• blog.jpg

Blog

Motivating Mom of the Month (2).png

"Talk about perseverance and tenacity. Lattany gives no less than 100% at each class. It’s been a pleasure getting to know her over the last few months. She makes motherhood look easy and fun. (I mean it is fun most of the time! ) Big shout out to Lattany for making 20+ classes in our summer challenge - way to go! Making time for self-care! You rock!" -Shannon, Franchise Owner

"Lattany and Michaela are an absolute blast to have in class! Lattany's dedication to making each and every class is incredible, and her ability to get in that hour of self care while keeping her daughter smiling is awesome!! Love that she is apart of our village!" -Kara, Fit4Mom Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My family consists of me (Lattany), my husband (Matt), daughter (Michaela, 1.5yo) and two golden retrievers (Liesel and Ellie). Both my husband and I are from right here in Northern VA!

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

Haha, my first Fit4Mom class was the Mother's Day 2022 event which was very cold and rainy! I was impressed that so many people turned out with their little ones despite the nasty weather. Honestly, that attitude and the fact that they still held the class in spite of the weather is a lot of what made me want to be a part of Fit4Mom! There are often reasons and excuses not to workout or do whatever else needs to be done, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it anyway. I want other moms in my life that have that same perspective.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

My favorite class format right now is Stroller Strides because Michaela is at the age where she loves learning the songs and the hand motions. She is always singing "if all the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops" and "Wheels on the Bus" and so many other songs she learned from Stroller Strides!

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

My background is in child psychology, specifically trauma, and I now work full-time for an education company. I work predominantly evening/night hours so that my husband and I can alternate childcare. I'm thankful to work for an international company that affords me the opportunity to work full time while also being with my daughter most of her waking hours! Who needs to sleep.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Coffee, podcasts, and running.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Clean my house and then go on a date with my husband! Probably to Alamo Drafthouse for a movie + dinner + drinks.

What has being a mom taught you?

Being a mom has made me realize how very fast time moves. Not only because I see how quickly my daughter is growing (and she is!), but because I see how fast she learns new things and how many new things she can pick up in even just one day. It makes me want to commit more of my energy to growing and getting better at things -- learning new words, skills, hobbies, learning about a new topic, etc.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

Oh gosh. I attended a gathering of some people I had worked and researched with during my academic career when Michaela was about 10 months old. It was the first time I had seen them since she was born and I was anxious to prove that I was balancing my career and motherhood just fine. I didn't have a babysitter, so I attended with Michaela in a baby carrier on my back and handed her animal crackers to munch on when she got fussy. Eventually, she was done with that, so I took off the carrier, held her while I finished visiting with everyone, then returned home. When my husband got home, he asked why the back of my black shirt was absolutely covered in smushed and smeared food, including three WHOLE animal crackers still stuck to the back of my shirt with slobber. I was mortified! So much for looking like I had it all together!

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

When I was pregnant, someone said to me, "Before I had kids, I thought parenting was about understanding and controlling their emotions. But I've learned that it's really about learning to control and understand my own emotions." I have thought back to that so many times. I often find that my 1.5 year old's emotions are understandable -- she's throwing a fit in the store because she didn't get a nap and she needed one and because she's 1! But it's MY emotion of frustration or embarrassment that I need to understand and control before I can be much help with hers.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

I love to brag on Fit4Mom! I tell everyone to come for the friendships, the workout is a bonus. :) I love running and the gym but especially post-pandemic, adult friendships seem more complicated than ever and throwing kids in the mix can make it feel impossible. Fit4Mom allows me to meet new people WHILE exercising WHILE doing something fun with my toddler. Multi-tasking at its finest!

August MOM.png

"Alison’s dedication to self-care is awe inspiring. She been to almost every program we offer - stroller or solo! (I think Run Club is still on the horizon). And I love it when we arrive to class wearing the same shoes same great taste! Alison, it has been an absolute pleasure getting to know you over the last few years. Thank you for your continued participation and eagerness to connect in our community." -Shannon Slayer, Fit4Mom Franchise Owner

"Alison is so positive and the ultimate mama- color coordinated and when her kids aren't with her in class she still turns out with the toy trucks & planes to share with others. Her grace in inspiring and I enjoy her uplifting energetic smile" -Genevieve, Fit4Mom Instructor

"Alison is ALWAYS so cheerful! It doesn't matter what else is going on - she has a smile on her face & a positive attitude I always look forward to seeing her at Stroller Strides because she helps me be in a better mood just by being around her!" -Jessica K., Playgroup Captain

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

It's me, my husband Ernesto, daughter Juliette (February 2013) and son Alessandro (July 2019). Ernesto and I are from Miami, Florida (Ernesto originally from Cuba) and we moved to Northern Virginia about 15 years ago.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first class was in September 2019 at Springfield Towne Center (STC) when Alessandro was just 5 or 6 weeks old! I was eager to get out of the house and exercise with my new baby. He did great and slept through the whole class!

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I still go to the same Stroller Strides / Stroller Barre class where it all started at STC! Other days I'll do a virtual or in-person Boost class at Lorton Station. If the weather cooperates, I also love the Strides class at Burke Lake Park! Finally, once in a while I'll pack up both kids and we'll go to the Saturday morning class at STC!

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

Up until last year I was doing web, marketing, and project management for an association in Old Town.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

My kids, crafting, going to the park on a beautiful day!

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Get a hair cut and color, take a nap, maybe go shopping. Can I do all that in 4 hours??!!

What has being a mom taught you?

Pick your battles!

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

I can think of a few! First one that comes to mind was when Juliette was maybe 11 months old. We had taken her shopping with us and were getting ready to leave. We took her out of the stroller and she had diarrhea all up and down her back! We carried her back in the store to change her and she was screaming at the top of her lungs. I was desperately trying to change her quickly and a very kind older lady came over and started jingling her keys to try to entertain and distract her! Turns out, Juliette had a HORRIBLE stomach bug and we got it too. It was probably the sickest she's ever been! We still talk about it to this day. There's also the time that I fell down stairs at her 3rd birthday party and cracked a bone in my toe! I was in a boot for 6 weeks.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Something my dad used to tell me - "Don't wish your life away". Meaning, enjoy and make the best of what you have and focus on today. Because time flys by too quickly!

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

I have done FIT4MOM in all stages - on maternity leave, while working, while not working, with 1 kid on tow, and with 2 kids in tow! There's something for everyone! I always have the On Demand library and virtual options to pick from if I can't make it to a class in person. I love that It's not about the numbers - moms come in all shapes and sizes, and you can move at your own pace and comfort level and still get a great workout that works for YOU! I also love the fact that Alessandro has been able to make friends, learn how to share (he and his buddy Benny are famous for their truck exchanges!) and learn his colors and some counting!

Motivating Mom of the Month.png

"JC is my spirit animal. She always brings light and laughter to classes. This fierce mama is a prime example of a hard-working woman. JC shows her children what self-care looks like. I admire her tenacity, even during hectic times."-Shannon Link,Fit4Mom Franchise Owner

"JC is a mom on fire! I love having her at my classes. She is always very energetic, empowering and gives a 100% during work outs. I am very happy she is part of our united in motherhood village" -Aneta Loftus, Fit4Mom Instructor

"JC is a ray of sunshine! She has the best smile that radiates joy and kindness. She motivates me in class by working hard and keeping it fun! She is super mom and is always prepared. For example, grabbing old towels from her van to wipe off the wet playground equipment. I’m so happy she’s joined our village!"

-Alicia Chiapusia, Fit4Mom Instructor

"JC brings energy and motivation every time she's at class. She's so friendly and kind! She's easy to talk with and has a warm and welcoming energy that puts everyone at ease. She always makes me smile!" -Laura Davis, Fit4Mom Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

I am originally from Buffalo, NY. I left for college in AZ, entered the Army and moved all over for eight years before landing here in VA. My mom, dad and sister still live in Buffalo, and my brother ended up here in VA.

My husband, Matt, recently retired from the Army. I have three older stepkiddos-Madeline-16, Gavin-14 and Delaney-12. Leo is my first bio-kid, and is almost 3.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

The thing I most remembered about my first Fit4Mom class is that I waited too long!! I first found Fit4Mom online, but then kept running into moms who were members and raved about it. That's what made me finally flip the switch. And now I feel like I have a community wherever I go.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I am a regular at Burke Lake. I love exercising outside-sun, rain, snow....and that's the Burke Lake crew. I am also hooked on S360! It's exactly what I need to push my routine a little bit further each week. It leaves me a hot, sweaty mess and sometimes that's exactly what I need to feel strong!

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

My current job is stay at home mom. I wish that was an option on forms, instead of employed or unemployed. It's the hardest job I've ever had-requiring more engagement, energy and creativity than I've ever had to use. I really struggled when I left the workforce with conflicting feelings around my personal worth, and now I fully embrace the phase I'm in as the right one for me and have found joy and satisfaction.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

I'm taking guitar lessons and I am in LOVE with it!

I love running, although it's been a while since I've done any long ones.

And coffee. I love coffee. A lot of coffee.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm........ALL OF IT!!!!

What has being a mom taught you?

SLOW DOWN!!! Patience. And to be gentle to myself. I mean, if Leo dumps milk all over, I tell him it's ok to make a mistake and I tell the older kiddos making mistakes is part of growth and learning. But then if I make one, I beat myself up?? I'm learning to see myself the way I see them-imperfect and amazing.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

Jeez. I mean, anyone who's met Leo knows there is a lot to choose from. He's a walking chaos bomb. I mean, as I'm typing this he's running around with an Elf on a Shelf. Anyone know where he got that-it's JULY!? Who knows?

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Nope. Nowadays, I seek wisdom way more than I offer it. Most days I'm pretty sure I'm messing it up and it seems like everyone else has it way more together. Maybe that's it-you don't have to figure it all out on your own. Everyone has something to offer, so if you're stuck in a situation you just can't figure out-reach out. Bet you're not the only one.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

Do it! It's not just about the "FIT". The community will help you on your roughest days and celebrate you on your best. And your kids will love it!

Motivating Mom of the Month-20.png

"Amanda has been an awesome motivator to Manassas! I am so thankful for her energy and how she is always motivated to try new things! She works hard in each class and is always encouraging to all of the moms! She is talking to everyone before and after class." --Cressalyn Anane, Fit4Mom Playgroup Captain

"Amanda brings a lightness and energy to every class. She comes ready to work hard and never gives up - and she never misses a class if she can help it! I enjoy all of the insight Amanda brings to our conversations - she definitely embodies the Fit4Mom Community in Motherhood mentality, and it’s so much fun to watch our kids play together" --Andee May, Fit4Mom Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My family consists of myself, my husband Chad, our 2 and a half year old son Alexander and our two cats Diesel and Leonard. I am originally from eastern Pennsylvania and my husband is from California. Together we have lived in New York, Connecticut, South Carolina, and now Virginia.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first class was Stroller Strides in July 2021. I remember being very worried since I had not worked out in years. However, everyone was very supportive and helpful and I truly felt like a part of the community from the beginning.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I like to attend Stroller Strides and I also do virtual classes like Body Ignite and Core.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I am a stay at home mom but also do contract work for a database website and deliver for Seasonal Roots. Before becoming a SAHM I worked as a scientist in both pharmaceutical and academic laboratories.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Three of my favorite things are pumpkins, reading, and going on outings with my family.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

I would go to dinner with my husband and enjoy a nice meal and some good wine.

What has being a mom taught you?

Being a mom has taught me that you will say things you never thought you would such as, “Broccoli doesn’t belong in the lamp."

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

Recently Alexander misplaced two dinosaur toys within only a few minutes. My husband and I looked all over for them everyday. The dinos were missing for about a month until I finally stumbled upon them shoved behind books on Alexander’s shelf. I was glad to have found them because I know if my son did, I would never have known the location and it would have bothered me.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Take it day by day and make sure you take some time for yourself even if it's just 30 minutes playing Animal Crossing.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

Joining FIT4MOM has given me more confidence. Confidence to work out and also to meet other moms. If you are on the fence about joining, just come for a free class and try it out. You may just find yourself amazed with what you get out of it.

Looking for something fun to do with the whole family on the weekend? Here are a few events we're looking forward to (click the name for more info!)

Asian Festival on Main

May 15, 2022

12 pm - 6 pm

Fairfax

Free admission

Food, craft, education, performances

KidsFest Spring Fair

May 21, 2022

11 am - 5 pm

Manassas Museum

Free admission–games and bounce house extra

Crafts, games, inflatable, food, entertainment

River Fest and Craft Show

June 4-5, 2022

10 am - 5 pm

Occoquan

Free admission

Crafts, food, concerts, river activities

Taste of Springfield

June 4, 2022

12 pm - 5 pm

Springfield Town Center

Free admission

Food and entertainment

Motivating Mom of the Month-19.png

"Jessica is an amazing mom and friend! She is a strong mama, dedicating herself to Run Club, cross training, and rock wall climbing. She is brave enough to take on new running challenges like relay races, trail running, and longer distances AND she leads others in growing themselves, too. She has brought several new moms into our community, which shows that she truly cares about others. Most importantly, she’s committed to being the best mom and spouse that she can be for her family. We love having Jessica and all the positivity that she brings into our lives!" --Megan Schmid, Run Club Coach

"Jessica is a ray of sunshine! She’s so welcoming and encouraging at Run Club. I’ve loved watching her running journey the last couple of years and can’t wait to cheer her on for her first marathon this year! Jessica you are inspiring!!" --Alicia Chiapusio, Fit4Mom Instructor

"When I first joined run club in 2020, I was nervous. I hadn't run in some time and I was worried about begin able to power through 8 weeks of running. Jessica was super welcoming right from the get go and has been such a great running buddy and confidante during our many runs. Whenever I need an extra push, I know Jessica will be there. She's funny, warm, inspiring, and such a rockstar on the trail. I'll be there cheering her on as she finishes her first marathon this year! Jessica, I'm so glad I met you; keep up the amazing work!" --Michelle Vanek, Run Club Participant

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

Husband Roger

Clairissa (5)

Owen (3)

I am originally from Illinois, spent half my childhood in Arizona where I met my husband. We have lived in Alexandria, VA for the last 7 years.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

I took a Fit4Baby class back in 2018 when I was pregnant with Owen. The ending meditation was so peaceful and rounded out the activity, leaving my mind calm and relaxed.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

Run Club! In 2019 I joined my first Run Club session and its been a part of my life since! I love the community it brings together! I leave every meetup feeling empowered and ready to take on the day. It's been said that if you know me I'll end up talking you into running and joining Run Club.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I am a Global Talent Acquisition Recruiter for Microsoft. I have been a recruiter for the past 7 years, I truly enjoy helping hiring leaders hire great people to grow their business/team and helping candidates find new opportunities, develop their careers and change their lives!

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Run Club

My puppies (Lilly & Maximus)

Hanging out with friends and family

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Depends on the day...could range from taking a nap, reading a book, date in the park, or dining out. Over the last few years my favorite kid-free time on a beautiful day has been picking up food and then finding a park to picnic with my husband.

What has being a mom taught you?

The saying "The days are long but the years are short" never rang so true until I had kids. I am often reminding myself to slow down and just live in the moment. It's the little things I value most and the smile is always worth taking the time. Whether it be stopping the car as we drive home past a big hill we can roll down or going out for ice cream.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing moment so far?

My daughter started to tell jokes--she came home from school a few months back and got my husband good. He walked right into it without realizing it until it was over.

Clairissa: "What is your name"

Roger: "Daddy"

Clairissa: "What's this" (Pointing to her nose)

Roger: "Nose"

Clairissa: " What's in my hands"

Roger: "Nothing"

Clairissa: Laughing... "Daddy knows nothing"

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Give yourself grace. Someone once told me that even when I feel like I am failing at being a mom it means that I am trying my best. Some days are better than others but in the end we all try our best and that's what counts.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

Community! Not only does it promote your physical wellbeing, it positively impacts your mental health. It doesn't matter what fitness level you're at; this group will meet you where you are in life's journey today!

Team Spotlights-3.png

1. Who are the members of your family?

Myself, Kurt (hubs), Grayson (5.5), Conor (2.5)

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

Originally from Va Beach area and have lived in NoVa almost 10 years

3. How did you find FIT4MOM SouthWest NoVa?

Quick google search after having my first child. Like many mamas, I was looking for something to get out of the house and back into a fitness routine.

4. Where and what do you typically teach?

Stroller Strides @ STC and KSC

Stroller Barre @ STC

5. Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom SouthWest NoVa.

I was a faithful class attendee for about a year before I decided to take the plunge and become an instructor. I've always loved group fitness and used to teach Zumba (fun fact) so had some experience with the instructing aspect. I knew being an instructor would keep me coming to class and being an active part of our village!

6. What is your favorite thing to teach?

That's tough, but I have to say Barre- love the burn.

7. What is the BEST thing about being an instructor?

Helping mamas feel strong and take care of themselves for 1 hour. Also getting cute baby smiles is a plus.

8. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

Instructing energizes me! I love seeing the mamas taking care of themselves, trying something new, and pushing just a little bit more.

9. What is one of your current wellness goals?

I'm a lover of all things cardio, but I'm trying to make it a point to incorporate 1-2 strength-focused workouts in each week.

10. Do you have a hidden talent? What is it?

Hmm, I don't think so. I can teach a class on the fly, if that counts :)

11. What is your most used item for your workouts?

Definitely the bands

12. Anything else you'd like Our Mama tribe to know?

I'm going to miss this Village! It has been a huge part of mine, Grayson's, and Conor's life for the last 5 years. This chapter ending is bittersweet.

Team Spotlights-2.png

Who are the members of your family?

Husband Jackson, sons Beckett (4) and Aiden (almost 1)

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

I'm from O-H...I-O (if you're from the Midwest you know the hand motions) and have lived in NoVa since I graduated college.

How did you find FIT4MOM SouthWest NoVa?

Facebook ads kept popping up after I had Beckett and I wish I found out about the group while I was pregnant :)

Where and what do you typically teach?

I teach Body Ignite virtually on Tuesday nights and Stroller Barre on Fridays at Potomac Mills Mall. I've also subbed at most locations and enjoy getting to know our mamas all over.

Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom SouthWest NoVa.

The awesome Woodbridge instructor Heather was moving so I thought Barre would be something fun to incorporate my dancer and cheerleader background. Soon after I got certified in Fit4Baby and really enjoyed those classes.

What is your favorite thing to teach?

Body Ignite because it's a great complement to the rest of our classes/programs.

What is the BEST thing about being an instructor?

I love encouraging our mamas to keep up their self care no matter how tired or late they may be. I love seeing all the mamas push each other and lend a helping hand.

What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

I've been teaching over three years because of the incredible community. I'm so happy to see people in person again!

What is one of your current wellness goals?

I'm trying to get more sleep.

Do you have a hidden talent? What is it?

Hmmm in high school I discovered I have a "man voice" when I sang "Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto" during marching band camp.

What is your most used item for your workouts?

Water bottle

Anything else you'd like Our Mama tribe to know?

Keep being awesome and hope to see you at a class or event soon!

Motivating Mom of the Month-17.png

"Morgan is SUCH a blast to have in class. She works hard while there, running between stations, and is also the first to run to pick up a crying baby to soothe for a new mom. You can also find at least one other baby in class wearing one of Morgan's homemade creations from Cozy Oak. She literally does it all! She is such a positive, fun-loving piece of our village!!" --Kara Ruskin, Instructor

"I'm going to miss Morgan SO much when they move! We met years ago at the Burke Fit4Mom classes when we each had one baby and it's been fun hanging out again now that we each have two. Morgan is a literal lifesaver in class for the instructors. She is so generous with her time - taking a break from her workout to help another mom keep going with hers. Also I can't get enough of the adorable matching clothes from her Etsy shop. Thanks for being awesome Morgan!" --Joy Robb, Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My family includes myself, my husband Rob, my daughter Margo (4), my son Griffin (2), and our dog Loki .

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first Fit4Mom class was a few months after Margo was born in Dec or Jan of 2018. Candice approached me at Burke Lake Park while I was pregnant and I was so excited to start classes! I remember my first class in Burke at AP feeling overwhelmed because Margo was crying the entire time. A kind mom (I think it was Jenny) took my stroller and kept Margo moving in her stroller so I could focus on my exercise. I could cry just remembering how supported I felt. I signed up that day for a membership.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

After a move to Kansas and back, we are now in Woodbridge. I still love the Burke classes, but I mostly attend the in-person classes at Potomac Mills Mall on M-W-F.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

Before becoming a mom, I was a middle school teacher. Currently, I run a small business out of my home sewing children's clothing. It's called Cozy Oak Clothing.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

1. Binging Netflix with a glass of red wine

2. Connecting with friends old and new

3. Outside time in warm weather (parks, playgrounds) with my family

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Rejoice. Then go get a mani/pedi and take a nap.

What has being a mom taught you?

SO many things.

To slow down and not wish any days away- even the hard ones.

That if you don't have a village you need to find and build your own. Motherhood was never meant to be a solo act!

Kids are our mirrors. They reflect our strengths and the things we need to work on.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

Most embarrassing- Griffin pooping on an airplane when he was young. I was flying solo with both kids and he pooped through the diaper, his outfit, the baby wrap, and my outfit. I'll never fly without a change of clothes again!

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Find a village and let them help you! Let them celebrate with you, include you, cry with you, laugh with you, and encourage you.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

I would tell someone considering FIT4MOM that whether you're looking for amazing workouts, encouraging friends, or playmates for your little ones, FIT4MOM is a one-stop shop! I can't recommend it enough.

