Driving her son to basketball practice and her daughter to dance class, Barbara Petrasovits spends each week surrounded by athletics. However, watching her children from the sideline failed to burn any of her own calories.
After working 9-5 at a doctor’s office, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, checking homework, and chauffeuring her kids, Petrasovits didn’t have time to care about her health.
She’s a mother.
“My son would be running at the track with his fitness friends and one day I suggested they have a class for moms,” Petrasovits said.
Pat Bryan, Men’s Physique professional and certified personal trainer, and Brenden Ostazewski, American College of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer, decided Petrasovits’ idea would be an easy way to profit off their hobby, and more importantly, give back to their community.
On a Sunday night last July, ten moms gathered at the Calvary Athletic Association’s track in Northeast Philadelphia for the debut of Warrior Training—an hour of cardio and endurance-based exercise.
“Most of the women were Brenden’s relatives,” Petrasovits said. “I was sore from my neck to my toes for an entire week. But I’m proud to say I’m the last one still going of the original group.”
Attendance quickly grew due to word-of-mouth in the parish. An average of 30 people showed up to each workout, with children and even a couple dads occasionally paying the $5 participation fee. The trainers met their clients’ demand for extra sessions by adding Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings to the schedule.
Brenden’s mother, Virginia Ostazewski, doubted the initial workout would lead to its current enrollment of more than 80 members.
“Mothers put themselves last because they’re taking care of their kids,” Ostazewski said. “I was worried about the turnout, especially during the school year. But the mothers kept coming. With releasing all of that energy, they felt better about themselves and even became better parents.”
Although Warrior Training’s participants were enjoying the entrepreneurial effort, some parishioners took umbrage with the extra bodies crowding the public track.
“People walking on the track didn’t think we should be there,” Petrasovits said. “Well, I didn’t think they should be there. I have just as much right to be there doing my mountain climbers and burpees as they do walking.”
Multiple complaints reached the Calvary Athletic Association’s board of directors, which then required a city permit from the program’s founding duo in order to continue using the track.
The board declined to comment for this story, but Petrasovits says they got the permit and within a week resumed working out.
“Brenden and Pat are behind us every step of the way,” Petrasovits said. “I could only power walk before, but now I give it a trot. I’ll still be 100 meters away, and they’re like yeah, you’re almost there, Barb!”
Never a sports fan, Ostazewski originally went to the sessions solely to support her son. And even though she has since reduced her attendance to sporadic appearances, she recommends Warrior Training to not just mothers, but everyone who struggles with motivation.
“You feel like you’re a part of something,” Ostazewski said. “You’re not working out with Olympic trainers; everybody is just like you. They’re very mild in the way they teach. They’re not like those overpowering instructors you hear horror stories about.”
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Petrasovits has lost ten pounds since that first summer night, which has prompted co-workers and friends to compliment her progress.
She says her family doesn’t share the same sentiment.
“My family is totally unsupportive,” Petrasovits said. “Not one word of encouragement. My son pinches my fat and touches my chin. But that’s just fine because my Warrior Training family is the only support group I need.”
Her godson, Daniel Carrigan, noticed Petrasovits’ success and wanted to experience it for himself.
“We ran up hills and did a few laps around the track, just a bunch of different drills,” Carrigan said. “It really put me in shape for basketball season. I couldn’t keep going because of school, but I’m definitely returning in the summer.”
The frequent snowstorms prevented consistent workouts over the winter, but now the warm weather has inspired members to dust off their old sneakers.
“They call it warrior training, but I’m going to be a cougar,” Petrasovits said. “It’s just amazing, I never thought I would be running. I do things I never thought I could.”