

"For a working mom the last thing you want to do is take more time away from you kid to go to gym," Dunn says.

Dunn also noticed parents facing financial obstacles to exercising. Paying for a babysitter or joining a gym with childcare could become expensive quickly.

"We needed something for all moms to be able to get a workout for free while they're with their kids,' she says.

So Dunn partnered with Kelly Singer, another local mom and exercise coach, to create Momentum, a nonprofit organization designed to put exercise equipment for moms in children's parks.

"For better or worse moms put their own health secondary to our family's health" Singer says. "Just being able to integrate fitness into your daily routine is huge."

The group started by putting equipment in Les Gove Park in Auburn in 2010 and then did the same in Redmond's Marymoor Park in 2012.

The equipment is designed specifically for women and includes elliptical machines, "captain's chairs" for abdominals, exercise mats, push-up bars and hip plates.

Dunn says the equipment has been very popular in both parks.

"It's really exciting to see how everyone is loving it," she says.

Though Gaul hadn't been to any of the Momentum parks, she says the exercise equipment is a great idea.

"I can see it working well with older kids."

Watching mom exercise also has a positive effect on kids, Dunn says.

"Our core belief is healthy moms raise healthy families," she says. "Kids at the park see mom exercising and they want to do it to."

Now, Momentum is fundraising to put their equipment at the Bitter Lake Reservoir.

Already, the group has raised $20,000 of its $30,000 goal through partnerships with Seattle Parks Foundation, Seattle Parks & Recreation and The Trust for Public Land.

"Our goal is to get this in parks all over the world," Dunn says. "We really want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to exercise."

Donations can be made online at the organization's website.

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