Blog Posts-18.png

Eight weeks have passed since I started the Fit4Mom Body Well winter session. Eight weeks of nutrition, exercise, and wellness challenges completed. Back when I kicked off the program, I wrote about how I joined Body Well to focus on my “self care” in 2022. I often neglect my own self care so I viewed the Body Well program as an opportunity to stay present and mindful to myself and to turn off the ever-turning gears in my head even during the rare free-time I have with two young children. Now that we’ve had our last Body Well exercise class and submitted our final habit tracker review, I am ready to report on my progress.

I mentioned in the beginning of the program how I recruited my family to assist with my journey. My spouse has been extremely flexible in meal planning and preparing our weekly grocery lists to include more unprocessed items and reading the nutrition labels before purchasing. My older child has been preparing his own healthy snacks of fruit and yogurt, and we have even started switching out some of his processed snacks for more nutritious whole-grain options. My baby still woke up several times a night, but he usually remained asleep during my early morning exercise classes. He even participated as my “resistance weight” for some of the recorded fitness sessions when I could not attend the live virtual class.

Before week 1, I was anxious about starting Body Well, especially since I am not a fitness guru. I was concerned about waking up early for exercise classes while on-again, off-again sleep training my baby. I outlined four goals I hoped to accomplish with this program:

  1. Sleeping more soundly during the hours I get sleep (and fingers crossed for my baby to sleep through the night)

  2. Increasing my water intake (I prefer coffee and Diet Coke as my thirst quenchers)

  3. Committing to an overall health lifestyle (a nice perk would be to lose some of the pregnancy baby weight I stored up) and adding more fruit and vegetables to my daily intake (winter seasonal fruit seems so unappetizing and boring so I am looking forward to getting ideas from the other participants)

  4. Connecting to a new group of motivating moms

First, although my baby has not been a great sleeper, I am sleeping more soundly overall through better nutrition, exercise, and relaxation techniques my coaches provided.

Second, I have doubled and even tripled my daily water intake. I have cut back on my Diet Coke habit to once or twice a week, and I replaced my processed coffee creamer with oatmilk to increase my calcium and reduce my sugar.

Third, this is the big one. Every day, I eat a variety of colorful vegetables for both lunch and dinner (and even during this winter, I found some of my favorite fresh and frozen varieties for baking, roasting, and steaming). I started trying new recipes from the Body Well winter guide and from suggestions by the other participants for meals and snacks. Thanks to posts by the other women, I even make my own salad dressing now instead of using store-bought ones. I stocked my pantry with chickpea pasta and exchanged white rice for brown rice and quinoa. I added plant-based protein to my diet which satisfies my hunger more than processed carbs. I increased my fruit intake to at least three varieties daily. I replaced my years-long breakfast routine of box cereal with plain oatmeal, peanut butter (without sugar, salt or added ingredients), and raisins. With all these changes, my chocolate cravings have decreased tremendously. I still need to satisfy my sweet tooth so I munch on a small square of chocolate or a few chocolate chips instead of cookies and ice cream, and then turn to fruit or homemade whole grain snacks for my afternoon and evening snack cravings.

Fourth, I met wonderful women – Body Well participants and coaches – who were supportive cheerleaders motivating me to push myself through challenges, commiserating with me during sickness and tough situations, and celebrating my successes and wins alongside me. These are women whom I can rely on when I need advice or have something to share or want an exercise buddy. I cannot thank the coaches and participants enough for all their encouragement and kindness during these eight weeks.

For qualitative results, I have lost a total of 2.5 inches around my waist and 1 inch around my hips and chest. During week 1, I could complete 15 push-ups on my knees in a minute. Now, I have increased the number of push-ups by 6 reps in a minute. I can also complete about 18 full push-ups per minute which shows in my toned muscles from all those strength intervals. As a postpartum mom within the last year, I have strengthened my pelvic muscles and legs through all the cardio and core moves and have the stamina for 10 more squat jumps per minute than eight weeks ago.

While I am proud (and even relieved) by these results, I have gained confidence in my ability to care for myself physically and mentally and to see firsthand how healthier habits have improved my lifestyle and that of my family. I want to continue to improve my health and maintain the new habits I have developed so I signed up for the spring session of Body Well through Fit4Mom SouthWest NoVa! I am excited for the next phase of my self-care journey, and I hope you will be there too.

Blog Posts-16.png

I’ve completed week 7 of the Fit4Mom Body Well program, and there’s only one more week to go for the winter session. While I am preparing to document my results and final assessments for my next post during week 8, I started policing my old eating and exercising habits to determine if I really have captured some new healthy and self-care techniques.

1. I’m sleeping more soundly even with wake-ups from my baby.

One of the most difficult challenges in the Body Well program was focusing on my sleep routine. I am a night owl by nature and require a good 8+ hours of sleep per night, but my family’s schedule requires me to wake up early each day. I should be moving my bedtime earlier, but I usually have trouble falling asleep while my mind starts racing actively in the late hours of the night. To top it off, sleep training my baby has not been super successful lately. The Body Well coaches advised me to experiment with different bedtime routines and bedroom setups to fall asleep more easily and snooze more soundly. Even though I’m waking up at least once a night with my baby, the hours during which I am asleep are more restful and restorative thanks to music, tea, and breathing.

2. I gave up Diet Coke for 5 days.

I abstained from my absolute favorite drink Diet Coke for five consecutive days. While I did drink Diet Coke at a restaurant on the sixth day, this was the longest amount of time I went without Diet Coke besides for my pregnancies. I still love my cola, but I have been attempting to remove extra sugar and artificial sugar substitute from my nutrition plan. As a result, I have felt less bloated and more hydrated by not drinking my daily soda and replacing it with more water. To decrease my sugar intake even further, I recently swapped my coffee creamer with oatmilk, which has a good amount of daily calcium. I’m still getting used to the change, but I have appreciated the different flavor and texture in my favorite café lattes (or for a special treat, a mocha).

3. My older child imitates me and prepares his own healthy snacks.

As I increased my vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and protein in my meals, I’ve been trying to introduce some healthier habits to my older child. I’ve asked him to select his own healthy snacks, such as fruit and yogurt at the grocery store. I recently purchased him an apple slicer kitchen tool for kids so he can slice his apples and have some autonomy in preparing his own snack. We still have a long way to go from the processed, prepared snacks, like cheese crackers, chips, and chocolate-chip granola bars, but at least he is building up his excitement in independently choosing healthier options. And, it motivates me to keep eating healthier when I know my child is imitating my choices.

4.I’m exercising 250% times more.

I've increased my exercising tremendously with the Body Well program. After my first child was born, I was exercising regularly for an hour a week, plus some stroller walks here and there. Now, after my second child, I am consistently completing intense cardio and strength exercise classes (including the Fit4Mom Body Boost/HIIT classes) two and a half hours a week. As the weather continues to improve, I’m planning on adding more walks to my regular movement routine.

5. I feel confident wearing my jeans and blouse out to a restaurant for date night.

My spouse and I recently had the rare occasion for a date together without the kids. I traded my usual stretchy pants and bulky t-shirts for a dressy pair of jeans and snugger-fitting blouse. And they didn’t look tight around my body like they did prior to my last pregnancy. Even though I’m still tracking my meals for the Body Well program, I felt comfortable enough with my new nutrition habits to enjoy eating off a restaurant menu without overindulging or choosing heavily processed, salty, or sugary meals.

As the Body Well winter session winds down, I’m looking forward to evaluating my goals and reviewing my assessment results next week. I’m already pleasantly surprised by how I am feeling over the last several weeks – rested, confident, and healthy. I am glad I chased down those old habits so I can lock those up and throw away the key.

Blog Posts-15.png

I just finished week 6 of my Body Well journey (and I am recovering from my previous bug), and we are all talking about the next session. I started thinking about the women who have challenged themselves to participate in multiple Body Well sessions and what motivates them to continue. Two current Body Well winter session participants (and now two of my new mom friends) came to mind: Amy and Monica. These two dynamo women have each been participating in the Body Well program (previously named Body Back) for a combination of 9 years. When I agreed to join the Body Well program in January, Shannon, the Fit4Mom Southwest NoVa owner, mentioned to me how Amy and Monica are Body Well champions. They are Body Well buffs waking early for classes, posting recipes and photos in the Facebook group, and motivating others to keep going. I was excited to spend some time chatting with these two lovely ladies, who shared their thoughts with me about their addiction to the Body Well program, maneuvering through the stages of motherhood, and controlling their own self care.

Amy and Monica started their Body Well journeys separately, but they quickly joined each other on the same path to wellness. Amy, a mom to a 7-year-old and twin 5-year-old children, who works remotely from home, started the program four years ago. Having enjoyed group fitness classes, she already was an avid Fit4Mom Stroller Strider, especially because of the comradery with other moms with babies, but her motivation to join the Body Back program (predecessor to Body Well) was to get her body back into shape after seeing other moms “looking so good” after completing the program. Even though she mentioned that she knew the basics to eating healthy and exercising, putting that into practice on her own was not as easy as it sounded. Caring for three kids under the age of 3, Amy was overwhelmed, but she wanted to focus on her health in a positive way. A year later, the Body Back program schedule fit her life – the class times fit into her family’s routine and the workout location was only five minutes away from home. Amy found herself sneaking out of the house in the early morning hours to attend program meetups. “It was nice that everyone is a mom or around the same age or been in a similar boat.” She was addicted to the consistent classes and accountability so much that she even started traveling a bit further to attend two additional classes. Venturing further out led Amy to meet a fellow Body Well participant and a new, motivating friend, Monica.

Monica, mom to a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old, who also works remotely from home, immediately pushed herself into the Body Back program when her older child was a year and a half. A former runner, she later joined Stroller Strides with each of her children. She was a superstar Fit4Mom participant by attending a Stroller Strides class on the same day as an early morning HIIT workout session. For Monica, the community of women in the morning Body Back exercise helped her focus on her own personal self care, and then the socialization with other moms and kids similar ages to her own in Stroller Strides grounded her. She was hooked. Monica completed three back-to-back Body Back sessions because the program “was doable for a mom with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old.” Most importantly, she received help from the other women especially when she went through rough patches with caring for her littles. Monica credits Body Well for saving her mental health, and she knew this program would make a difference for her after she cried during her first Body Back class meditation practice (regularly led by the instructor after the cool-down stretches). The meditation reminded her that what she was feeling as a mom was relatable and that she had control of what defined her. “I didn’t realize how much I needed it [Body Well] especially during the pandemic.”

Both Amy and Monica adamantly praise the program for rescuing their mental health, especially during these pandemic years. Lacking the outside socialization and managing active kids in the house while working, Amy and Monica desired self care. They needed to support their bodies with better nutrition, exercise, and accountability, but also to do that while connecting with other moms who could relate to their situations as they navigated their children’s growth from baby to toddler to preschooler to school-aged. In the end, this program provided them with a sense of control over their bodies and minds even when so many other things, especially related to motherhood, were unpredictable and chaotic.

Amy and Monica stress that the Fit4Mom Body Well program challenges its participants no matter how many times they familiarize themselves with the evolving exercise regime, rotating recipes, and sustainable habit trackers over the years. They are invested personally in Body Well, because they never get tired of seeing the results occurring in their bodies, physically, emotionally, and mentally. It is not about completing each Body Well session successfully for them, but about the weekly process of working together with the coaches, the other participants, and the moms. Incorporating the Body Well practices into real, ever-changing mom life is what makes them such passionate Body Well participants.

Motivating Mom of the Month-16.png

"I love having Amanda in our classes! She’s so sweet and welcoming with the friendliest smile. She’s a rockstar momma attending class right before going into labor with Claire. She’s transitioned to a mom of two like a champ, showing her girls how strong their momma is!" --Alicia Chiapusio, Instructor

"Amanda is such an inspiring mom! She takes such good care of herself so she can be the best mom to her two girls. She's lots of fun to have at class! I love that she always jumps right into whatever exercise we're doing and gives it her all." --Laura Davis, Instructor

"I am so happy Amanda is part of our Fit4Mom village and has also become a great friend! She is inspiring and encouraging at class, always pushing herself, and doing it with a smile. She always has a minute to ask how you’re doing; and, passing by her stroller, June is sure to flash a big smile. 😀" --Katherine Resendez, Playgroup Captain

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

I live with my husband Brendan and our two daughters- June (3 years) and Claire (4 months). We are originally from Montgomery County, MD but we’ve lived all over the country for my husband’s veterinary education before coming back to the DMV.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first Fit4Mom class was when June (my first baby) was 8 weeks old. After class I remember feeling like my postpartum self was starting to turn the corner.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

You can find me cruising around Burke Lake Park with the girls for Strides or occasionally getting my butt kicked in Shannon’s 360 class!

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

Currently, I am home with the girls, but I’ll be returning soon to my work as a Registered Dietitian. I work with adults and children to develop a positive relationship with food and their bodies and I love what I do.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Spending time outdoors, Colorado craft beer and chocolate.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Definitely date night! I miss time together just the two of us.

What has being a mom taught you?

1. We are in control of absolutely nothing.

2. Don’t be afraid to pivot and make a change if something isn’t working.

3. Being a “good enough mom” is enough.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

The ladies at the JCC insisting to my husband when he was there to work out that the HUGE pregnant woman swimming at the pool couldn’t possibly be his wife (it was me LOL).

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Share your struggles. The best gift you can give another mom is to let her know that she’s not alone in hers. My struggles with postpartum anxiety after both girls have been made bearable knowing I have support all around me.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

Hands down the welcoming, non-judgmental and supportive community. It’s such a wonderful way to get out and enjoy time with your babies and make friends.

Blog Posts-14.png

I am…sick. I am tired. I am crummy. I am a mom attempting to convalesce in her chaotic home from a respiratory bug that I caught from my older child and spouse. I have fingers crossed for a negative COVID test, and more importantly, that my baby doesn’t come down next with all the sinus congestion and throat hacking like the rest of us.

So how did week 5 of the Fit4Mom Body Well winter program go? The coaches asked us to focus on our mantra and our “I am” statements. Since this past week was filled with sickness, my “I am” statement has been “I am surviving.” I did manage to squeeze in my two Body Well/HIIT exercise classes. I did still attempt to eat mostly unprocessed, low to no sugar meals that were already planned for in my fridge, but I did also skip out on documenting my habit tracker for several days. I didn’t plan well for the quick, go-to comfort foods I would need when I was starving but overcome with fatigue and sinus congestion. I was distracted by my family recovering from their illnesses, by tackling the pile of to-dos that accumulated over the last few weeks, and by mustering up my energy in this isolating winter. While I did prepare a quick veggie and hummus corn tortilla wrap for lunch, I definitely dived into a bucket of ice cream to soothe my sore throat for a mid-afternoon snack. And even though I had been filling up on water to hydrate, I definitely added in my diet Coke and juice as my comfort fluids.

When I first heard last Monday that the theme of the week was “I am” statements, I initially thought of my current feelings or situations for filling in the “I am [blank].” But, in retrospect, the “I am” statement is powerful. As a word nerd, I fault the English language for blanket usage of the word “am” for describing all things about ourselves – our physical being, our professions, our relationships, our personalities, our feelings. Other languages consist of differing verbs for permanent features of ourselves versus temporary aspects. For instance, “I am a mom” is a permanent aspect of myself, but “I am sick” is a temporary state, and yet, we use the same verb to connect the subject and the description. I like to use “I am” statements around my spouse, in particular, when he asks how my day has been. My response is usually one of the following: I am tired, I am overwhelmed, I am slacking. And then many times, I end that with, “I am sorry.” I am sorry I didn’t finish the dishes, I am sorry I didn’t get to take the kids to the playground, I am sorry that I didn’t clean up the toys during naptime, I am sorry I didn’t run to the store to pick up an item.

Yet, my spouse will encourage me that there is nothing for me to apologize for. My “I am” statements to him are expressions of fleeting feelings and situations even if they last for a week or a month or more. My situation will not always be that way, and plus, they do not describe who I really am as a mom, a spouse, a friend, a writer, a Body Well participant, a person.

I see friends and kids who like to wear expressive shirts with motivational quotes of “I am strong,” “I am resilient,” “I am kind.” These “I am” descriptions describe our core being. I get sidetracked often, especially this week, since my feelings overcame my being. My Body Well coaches and fellow participants were in the wings reminding me that one setback does not define my “I am” statement. They emphasized to me that we are unique treasures. I am NOT a sick and overwhelmed mom. I am friendly. I am organized. I am loving. I am deserving. I am…

Team Spotlights.png

Who are the members of your family?

My husband Dan, Cora (7), Camden (3), and our dog Brutus.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

I’m originally from Cleveland, Ohio. This is our second time living in NoVA, and we have been here a combined total of 6 years.

How did you find FIT4MOM SouthWest NoVa?

In 2015 I saw an event advertising a Stroller Strides Grand Opening. I HAD to get out of the house-Cora was 5 months old. Fell in love with Fit4Mom and haven’t looked back.

Where and what do you typically teach?

I teach virtually now, but can be found subbing for in-person classes occasionally.

Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom SouthWest NoVa.

I got certified as a Group Fitness Instructor before I had kids but could never quite find what I wanted to teach. After I found Fit4Mom I loved being a client so much, I decided this is what I wanted to do. We moved to Savannah in 2016 and I became an Instructor. When I moved back to NoVA I begged Shannon to hire me!

What is your favorite thing to teach?

That’s hard! I love it all! I enjoy Body Well for the added coaching & wellness aspect, and I love Body Ignite because weight training is my jam!

What is the BEST thing about being an instructor?

The best thing about being an Instructor is being able to help moms move and function better and more efficiently, not just during workouts, but also in their daily lives. I also love when I hear “that was so hard but I did it”.

What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

I have always loved exercise. I feel better when I do it, and it’s a huge stress reliever for me. I love being active and watching my kids fall into the active lifestyle, and also sharing my love for fitness with all the moms!

What is one of your current wellness goals?

One of my current fitness goals is to run a Tough Mudder obstacle course with my husband when we get to Hawaii.

Do you have a hidden talent? What is it?

I can do back handsprings the length of a basketball court.

What is your most used item for your workouts?

Resistance band!

Anything else you'd like Our Mama tribe to know?

If you are thinking about trying a class-just go for it! This community has helped me in so many different ways and different stages of motherhood over a span of almost 8 years. I am so glad I went to that first class! Not sure where I would be if I didn’t.

Blog Posts-13.png

The LA Rams won the Super Bowl, USA achieved bronze in ice dancing, and the ladies of the Body Well winter session 2022 have completed half their program. That’s right. We have finished four out of eight weeks of intensive fitness routines, meal habit changes, and mental practices. From a personal standpoint, I’ve been waking up twice a week for 5:30 AM virtual fitness classes, eating more produce, drinking lots of water, and even checking the ingredients in my prepared foods to avoid extra salt and sugar.

So, here’s an update on how I’m doing in the program. When I first started out, I questioned my motivation. Is Body Well worth all the fuss? Is it worth sticking with it and possibly another session in the spring?

1. Numbers don’t lie -- I’ve slimmed down.

Even though my ultimate goal is overall health, I definitely hoped that I would lose some of my pregnancy weight in this program. I am ecstatic to announce that I’ve lost 2.5 inches around my waist and 1 inch from my hips. I’ve also lost about 0.25-0.5 inches from my thighs. All in four weeks. While I convinced myself that my clothes were fitting better, my body measurements confirm what I was thinking. I am excited with these numbers. I don’t experience the same hunger pains I previously did with all the extra water I now consume and the increased vegetables I ensure are on my lunch and dinner plates. The quantitative results underscore the work I have put into the program and inspire me to continue.

2. Not one, but three coaches to rely on.

Each of us participants has been paired with an individual coach during this eight-week session. The three coaches/instructors, Annie, Amanda, and Shannon, are down-to-earth, consistent motivators, and they support all of us collectively. They set a theme for exercise class, develop mini fitness routines on off-days, modify options based on what our bodies need, check for proper form to avoid injuries, and cheer us on as we work through the one-minute exercises or reflect on our weekly habit trackers. These instructors are busy moms, and they understand the daily struggle to squeeze in self-care amidst all the competing family, household, and job tasks. My particular coach, Annie, reviews my eating and exercise habits, supports me with achievable suggestions, and highlights my weekly wins with changing my practices. I reach out to her often for advice, and I can rely on her to respond quickly and with encouragement.

3. Better together – I have a team of supportive moms.

My Body Well session includes a network of real women driven to succeed for their families, their careers, and their own self-care. We chat back and forth in our Facebook group about recipes, motherhood, exercise, coffee, and even chocolate. We’re a team working together through our failures and successes and cheering each other through each challenge.

4. I don’t have to eat rabbit food.

When I started Body Well, I received access to an app guide with a variety of flexible recipes and meal options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, dessert, and even drinks. I downloaded the app on my cell so I could access the ideas and suggestions on the go. For someone who does not cook on a normal basis, I depend on kitchen technology, like a blender, food processor, or convection oven/air fryer, to prepare these easy-to-make recipes. They do not require various odd ingredients that eventually hide in the back of the pantry. While I have ventured out of my comfort zone with produce, protein, and whole grains, the recipes allow me to substitute items in my meals, and they serve as a baseline for other delicious ideas, especially easy-to-grab lunches.

5. On exercise days, I am bright-eyed even in the morning chaos.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I am not a morning person. The thought of my alarm blaring for the 5:30 AM virtual Body Boost/HIIT classes tenses my muscles. But after I shed my fuzzy robe and slippers and start warming up for class, I feel more alert. With the virtual class, I don’t have to build in the extra travel time to and from class so I can sleep in a little more. The HIIT-based exercises are challenging, but they are achievable and only last a minute at a time. I especially love that twice a week, I can check “exercise” off my looming, busy schedule for the day. And instead of dragging my grumpy self reluctantly downstairs to start the day, I am positive, energetic, and efficient through the usual, hectic morning routine.

