Empowering a Village of Mamas Through FIT4MOM
Almost 4 years ago my family moved to Ohio from Boston for my husband’s job. Our oldest son was one year old at the time, and I had only one friend in the area. We had made the decision that I would take some time off from working as a pediatric physical therapist, so I was also new to being a stay-at-home mom. While I cherished the time spent at home with my boy, I felt very isolated and craved social interaction with other adults. I would talk my husband’s ear off when he got home as my only conversations throughout the day were with my 1 year old (who was not the best listener). I also found it difficult to fill our day with activities and keep him entertained. Through a twist of fate, I was at a park one day with my son when I was approached by previous owner, Kara, about joining FIT4MOM Hudson, Twinsburg & Solon. While I wasn’t sure what to expect, I thought I would try it out. The first class is free, so why not?
I will always remember my first Stroller Strides class. It was on Halloween and I was so nervous walking in. I didn’t know anyone, and I had no clue how my son would act during the class. To my surprise, all of the moms were super welcoming and my son made it through the class without losing his mind (lots of snacks...that is the secret). I also found everything I didn’t know I needed – good exercise that left me feeling sore but refreshed, social interaction with other mamas, play time for my son, and an activity that took up most of our mornings every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Oh and did you know these moms do monthly Mom’s Night Outs – without kids? Count me in! I was hooked!
After about 4 months, the owner of FIT4MOM Hudson, Twinsburg & Solon announced that she was selling the business. Without a second thought, I messaged her that I was interested. I was 8 months pregnant with my second child, had no experience as a fitness instructor or business owner, and had no idea how I would make it work, but somehow I could not let this opportunity go. My husband and I took a leap of faith and it has given my family and I more than I could have ever imagined.
When I became owner of FIT4MOM Hudson, Twinsburg & Solon, I can honestly say that I thought it would just be a nice way for me to get some exercise and bring in some extra income for my family. On the surface, FIT4MOM provides fitness classes for moms of all ages and stages. Yes, that is true. Our instructors are trained in pre-natal and post-natal fitness and our classes are geared specifically to moms. What I quickly learned, however, is that all of FIT4MOM’s programs have an unanticipated outcome that is perhaps more valuable than the classes themselves.
Our Stroller Strides program provides moms a venue to exercise without needing child care and also gives them and their kids opportunity for social connection and interaction. The bonus is the mom to child connection that is created as the children watch their mothers put their health as a priority through exercise. I have witnessed countless children imitate their mothers performing squats, planks or push-ups. What better way to be a role model for your children than to show them how to stay strong and healthy?
Our Run Club+ program helps moms train for a race, whether they have never run a 5K before or have never run farther than a 5K or 10K. With the help of our Run Club+ coach and community of mamas, these women set a goal, make a plan and stick to it until they cross that finish line. And doing so provides them with a huge sense of accomplishment and self- confidence that they can carry into other aspects of their life.
Our Body Well program focuses on improving mom’s physical and mental well-being through fitness classes, nutritional guidance, and weekly challenges. It is not your typical weight-loss program, however. Do moms lose weight? Yes, that is often the outcome. But the more important effect of Body Well is that it teaches our moms the importance of self-care and how to get back to (or start) a wellness routine. And by taking care of herself, she is better able to take care of her family.
There are a lot of instances on social media or television where women are judging each other or moms are being shamed for how they choose to raise their children. I can honestly say that I have never felt or witnessed any type of judgment in our Village of mamas. I have been inspired by every woman in this group, and these moms are there for each other no matter what. There is no judging, there is no shaming, there is no comparing. There is just support, love, and compassion. I have listened to women be honest about their mental health instead of painting a perfect picture of motherhood, and I have seen other women let them know that they are not alone. I have watched women cheer each other on and lift each other up when they are down. Being a mom is an extremely difficult job, one that you can never fully prepare for, and having a supportive village of other moms around is essential in that journey.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it work. But we adapted quickly by transitioning to a virtual platform for all of our classes and events, and our moms kept showing up. We leaned on each other during the most difficult of times, and my FIT4MOM Village is one of the main things that kept me going over the past year when I really just wanted to give up. It wasn’t easy though, and I grappled with a sense of guilt and responsibility to reach out to and help each mom who was struggling with their mental health. Then one day, one of our moms posted in our Village Facebook group that she was having a hard time, and I watched as one comment after another came in with incredible messages of support, love and encouragement. And then it hit me – it is not on me to be the sole pillar of support for each of these women. My role is to create and preserve this group of moms, teach them how to take care of their physical and mental health, and provide them a place where they can express their true feelings, thoughts, and fears - and in return they get nothing but unconditional love. That will always be my greatest accomplishment from my time as owner of FIT4MOM Hudson, Twinsburg & Solon.
FIT4MOM is the nation’s leading prenatal and postnatal fitness program, providing fitness classes and a network of moms to support every stage of motherhood. From pregnancy, through postpartum and beyond, our fitness and wellness programs help make moms strong in body, mind, and spirit.
To find a location near you, please visit fit4mom.com