VICENZA, Italy – Five days a week, rain or shine, the Sweat Like a Mother (SLAM) Vicenza fitness group can be spotted on Caserma Ederle or Del Din for an hour of fitness and fun. With music blaring and children in tow, members can be seen sprinting with strollers, squatting with toddlers and cheering one another on. While the workouts are rigorous and range from interval training to heavy lifting, SLAM strives to be more than an hour-long gym session — it offers a sense of community.
"The whole time I have been an Army wife, I have never experienced a sense of community like I have with SLAM," said Steffi Nolan, owner of SLAM Vicenza and lead instructor.
Nolan joined the Fort Leavenworth chapter of SLAM in 2017 after having newborn twins. After experiencing the child-friendly environment, she opened locations in Fort Drum and Vicenza, Italy, in March 2021.
While the group lives up to its name, SLAM also focuses on building a network of friendships. In addition to five workouts a week and various fitness challenges, SLAM offers its members a sense of family while far from home. Mom's Night Out events add fun to the calendar while the SLAM Sunshine team helps struggling members find support.
"We have something called 'pods' where we take care of people who live near us as far as things like meal trains, helping with a flat tire, childcare. All of these different things, you name it, we take care of it," said SLAM instructor Lauren Conwell.
In addition to helping one another, SLAM Vicenza is known for its outreach to the broader U.S. Army Garrison Italy community. The group has also co-sponsored annual events like the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, Oktoberfest, and the Angel Tree Program, which assists military families experiencing financial difficulties during the holidays.
SLAM was founded in 2011 by Alexa Smith in Columbus, Georgia. Since it's launching 12 years ago, SLAM has expanded to 45 locations worldwide.
"Fitness for me is important but sometimes what I really need is friendship — to laugh with my friends," said Allie Scott, a SLAM Sunshine Team member. "That's the best part of coming to SLAM for me."