There you have it. I am a healthier mom than I was four weeks ago. This program challenges me, but it also sets me up for success. And with half the session left to complete, I’m excited to see what’s in store.

Blog Posts-12.png

As a little girl, I used to tag along with my Mom to help her with the grocery shopping. My brother and I would race through the store to gather items on Mom’s paper list as she would wait at the deli counter or sort through the produce section. I remember my Mom’s paper list sitting by the phone in the kitchen, and as she thought of things to buy, she would write them down. Today, instead of writing our list on paper, my spouse and I order our cell phones and home devices to replace an item or add a new ingredient to our weekly grocery list. We then always have that list on the go for our convenience.

On the weekends, I have been fortunate enough that my spouse and older son have a routine to grocery shop together. This habit gifts me an hour of quiet time in the house to complete some tasks or to just relax (which is a rarity). My spouse and son are familiar with our local grocery store and are acquainted with some of the staff there. My spouse, who normally does not enjoy shopping in general, refers to his electronic list and checks through it methodically. There’s no browsing down the aisles for other things to buy or wondering which brand is better. He picks the items, checks it off, and moves on. No questions asked.

But last weekend, I threw in a wrench to their routine. Body Well week three highlighted processed and unprocessed foods in our daily diets. This so far was the ultimate, impossible challenge: eat only unprocessed, whole foods for three days of the week. This was serious. This wasn’t just eating healthier, this was changing my entire mindset to include revamping my pantry, refilling my fridge, and reevaluating my beloved coffee and its partner creamer. My family’s electronic grocery list looked like a translation of a foreign language this week. My spouse and son now had to uncover brand new items they had never searched for before.

My spouse and son confronted this test and did survive to tell the tale. Here is their account.

Reviewing the list on his phone, my spouse pushed the grocery cart as my child bounced around the store and jumped on the back of the cart for a ride. They routinely enter the store on the produce side. My spouse knows the usual suspects – bananas, apples, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, carrots, and onions. But, this week, we decided to try some of the Body Well dinner recipes, and we ventured out of our comfort zone with kale, beets, asparagus, and sweet potatoes. Even though the produce section is an open space, my spouse aimlessly stared at the maze of low bins of fruits and vegetables to find the new items on the list. And like a hidden pictures puzzle, the mission began as my spouse doubled back and around again to find the missing items.

After several minutes of cardio through the produce section, my family moved on to the rest of the store. This daunting task was compounded by our child jumping on and off the cart and causing my spouse to stop short to avoid running into our active child. My spouse eyed the signs above each aisle. He anxiously gazed for almond butter. First, he checked the bread aisle all the way in the back of the store. While the peanut butter and jelly usually cap off the aisle, this nut butter was not there. Next, he decided to brave the organic aisle (or back alley as he recalled) on the other side of the store. He slowly pushed the cart as our child grabbed various things off the shelf and asked, “Is this it?” or “Can we get this?” Reaching the end of the aisle, my spouse still hadn’t discovered the almond butter. He turned around while repeating to our child for the 100th time to put something down and follow him. My spouse bobbed his head up and down slowly on each side of the organic alley looking for this missing piece. Still, no luck. Frustratingly, he told our child to stop touching things and keep walking. In a fortunate turn of events, my spouse ran into a store associate and asked them for help. And he was directed straight to the almond butter in the “overflow” organic aisle.

At the end of this adventure, my spouse was exhausted from not only wrangling our child through the store (during which time he begged for videos at home), but he was also drained by the exertion of branching out of his comfort zone to check off everything on the list. It was initiation by fire, but now we had stocked our pantry and fridge with more whole foods than we had before. And we are one step closer to improving our overall health.

Blog Posts-11.png

While my family has been in the midst of sleep training our baby, I have slacked on teaching my baby about eating solids. With our first child, my spouse was Super Dad. He cut, mashed, and steamed his own homemade baby purees. In our sleep-deprived haze, my spouse and I have resorted to the simplicity of pre-packaged baby foods. They are ready when we need them, and we can still provide nutrition to our baby as he experiments with the concept of eating something other than from a bottle. I especially enjoy his sour reaction when the new flavor rests on his tongue until he familiarizes himself with the acquired taste and texture. As he has been trying out apples and peaches and sweet potatoes for the first time, this mama has been trying some new food flavors too.

As I’m writing this post, I just ate a colorful winter vegetable dinner bowl and marked week two of the Fit4Mom Body Well session as complete. This week, the coaches encouraged us to accept the inevitable challenge of increasing not only our daily intake of fruits and vegetables, but also to try new varieties. I, honestly, felt very proud of myself for increasing my water intake in the first week, but last Monday morning, I was not so sure about this week’s challenge. I am not a vegetable person (unless French fries count as a serving of potatoes). While I favor fruit over vegetables, I am less inclined to experiment with the limited selection of fresh produce in the stores during the winter months. I knew I was being tested this week.

How could I be a good example for my baby as he tries different fruits and vegetables for the first time if I am resistant to eating fruits and vegetables in my regular meals? I thought about Cookie Monster trading cookies for carrot sticks on Sesame Street, or Mr. Potato encouraging the boys and girls to eat their fruit and veg in Peppa Pig, or Pete the Cat singing to Grumpy Toad about the three-bite rule. I mustered up my courage, and I resolved to rise to the Body Well challenge.

Fruits and vegetables definitely involve more preparation from cleaning to cutting to cooking so I referred to my Body Well guide and suggestions from the other participants. I gathered all the advice on preparing easy and quick recipes, planning meals in advance, and pre-slicing fruits and vegetables in order to accomplish my goal of including vegetables in both my lunches and dinners and ensuring I had some sweet fruits on hand for breakfast and snacks.

Due to waking multiple times a night to soothe my baby during his current sleep regression, I missed one of the early morning exercise sessions. And one day this week, I did not drink my water goal or eat more than a quarter serving of daily vegetables. I felt a bit ashamed for not pushing myself on those days, but this wonderful group of Body Well mamas permitted me to make room for grace. They reminded me that not every day is a win, but that does not mean that overall, I could not succeed. Part of improving my health means that some days I have to adjust to what my body and mind need most. And it’s not always what I may have planned. Their encouragement inspired me, and I realized that succeeding in this week’s challenge was not just about improving my health through nutrition but also enriching my mental self-care. And for that, I am especially grateful for this program.

As I prepare to start week three of the Body Well session, I’ll continue to build upon my new water and fruit and vegetable habits. But, I will also remember to sprinkle a pinch of self-grace throughout each day.

Motivating Mom of the Month-15.png

"I met Hallie at her first class at Springfield Town Center back in what seems like a million years ago! It has been wonderful consistently seeing her every Sunday morning for pilates. She's a good sport when the boys or pup tries to join her on the mat as well!" --Leanor Alt, Pilates Instructor

"Hallie is one of our dedicated, veteran moms. When she shows up for class every week, she is motivated to do her workout, even when she's sore from the last one ;) She sets a great example for her two wonderful boys. She always has a smile on her face and is so welcoming to new moms. She's funny, real, and a great member of our KSC/STC Strides tribe!" --Karlee Goeres, Fit4Mom Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

Thomas (husband), Cooper (5), Roman (turns 2 Monday), and our dog Minka. I am from here and we even live in my dad's old house!

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first class was the week of Christmas when Cooper was 11 weeks old. I found out about this group on Facebook on a Sunday and signed up for my first class that Monday. I remember all of the moms were so friendly to me. I didn't feel embarrassed about my postpartum pain or my being out of shape. I felt so comfortable among all the moms and was happy that I was finally doing something that i enjoyed after 3 months of lonely maternity leave.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I have been doing Fit4Mom classes on Saturdays at STC since Christmas of 2016! I will do Fridays when I'm off of work and I love the Sunday morning virtual Pilates.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home?)

I manage design & construction for the Federal Government in DC. It's a challenging job, but I love it. I've always wanted to be an Architect and I feel like I'm doing what I was meant to do.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Cooking, exercising (either with Stroller Strides, volleyball, or tennis), and nerding out with movies and TV shows (Star Wars, Avengers, Harry Potter, Star Trek, you name it!)

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Online cooking class in my new kitchen with a drink in my hand and Gilmore Girls on the TV!

What has being a mom taught you?

To be flexible, to prepare for all contingencies, and when there's a problem to solve, put aside my feelings to solve the problem at hand, but still allow myself to feel those feelings at the right time.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

When Cooper was 2 and we were visiting my dad in Florida, we were out at a restaurant and Cooper had a smelly diaper. I brought only a diaper and some wipes into the bathroom. When I started changing Cooper, I found he had diarrhea all on his back, down his legs, and on his clothes. In changing him I got it all on me too. I didn't have my phone or the diaper bag in the bathroom, so I had to make do. I took off his clothes and I put him in the sink to wash him off. I took off my shirt (luckily was a wearing a cami). I had to walk out of the bathroom and back to the table with Cooper only wearing a diaper and myself wearing just a cami. Felt embarrassing but also super silly at the same time. I will never forget it!

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

You will not get everything "right". There is no "right". Have confidence in yourself. There will be moments when you kid does something great and moments when they do something bad. So long as the good moments outweigh the bad, you are on the right track!

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

I love the village at Fit4Mom, the support, and the shared interest we all have to want take care of ourselves with our kids by our side and to raise happy kids. We all get it and are there for each other through the challenging times and the joyful ones. I would tell other moms it's not just about exercising (which can feel daunting when you are a new mom), is about having a village and family of support.

Blog Posts-10.png

“I think I can.”* It’s the famous mantra from Watty Piper’s “The Little Engine That Could” that I find myself repeating to my children often. I remind my older child that he can write his numbers and sound out words if he thinks he can, slows down, and tries. I encourage my baby to put himself to sleep when he wakes in the middle of the night. I softly coo to him that I think he can do it and that I’m close by even if I’m not in the room. I tell my children that it takes baby steps by thinking you can and then trying. You can do it just like the little blue engine that chugged and puffed along.

And yet, this mama does not always do by example. This was my first week to participate in the Fit4Mom Body Well program - seven days of tracking my eating, drinking, and exercise. One week down, seven more weeks to chug through. I was anxious getting started and overwhelmed by the information in the Body Well Client Guide, Journal, and the private Facebook group postings. The coaches asked me to record my fitness assessments and measurements, reflect on my current habits, track every single item I ate this week, and change my wake-up time to get up for a twice weekly 5:30 am exercise class. When I recorded my assessment stats, I felt like the old and tired engine that had to go back to the roundhouse. I was discouraged. “I can not.”*

And then the first Body Well challenge was posted: increase my water intake. The Fit4Mom coaches, who are busy women with families, jobs, households, and lots of things competing for their attention, stepped back and focused on us participants. They provided tips for successfully drinking more water during the day and sticking with the new water routine that works for on-the-go moms. Every day this week we attended to completing that task. Baby steps. Chug, chug, chug along on this one change (except maybe not chug all the water at once). I didn’t have to change all my eating habits immediately or do every high impact exercise in the early morning hours or refuse takeout for an upcoming family birthday celebration. I just had to focus on increasing my water intake for the week. And I slowed down and gained confidence in myself for the first week.

I found it easy to take one baby step and puff along with changing one part of my lifestyle. I normally only drink about 32 ounces a day so I challenged myself to consume 96 ounces daily and still continue drinking my usual coffee and Diet Coke. The best part of this challenge was that I didn’t do this alone. The other women in the program worked toward this same goal alongside me. We posted in our private Facebook group about how we were doing with the challenge and encouraged each other to keep going and try new ways to make sure we met our goals. And I even was able to drink my coffee in the morning and half a can of Diet Coke in the afternoon and still complete my water goal. Honestly, I had two days where I fell below my goal; however, I still drank more than I normally do (I was at 64 and 80 ounces on those two days). I followed the advice of the coaches and the other women about how to break up my goal each day to ensure I finished drinking my water intake before bedtime. I took baby steps, and I not only succeeded in drinking my water, but I also found that my new habit trickled into meal choice changes. I wasn’t hungry every couple hours and then emotionally snacking on a “my brain will feel good” snack, like a cookie or a leftover Christmas chocolate. I cut back on my serving sizes for meals since the water filled me up ahead of time. And, I even finished two one-hour Body Boost HIIT classes at 5:30 am this week.

All the women agreed that this wasn’t an easy week, especially to get started on the program after the holidays. None of us are fitness gurus or nutrition experts. We are all struggling at times and succeeding at times. We asked questions and got real answers from each other. There was no cookie cutter answer to fit everyone’s lifestyle.

Week One: “I thought I could.”* And while there’s still much to improve, I did it.

*From “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper (Penguin Random House LLC).

Farewell Classes-4.png

Join us on Friday January 21st at STC for ‘Karlee’s Farewell Class’. She’ll be sharing all of her FAVORITE STROLLER STRIDES moves with you.

Class begins at 9:30am by Dick’s Sporting Goods. Please register to save your spot! -> https://fit4mom-southwestnova.pike13.com/e/138855310

Lots of love from Our Village to you, Karlee!:

"I love the quote ‘people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime’ - this is how I feel about Karlee. When she moved to NoVa, she reached out to me to see if I needed any support with teaching Stroller Strides - indeed I did! I hired her without batting an eye - she was a seasoned instructor that had already been teaching at two other franchises prior to mine. It was a no-brainer! It was June 2019 - she was able to help out at Springfield for Stroller Strides and helped us launch a brand new program called Body Ignite at our studio at Lorton station.

Little did we know that a global pandemic was headed our way. Karlee stayed strong with us and took on virtual classes, and proved to be one fierce mama by leading FREEZING outdoor Stroller Strides classes through the toughest seasons of our lives. I am honored she chose us during this time and I look forward to watching her adventures unfold as they move on to their new military duty station.

THANK YOU KARLEE - I wish you a life filled with joy, happiness, and lots of laughs." --Shannon Link

"Karlee has been a wonderful trainer! I love taking her classes as she is always positive, energetic, and likes to get us moving. We will miss her and her girls greatly! Good luck on your next endeavor, Karlee!" --Hallie Futterman

"Thanks, Karlee for all the awesome classes I’ve taken from you, your joy, enthusiasm and encouragement. Your girls playing airplane tag together last week made me smile and #goals for my girls in a couple years. Say hello to NM for me. 🙂" --Katherine Resendez

"It's been such a pleasure and challenge taking your classes and learning the Body Ignite ropes together. 🙂 Your smile and energy are contagious. Best wishes and lots of hugs!" --Joy Robb

"I remember Karlee's first classes here & knowing immediately she was going to bring awesome workouts!! I love how she always switches up classes to keep them interesting for moms & kids!! Like using hand puppets to coordinate with the song & workout 😊😊 She is so thoughtful and sees any areas where she needs to modify workouts too - especially for the very pregnant Mamas 😉 We will miss her & the girls tremendously! 💗 Good luck at your next stop!!" --Jessica Khatib

"I’m going to miss you at Run Club this spring!" --Leanor Alt

"It was so wonderful getting to know you!! Your class was one of the first when I finally branched out of the Woodbridge area and you were soooo welcoming!!! It can be intimidating going to another “village” for the first time, and you made it seamless 💜💜 you are always so cheerful and it’s so refreshing 🥰🥰 We’ll miss you so much!!" --Jessica Fischer

"We will miss you, Karlee! You are amazing! Good luck on your next chapter!" --Annie Sevel

"Good luck, Karlee! You were such a wonderful part of this village & an amazing instructor! You will be missed 💗" --Kara Powers

"Karlee! You are going to be SO missed! Thank you for being such an amazing instructor and for helping guide me as I started teaching myself! Your energy, creativity and positivity are contagious and I knew both my kids and I would have a blast at every one of your classes. I wish you and your family all the best as you start your new chapter! ❤️" --Cat Sethian

"Karlee, you joined the team and didn’t miss a beat! You always bring positive energy, an awesome workout, and fun entertainment for the kiddos! I enjoyed how creative you’d get with the exercises while still making them tough 💪🏻You are also a supportive team member, always happy to help out/swap classes when needed. You’re going to be missed, and I wish you all the best on this new adventure! ☺️" --Katie Taves

"Thanks for being an awesome team member and friend, Karlee! We will miss you in Run Club and look forward to hearing how your running journey continues to grow. I have no doubt you’ll bless many more moms in your new home. We will miss you! Best wishes on your new adventures!" --Megan Schmid

"Karlee, I’m so glad our paths crossed at Run Club! You have the most welcoming smile and are so encouraging and supportive. You helped me stay accountable and were an amazing run buddy for my first 10k! Best of luck to you and your family on your next Air Force adventure; you will be missed!!" --Alicia Chiapusio

"Karlee, you always have the most positive energy. You are so good at connecting to each mom and kiddo at class. You will be missed! Best of luck on your next adventure!" --Amanda Martin

"Karlee, I only took a couple of classes in person with you before all the pandemic started. You are so energetic, passionate and a great instructor! You will be missed! Wish you all the best in your next life chapter!" --Aneta Loftus

Blog Posts-8.png

Two weeks into 2022 and counting. The holidays finished with bittersweetness as we removed the tree and packed the ornaments, stockings, bows, and garlands. Two snowstorms already interrupted the return to the regular daily grind. My spouse and I keep trying different techniques unsuccessfully for our infant to sleep through the night. Increased COVID cases in the local community with shortages in hospital beds, staff, and supplies are ramping up my anxiety. I’m exhausted to say the least. But, I am determined to start the new year in a positive way. So, I am marking 2022 as the year of “self-care.”

I hear that term “self-care” so often now especially as a mom. After my second child was born this summer, other moms, nurses, and friends all emphasized how important self-care is for parenting my two children. While in theory, self-care is terrific, I struggle with finding the dedicated time to take care of myself. When I have a minute or two of “free time” as my kids rest or play and I can step away from my part-time remote work, I usually start mentally organizing my frantic list of to-dos and strategizing how I can complete them quickly. Staying present and mindful in the moment does not come naturally to me, and it is difficult to turn off the ever-turning gears in my head.

Last week, Shannon, the owner of the Fit4Mom Southwest NoVA group, asked me if I would be interested in joining the winter Body Well session and then write a weekly blog post about my experience. I have never been one to enthusiastically sign up for exercise classes. Within the last ten years, I started exercising on a regular basis from once to twice a week. My spouse and I had committed to improving our overall health, especially as we decided to start a family. Exercise has to be convenient with a motivating instructor and a fun group of participants to share the experience with.

Six years ago, I joined my first Fit4Mom with Stroller Strides when my older child was an infant. I’ve tried out Body Boost HIIT classes over the years and even some Fit4Mom pop-up yoga and express exercise sessions. When the pandemic started in March 2020, I moved from in-person classes to virtual classes, which worked out great for my family’s safety and also allowed my older child to continue to exercise with me even as he outgrew the stroller.

With a young infant, I’m hesitant about taking him to in-person programs, whether exercise or childcare, so Shannon had offered me the early morning virtual Body Well option. I knew of some women who completed the Fit4Mom program in the past, and I only heard great reviews. I, honestly, am somewhat anxious about joining in the program. First, I am not a morning person, and I am currently not getting long spells of sleep with my infant waking 3-4 times a night. I’m not a runner, and my friend and I were even nicknamed “gym skippers” in high school since we made every attempt to do the minimum amount of PE work.

Therefore, before I kick-off with the Body Well orientation, I’ve come up with a few goals to accomplish in this program and I will plan to write about my progress through the next several weeks:

  1. Sleeping more soundly during the hours I get sleep (and fingers crossed for my baby to sleep through the night)

  2. Increasing my water intake (I prefer coffee and Diet Coke as my thirst quenchers)

  3. Committing to an overall health lifestyle (a nice perk would be to lose some of the pregnancy baby weight I stored up) and adding more fruit and vegetables to my daily intake (winter seasonal fruit seems so unappetizing and boring so I am looking forward to getting ideas from the other participants)

  4. Connecting to a new group of motivating moms

Just like I’ve done with Stroller Strides, in order to stay focused, I am recruiting my family to help me along the way. I’m sure my older child will hear the instructor on the video in the morning before school so he will be bouncing around beside me during exercise classes. My husband has agreed to update our weekly grocery shopping list to stay in line with the program’s suggested meal planning. And my infant will be there riding along in the stroller for extra outdoor walks and runs and jumping around in his jumparoo (if he decides around 5:30 am is his wake-up and feeding time). As I get ready to wake up bright and early for Body Well next week, I am sending cheers to a healthier, more restful, and self-care-filled 2022.

Blog Posts-7.png

Snow days or quarantine days…gather some supplies for some art projects this winter. Buy a roll of paper, large piece of poster board or canvas if you’re feeling fancy. Remember that these projects are all about the process--don't try to complete them all in one go!

Coloring Page

You can buy giant rolls or coloring pages or…make your own! Attach a Sharpie or other black marker to the material (or just keep nearby) and anytime someone wants to doodle for a few minutes, go to town. Start with a word or phrase (like “family” or “Happy New Year!”) in the center. Then divide the whole area into large areas with big lines. Section off as much as you want with abstract designs or fun illustrations. When the page is completely filled, then it’s time to bring out the color! Markers, crayons, paints, whatever you’re feeling and is age-appropriate for the kids. Take your time and enjoy the creative process!

Connect the Dots

A quick one for you to set up for the kids: use any writing or painting method to scatter dots spaced out around a paper, board or canvas. Show your kids how to connect the dots into any shape they can imagine!

Spatter

This might be a pre-bathtime activity: with washable paint and a toothbrush, use your thumbs to spatter the paint over your base material. You can also just use large paint brushes to throw paint on. If you use paper, you can cut it up and reassemble into a collage shape!

