Thursday mornings at the Way 2 Dance no longer look like the typical dance class and they certainly don't look like your typical Mommy and Me group.
Thanks to the social media seed planted by founders Julie Padilla and Christine Orlosky— a Facebook group called Tampa East Active Mommies (TEAM) — local moms of all backgrounds and ages have a chance to spend time together in a baby-wearing dance class with their children.
"There aren't a lot of activities like this is our area and I think the closest class like this is in Lutz or St. Pete," Padilla said. "But it's important for a lot of people because they'll be reminded that they are a mom, yes, but they can also be other things. You can be a dancer and you can be healthy and you can still be a good mom."
Among many motherhood communities on Facebook that promote doing activities outside the home, Orlosky and Padilla are most proud that theirs allows and encourages moms to bring their kids with them.
"The camaraderie is so important as a mom no matter what age your child is," Orlosky said. "My child is nine and I don't think that should prevent me and moms of younger kids from getting together, and that's why we started this group. We wanted to be all inclusive for our community, so if you're a mom and you want to be active we want to be that community that you can turn to."
After less than a month of existence, the group has 219 members and has hosted a variety of activities from park play dates to aquarium visits, and now the "Joey Mum's Beginner Dance Class."
Padilla and Olosky spread the word among local mom groups to see if there was any interest in a baby-wearing dance class, and the response was overwhelming.
The inaugural class was held earlier this month, with a small but faithful group of five moms and babies who were committed to helping spread the word.
The class now has more than 20 registered members.
When Padillia and Orlosky approached studio owner and dance instructor Tatyana Frost about the class, she was excited to bring this opportunity to local mothers.
"I believe you teach your children by your own example," Frost said. "So if you're doing something that's very healthy, even though they are still small, they are very likely to be healthy and be involved in fitness."
The class allows hands-free movement for moms who "wear" their babies or toddlers in a secure soft-structured carrier or wrap. Dance moves are then modified to ensure the safety of moms and babies while providing a workout.
"There is no style of dance set in stone that we do," Frost said. "We will take from all styles to work on posture and balance, while staying at a beginner level."
To ensure that she is teaching to her audience, Frost straps a plush stuffed tiger to herself with a backpack.
"They're doing something useful for their own bodies," Frost said. "And both them and their children will benefit from that."
Contact Kelsey Sunderland at firstname.lastname@example.org.