Graffiti Board

Post your base material (the bigger, the better!) in an easily accessible location. Keep some markers and pens nearby. Advertise this new art space to your family as a place to draw to work out frustrations or just add something silly every day. Think of it as a family journal! You might want to set some ground rules of off-limits words or pictures…or not!

Motivating Mom of the Month-14.png

"Shihomi always has a smile on her face! She gives it her all in every work out and pushes me to step up my work out! She has the sweetest three little ones that are so lucky to have a strong mama! Even if she is having an off day, Shihomi still will give it her all! She also makes some amazing Japanese dishes!" --Cressalyn Anane, Fit4Mom Playgroup Captain

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My husband, Mike, and I have three kids: Sara is almost 3 1/2, Katie will be 2 in January and Michael is 7months.

I am originally from Tokyo but moved many places due to my dad’s work. We moved to Dublin, Ohio when I was 13 and graduated from high school then moved back to Tokyo for university. After marrying Mike, we moved to Portugal for Mike’s job. And here we are now!

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first class was this summer at Commonwealth opening day. I was so nervous because I hadn’t had worked out for awhile and had all three kids with me for the first time.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I usually attend Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre on Wednesdays and Fridays in Chantilly. I also manage to go to S360 in River Mill on Sundays too. I do like virtual express workouts as well but I love being outside and use full of my energy out!

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I am currently a full time mom. However I was an elementary school teacher in Japan. I just renewed my Japanese teaching license and now am planning to transfer my license to Virginia. I would love to get back to teach again. I’m secretly hoping to teach Japanese in one of immersion schools! So…if there are any teacher moms out there who have any advice for me, please let me know!!

What are 3 of your favorite things?

I love my quiet mornings with a cup of coffee before kids wake up, picnicking, and a hot shower after workout!

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

I would love to go out to a fancy dinner date with my husband. Maybe grab a few drinks at a bar too. Put makeup on, wear one of my favorite dresses (not an easy breastfeeding outfit) and put heels on!

What has being a mom taught you?

I’ve learned to let go of the small stuff: worrying about what others think of me and trying to keep up appearances. It’s OK to not always have it all the way together. Also enjoy the moment; anything can be made into exciting adventures.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

My oldest, Sara loves talking to strangers and say greetings pretty much everywhere we go. We were at Wegmans the other day and as usual, she was saying “hi” workers and shoppers. But you know many are busy shopping so there were few people didn’t realize Sara was there. Then she goes “Mommy, that lady didn’t say hi back to me! why? She should say hi!”. Pretty much everybody around us stared at us and waved back at Sara. She looked so proud afterwards.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

We all make mistakes and nobody is perfect. There’s time you regret what you’ve done to kids or blame yourself for being a bad mom (btw, we are not bad moms! we are awesome proud mamas!) and feel miserable but it’s okay. Everybody has been there and nobody is perfect and we do grow as parents/ moms as kids grow! Stop blaming yourself that you haven’t done enough for kids instead be proud of yourself!

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

FIT4MOM lets us take a moment to focus on ourselves. This place is where I can be myself and keep my sanity throughout this crazy motherhood life.

Bring your kids to classes whether they’re in a good mood or not. We support each other to make your days brighter! I am so happy to be part of FIT4MOM!!!

Blog Posts-5.png

When I was a child in New Jersey, the local newspaper used to host a writing contest with the theme of “What the Holidays Mean to Me.” I submitted something most years, but one year I had a poem published in the newspaper’s special holiday edition. It has been a long time since I wrote a holiday poem, but I decided to challenge myself this Christmas season and draft a poem in the style of Clement C. Moore’s iconic “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” or more commonly known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” I enjoyed writing this poem with my son who helped with the rhymes, and I hope you might find it festive as we enter the final stretch to the holidays.

It's the season of Christmas. It's coming too fast.

I'm hurrying to catch up and make the time last.

I started planning ahead to get the gifts shipped,

So that they arrive quickly, and I'm all equipped.

Dear friends living all over send cards in the mail.

I smile and chuckle when I read their yearly tale.

We start the decorating with stockings and bows,

And dressing in flannels from our heads to our toes.

Dad fumbles with the boxes. He searches for the star.

The tree is nice and ready. It looks up to par.

I look out my window at a street full of lights,

Rainbows of color sparkle on the starry nights.

Although we're still in COVID, we've got our face masks,

And take all the precautions to finish our tasks.

See Santa from the window jolly in his hat?

Wait, they're taking pet photos? "No, no," meows our cat.

The kids are all finishing; school's out for two weeks.

I must hide Santa's presents so that no one peeks.

I remind energized kids, you're naughty or nice.

Santa watches everything and checks his list twice.

We view classic movies -- Grinch, Santa, reindeer.

Hey there, play Christmas music, those I want to hear.

Late nights we wrap presents so no one can see,

Getting everything ready for under the tree.

We have trips to see family. We pack up the car,

Braving 95 traffic to sites near and far.

We can’t wait for hugs and our family greetings.

I’m yearning for those precious holiday meetings.

I walk in the kitchen -- the smells are a delight.

We take out the roast. It's a mouth-watering sight.

We gather round the table for delicious sweets,

And don't forget to leave Santa some midnight treats.

We talk about all the memories of before,

while enjoying present company even more.

The kids are all wiggly full of holiday joys,

waiting for Santa to leave their favorite toys.

I stop and take a moment on this blessed night,

To reflect on our luck, and I hug my boys tight.

I am using this message to wish you much cheer.

Happy holidays, my friends, and happy new year.

Blog Posts-4.png

Little did I know that being a mom to a newborn is like living as a college student (sort of…). The all-nighters, communal living, coffee-drinking, afternoon naps, and wacky schedules remind me of those four years, except for the fact that now I am responsible for keeping another human being (who is completely dependent on me) alive.

In my sleep-deprived delirium during these first few months of my newborn’s life, I mentioned inadvertently to my spouse that I had no idea that my years of college would actually prepare me for being a mom to a new baby. While this may seem ridiculous, in reality, there are some truths to it (I may actually have gained some wisdom during those wild four years many moons ago). At that time as a college student, my sole responsibility relied on passing my classes and moving on to the next semester in a timely fashion. Now, keeping my child alive is my major and biggest responsibility ever.

Here are my six comparisons of newborn mom life to college life:

Communal living. My college’s residential life consisted of living with at least one other roommate and sharing a bathroom with 10 other women. I was never alone with all the activity around me. Although my current home life is reduced to four humans and one pet, I can never use the bathroom or shower alone since my baby is always in tow. I am constantly in the presence of an energetic, silly, hungry, tired, or frustrated little guy (who is not unlike myself in college when I often experienced those emotions all at once).

All-nighters. Like most new moms, I suffer those string of nights when I maybe catch a grand total of one or two hours of sleep. Amidst baby’s multiple feedings, diaper leaks, and just not wanting to go back to sleep without being held, I can see the sun rising through the window blinds and realize that I had the same experience in college of watching the night change over to day. Back then I was finishing a long, gender-based, analytical essay about the characters in a nineteenth-century novel, but even still, my brain hurt at that time as it does during my baby’s sleepless nights. And sometimes, I stare at my device’s screen in the early morning hours just like a college student might stare at the clock’s 3:00 AM warning of an essay due for an 8:00 AM class.

Pajama-wearing. What freedom to be able to wear pajama pants to a morning (and even an afternoon) class in college (obviously, this was pre-COVID when loungewear wasn’t a fashion term yet). Before my college days, I was restricted to a dress code in high school, and later, I was wearing business clothes to my day job. But, after having a baby, I am back to wearing pajama pants all day long. Not to mention that my hair is again pulled up in a messy bun with any ponytail band I could find.

Naps. One of the best parts of college was that I had the freedom and flexible schedule for taking naps. Just after completing my morning classes and grabbing a quick lunch, I managed a short nap before heading to my mid-afternoon classes. I also mastered the cat-nap around 8:00 or 9:00 PM before getting ready for a night out at the bars and clubs. When I was pregnant, women used to tell me to nap when the baby slept. This concept seems impossible with all the dust-bunnies rolling around the house and the necessity for clean laundry, but I figure that experienced moms know best and I attempt to close my eyes when my baby sleeps. Sometimes, this amounts to a total of 10 minutes, but I once again have become an expert in cat-napping to muster a bit more energy for surviving the next hour or two.

Library. At my college, the library was the place to be during exam time. This was before social media so if I was looking for someone, I could find them at a study desk or a cushy chair in the library before and during finals week. After my baby was four weeks old, I was desperate to get out of the house, and thanks to my local library, I found a refuge for other parents like me. There, I participate in story time, interact with other moms and dads, and read various books besides the ones at home that I have read over and over and over again. The library is a lifesaver just as it was many years ago when I had to back up my analytical essay’s position with scholastic evidence.

Eating whatever you could find. My diet in college consisted of wacky food groups, including chocolate, coffee, chicken ranch wraps, chips, alcohol, and pizza. Whatever snacks I could find lying around in my dorm room, in the cafeteria, or in a friend’s mini fridge served as fuel during the day and night. As a nursing and pumping mom, I grab meals and snacks that are just as quick and easy. Back to my old habits, I scrounge around for whatever is sitting in my pantry, on the counter, or in the pocket of my diaper bag (score!).

While a number of my closest college friends are parents to one, two, or even three kids, our regular conversations have changed. We are no longer planning our Friday and Saturday night outings, but instead, are analyzing the best car seats and diapers. It has been comforting to reminisce and even laugh about the simplicity of our lives during college, even though at the time, we didn’t feel that way. Going through college was a rite of passage. Surviving with a newborn is a rite of passage. Even as I look into my child’s beautiful eyes and addicting smile, sometimes, my daily survival as a mom depends on knowing my exhausted, flannel-pants self was once a young, carefree, fun collegiate. And, sometimes, it is good to know that I wouldn’t change a thing.

Motivating Mom of the Month-13.png

"I love how she is so involved with F4M- yoga, running, other classes. She always comes with a huge smile on her face. I love how she was so devoted to self care and coming to class- she didn’t let her recent pregnancy stop her. Love her so much!" --Kim Ruiz, Yoga Instructor

"Jessica is such an inspiration! She works full time, cares for her two young children, and makes time for self care with Run Club, yoga, and Stroller Strides. I am always amazed when she shares that she also squeezes in regular Body Ignite workouts using the on demand classes for members, too! She balances it all with such positivity and is a great example of a strong mom!" --Megan Schmid, Run Club Coach

"I LOVED getting to know Jessica during our virtual Fit4Baby classes. She was so dedicated to her health and attended until very close to having her baby 🙂 She also worked hard in Body Ignite classes." --Joy Robb, Fit4Mom Instructor

"My first encounter with Jessica was via a zoom yoga class. She joined us in the height of the pandemic so I hadn’t met her in person yet. I was in awe of her; strong, amazing form, and super pregnant; yet she didn’t skip a beat. It was beautiful watching her body flow so naturally and with ease throughout the class. She’s had her baby in the meantime, and I’ve finally had the opportunity to meet Jessica in our in-person classes. She is such a calming presence to have around.

I love how she dabbles in all of our programs; such a great way to cross train her body. We’re lucky to have her in our village - Jessica, thanks for trusting us as your fitness company!" --Shannon Link, Fit4Mom Franchise Owner

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My husband Ben and I have two boys: Joel, who is 4 1/2 (that 1/2 is very important), and Rowan, who is 8 months. I'm originally from Dumfries - we lived in Montclair my entire childhood.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first class was a virtual Fit4Baby class - it was right after the pandemic started at the end of March 2020 and we were all in lockdown. I was so happy to find moms virtually when the whole world seemed so far away! It was especially nice to see moms navigating the pandemic and pregnancy at the same time, so it was a great way to connect. I also remembered the class being a great workout and challenge for my pregnant body!

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I am in Fall Run Club right now but plan on going back to Springfield Town Center Stroller Strides as soon as it ends. I also have been loving virtual Body Ignite classes on demand, usually after the kids go to bed. You can also see me every Sunday evening at virtual yoga - yoga is a big part of my life and I am so glad we have these classes available to us.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I work for Booz Allen Hamilton as a contractor with the Department of Veterans Affairs. I have been working as a contractor for the VA for almost nine years now, doing project management/health IT work in various different offices throughout the VA.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

A really good slice of chocolate cake (I really enjoyed the cake at Inova Fairfax after giving birth - I got it with every meal!), a day spent outside hiking/walking with my family, and sleep - I love and miss sleep!

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

I have been dying to try the mountain bike trail at Fountainhead Regional Park, so I would take my bike and ride the trail! I loved mountain biking in college and would love to pick it back up.

What has being a mom taught you?

Simple things are often the best things - I've noticed that most of the time my kids just want to spend good, quality time with us, and that might just mean putting on a song and just dancing around the house!

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

I am not sure if this is funny or embarrassing, but it was certainly a defining moment: there was a night where I was just with my oldest son and we went out for pizza, and while I was putting things in the car, he had walked up and locked the door using the passenger side door lock. After I strapped him in, closed all the doors, I realized the doors were locked and my keys were inside the car. It was September so not too warm but still warm enough, so eventually I called 911 and my husband and waited for about 10 very long minutes for my husband to arrive, followed by the big fire truck. I was in shock and very embarrassed that I locked him in the car, but Joel seemed unphased and was super excited to see the fire truck! They gave him one of those plastic red fireman hats and I was happy I didn't have to break a car window with a rock.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

I would tell moms that it's OK to take time for yourself, to truly recharge and focus on your health and well-being. It is worth it to invest that time in yourself so that when you are ready, you can be at your top Mom Form for whatever comes your way.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

I love the flexibility of all the classes: all the different formats, all the different workouts, and the ability to choose different levels during class to fit what your body needs that day. I would also tell them that when you join, you are really joining a whole village of mamas that are so supportive and understand what you are going through, both the hard days, the awesome days, and all the days in between.

Blog Posts-3.png

Thanksgiving is rushing upon us in the next couple weeks, and like many others, I am racing to prepare for the holiday. As I’ve been bustling about, especially with my two little ones, I started doling out my gratitude list. The typical thank yous include my family and friends, a comfortable place to live, a rewarding career, etc. But, this November, I particularly send appreciation for my younger brother, the second of our sibling twosome.

As the older child, I didn’t appreciate all my brother did for me (and had to endure). Growing up, my immediate family included my Mom, Dad, younger brother, and me. This year, I welcomed a second child to my own family bunch, and while I’ve been adjusting as a new mom of two, I’ve realized the differences in how I interact with my older child, especially as a baby, compared to my younger child.

A few weeks after I delivered my first child, I attended the hospital’s weekly new moms group. The women provided so much advice and reassurance as I was initiated into motherhood. What I most appreciated from the group was observing the second- and third-time moms with their new babies. They had a knack for changing diapers efficiently (and without those mid-change accidents) and for maneuvering their babies into comfortable positions for breastfeeding without breaking their train of thought in the group discussion. I marveled at their confidence in consoling their babies’ cries, especially since I cringed at the constant screams of my baby as I inadequately attempted to soothe him. I really wished during my first pregnancy that I had taken the opportunity to join moms and pregnancy groups so I could pair up with an experienced mom mentor to shadow.

My Mom recently referred back to my childhood pediatrician who said that all parents should be second-time moms and dads. My younger child benefits now from my “second-hand” parenting techniques. I am more adept at changing my baby’s diaper before he shows signs of frustration on the changing table. I can hold, bounce, and rock him with confidence as I multi-task sorting laundry. I know many more children’s songs, movements, and games than I did before (thank you, Stroller Strides) so I can provide a variety of activities for my baby and me during the day than I did with his brother. I can successfully travel to more places because I am no longer intimidated by transferring my baby to his infant car seat, placing it into the car seat base, and then connecting it to the coordinating stroller caddy. While my first child is still my science project with mixed results in my methods (I bring the “wrong” snacks to his sports practice or have to find an impromptu toilet for unexpected potty needs), I’m not experimenting with parenting as much with my second child.

With two little ones, though, I juggle with whom I attend to when they both need something at once. My older child has seniority. Even though my baby can piercingly cry for a bottle, I often respond to my older one’s requests first (especially since my older one knows how to negotiate). “Well, if you get me my snack now, Mom, you can turn on the tablet with your free hand while you feed the baby a bottle.” Ok, big kid. You win. Sorry, little dude.

These situations remind me of when my younger brother used to complain to my Mom that it wasn’t fair that I had first dibs on the night-time TV show or that I occupied the bigger bedroom or that I unwrapped a Christmas present first. I know that my younger son is fine even though he is complaining through his cries (and I’m sure my Mom knew that my brother was alright as he reluctantly remained patient). Sometimes by allowing my younger child to cry for a few minutes while he waits, he discovers how to be independent by soothing himself to sleep or distracting himself with his toy. My older one learned patience and coping mechanisms much later since I responded immediately to him with no one else fighting for my attention.

The other day, I woke my baby from his cozy, warm afternoon nap, to transfer him into his car seat to collect his older brother from school. As my now unhappy baby frustratingly cried in protest during the drive, I realized that my Mom used to interrupt my brother from his rest time or playtime to pack him up so she could pick me up from school, or stay with me during piano lessons, or attend my performances. Many, many, many, many times. I’m sure the discordant concerts and prolonged exercises exasperated my brother as he continuously asked my Mom how many more minutes until it was time to leave. The seriously annoyed look on my baby’s face in the car struck me as the same look my brother demonstrated while he waited for my activities to end. Even though my baby is dragged around to little league games, playdates, and other events for my older son, I at least feel assured in my parenting skills for travelling with a baby in the car, feeding on the go, and changing diapers wherever I am.

My comfort level as a mom has improved over time, and now with two, I am more aware and sympathetic to what my second child goes through. I just hope my baby turns out to be as supportive a younger sibling to his older brother as my brother is to me. And in the season of thanksgiving, this older sister is grateful now and always for her little brother.

Motivating Mom of the Month-12.png

"I love running with Bryce. She has such a great attitude and works hard! She also brings positive energy to early morning workouts online. Bryce is such a wonderful member of our village and I love seeing her at workouts and events!" --Becky Krispin, Run Club Coach

"Bryce is absolutely incredible! She wakes up to work out at 5:30 am multiple times a week, is currently doing Run Club, and squeezes in Express Core twice a week! I love having Bryce in class! She always brings her energy 110%" --Annie Sevel, Body Boost Instructor

"Bryce is so committed! I can always count on her to be in class bright and early and give it her all!" --Amanda Martin, Body Boost Instructor

"Bryce is one dedicated mama—to her family and her health. Her love for her sons is evident in her actions and words. She is such a great role model for them, too! She consistently shows up to early morning classes and Run Club with an easy smile and a passion to grow stronger. Bryce is not just surviving motherhood in a pandemic, she is thriving!" --Megan Schmid, Run Club and Body Ignite Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

I grew up right here in Northern Virginia! I have lived here my whole life. My family includes my husband, Josh, and my three sons: Booth (9), Griffin (7), and Emerson (3).

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

I started with Fit4Mom when I was on maternity leave with my youngest son, Emerson. My first class was the Anniversary class that year (2018) taught by Shannon and her team at Burke Lake Park. I remembered that I showed up wearing the exact same color shirt that Shannon was giving away (dark red) and Shannon commented on it, something like, I was ready to go! It made me feel welcome.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I re-engaged with Fit4Mom in Fall 2020 with the Virtual Body Well program taught by Annie. I have done three sessions of Body Well and am now doing Body Ignite, Body Boost, and Run Club South. I also like to do the quick 20 min Core & More virtual class.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I am the Director of an Enterprise Application Development team for a grant making agency within the Department of Justice.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Let’s see: I love Fall and the cooler temperatures it brings, I love watching my kids try out new things, and the third is a tie between a good cup of coffee and a good glass of wine.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

I’d make it a day date with my husband starting with a long hike in the woods and followed by a wine tasting and enjoying a glass in the beautiful scenery a winery offers.

What has being a mom taught you?

Patience. It’s a work in progress for sure. But I have learned that I must adjust my expectations to what my children need and are capable of. Sometimes things don’t work out as I want them to and I am learning to accept that and just keep going.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

About a year ago, we set up the kids with a movie in the basement and my husband and I were sitting on the back patio taking a short break. The next thing I knew my neighbor was calling me saying that my two-year-old was at her house down the block. I guess he had walked upstairs and not seen us outside and went out the front door and all the way down the street! I was so embarrassed that I had lost track of him in that way. Thankfully he was totally fine and not even upset.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

I like to think about the other moms who have been through whatever difficult phase of parenthood I might be dealing with and remember they made it through, and so can I! So my advice is to just keep going, learn from what may be happening and make adjustments where you can, but mostly just keep going.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

I love our supportive instructors – they all set a wonderful example of health and fitness and of course being strong, resilient moms. To anyone thinking about joining, I would say, “do it!” It’s a wonderful reminder that we must focus on ourselves – being healthy and happy if we are going to be successful moms to our children.

Blog Posts-2.png

Someone once told me that autumn is a meaningful time for reflection – a time to clean up, shed the things that weigh us down, and calm down from the heat and excitement of summer. It is also the time when we reflect on our previous experiences.

October is the month of remembrance for infant and pregnancy loss. October is the month when I endured my first D&C nine years ago. That was followed by two other pregnancy losses, a rainbow baby, a fourth loss, and another rainbow baby.

During those years of trying for a baby, I struggled with a sense of identity. At the time of my first pregnancy, my spouse and I had been married for over a year, settled into our house and the surrounding area, and had some local family to help out. I decided to put my next career move on hold since I didn’t want to be hampered by the extra stress of a new job while navigating motherhood.

I felt ready to be a mom. I, honestly, was ignorant to miscarriage. No one in my immediate family previously had a miscarriage. I assumed my pregnancy would be “normal” and that there would be no issues. At our pregnancy confirmation appointment, the ultrasound technician stoically announced that our first pregnancy was a blighted ovum. I was stunned. What does a blighted ovum even mean? I was distressed. Within a matter of seconds, I lost my pregnancy and I lost my plan of being a mom. What about the ideas that were forming in my head about if the baby is a boy or a girl? What about picking out the baby registry and the baby’s name? What about our plan to surprise our parents with the news that they were going to be first-time grandparents? What about the creative baby announcement on social media? Why did I stomach first trimester nausea if I was miscarrying? I am a planner by nature and this loss disrupted my world. To top it all off, within a short time afterwards, my friends who were the same age as me and married around the same time started announcing their expected babies. I couldn’t open Facebook without seeing another cute baby announcement that shattered my heart all over again. I would meet people who were surprised by their positive pregnancy test and weren’t even really trying to conceive. How come that wasn’t me? How come I was excluded from the “new mom club?” What did I do wrong? What did I need to do to fix this? Why did my body betray me? That loss of identity – of control – for me was devastating. But worst of all, I didn’t share my feelings, let alone the miscarriage. I trapped all my emotions inside and didn’t let others know. I even felt misunderstood by my spouse who coped differently than me. I was alone and inadequate.

My loss continued into my second and third miscarriages. I was jealous of other women with viable pregnancies. I was angry that my medical practitioners could not explain why I lost the pregnancies. I was frustrated that my spouse and I were married for four years and still didn’t have a viable pregnancy. What did my marriage’s future look like without children? I questioned my own emotions. Why was I so upset over a baby that never was? The more I tried to ignore my sadness, disappointment, and frustration, the worse they became.

After my second D&C and third pregnancy loss, at the suggestion of my OB, I joined a support group for parents who suffered loss through miscarriage and stillbirth. I met very strong women and men who would always feel the emptiness of their lost baby. That was the first time I had a safe place to express my struggle and my desire for motherhood to others. The group insisted that I needed to accept my grief and to let myself mourn. They gave me permission to decline attending baby showers or visiting with friends with babies for a while since those events constantly reminded me of my heartbreak. At the advice of the group, I started communicating about my pregnancy loss to family and friends and even to acquaintances and colleagues. I told my boss that I was taking a few sick days from work because I miscarried my baby. As I talked more about my losses, others recounted their similar grief, and I slowly felt relief in these connections. I was receiving the crucial emotional support that I absolutely needed but previously could not identify.

I realized too that I needed something tangible to memorialize my losses. My spouse and I braved the baby store and purchased baby registry items that we then donated to a local pregnancy center. I cried while picking out bibs and toys and bottles, but the catharsis provided some closure. For my fourth miscarriage, I asked the midwife if I could keep the sonogram photo. It gives me solace even though I tear up looking at that little bean that didn’t develop.

Two babies later, I still mourn my four pregnancies. I wear bracelets that my friend designed to commemorate my losses. Those pregnancies are as much a part of me and my identity as a mom as my two living children are. The other day, my mom sent me a text sending hugs with an image of a lighted candle. That recognition of my losses was exactly what I needed during this remembrance month even though my last pregnancy loss was two years ago.

I wish I could provide a solution or a magic formula to all those suffering losses. When I hear my two sons’ laughter when we play, when I meet a new mom friend at storytime, when I sing loudly with my village mamas while doing burpees, I remember the quiet aching I experienced seeing moms with their children and how I desperately wanted to be a part of that group. I am taking a moment now to reflect on those who are suffering from infertility, pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or infant loss and say that I am here for you. I am remembering your loss and recognizing your grief. You are not alone.

Blog Posts.png

October is here. Crisp, falling leaves. Bright fields of plump pumpkins. Red, juicy apples for picking. Adorable, fanciful costumes for trick-or-treating. And, witching hour. Eeeeeekkkk! Cue the Hitchcock film score. You can’t run. You can’t hide. The kids are here to terrorize your evening.

Just writing about the witching hour, I can feel my jaw tighten, my shoulders rise, and my breath quicken. Witching hours with an “s” have existed in my household for years. It started with an overtired and hungry infant and has now moved on to two frustrated, “hangry,” loud boys.

Sadly, witching hour in my household has not been a seasonal occurrence. It happens all. year. long. When I just had one child who attended childcare, I would brace myself when I spotted my spouse’s car rolling down my street and then up the driveway. The rattling of the garage door opening triggered stress symptoms and signaled that I had only seconds before the storm of my spouse and child descended. I would clear the entryway, breathe in deeply, and instruct my cat to prepare himself for the chaos.

Today, my witching hour starts much earlier when I arrive home from picking up my older child from school. My son starts demanding multiple things at once. “I need snacks.” “I want a video on my iPad.” “I need help changing my clothes.” “I have to go to the bathroom.” “My socks are stuck to my feet.” Simultaneously, my baby is screaming at the top of his lungs as soon as we enter the house because the car stopped rocking him to sleep and it must be time for a bottle (I mean it’s been at least a half hour since his last sip of milk). And finally, our cat meows loudly and stalks me for his dinner bowls. My entryway is a mess with shoes and socks kicked across the floor, my bag and son’s backpack tossed across the bench, and coats dumped anywhere. And in the meantime, I can’t find my cell phone.

How do I counter the curse of the witching hour? How do I avoid leaving everything behind and run screaming out the door?

A wise woman once told me that you can’t control others, but you can control your reactions to others and their actions. So I try to set myself up for success.

Before leaving to pick up my older son, I set aside about five minutes to put the baby down on his playmat and fill my older son’s water bottle and snack bowls and the baby’s mid-afternoon bottle ahead of time. My goal is to fulfill the kids’ basic needs first and I feel satisfied that I accomplished one demand.

I also set expectations for what comes next. While I can’t stop the commotion, I prioritize what comes next. Even though the baby may be crying for a few minutes before I attend to him, I take a deep breath to relax my tense muscles and to avoid responding negatively to either child. I then ensure that my older son has his snacks and assist him with changing into his comfy at-home clothes before feeding the baby. I ask my older son to find his iPad and bring it to me so I can turn on the timer for his videos while he eats his snacks. I also moved my cat’s dinner time to earlier when it’s quieter in the house. He can enjoy a more relaxing feeding time and then not be as needy when we all arrive home.

Thankfully, there is some tranquility after I meet my kids’ initial demands; however, the witching hour extends when my spouse arrives home from his workday. Now that two grownups are present, the kids seem to think they can exponentially increase their demands. The baby doesn’t want to nap, refuses the bottle, and cries to be walked around. My older child complains that he’s still hungry, he needs more videos, and he wants to play with Mommy. And my spouse has his own regimen of immediately preparing dinner because his stomach rumbles for a meal. I find myself lucky to have a spouse who cooks, but then I alone must manage everyone and their emotions until he’s more available.

If the weather cooperates, I find that packing up the kids to play outside helps. My introverted spouse enjoys some alone time cooking to decompress from work. I distract my baby in the stroller with the sounds and sights of cars, birds, and trees outside. My older son creates chalk drawings on the driveway, runs around with a soccer ball, plays with cars and trucks, or helps water the garden. If we stay inside, I try to move the kids to another room away from the kitchen to entertain them with pretend play, puzzles, games, or books. To soothe myself in the midst of my sons’ piercing noises, I turn on soft sounds on my phone, such as classical music or ocean waves. I also coordinate with my spouse on a set time for dinner so the evening doesn’t escape us. With a needy baby, we don’t always sit at the dinner table together, but we attempt to be near each other in the same room even if we take turns eating.

I can’t change the witching hour from a trick to a treat, but by shifting some to-dos around, I find that I relieve some of the chaos of those evening hours when my family is most exhausted. For instance, collecting the trash, bathing the baby, or preparing paperwork happens in the morning after school drop-off or after lunchtime instead of 7:00, 8:00, or 9:00 at night. I also find its more convenient to email or text my spouse non-urgent household or calendar questions so that he can review and respond more attentively and on his own time. Some days I have a win when it comes to witching hour. Other days, I just have to grab my witch’s hat and embrace the fright until the cursed hours come to an end.

Motivating Mom of the Month-10.png

"Laura attended my grand opening at Abiding Presence Burke in January 2016 - crazy how fast time flies. Meeting her and Brennan that day will always be a special memory. He was just a baby! And now he’s in school and even has a brother in pre-school! Laura’s smile is so contagious - as a matter of fact I tell her that all the time. 😁

Laura’s positive energy is infectious; so much so, that after five and a half years of her seeing her dig into selfcare, her unwavering participation with all FIT4MOM programs, she and I have finally come to the conclusion that she needs to take a leap and become a team member - soooo, this is not just a mom of the month announcement, but also a ‘welcome to the team!’ Shout out!! Woohoo - cannot wait to see what she has in store for us! Psssst……have you heard her sing????? Come to Stroller Strides Burke to meet her 😍" --Shannon Link

"Laura is such a joy to chat with, exercise with, and especially to listen to her voice! Her boys can be found with snacks and books in the stroller blowing through Magic Tree House books. So thankful to have met Laura as part of our Fit4Mom tribe." --Katherine Resendez

"Laura is a gem, a steady and strong presence at class throughout the years. I am honored to have met her and her kids and to have her as a part of my motherhood journey. I'm in awe of her energy and can't wait to see her awesomeness transfer to instructing!" --Jenny Bezos

"The voice of an angel with the heart of gold! Laura is one of those friends you find once in a lifetime because how in the world can someone be so freaking wonderful! She’s like a magical, mystical, beautiful unicorn and I will forever be so grateful and honored to call her my friend! Pro tip: Having a bad day/month/year? Go to Stroller Strides and hang out with Laura! Her warm personality and fun energy makes everything better! I love you, Laura!" --Candice Agustin

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My family is made up of my husband, Clayton, and my two boys, Brennan (6) and Nikolai (almost 4). I'm originally from Lynchburg, VA, but I've been in the DC area for 12 years now.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first Fit4Mom class was the first Stroller Strides class at Abiding Presence in Burke back in January, 2016. I remember being worried about making it through the class with a 4 month old. I shouldn't have worried because Shannon got us through! At the end of the class, I signed up immediately because I recognized how important it was for me to find other moms to socialize with and find a way to be active.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I'm usually at Burke Lake Park! I love Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre. I'm also loving being able to do Body Well sessions online in the evenings. It's so convenient!

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

Before becoming a mom, I was a middle school English teacher. Now that my boys are a little bit older, I enjoy volunteering with their schools.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

A night at the theater, a gourmet meal, and a good book.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Probably go on a fun date with my husband! I'd love to do a sip and paint class or an escape room with him.

What has being a mom taught you?

To forgive myself for my mistakes and imperfections. Motherhood is messy and complicated and wonderful, and I've made so many mistakes. But it's ok! It's all a part of the process and necessary for growth.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

When Brennan was a baby, another mom I had met invited us for a group playdate at her house. I worked really hard to get myself and the baby ready to go and I managed to arrive on time for once! Or so I thought. I had actually arrived a full hour early and the other mom was still running around her house getting ready. I didn't realize my mistake for about half an hour and I kept wondering aloud where all the other moms and babies were. Whoops! My host was incredibly gracious and didn't mention a thing.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

You are not alone. Every challenge you're facing is one that another mom somewhere has been through and can help you with. Find your village!

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

Fit4Mom has helped me be the healthiest I've been in my adult life. I would encourage anyone who's been thinking about joining to come! Just come! Sometimes it's because I got a great workout, other times it's because I connected with moms who understand what I'm going through, but I always leave class feeling better about life.

Bonus Question: what's it been like doing Body Well with your mom??

It's been great! We've kept each other motivated and accountable as we've made better lifestyle choices. I've been really proud of both of us!

Shadow Puppet Fun.png

Shadow puppetry is for all ages! One of my daughter’s new favorite bedtime activities is inventing new shadow puppet shapes with her hands. It’s a way to help her relax in the evening and also get in a last shot of creativity for the day. With darker rainy days like today, you can even take advantage and play with light and shadow in the daytime! Here are some ways to explore:

  • See the photo to make animals from hand shadows
  • Make your own paper or cardboard puppets. Google and print out some basic shapes and attach them to popsicle sticks or pipe cleaners.
  • (For that matter, try making some cool ones out of just pipe cleaners!)
  • Have your kids draw some and help them cut if they need it.
  • Try papers of different thicknesses and see how it looks with opaque vs translucent materials.
  • Use objects to create different colors of light. Shine a flashlight through plastic cups, toys, sunglasses, anything you can find around the house.
  • Shine your lights at a wall or get fancy and use a sheet fort wall as a projection screen.
  • Use the puppets to illustrate a story you’re reading or make up your own together.
  • Pair all this light and shadow play with some fort building, story time, and a good snack!

Motivating Mom of the Month-9.png

"I absolutely love Nornil‘s persistence and tenacity. Quiet as a mouse, but boy oh boy she it’s a little spitfire. She pushes out burpees and jumping jacks as if they were nothing! I’m so glad she participates in both of our programs Body Well and Stroller Strides. And little Mr. Z is an absolute pleasure to have in class. His smile is THE best!! Nornil has really made positive changes with her nutrition and exercise regimen. I am super proud to have her in our village of mamas!" --Shannon Link, Fit4Mom Franchise Owner

"It isn’t a Woodbridge class unless Nornil is there! You can always count on seeing her and Zachary in class. I love having Nornil in class--she always pushes herself- upping the intensity of her workout and running between stations. She’s such a great member of our Village!" --Kara Powers, Fit4Mom Instructor

"It’s always a joy having Nornil in class. She shows up to EVERY class and always has such a positive attitude. When I think of dedication, I think of Nornil. I am so impressed that during her Body Well session she still showed up to every Stroller Strides class. You go girl!!! We are so lucky to have you." --Jessica Fischer, Fit4Mom Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

-- My family consists of my husband Justin and our almost two-year-old son Zack. I'm originally from the southern island of the Philippines. Before moving to NoVa in 2019, my husband and I lived in Macomb, Il

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

- I joined fit4mom Feb 2020. I remembered Missy teaching the class inside the mall and was in awe that a community exists to cater for moms with young kids.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

- I'm at home if I'm not working out at Potomac Mills mall. We love to go to the the library and park/ playground as well.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

- Before becoming a full time mom, I managed clinics and was mostly in the administrative side of the healthcare world through out my working years.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

- internet, audiobooks and food!

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

- work on my craft room and take a nap lol

What has being a mom taught you?

- We are always on call and it's hard to turn off being a mom. Moms are very intentional with their actions; we have to or else everything else would be a mess.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

- Zack likes to give blank stare at people and it's awkward

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

- Hang in there! Years till the kids are 18 isn't that far off in the distance lol. Seriously, it's amazing to be able to raise a child. Being a mom is often a thankless job but we do it because we love our family. Moms are strong, smart and brave!

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

- In the covid times that we live in, all moms yearn and need a community to belong to - where we can learn, support and gain encouragement from each other. I'm glad I found it in Fit4Mom.

Day Trips-2.png

Dig deep in your closet and don your sense of adventure! Area schools are starting soon and now is the time to squeeze in one more day trip. All of these locations are less than two hours away and provide hours of fun. See below for some ideas:

Leesylvania State Park

What’s There: Playground, Beach, Hiking Trails, Picnic Shelters

Address: 2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Dr., Woodbridge, VA 22191

Website: https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/leesylvania#recreation

Admission: $10 per car

Clark’s Elioak Farm

What’s There: Fairy Tale Village, Sunflower Field, Cow Train, Goats! And more

Address: 10500 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21042

Website: http://www.clarklandfarm.com/

Admission: Tues-Sun, $8 per person (under 1 is free). Rides are extra.

Watkins Regional Park

What’s There: Wizard of Oz Playground, Picnic Areas, Train, Carousel, Mini Golf, Animal Farm

Address: 301 Watkins Park Drive, Upper Marlboro, MD 20774

Website: https://www.mncppc.org/3204/Watkins-Regional-Park

Admission: Playground is free, all others are $2-6 per person

Lake Anna State Park

What’s There: Fishing, Swimming Beach, Playground, Hiking Trails, Snack Bar + boat rentals outside the park

Address: 6800 Lawyers Rd., Spotsylvania, VA 22551

Website: https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/lake-anna#recreation

Admission: $7-10 per car for parking. $3-5 per person for beach swimming

Instructor Spotlights-2.png

Fit4Mom SouthWest NoVA just added three newly certified instructors--familiar faces, new roles!

Jessica Fischer

1. Where do you typically teach class?

-Manassas and Potomac Mills Mall

2. Who are the members of your family and where did you come from before Virginia?

-Mark, Olivia, little one end of September

-Colorado

3. What do you love about Fit4Mom?

-I love the community and friendships that I’ve made. It is stressful enough becoming a new mom, and to add to that also making new friends and moving to a new area. I couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming group of understanding women to become a part of.

4. What's your favorite fitness move/song/etc?

-My favorite move is a deadlift into an upright row

-Favorite song: Drop It Like a Squat

5. A fun fact we may not know about you...

-I love to cross-stitch (when I’m actually being productive lol)

Kara Powers

1. Where do you typically teach class?

Potomac Mills Mall!

2. Who are the members of your family and where did you come from before Virginia?

Jeremy, Blair (2.5), Reagan (1), and our pup, Piper

3. What do you love about Fit4Mom?

I love the village for myself, and my girls. I love that I can go and get a great workout in, my kids will socialize and play with their friends, and I’ll get much needed conversations with other moms. Motherhood is hard, but it’s so great when you have a strong, supportive village.

4. What's your favorite fitness move/song/etc?

I love a good "5 below" wall sit (shout out to the PMM moms) while singing "If You’re Happy and You Know It"

5. A fun fact we may not know about you...

I was a juvenile probation officer before deciding to stay home with my girls.

Katrina Seibert

1. Where do you typically teach class?

I've been teaching on Tuesdays at Kingstowne. It has tons of opportunities for different stations to keep things entertaining and a parking garage for us to stay out of the raging sun or rain. Come join us!

2. Who are the members of your family and where did you come from before Virginia?

My three boys, ages 6, 3, and 2 moved to Virginia from southeastern Michigan in January 2020 for my husband's military job. We also have a 10y old Boxer named Otis.

3. What do you love about Fit4Mom?

The friendships and the time connecting with my kids in a playful way which also models the importance of daily body movement.

4. What's your favorite fitness move/song/etc?

My favorite fitness move is a lot of people's least favorite...the burpee! I get bored easily, so I'm always trying to find creative songs or stations to incorporate into my classes. Songs with call and repeats are probably my favorite.

5. A fun fact we may not know about you...

I have an irrational fear of bridges.

Motivating Mom of the Month-8.png

"Ashley is the supermom you'll see rocking her double stroller on a run, pushing herself those extra few reps during class and always loving hard on her boys! She always brings a smile and 'can do' attitude to class. I love Ashley's sense of adventure and tenacity. She is a great mom, teacher and friend, and we are so lucky to have her in Our Village!" --Amy Hennessy, Fit4Mom Instructor

"Ashley is a rockstar mama! She gives off a calm feeling and always has a warm smile ready for you! She is thoughtful, sweet and kind! She moms 2 boys all day everyday with so much love and fun and rocks run club and stroller strides and 360 with the iIn tow! I love all the adventures she takes her kids on and how she manages to do that while being a teacher! She is what Fit4Mom is all about! A mama who is there to support mamas around her in any way needed and get it from the mamas when needed for herself. Mamas like her make our village what it is!" --Najla Farooq, Fit4Mom Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

I live with my husband, our two wonderful sons and our dog, Snickers. I grew up in Fairfax right near Chantilly High School.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first class was actually Run Club with Amy. I remember her being welcoming as always and just making it fun.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

Three years later and I am still part of Run Club. During the summer I try to attend Stroller Strides. Sometimes you might catch me at Boost or Saturday morning workouts after Run Club.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I am currently a 7th grade math teacher.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

1. Taking my boys on adventures, big and small, and spending time with them. 2. Playing soccer or running. 3. baking and decorating cakes.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Go shopping or clean my house with the music up loud.

What has being a mom taught you?

To laugh and have fun and that the smallest things can be the greatest adventures.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

I was grading papers while pumping during my planning time at school. I wasn't paying attention to the bottles and one completely overflowed all over my pants. Thankfully, my husband was off and packed up both kids to bring me a new pair of pants to finish out the school day.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Everything is a phase, some go fast and some go slow, some are super fun (hold on to these memories forever) and some just suck (you'll forget these a month or so after they happen), but you are the best mom for your child/children.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

It's filled with some of the nicest people I've ever met. Everyone is there for each other and willing to help in any way they can even if they don't know you. From sharing toys and pushing strollers during class, to calming down your kids so you can get a workout in, to delivering you a nice meal after just having a baby, it is such a wonderful group to be a part of and I am so thankful I have found this village.

Untitled design-5.png

10 Things We Love About Stroller Fitness!

Stroller Strides, Strides 360, and Stroller Barre are our Stroller Fitness Classes! And they are definitely not just a walk in the park. Each class offers something different, and are perfect for any mom!

Here are 10 Things We Love About Stroller Fitness! Though we could think of a million more reasons!

• You get an incredible workout PLUS the extra resistance of pushing a stroller

• You will meet and connect with local moms

• Every workout is different! We love variety!

• You get in some much-needed self-care, WHILE spending time with your kiddo(s)

• Play dates and socialization for kids

• Outdoor classes - ahhhhh

• All fitness levels are welcome - classes are personalized for YOU

• No childcare necessary - bring em!!!

• There are morning and weekend options!

(thanks to Fit4Mom Frankfort for sharing!)

Blue Red White Fireworks Independence Day Greeting Fourth of July Facebook Post.png

This Fourth of July at 9 am, Fit4Mom SouthWest NoVa is pleased to offer a FREE Stroller Strides class at Ben Lomond Park in Manassas, followed by a visit to the adjacent Splash Down Water Park! Register here.

If you're looking for more fun for later in the day, check out these events (some for earlier in the weekend):

Friday, July 2nd--Workhouse Arts Center, Lorton--only VIP tickets available

https://www.workhousearts.org/workhouse-events/workhouse-fireworks-2021/

Join us on Friday July 2nd for the Annual Workhouse Fireworks Event. The much beloved community event is reimagined and redesigned to better serve the community as we look forward to the post-pandemic life.

Saturday, July 3rd and Sunday July 4th--City of Fairfax--FREE

https://www.fairfaxva.gov/government/parks-recreation/special-events/independence-day-celebration

The 55th annual Independence Day parade will be celebrated this year on July 3rd. The parade steps off at 10:00 am at 4100 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, rain or shine. The parade loops around downtown Fairfax, along Chain Bridge Road, Main Street, University Drive and Armstrong Street.

This year the Evening Show will be on a separate day July 4. Enjoy music and dancing during the Evening Show at 6:30 pm at Fairfax High School (3501 Lion Run). Due to COVID restrictions, no children's activities will be held this year. On-stage entertainment begins at 6:30 pm with a spectacular fireworks display that follows.

Sunday, July 4th--Mount Vernon--cost of admission

https://www.mountvernon.org/plan-your-visit/calendar/events/an-american-celebration/

During this patriotic event:

Meet George Washington.

Watch made-for-daytime fireworks.

Observe a moving ceremony in which candidates from across the world become U.S. citizens.

Listen to 18th-century music in the upper garden.

Watch and learn about flying hot air balloons in the 18th century.

Watch a musical performance by the National Concert Band.

Sunday, July 4th--Historic Manassas--FREE

https://visitmanassas.org/event/celebrate-america-2-3/?fbclid=IwAR2JbJkImdomo9poCE9IcTi9jUPc361pjTFhHTPW5_04z9BHiHwxbMG2c_0

The Harris Pavilion will feature photos from the community house decorating contests from 3 pm – 5 pm. There will be a Bicycle Decorating Contest for the kids starting at 3:30 pm. (Please arrive by 3:00 pm if you wish to participate in the Bicycle Decorating Contest)The rest of the fun, including food concessions and novelty vendors will begin at 4 pm in the streets and parking lots surrounding the Manassas Visitor’s Center and the Harris Pavilion. Be sure to bring your lawn chairs and blankets and come early to get the best seats on the Manassas Museum Lawn for the firework display at 9:15 pm!

Motivating Mom of the Month-7.png

"Katie, you are such an inspiration to all of us. I am in awe of you. First off, I Thank you for your service to defend our nation and freedom! You make motherhood look effortless; you have so much patience and calmness about you. I’m so glad we had an opportunity to meet - it’s been a crazy year (and some!) you always give 100+ percent at every workout - keep it up!!! And ummmm, thank you for my new headband addiction! (I just bought 5 more!)" --Shannon Link, Franchise Owner

"I love having Katie in class and Body Well! She is incredibly motivated and hard working! I love that she always comes with a smile-even at 5:30am!" --Annie Sevel, Fit4Mom Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

-- I am married to my awesome husband, Andrew, and am mom to Rosie (4) and Benji (nearly 2). I am originally from California.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

-- My first Fit4Mom class was an early 2020 Stroller Strides at Springfield Town Center. I had just moved from overseas and was looking for both a workout and some mom connections. I remember the moms were so welcoming and I loved that we were all at different fitness levels.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

-- After a great year of virtual and in person Stroller Strides/Total Body classes, I did my first Body Well session this year and am now going straight into my third. I also did S360 and Spring Run Club.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

-- I am an active duty military member, currently assigned in Alexandria.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

-- Traveling, wine tasting (or just wine drinking), and the changing seasons.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

-- Go out! Old Town, DC, Fairfax, Occoquan, whatever!

What has being a mom taught you?

-- That stressing out about clutter and crumbs is pointless. Clean it up, by all means, but worrying about it is counterproductive.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

-- After one of those horrifying squished-out-of-the-diaper-all-over-the-inside-of-their-clothes kind of poops, I had just put my baby in the tub for a hose down. Then I turned around and saw the dog with his snout shoved as far as possible in the dirty pants like it was the greatest snack he'd ever had. Ugh!

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

-- Remember that even those women who inspire you and seem to have it all together (and this group is full of them!) are dealing with the same baby blues, toddler tantrums, tweener drama, and teenage rebellion you are - so cut yourself some slack.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

-- Fit4Mom isn't just about fitness. I've spent over 20 years working in an environment that mandates fitness. For me, Fit4Mom is about whole person health - connecting with a motherhood community that encourages each other, offers support, and never judges.

Motivating Mom of the Month-6.png

"Katrina is an amazing, hard-working, loving, patient momma! I love seeing her homeschool her oldest son while getting in a workout. It’s motivating to watch her give 110%. And all while loving her boys and a smile on her face!" --Katherine Resendez, Playgroup Captain

"Katrina is so great to have next to you in class! She’s always there with a smile and all 3 boys in tow. She's motivating, works hard, and encourages everyone around her." --Kara Powers, Playgroup Captain

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My husband, David, and I are high school sweethearts (from rival schools) and we both were born and raised and started our family in southeastern Michigan before leaving everything and everyone we knew to move to NoVa in January 2020. We have three boys: Benjamin, 6; Isaac, 3; James, 2 and our Boxer dog, Otis. I'm very outnumbered by the male species in my house! #boymom

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

I was still on maternity leave with my oldest when my friend invited me to my first Fit4Mom class. I remember after class taking over the mall's seating area with our large group and most moms nursing their babies. At that point I was still struggling with nursing in general and definitely uncomfortable nursing in public, but that gave me the confidence I needed to join in and get tips and tricks needed to make that life easier.

I took a long hiatus with Fit4Mom due to working full-time, but as we transitioned to life with three boys and a move away from life as we knew it and my new SAHM life, I looked up Fit4Mom and planned to join as we got settled in. I joined the 2nd week after moving to NoVa, even before our belongings were delivered because I needed to meet people and find an outlet for my energetic boys! I remember meeting Karlee and connecting with her and her girls in the elevator at STC. Little did I know at that point that Fit4mom would be life-giving in so many ways through pandemic times two months later!

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I regularly attend in-person classes at Burke Lake Park, Springfield Mall, and Kingstowne. You may also find me enjoying the Body Ignite and Yoga classes virtually and I pop in from time to time when my kids are engaged with the Fit & Fun Kids classes.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I currently work part-time remotely as an HR Director. I am fortunate to work with a bunch of moms in different stages of life who understand the home dynamic struggle and give a lot of grace to that balance (or unbalance, as many of the days/weeks feel). Remember that mom friend who first invited me to my very first Fit4mom class? She's the Clinical Director, so I get to see her on our weekly team video conferences and our kids often pop in to wave to each other.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Friends, coffee, wine.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

I'd like to think I would get a pedicure and a fancy meal either with friends or my husband, but when it has happened, I usually just try to go for a run by myself and do as many errands as possible without kids in tow.

What has being a mom taught you?

I've definitely grown in patience and adapting to change since being a mom.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

My oldest spent the night with his aunt and uncle and hadn't seen his uncle without a hat on before. When his uncle came downstairs in the morning after his shower, revealing his bald head, before any other greeting happened, Ben, with open-gaped-mouth, declared, "Uncle Aaron, you have a silly head!" And from then on, he has been called Uncle Silly Head instead of Uncle Aaron.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Be forgiving of yourself and others.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM?

The village! I may have three kids, but I'm still learning from moms everyday on how to be better, whether that is tips and tricks shared in passing or just by all the beautiful modeling of different mom styles that I can try to adapt for my family. The village is all-knowing because there are military families, families that have grown up here, and families that explore the area so I have been able to tap into that for all the advice from places to go, insurance questions, best contractors, etc.

Fresh Strawberries Facebook Post.png

It’s strawberry season! Here are a few recipes to indulge this year.

Vegan Whole Wheat Strawberry Muffins

Ingredients

  • • One banana

  • • 1/8 cup canola oil

  • • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

  • • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • • 1 1/2 cups almond milk

  • • 2 cups of whole wheat flour

  • • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • • 1 pinch of sea salt

  • • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • • 1/3 cup fine granulated sugar

  • • 1 cup of fresh diced strawberries – diced into 1 centimeter pieces

  • • Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 385° and lightly grease your favorite muffin tin with cooking spray.

  2. Wash and dice the strawberries into 1 centimeter size pieces

  3. In a medium mixing bowl, mash the banana until there are no lumps. Add the canola oil, lemon juice, vanilla extract and almond milk and whisk to mix.

  4. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, baking powder, sea salt, cinnamon and sugar. Mix the dry ingredients fully but don't combine with the wet ingredients just yet.

  5. OK, it's show-time! Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold them together until barely moistened. Add the strawberries and fold them into the mixture, minimizing the amount of mixing.

  6. Using an ice-cream scoop, place some batter in each well of your muffin tin. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon sugar over the top and place the tin in the oven on the center rack.

  7. Check on the muffins after fifteen minutes. They will be a light golden color and a toothpick inserted into the center of the largest one will come out clean when they are done baking.

  8. Place the tin on a wire rack for five minutes to cool, then invert the muffins onto the rack and allow them to sit upside-down for a few minutes. This will allow any extra moisture in the bottoms to move back toward the tops for better consistency.

Strawberry Yogurt Pops

1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered

2 tsp lemon juice

2 tsp granulated sugar

1 ¼ cups vanilla frozen yogurt

  1. Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the fruit has broken down, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate, uncovered, until completely cooled, about 30 minutes.

  2. Let frozen yogurt soften for a few minutes at room temperature. Stir with a sturdy flexible spatula until pliable.

  3. Alternate layers of 1 TBSP each of the frozen yogurt and compote into each of six 3-ounce popsicle molds until they’re almost full (you can also use small paper cups). Stir to swirl. Insert sticks. Freeze at least 6 hours.

Strawberry Breakfast (or anytime) Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour divided (284g)

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar (170g)

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled (113g or 4oz)

  • 1 cup sour cream (8-ounces)

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten

  • 1 cup quartered or diced strawberries (6oz) plus 7 or 8 halved strawberries for topping

  • 1 tablespoon coarse sugar for topping

  • powdered sugar for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

  2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups of the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and granulated sugar. Make a well in the center and set aside.

  3. In a small bowl combine 1 cup diced strawberries with the remaining ¼ cup of flour. Toss to coat. Set aside.

  4. In a separate small mixing bowl combine the melted cooled butter, sour cream, vanilla and the lightly beaten eggs. Fold together with a rubber spatula until blended. Add the sour cream mixture to the flour and sugar. Fold together until the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter will be thick. Gently fold in the 1-cup of chopped strawberries and any extra flour. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Allow the cake batter to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

  5. Scatter the remaining sliced strawberries on top of the batter, then generously sprinkle with coarse or granulated sugar. Bake at 350°F for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with no wet batter. The top should be light golden brown.

  6. Cool slightly before serving either warm or at room temperature. Dust the top with powdered sugar and serve. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Spring 4 week.png

One of our Run Club moms shared that after returning home from our weekend meetup her husband asked, “How was Run Club? Or can you not talk about it?” We had a great laugh about his reference to the infamous rules of Fight Club. Later on, I got to thinking about using Fight Club rules as an outline to make up rules for Run Club. I hope you enjoy this fun play on the theme and learn a bit more about our awesome group. Here goes....

THE RULES OF RUN CLUB

1st rule: Everyone is invited.

From moms with babies to moms with teens or grown children, we welcome anyone who wants to improve her health and fitness, and connect with other moms. No running experience is required. Our program will help you find your happy pace and, we wouldn’t be surprised, if you develop a love for running.

2nd rule: EVERYONE is invited.

Run Club is a great outdoor activity that you can bring your family to enjoy! Some of our moms run with a stroller, bring their spouse/partner, and even older kids who can run along with them. Unlike Fight Club, which you can’t talk about, our moms love to talk with their families about our running adventures and occasionally bring them along for the fun. Of course, moms can also enjoy the time to run alone, too.

3rd rule: If someone says “I can’t” or has pain, it’s okay for that run to stop.

One of the best parts of training with a certified Run Club+ coach is access to her knowledge and experience. Your coach knows the mental toughness needed to push through running excuses and setbacks. She will be your biggest cheerleader, but also a voice of reason. If you encounter a physical problem, your Run Club coach will encourage you to seek medical care. Sometimes we moms need a coach to help us recognize when we should listen to our body’s signals. By recognizing the early warning signs of an injury, you can address it and get back to running sooner than if you let it get worse. Your Run Club coach is happy to help you navigate what can be an otherwise lonely or upsetting journey through an injury or setback.

4th rule: Only 2 moms are needed for a meetup.

We have planned group runs on Saturdays at local parks and trails. But our moms are running four times a week and cross training twice a week, so we use weekday meetups to foster motivation. Sometimes we meet at a high school track to run laps or complete a strength workout. Other times we checkout a new trail or park. Any of our moms can reach out to the group and make a meetup. After all, it only takes two moms to make it an running meetup.

5th rule: One run at a time.

Never ran more than a few blocks? No problem! You can gain the endurance and experience to complete your first 5K race. We will get there by focusing on just one run at a time. In Run Club, we will help you empty your mind and stay present in the moment. That’s the beauty of running! You focus on the task at hand, not worrying about the past or future. If you have a “bad run,” we will help encourage and lift you up.

6th rule: Yes shirts, yes shoes.

Fight Club rules say “no shirts, no shoes” but in Run Club we have fun with shirts and shoes! Our moms proudly wear Fit4Mom Run Club tank tops and shirts from races that we complete together. There is something heartwarming about showing up to a run, someone seeing your race shirt and saying, “I remember when we ran that race together!” We share an inspiring sense of community, camaraderie, and team pride.

As far as shoes go, each mom needs the right support and style to fit her needs. We help moms find the right pair of running shoes with our gear event at a locally owned running store. Our moms get a free gait analysis and shoe recommendation plus an special discount on their purchases. Plus, a shopping trip with mom friends is always a fun treat!

7th rule: Runs will go on as long as they have to.

Alright, this Fight Club rule was admittedly hard to adapt. Bear with me as I bend it to Run Club style. Another great aspect of our program is our approach to pace and distance goals. For our beginning runners, we provide a training plan that starts with time goals (i.e. run/walk for 20 minutes) and we use run/walk intervals to ease mom into running. As mom gains endurance, she will transition to time+distance goals, such as run 1 mile steady pace, then 10 minutes of run/walk intervals. Finally, mom will move into running for a set distance, such as run for 3 miles. This gradual approach allows mom to build her running program gradually to prevent injuries and gain confidence in her abilities without worrying about pace.

8th rule: If this is your first time at Run Club, you have to run.

If you run, you’re a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you run, you are a runner. Our Run Club program is designed to help novice runners ease into running with intervals of walking and running. Our program also meets the needs of experienced runners looking to improve their pace by adding speed work and strength training. Bottom line, you are welcome in our club and you will LOVE this awesome community of mother runners. I know that I do. ️

Run & be happy, Megan

Fit4Mom Run Club+ Coach

Our Spring 2021 Mini Session starts on Saturday, May 22nd. Over the course of 4 weeks, we will meet at various trails, parks, and track to run, grow stronger, and enjoy the community of running. You will receive a custom training plan, loads of great advice and information, and access to our private Facebook group. You can join us for just $75 by signing up here:

https://fit4mom-lortonspringfield.pike13.com/events/8331560

Motivating Mom of the Month-5.png

"Nikki, you are always so positive and upbeat. I can’t help but smile when I see you online. I’ve witnessed you working out virtually with kids literally circling around you and you do not let it phase you one bit. You inspire others by showing the chaos that is real - motherhood is no joke. So to show up for some much needed self care is just what it’s all about. You’re a great mom - keep it up. Let that light shine bright mama - you are motivating and inspiring so many beautiful souls around you!" --Shannon Link, Franchise Owner

"Nikki's energy is the best! I miss her smile in person but love seeing it in all her creative and inspiring posts about her virtual workouts! She is so genuine and sincere. Keep up the awesome work mama!!" --Joy Robb, Fit4Mom Instructor

"Nikki is a blast to have in Body Ignite and it’s so fun to wiggle & stretch with her daughters at Fit&Fun Kids! Nikki works hard in class and I find her creative (challenge) posts in Our Village so motivating. If you haven’t met Nikki yet, make it a priority to do so!” --Cristine Glei, Fit4Mom Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My husband is Michael and he’s from North Carolina. I am originally from Ohio but lived in DC for 14 years before we got married. And then I moved here to Woodbridge to be with him. We have two daughters--Layla is four and Lena is 21 months.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first Fit4Mom class I think Lena was eight weeks old? Sultana had invited me. We were at Potomac Mills mall and I remember I loved it and Missy signed me up right away.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

We are still in Woodbridge and plan even if we move to stay in the Northern Virginia area. My Fit4Mom routine is entirely virtual right now. I am in Body Well and I love Body Ignite and the 30 minute yoga class. Those are my usual classes during the week.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

My current job is a stay at home parent. Before we had Layla I was a nonprofit manager. I’m not a social worker but I was the supervisor of the social workers and the Program Manager at Isaiah House, which is a therapeutic day program for adults in DC experiencing homelessness and serious and persistent mental illness. Before I managed that program, I worked at lots of different programs at SOME(So Others Might Eat) and N St., Village.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Brunch, Animal Crossing (video game on switch), and chocolate. Also I love cats. But Michael is allergic.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Go on a date with my husband. Oh how I miss dating him LOL.

What has being a mom taught you?

So many things! One of them is to leave well enough alone. Another thing I’ve learned is perspective I think. We are used to get really worked up about issues at work, or little dramas going on with people… And now I realize what the priorities are and I can keep everything a little bit more in perspective.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

I used to take Layla into DC a lot. We were a one car family back then and Maik will drop me off at the Metro train and Layla and I would ride in together. She was about 18 or 19 months old and she asked to get out of the stroller and sit with me so I put her with me on the metro seat next to the window and she turned around and licked the window. I was like “well, that happened.”

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Have grace for yourself. Ask for help. Be proud of what your body has done. You’re raising little humans! That’s amazing!

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM?

Making friends! I only had one friend in this area when I moved here and now I have a whole bunch and I love everyone. It’s just been so good for me to have a community. Obviously the exercise is great too. But my favorite thing is all of you.

Screen Shot 2021-04-14 at 7.45.30 PM.png

Here’s to our latest group of mamas enrolled in our Body Well 8-week program! With nutrition and fitness coaching combined, these sessions are great for when you’re antsy for a change but aren’t sure if you need a physical, mental, or spiritual boost. While we can’t provide all the magic in a blog post, here are a few favorite snack recipes to give you a small taste.

Carrot Breakfast Cookies

(Makes 12 cookies; serving size 2 cookies)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 cups carrots, grated
  • 1 cup raw pecans, chopped
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup oil of your choice
  • ¼ cup applesauce

  1. In a blender or food processor, blend the oats until they are a flour-like substance.

  2. Add baking powder & spices to blend.

  3. Add the syrup, oil, carrots, pecans, and raisins to the bowl and blend. The dough should appear wet.

  4. Drop ¼ cup dough onto your prepared baking sheet & gently flatten each cookie to about ¾ inch thick.

  5. Bake at 375 degrees F until the cookies are golden and firm around the edges, 12-15 minutes.

  6. Cool the cookies for 10 minutes.

Green Smoothie

  • 1 cup milk, dairy or non, of your choice
  • Small handful of raw almonds
  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • Large handful of spinach or kale
  • Optional: scoop of protein powder

Blend milk and almonds until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients, blend, and enjoy.

No-Bake Oatmeal Bites

(Makes 12 Servings - Serving Size: 2 Balls)

Ingredients:

  • 1 C (dry) oatmeal
  • 1 C toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 C carob or mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C peanut butter
  • 1/2 C ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 C honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Roll into balls about 1” in diameter. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week. Can be frozen. Makes about 24 balls.

Motivating Mom of the Month-4.png

"It’s always so great to see Suzi and the girls at Stroller Strides! She works hard and is encouraging to other moms during class. Her positive attitude is definitely her twin mom super power!" -Karlee Goeres, Fit4Mom Instructor

"Suzi is a dedicated Stroller Strider. She's always pulling in early, ready to workout! She juggles her twins and all the snacks and things with grace. She shows up on the not-so-nice days as well as the perfect weather days and puts her whole self into the workout. We're so glad to have Suzi and the girls in our village!"-Bekah Johnson, Fit4Mom Instructor

"Suzi is always such a delight to have in class! I love seeing Suzi at Kingstowne and Burke Lake nearly every day of the week. She brings such contagious energy, positivity and kindness to every workout. Not only is Suzi one of the first moms to show up for class each day, but she brings her two adorable twin girls with her with ease! During class, Suzi is always pushing herself and challenging her limits. Her hard work always motivates other moms around her to do the same. I always look forward to any class I see Suzi is registered for because I know her and her girls' smiles will brighten anyone’s day!" -Cat Sethian, Fit4Mom Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

I am originally from Marion, MA and I now live in Burke with my husband and 19 month old twin daughters (and our dog Frank). I have been in the DC area for eight years and moved here when my husband and I got engaged.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

I went to a pop-up in Lorton last November. I remember I was late and the process of getting my double stroller out and loading the kids felt like a lot. I had no idea how to dress them for the weather, but it was such a fun class and everyone was really welcoming.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I just do Stroller Strides. I try to go to Burke Lake twice a week and sometimes also to Kingstowne. I am so excited to be able to exercise while my kids are awake so that I can use their nap time for other things. They also really love seeing everyone- especially the kids and Shannon!

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I have been a high school science teacher for many years. But this year is my first staying at home. It has been a big adjustment but I feel grateful that I can do it and that my husband has worked from home for the past year.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Sailing, gardening and family cook outs.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

I would go on a fun date with my husband or get a massage/ facial/ mani/pedi. I am not a huge spa gal, but after this year I am really looking forward to it.

What has being a mom taught you?

It has taught me that I am more patient, empathetic and creative than I think. It has also helped me to recognize how much my own parents love me and how hard they worked to give me an amazing life.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

This past weekend, a man jogged by us on a walk and passed gas. Very loudly, one of the girls yelled out "Toot Toot!" That was both funny and embarrassing for all.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

This is a hard one for me to answer. I think I would try to encourage everyone to find people who support them and make them feel good about themselves as women as well as moms. And to try to be that person in the lives of other moms.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

I joined because I wanted to meet other moms. That was my #1 priority. We moved to Burke in June of 2020 and I knew no one. I also wanted to keep being outside as much as possible as we headed into winter and work on my strength and fitness. I feel like I am accomplishing all of those things and I would definitely (and have) recommend joining.

Crafts with Recycled Materials.png

Just a few ideas for fun spring crafts to celebrate this weekend.

Bumble Bee

  • -toilet paper tube
  • -paint
  • -pipe cleaners
  • -scrap paper
  • -glue

Smash the toilet paper tube until it’s mostly flattened (staple into shape). Paint with yellow and black stripes! Cut out wing shapes and glue on. Add eyes and pipe cleaner legs, antennae and stinger.

Flower Vase

  • -plastic bottle
  • -bottle caps
  • -paint
  • -cardboard
  • -pipe cleaners
  • -glue (hot glue is easiest)

Pour a small amount of paints inside the plastic bottle (2 or 3 colors) and put the cap back on. Share and swirl the paint. Pour out any excess.

Gather your bottle caps and paint, if desired. Glue on to the cardboard backing in flower shapes. Glue on the top part of the pipe cleaners and paint leaves (or use paper cutouts). When the bottle is dry, gather the pipe cleaners into the bottle and hot glue the bottle onto the cardboard.

Egg Carton Flowers

  • -egg carton
  • -paint
  • -decorations (beads, glitter, sequins, seeds, etc)
  • -pipe cleaners
  • -green construction paper
  • -glue (hot glue is easiest)

Cut out the individual egg cups from the carton. Cut the sides partway to make “petals” and fold down. Paint as desired. Hot glue decorations in the bottom of the flower cup. Cut out leaf shapes from green paper and glue on. Add pipe cleaner stems OR glue the flowers together on a cardboard base and hang.

Motivating Mom of the Month-3.png

"I met Teresa at the crack of dawn one morning at My Gym Alexandria before a Body Back class. She and I quickly became members of the “early morning crew,” and I knew I could always count on seeing her friendly face at all of those early morning workouts! Teresa’s kids are a little older than mine, so she gave me hope that I would get through the super difficult toddler years and find a light at the end of the tunnel. Teresa has always been such a fun mom to talk to and get to know, and I really miss seeing her in person at our early morning classes. I’m always so happy to see her name and her familiar, friendly face pop up in the Zoom window when our paths cross in class these days!"-Amy Vanden Boogart

"Teresa is so amazing at making time for herself to work out. When we were doing in-person classes, I could always count on seeing her bright and early twice a week at Body Back class. She's really committed and she's so supportive of other moms in class also!"-Amanda Martin, Fit4Mom Instructor

"Teresa is so dedicated! It’s amazing how she wakes up multiple times a week SUPER early to fit her workout in! She is very encouraging and always there if you need advice or support! Keep going strong, mama!"-Annie Sevel, Fit4Mom Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

I'm originally from Vinton, VA

Husband Ed, son Mason (12, going to Middle school next year!), daughter Mackenzie (7)

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

February 2009, Thomas Jefferson Center, Arlington. I remember being nervous, and waiting for others to show up with strollers to ensure I was in the right place.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

Early 5:30am classes. My kids are too old for strollers.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I'm a Human Resources Business Partner for a government contractor

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Watching my kids activities, Dark Chocolate, Coffee (decaf)

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Go clothes shopping

What has being a mom taught you?

I am stronger than I thought.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

Most embarrassing is that my daughter likes to blame everything on everyone else and tells her teachers.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Take time for yourself!

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

The flexibility in the workouts and the early morning options! I really appreciate that I can work out at home. I've also loved getting to know other moms who struggle with the same challenges.

DIY Valentines.png

Four days till Valentine’s Day! Here are some last-minute, easy DIY Valentine’s for any age to make.

1) Toddlers--Painted hearts

-Cut out a heart shape from paper and place it on another piece of paper. Let the kiddo paint the whole thing with fingers, pom-poms in a clothespin, or sponges. When done, lift up the heart and have a heart-shaped space to write a love note to Grandma.

-Or have the kiddo paint all over a piece of paper and just cut out a heart shape from there. Write Grandma’s note on the back when dry! Done and done.

2) Preschool--”I love you to pieces” art

-Draw a big heart outline on a piece of paper and write “I love you to pieces” outside of it. Give paper or tissue paper to your kiddo and have them rip it into smaller pieces. Let them practice with glue to affix the bits inside the heart as a mosaic.

-Or fold a paper in half and trace their hand so the wrist is on the fold. When you cut out and unfold, there should be a heart shape formed with the thumb and forefinger. Use tape or contact paper to cover the heart, leaving the sticky side up so your kiddo can add the small bits of paper in a mosaic on top. No glue involved! Don’t forget the cute saying written on the hands.

3) Elementary--Heart Animals

It is so hard to choose just one--google for a million ideas of animals made with heart shapes (puppies, hedgehogs, owls, pigs, kittens….) For this example, cut out the body of a peacock (like a bowling pin) and then a bunch of hearts in different colors. Show your kiddo how to make symmetrical hearts with folded paper. Glue in a pleasing arrangement of feathers on a card and glue the body on top. Add details and a cute message.

4) Older Kid--Clay or Cardboard ‘Cookies’

Cut out heart shapes from cardboard or make the below dough recipe. Embellish to look like delicious cookies using paint, glitter, glitter glue, buttons, yarn, sprinkles, sequins, jewels...whatever you got that you can trust your older kid with! Look up fun cookie Valentine puns to write on the back when they are dry.

Recipe for White Clay Dough

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup baking soda

  • 1/2 cup corn starch

  • 3/4 cup of warm water

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Mix dry ingredients in a cooking pot, and add the water. Stir over medium heat while the mixture bubbles and thickens. Continue stirring as mixture pulls away from the sides of the pot and becomes similar in consistency to thick cake frosting.

  • Remove the pot from the heat, and allow the dough to cool until it’s comfortable to handle.

  • Turn your dough out onto the counter or a cutting mat and knead it into a smooth, supple ball of dough.

  • Roll out and cut into “cookies.” You can press decor like jewels or buttons in when wet or let dry at room temperature and paint/add decorations after.

5) For your significant other--Scratch-off Ticket

Click the above link for instructions for this simple gift. If you don’t have the plastic, you can also color the hearts with a white crayon and then paint over that for easier scratch-off-ness.

National Chocolate Cake Day!.png

Happy National Chocolate Cake Day! Obviously, we couldn’t let this one slide by without acknowledgement--if you’re reading this from Body Well...stop and come back in a few weeks…

Feathery Fudge Cake (This one is our family recipe. You don’t mess with a classic.)

For the cake:

  • ⅔ cup butter, softened
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 2 ½ oz melted unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ¼ cups ice water

  1. Cream together butter and sugar. Add in vanilla and eggs gradually and whip until light.

  2. Cream in melted chocolate.

  3. Sift together flour, salt, and soda. Add to creamed mixture alternatively with ice water. Beat well after each addition and scrape sides often.

  4. Bake in 2 greased or paper-lined 9” cake pans at 350 deg F for 25-35 min.

For the frosting:

  • 6 oz butter
  • 3 oz melted unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 ⅓ oz evaporated milk
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • Pinch salt

  1. In saucepan, combine butter and chocolate. Let melt slowly.

  2. Add sugar, milk, soda, and salt. Cook until it forms a soft ball when dropped in cold water.

  3. Let stand until warm, about 110 degrees F.

  4. Beat well and frost cake while warm.

Secondly, it's my next-in-my-baking-cue recipe, straight from Smitten Kitchen:

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

CAKE

  • 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup (60 grams) unsweetened cocoa, any variety, sifted if lumpy

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup (145 grams) dark brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil

  • 1 1/2 cups (355 ml) water or coffee

  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) cider vinegar or white vinegar

GLAZE

  • 3/4 cup (135 grams) semisweet chocolate chips

  • 2 tablespoons (10 grams) cocoa powder

  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon (20 grams) light corn syrup (for shine)

  • A pinch or two of flaky sea salt

Make cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of 9-inch round cake pan with a fitted round of parchment paper and coat the bottoms and sides with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and granulated sugar in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Add brown sugar and olive oil, and whisk to combine. Add water and vinegar and whisk until smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is springy and a tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few sticky crumbs (but not wet or loose batter). Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then cut around it with a knife to ensure it is loosened and flip it out onto a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.

Make glaze: Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, olive oil, corn syrup, and salt in a medium bowl and microwave to melt, in 15 to 30 second increments, stirring between each until just melted. Whisk until smooth. Pour over completely cooled cake and use spatula to gently nudge it down the sides.

Cake keeps: At room temperature for 2 to 3 days and up to a week in the fridge. On day 4 in the fridge, ours was as moist as day one, basically a miracle.

Finally, the best single serving mug cake I have found from Table For Two Blog:

Dark Chocolate Mug Cake

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons dark chocolate cocoa powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 3 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon warm milk (you'll want to pop this in the microwave for like 30 seconds so it's not super cold otherwise it'll seize up the coconut oil)

  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients and dark chocolate chips.

  2. Whisk in the milk and coconut oil until all ingredients are combined and batter has no clumps.

  3. Pour batter into a microwave-safe mug. Mine was a 14-ounce mug. You want enough head space for the cake to rise without pouring over.

  4. If you're adding peanut butter or any nut butter spread, at this time, put it in the middle of the batter. Just drop it in the middle, no need to push it down and sink it in the batter. It does that on its own when it cooks! :)

  5. Place a paper towel into the microwave and set the mug on top (this is to catch any batter if your mug cake overflows).

  6. Microwave mug cake for 90 seconds on high (PLEASE READ NOTES CAREFULLY BELOW)

  7. Carefully remove from microwave and enjoy!

Notes

Please note that ALL microwaves are different therefore can yield different results and can overcook this mug cake if you aren't careful. My microwave is 950 watts and I cooked mine on 100% power for 90 seconds. This is slightly longer than the original chocolate mug cake because the batter is thinner because the liquids are warm vs. cold liquids. Knowing this information, it may help you better judge how long to cook yours for and at what power.

Buen Provecho!!

Motivating Mom of the Month-2.png

"Having Aneesa and Amin in my classes is so much fun. She is such a patient mom and never skips a beat. She’ll get snacks for her babe even while doing jumping jacks. Now that’s one tough mama! Both of their smiles are so contagious - makes my day! I’m super glad Aneesa took a chance on us - love her to bits!!!" -Shannon Link, Fit4Mom Owner

"Aneesa is a great mama to workout with! I love her positive, upbeat attitude every class. She’s so caring and supportive of all the moms in the village."-Kara Powers, Woodbridge Playgroup Captain

"Aneesa always comes to class with a huge smile on her face and radiates joy each class! She is kind, thoughtful, encouraging and a wonderful mom to be around!"-Cat Sethian, Fit4Mom Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My husband Adeel and our 18 month old Amin. I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia and my husband and I are of Pakistani origin. I came to the US 17 years ago.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first class was in Sept 2019 at Springfield mall. I remember feeling exhausted but so happy to have met other new moms. Mommies were working out even with fussy babies and kids throwing tantrums and food on the floor. It was all chaotic but everyone was having fun! Until I started Fit4Mom I always felt embarrassed if my baby would cry in public. I loved that there was no judgement and I could get a great workout with my baby.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I'm usually at Lorton or Burke, but if it works with naptime, we'll venture out to Springfield or Kingstowne.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

Before I decided to stay at home, I was a Process Engineer working in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. The job was pretty demanding but fun! I would love to go back to working soon once my kids are older.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

The beach, my family, and watching my shows alone in bed at the end of the day.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Go somewhere outdoors with my husband or my girlfriends and then eat a nice quiet dinner without any interruptions.

What has being a mom taught you?

Most of all... patience and gratitude! Being a mom has made me learn to thank God for everything I have regardless of how hard some days can get.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

Amin and I were at the park last week when it was a bit crowded. My toddler noticed another kid’s snack sitting on the bench. He quickly snatched it and sprinted away screaming “apple! apple!” while the other kid ran after him. So there I was trying to run after two very fast toddlers in the middle of the park while other moms laughed at me.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Don't sweat the small stuff; your kids will be okay! Trust your instincts and take advice and help as you need it.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

I love that the classes benefits me and my son and we enjoy it together. Amin enjoys the nursery rhymes and playgroups while I can feel strong and energized after every class from the workouts and conversations with my village. If you're on the fence, just show up to one class and give it a try!

Fitness and Fabulous Mom Pairings.png

For the mom who was up till 2 am stressing about a big presentation at work or just binge-watching Netflix, here’s hoping you got to sleep in for a few hours. I give you permission to have your AM routine consist solely of getting enough caffeine in your system to make sure everyone has some sort of morning nourishment (tortilla chips count as breakfast, right?) and occupation (school, toys, whatever they were screaming for 5 min ago). Sometimes morning routines cross over into survival mode and that’s just how it goes.

Pair hectic mornings with our lunchtime express classes for a quick energy boost. Start with that or get your sweat on at our 8 pm Body Boost and Body Ignite classes.

For the early-bird mom whose kids still sleep till 7 and you somehow can restrain yourself from pushing the snooze button again--Body Boost/Ignite 5:30 am is for you. Get that workout in, then go collapse on the couch with your 10 minutes of silence, chugging coffee before the hooligans emerge from their (never long enough) hibernation. Great job--you’re well on your way to checking off many items on your to-do list before you crash and burn in the mid-afternoon. (Or to avoid this, pair with a mid-afternoon Digital Library class while the kids watch a movie.)

For the sleep-deprived mom with young kids who wake before the crack of dawn--9:30 am virtual/in-person classes. Bring your kids...or don’t. The good news is you have so much time to get all your and your kids’ stuff together... haha jk. The bad news is that that pesky spawn always seems to be undoing your preparations. Fear not! Plan for the 9:30 class, but if it doesn’t work out, naptime Digital Library class is waiting for you. Choose a class for 20 min (or 45 min or an hour if you’re feeling lucky) and pair with 1 item from your to-do list. Check off “exercise” from your “this makes me human again” list, check the time, and try to sneak in one more item. 5 min of silence or a quick shower or a healthy snack? So hard to choose but we know you’ll make the right choice for you. (Naptime is sacred. Don’t waste it on practical pursuits if you can afford not to.)

For the moms with older kids who can take care of themselves, congrats! You’re living the dream. Tell us your secrets! (Even though it may be just “patience, you’ll get there.”) Sure, they can now get themselves ready for school, do laundry, and get their own snacks 500 times a day, but know that they DO still need you. Keep taking care of yourself--working or stay-at-home, figure out when you’re at your best after a workout and build your schedule with that. Pair with a cup of satisfaction that you’ve made it with a side of nostalgia for the old, insane days of kids running amok. (C’mon, you know you miss it. A little. Deep down.)

In conclusion, no matter where you are in your motherhood journey, no matter how much you prepare for how you THINK your day will go, something’s gonna mess up your plans. But don’t worry, we got you. Join us for live instruction or recorded--either way we’re here to provide community and connection and YES, I KNOW RIGHT?? support for anyone who finds us. Choose your own adventure!

Copy of Easy Weeknight Meals.png

Some nights are more stressful than others. We get it. Sometimes it’s just easier to order pizza, but occasionally, cooking can be a destressor. Here are some ideas for quick weeknight meals and one delicious dessert for when you just need some comfort food and a dinner win:

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)

  • 12 fresh sage leaves (optional)

  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 pound (about 4 cups) diced butternut squash*

  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)

  • 1 pound uncooked pasta (I used shells)

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 8 ounces good-quality sharp cheddar cheese, shredded*

  • fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Bring a large pot of generously-salted water to a boil.

  • Meanwhile, heat the butter in a separate large sauté pan until melted. Add the sage leaves (if using) and sauté for 1-2 minutes until crispy. Transfer the sage leaves to a separate plate and set aside.

  • Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Then add in the butternut squash and vegetable stock and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the stock reaches a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender and mashes easily with a fork.

  • Transfer the squash mixture to a blender. Add in the milk and give the mixture a quick stir. Then very carefully (I recommend slightly opening the cap on the blender lid, so that excess steam can escape) pulse the mixture until smooth.

  • Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the starchy pasta water for later. Then drain the pasta.

  • While the pasta is cooking, return the butternut squash mixture back to the sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add in the shredded cheddar cheese, and stir until it has melted into the sauce.

  • Taste and season the sauce with salt and pepper as needed. (I used about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.)

  • Then once the pasta is drained, return it to the stockpot. Pour the butternut cheese sauce on top of the pasta, and toss to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add in some of the hot starchy pasta water to thin it out.

  • Serve warm, garnished with the crispy sage leaves if desired.

Instant Pot Roast and Potatoes

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 lb. chuck roast
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp. chopped thyme
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. red wine
  • 3 c. low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 lb. baby potatoes, halved
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias into thick chunks

DIRECTIONS

  • Season chuck roast generously with salt and pepper. Turn Instant Pot to Sauté setting, set for 15 minutes, and heat oil. When oil is shimmering, add beef and cook until seared on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove beef then add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, herbs, and tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in flour, then whisk in wine until combined. Bring to boil and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

  • Add broth, Worcestershire sauce, potatoes, and carrots and 1 tablespoon salt and a bunch of freshly ground black pepper. Place beef on top of mixture. Lock lid and set to pressure cook on high for 1 hour.

  • Follow manufacturer’s guide for quick release, making sure to wait until cycle is complete before unlocking and removing lid. Let beef rest in sauce for at 10 minutes.

  • Slice roast against grain.

Dark Chocolate Mug Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons dark chocolate cocoa powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 3 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon warm milk (you'll want to pop this in the microwave for like 30 seconds so it's not super cold otherwise it'll seize up the coconut oil)

  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients and dark chocolate chips.

  • Whisk in the milk and coconut oil until all ingredients are combined and batter has no clumps.

  • Pour batter into a microwave-safe mug. Mine was a 14-ounce mug. You want enough head space for the cake to rise without pouring over.

  • If you're adding peanut butter or any nut butter spread, at this time, put it in the middle of the batter. Just drop it in the middle, no need to push it down and sink it in the batter. It does that on its own when it cooks! :)

  • Place a paper towel into the microwave and set the mug on top (this is to catch any batter if your mug cake overflows).

  • Microwave mug cake for 60-90 seconds on high

  • Carefully remove from microwave and enjoy!

Easy Chicken Skillet Enchiladas

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces cooked chicken (about 2 cups shredded)

  • 1 teaspoon oil

  • 1/4 yellow onion, minced (about 1/3 cup)

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 15-ounce can tomato sauce

  • 1/3 cup water

  • 4-ounce can mild green diced chilis

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

  • 8 taco-sized flour tortillas

  • 8 ounces cotija cheese

To serve:

  • Cilantro

  • Radishes, thinly sliced

  • Sour cream

  • Avocado

  • Jalapeño

METHOD

1 Shred chicken: Shred the leftover chicken so it’s ready when you need it. You should have about 2 cups.

2 Make the sauce: In a large, high-sided skillet set over medium heat, add the oil. Once the oil shimmers, add onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute, just until softened.

Add tomato sauce, water, diced green chilis, chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Stir together, then let the sauce simmer on medium to medium-low while you assemble the enchiladas.

3 Assemble the enchiladas: Put about 2 tablespoons of shredded chicken down the center of each tortilla. (You don’t really have to measure the meat. Just divide it evenly among the tortillas!) Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon cotija cheese (just eyeball it) across the chicken, and spoon 1-2 teaspoons sauce over the cheese.

Fold in the sides of the tortilla, roll it up, and put it seam side down in the sauce. Nestle them in the pan. Repeat this until the pan is full. Spoon sauce over the top of the enchiladas.

4 Top with cheese and cover: Sprinkle additional cotija cheese over the top of the enchiladas. Cover with a lid and let them simmer until the cheese is melted and the tortillas look puffy, like they soaked up some sauce. This should take about 5 minutes.

5 Garnish and serve: Lift the lid and sprinkle cilantro and thinly sliced radishes over the top. Serve alongside sliced avocado, jalapeño, and sour cream.

Nacho Bread Pizzas

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 loaf baguette or semolina bread, day old is fine
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped or 1 pickled hot pepper of any kind, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup prepared salsa, any variety
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar, smoked Cheddar, Monterey Jack or pepper Jack
  • 1 heart romaine or 1/2 iceberg head, shredded
  • 1/2 cup green olives with or without pimiento, chopped
  • 1/4 red onion or 2 to 3 scallions, chopped
  • 2 plum or vine tomatoes, seeded and diced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Split bread lengthwise. Hollow the bread out and cut each half in half across, making 4 boats.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  3. Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil, 1 turn of the pan, garlic and hot peppers. Drain beans. Add half of the beans then mash the remainder of the beans in the can using a fork. Add mashed beans to the pan and combine with whole beans. Season beans with hot sauce, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. When the spicy beans are hot through, spread them evenly across all of the bread. Top with salsa and liberally sprinkle with cheese, covering bread to all edges. The boats will only be half-full. Melt cheese in the oven until it bubbles and begins to brown.

  4. Top Nacho Bread Pizzas with lettuce, olives, onions and tomatoes and serve. .

Motivating Mom of the Month.png

Motivating Mom of the Month-Dec 2020: Tammie Kheocha-on

"I love seeing Tammie at class every week. She always comes with a smile and is ready to love her kiddos and get in a good workout. I chatted with her briefly at her first class at STC and she said she needed something to get out of the house so she joined Fit4Mom. I think we all totally get that! I’ve loved getting to chat with her after class as our kids pick up leaves at Lorton Station." -Katherine Resendez, Burke Playgroup Captain

"Tammie makes a point to make time out of her busy schedule as a nurse to come to stroller strides each week! She works hard in class and prioritizes her health- both mental and physical, even with two kiddos! She is super kind to everyone she meets and has the best can-do attitude. I always look forward to seeing her in class because she’s so warm and caring." -Cat Sethian, Fit4Mom Instructor

"I fell in love with Tammie at her first class at STC. She brought her Mom because she was worried about coming to class with two littles. They stayed for playgroup and we got to chat a bit. There was no hesitation on her part to become a member. She was hooked - online & in person - she’s there and ALWAYS gives no less than 100%. Tammie is such a warm and patient mom to her two littles. I love seeing them at class. I’m always guaranteed a big ear to ear smile from her daughter Isa. Makes my day! I’m so thankful she found our tribe and made it hers!" -Shannon Link, Fit4Mom Owner

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

I grew up in the Lower Hudson Valley region of New York, but my family is originally from Thailand. Diego, my husband, is from Valencia, Spain but came stateside to support my career. Isa (Isabel) is our spunky 2.5 year old and she really loves being a big sister. I can't believe that our baby boy Eli (Elias) is almost 8 months old now! We also have two cats that tolerate us.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first class was in July. My mom was visiting and I made her come with me to bail me (or a kid) out if we needed it. Some of my friends from another Fit4Mom group said that they mainly saw younger babies go to class, so I was nervous to bring a toddler and a baby. Turns out, I was in excellent company (that's the theme by the way).

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I mainly go to in-person classes in Springfield, Kingstowne, and Lorton because I love bringing the kids outside, incorporating them into the classes, and meeting new friends. I'm prepared to bundle them up for the cold months. In the summer, I mostly attended virtual classes because I was still learning how to navigate getting out the door with two kids.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I work full time as an ICU nurse in DC. The job itself is a mixture of gross, frustrating, and sometimes rewarding..like parenthood. There is a lot of crossover actually! So far, if I have a day off, chances are high that I'm at Stroller Strides.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Pocket foods (empanadas, pitas, calzones, hand pies, etc.), TV comedies, and dancing.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Take Diego on a date because he really deserves it.

What has being a mom taught you?

The learning process doesn't stop for moms or babies. Fit4Mom gave me the confidence to be out and about alone with my toddler and baby. On my maternity leave, I traveled to NY alone with them twice after getting the practice from going to Stroller Strides. We are all just trying to figure it out.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

In the before times when we could travel, Isa cried and screamed for 45 minutes on a flight and my nose was bleeding. I didn't look at anyone in the eyes because I was so embarrassed.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

We don't have to do this mom thing alone.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

My favorite thing about Fit4Mom is that it gives us a safe space to be social(ly distant) while I get an excellent workout in. Someone thinking about joining should just try a class and check the vibes out for herself. No one is judgmental when your kid has a meltdown or cries the entire class either. No one is judgmental if you pee yourself a little doing jumping jacks either.

Brown Illustrated Christmas Garland Facebook Cover.png

When you shop from a small business, an actual person does a happy dance. And ladies, for us that means another MAMA does a happy dance. This happy dance shows her that she too can contribute to the household finances, this allows her to shop for her kids, this allows her to treat herself to the things she's been dreaming of for a long time, because she always puts her family first.

SHOP LOCAL from our amazing mom-preneurs right here in our village! Check out our 2020 Shopping guide below:

Jessie - I’m a lifestyle and portrait photographer.

Jessie Billone Photography

https://jessiebillonephotography.mypixieset.com/

Instagram.com/jessiebillonephotography

_____________________________________________________________________

Katherine - I am an Usborne Books & More consultant! Our books are the most exciting, engaging, and educational books on the market today. They are high-quality, innovative, lavishly-illustrated, and best of all, they are the books kids love to read. Choose from over 1,800 bright, colorful, and fun titles covering a wide variety of subjects. https://v9331.myubam.com

_____________________________________________________________________

Alissa - me too!! https://g10459.myubam.com/ LOOVVVEEE Usborne for my kiddos, relatives kids, friends kids!! I'm having a stocking stuffer sale this weekend (through monday night). Sales on different books plus 10% off so if anyone would like info on it let me know!

_____________________________________________________________________

Colleen - I am a Matilda Jane Trunk Keeper. We are a boutique line of clothing for baby, girl, tween and women!

Www.matildajaneclothing.com/ColleenGoldfein

Colleen Goldfein Independent Trunk Keeper w/ Matilda Jane Clothing #580341

_____________________________________________________________________

Andrea - I’m a Stella & Dot Ambassador and preferred vendor with

Fit4Mom LSBWK NoVa

Enjoy an extra 10% off your order!! We are a family of brands including on trend jewelry, accessories, bags, apparel, charm jewelry, diamonds, clean beauty and cleanical skincare. Almost our entire site is on sale for Black Friday through Cyber Monday!! There’s also a free gift with purchase. www.stelladot.com/sites/armhfyi

_____________________________________________________________________

Ashley - I am a Poofy Organics guide. All handmade beauty and home care products, most of which are organic. 15% off everything on the site today!!!! Also super cute holiday gift sets.

https://ecomamabear.poofyorganics.com/

_____________________________________________________________________

Megan - I have been a Rodan+Fields Independent Consultant for 3 years. My goal is to help others find skincare solutions that will give them the best skin of their lives plus the confidence that come with it. Fit4Mom members can get their preferred customer fee ($20) waived when they order with me.

https://meganschmid.myrandf.com/

_____________________________________________________________________

Jennifer - Hey y’all! I have an online Baby and Children’s Boutique with Apparel, Accessories, & Toys. Free Shipping always or you can do a local pickup if you need quicker! Entire site is 30% off this weekend! www.emmasfavoritethingsboutique.com

_____________________________________________________________________

Stephanie - I am the owner of Instagram.com/sweetbcreates

I make finger puppets, felt dress up dolls, and reusable flat coloring dolls. Many other items coming soon!

_____________________________________________________________________

Leslie - I know there's a few of us sideline sisters here as I'm a Rodan + Fields consultant too. It's been great helping others both have the best possible skin and seek a source of additional income! The products work so it's been easy! Right now there's a great 20% off sale and free preferred enrollment!

Lpope33.myrandf.com

_____________________________________________________________________

Giovi - I own a small business doing personalized creations.From birthday top,towels,personalized puzzles,and much more

Give A craft 30

_____________________________________________________________________

Courtney - I’m a Color Street Stylist. Color street is 100% nail polish strips.

They are always B3G1 ! Colorvaria Nails

_____________________________________________________________________

Shaina - Hi all! I'm Shaina and am an Independent Beauty Consultant with Mary Kay in addition to a mom of an almost 4 year old son and almost 1 year old daughter. I love helping people look and feel their best with skin care and makeup that is good for your skin. I am also a preferred vendor with

Fit4Mom LSBWK NoVa offering members 20% off. Happy to answer any questions! www.marykay.com/sgoldschlag

_____________________________________________________________________

Kyle - Beautycounter's Clean Promise: More than 1,800. That’s how many ingredients Beautycounter restricts in our formulations. The US, Canada, and the EU? Just 30, 600, and 1,400, respectively. I'm a Contracting Officer for the government by day and have a 4 1/2 year old and almost 2 year old and I thoroughly believe in Beautycounter's mission and products and cannot wait to share them with you.- beautycounter.com/Kylekrzywicki

_____________________________________________________________________

Miriam - I have 2 crazy boys. My husband and I decided to switch to a keto(ish) diet about a year ago and discovered pure therapeutic ketones. They provide more energy, better focus, improved mental clarity, and fat loss. I mostly use them for the clean energy without the crash that I was getting from coffee. If anybody is interested in learning more, i would love to answer any questions you may have.

http://miriamlamagna.ShopKeto.com

_____________________________________________________________________

Francesca - Currently selling ornaments for the holiday season https://www.etsy.com/shop/foreverlybyfrancesca

It’s always been a dream of mine to open up a craft shop and do what I do best, which is to let my creativity run free.

I’m a Filipina army brat raised in Germany, from Colorado. I’ve been working in the nonprofit world for over 10 years but it’s always been my passion to do crafty things. My shop is named after my daughter, Everly, for whom my inspiration and reason for all things comes from. My husband and I are expecting are second next year in May!

_____________________________________________________________________

Jessica - I'm a mom to almost 3yr old Mariam & I'm a consultant with Norwex

https://jessicamoodykhatib.norwex.biz

"Work smarter, not harder" is a big motto for me, and I definitely hate wasting time with products that don't actually work!!

My WHY for being a consultant is that Norwex products are Efficient, Safe, & Green

Never heard of Norwex? Norwex is a green cleaning and personal care line. Our mission is to radically reduce toxic chemicals in your home & improve quality of life!

_____________________________________________________________________

Becky - If you are looking for natural solutions for your family and health, I can show you how doTERRA can be a part of your daily routine!

Find some peace and calm this holiday season! Our Village members receive a special gift with enrollment.

https://www.doterra.com/US/en/site/rebeccakrispin

_____________________________________________________________________

Cherie - I make kid-safe resin letter and number sets. They’re perfect for sensory bins and teaching ABCs!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/CraftyCherieShop

Green and Gold Painted Patterns Christmas Tag.jpg

It’s that time when we think about celebrating the end of another year and showering our loved ones with presents. But take a moment to pause and remember those who may not be in as fortunate circumstances as us.

While volunteer opportunities are limited, many organizations are still in great need of donations. I’ve compiled a list of local groups that could use your help! (And while you’re at it, think about setting up a monthly or quarterly donation to support them all year long. Usually this takes as little effort as checking an option on the online form). Click on the name to go to the website for each organization to see what household items they might also accept.

Thank you in advance and thank you to everyone who supported our toy and food drives this week!

Lorton Community Action Center

https://donate.onecause.com/lcac/donate

Mission: “To enhance the quality of life by providing food, basic needs, and self-sufficiency programs through the generous support of our community. LCAC's goal is to break the cycle of poverty and prevent homelessness. We do this through a variety of services and programs.”

LCAC's most immediate needs are :

  • Pasta (any kind)

  • Canned pasta sauce

  • Canned diced tomatoes

  • Canned fruit

  • Children’s snacks (granola bars, fruit snacks, etc)

  • Size 6 diapers

Shelter House

https://shelterhouseinc.salsalabs.org/DonationPage/index.html

Mission: “To prevent and end homelessness and domestic violence by engaging the community, building effective relationships and providing crisis intervention, safe housing and supportive services.”

Echo (Springfield)

https://www.echo-inc.org/sample-page-2/donating-money

Mission: “The purpose of Ecumenical Community Helping Others (ECHO), Inc. is to assist people in need in our community, those who suffer the effects of long-term poverty as well as those who are experiencing an emergency financial need. To that end, we provide food and financial assistance to help families or individuals through a crisis. We offer access to donated clothing, school supplies, and household goods such as bed linens, cookware, and small appliances to ease the burden of those who struggle with long-term low income. We conduct a large holiday meal program for families and a Christmas gift program for children.”

Bethany House

https://www.mightycause.com/donate/Bethany-House-Of-Northern-Virginia

Mission: “The mission of Bethany House of Northern Virginia is to provide a safe place of healing for women and children who have experienced domestic violence. While providing confidential, secure shelter, counseling, life-skills training, and transition support, we share the knowledge and love of Christ - the only true "safe place" and provider of every need.”

Immediate Needs:

  • Monetary Donations

  • Grocery Gift Cards (Giant, Safeway, Harris Teeter, Aldi, CVS)

  • Gas Cards

  • Clothing Gift Cards (WalMart, Target, Ross, Marshall's)

  • Toilet Paper

  • Paper Towels

  • Body Lotion

  • Deodorant (Men/Women)

  • Trash Bags (Kitchen size and 30 gal.)

  • Dish Soap

  • Cleaning Supplies (Fabuloso, Pinesol, bleach, Lysol wipes)

  • Body Wash

Second Story

https://www.second-story.org/givenow/

Mission: “Second Story transforms the lives of children, youth and their families by providing safe havens and opportunities for them to grow and thrive. Our programs provide support at critical turning points in their lives.

Though these safe spaces are the first step, we also work closely with youth and families to help them achieve their goals and work toward self-sufficiency, breaking cycles of homelessness, abuse, and poverty. All of our programs are located in Northern Virginia, though depending on the circumstance youth outside of our community can receive support as well.”

Doorways for Women and Families

https://www.doorwaysva.org/donate/

Mission: “At Doorways, we envision a community where all people live free of violence and have safe and stable housing. That’s why we work to transform the lives of adults, youth and children who are facing homelessness or suffering abuse in our community. Through the generosity of our partners and supporters, we help our most vulnerable neighbors survive crisis, rebuild their lives and achieve brighter futures.”

Northern VA Family Service

https://www.nvfs.org/donate-online/

Mission: “To empower individuals and families to improve their quality of life, and to promote community cooperation and support in responding to family needs.”

Food for Others

https://www.foodforothers.org/donate-now/

Mission: “Our mission is to distribute food to our neighbors in need by mobilizing our giving community and volunteers.”

Most Needed:

  • Canned Chili
  • Canned Chicken
  • Canned Fruit
  • Canned Soup
  • Spaghetti Sauce

Gracing Spaces

Click here for list of home goods they accept:

https://www.gracingspaces.com/home-goods

Mission: “Gracing Spaces, a ministry of Lord of Life Lutheran Church, furnishes apartments for families transitioning out of homeless shelters. We work with non-profits such as FACETS, Fairfax County Public Schools, and many others to provide basics of living. We "Grace" each space with furniture, beds, kitchen items, pictures, shower curtains, rugs, bedspreads and more to make an apartment a home. We load our truck with HOPE for each family and an opportunity to begin a new life together in Fairfax County.”

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington

https://secure.ccda.net/Give/Give/Donate/Giving.aspx

Mission: “Catholic Charities brings hope to those in need by providing them with the basic necessities of everyday living as well as the transformational tools and resources necessary for independent living.”

Red and White Snowflakes Holiday Postcard.png

It’s holiday time! This week our Playgroup Captains wanted to share some of their favorite holiday traditions, new and old.

Karlee Goeres

Some favorite Christmas traditions that I had growing up were going to our Christmas Candlelight service at our church and opening new pajamas on Christmas Eve. I’ve enjoyed carrying on the same traditions with my husband and our two daughters the past few years, but I also look forward to making new memories and traditions as our girls get older.

Katherine Resendez

I love decorating for Christmas. Opening the boxes is almost like Christmas early with all the decorations and ornaments you haven’t seen for a year. I also love all the baking and food that comes with the season. Growing up I would help my mom and grandparents in the kitchen making cookies and cooking Christmas dinner, and now I love using some of those recipes with my own family! Also, my grandma gave us Advent calendars every year which was the only time we could have chocolate before breakfast! She sent one to Lilyanna who still doesn’t quite get it, but mom and dad are happy to help her with the chocolate.

Kara Powers

Favorite Christmas tradition we have is decorating the tree & listening to Christmas music. Cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, which we used to do growing up. Some new family traditions we’ve started with the girls are matching family pajamas, driving around to see Christmas lights, and baking cookies together.

Speaking of cookies, this week seems like a good week for baking! Here’s a delicious recipe to get you started. Make dough early and then after it refrigerates, get the kids involved in rolling out the candy canes like playdough and embrace their creativity.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract

  • 1 egg

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Red food coloring gel

  • 2 tablespoons finely crushed peppermint candies

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, beat together butter, both sugars, both extracts, and egg on low, just until combined. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt.

  2. Divide dough in half, making sure you have 2 equal portions. Add red food coloring gel to half of the dough until the desired color is reached. Wrap each portion of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerated for 3-4 hours.

  3. In a small bowl, combine peppermint candy and 2 tablespoons sugar. Set aside.

  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  5. To make a candy cane cookie, take 1 level teaspoon of each dough. Roll each teaspoon into a 5″ rope (use a ruler, if necessary). Place one red and one white rope next to each other and begin twisting the two colors together, while pressing ends together so that they won’t unravel.

  6. Place on an ungreased baking sheet, curving the top to one side to form the look of a candy cane. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately sprinkle cookies with the sugar/peppermint mixture. Movie cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Notes

This recipe adapted from the Betty Crocker Original Candy Cane Cookie recipe

https://homecookingmemories.com/candy-cane-cookies-recipe/

IMG_0275 copy.jpg

“There’s no bad weather, only bad clothing.” - Scandinavian saying

As a kid growing up in Minnesota, where there’s snow on the ground for about 5 months of the year, you learn early on about the necessity of bundling up to enjoy the outdoors. The right kind of clothing and outdoor gear for outdoor play makes the difference between cold and miserable and warm and happy. Thankfully, it’s not quite as cold here in NoVa, but winter is coming and we want to be ready!

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to be outside, away from others, more than ever. While I desperately wish for this pandemic to be over as soon as possible, I’m grateful for the time my family has spent out in nature, exploring the beauty and solitude we so often miss in our busy lives. I hope to continue our habit of getting outside even after things begin to open up more for indoor recreation. As the weather turns colder, it’s time to prepare to continue our new-found habits of spending more time outside.

Let’s collectively say NO to being trapped inside all winter and plan for safe and comfortable ways to enjoy the outdoors.

We’re a hardy bunch here at Fit4Mom LSBWKNoVa. We are committed to gathering together (with some distance) and continuing with our mission of supporting moms in fitness and wellness, no matter the weather. So I’d like to share a few tips with you to make our outdoor workouts enjoyable, even on the coldest of days:

  • Dress in several layers. Remove outer layers as exercise intensity increases and put them back on during lower intensity moves, such as the warm-up and cool down.

    • Examples: Tights under fleece lined leggings or compression pants under joggers; base-layer t-shirt under lightweight/sweat wicking long-sleeve shirt under a track jacket

  • Wear sweat-wicking clothing for your under-layers to keep you dry (thus warmer)

  • Wear a hat, gloves, and warm socks. Also consider wearing a neck cuff.

Wool is a fantastic textile for its warmth, breathability, and natural water resistance.

  • Drink water even when you don’t feel thirsty. We are naturally less thirsty in the cold, but we lose just as much or more water through sweat and breath in the colder weather.

  • Bring a snack (for YOU Mama!) that contains protein and carbohydrates, such as trail mix, a peanut butter sandwich, or fruit and cheese. It’s important to fuel early and often when working out in the cold.

  • Bring a thermos with a warm beverage to sip on post-workout to make playgroup/ mom-chat time more enjoyable

Even though the kiddos aren’t working out, much of this advice applies to them as well. Keep in mind they won’t be doing much moving, so they may need one more layer of warmth compared to you. Bringing a small blanket, stroller sleeping bag, or bunting is a great way to provide an extra layer of warmth. Just be mindful if you have a blanket that it isn’t hanging out of the stoller, creating a tripping hazard. Kids are so resilient! They will likely surprise us and be excited for class in any weather. Bundling them up for class and staying for playgroup is a great way to make sure they are getting their much-needed outdoor time year-round. And I’m sure they wouldn’t argue with some hot chocolate in a thermos following class. :)

I hope you’ll join me and our other amazing instructors as we carry on through the cold months, making the best of it TOGETHER!

IMG_6979.JPG

"Sarah is a supermom! It’s admirable to see that she still finds time to focus on her health with 5 kiddos at home. I don’t know how she does it, but she makes it look easy and comes to every class with a smile on her face and a cheerful disposition." -Karlee Goeres, Fit4Mom Instructor

"Sarah is amazing! No matter which kid(s) she brings to class with her she has a smile on her face and gets in her workout. It’s awesome to see her love and take care of her kids, transition back to work after maternity leave, and join Fit4Mom workouts and playgroup!" -Katherine Resendez, Burke Playgroup Captain

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

Me, Christopher (my husband), Alexandra (12), Jonathan (8 ½), Elizabeth (5 ¾), Zachary (3 ¾), and Timothy (6 months)

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first Fit4Mom class was the Valentines Day class/playgroup in February 2017. I showed up with my 2-year-old and newborn and had no idea that everyone was bringing valentines – but everyone was so nice and assured me that they had brought extra so that my 2-year-old could also get valentines. It was so wonderful to meet such nice and generous moms!

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

Burke Lake Park classes on weekdays and Springfield Town Center classes on Saturdays (if I have a last-minute meeting cancelation, I am sometimes able to sneak over to Lorton on Wednesdays!)

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I am General Counsel for the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association. I have been a railroad lawyer for 15 years and love it! The silver-lining with COVID for me is that I am currently working from home with a flexible schedule, so I can come out for Fit4Mom classes.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

RVs, bike riding, and Walt Disney World

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

My husband and I would go on a bike ride to a waterfront to go kayaking, and then would meet friends for lunch or dinner. I would eat my food as slowly as I wanted to!

What has being a mom taught you?

I am stronger than I ever thought possible.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

I bought a new non-BOB double stroller when I started Fit4Mom. It took a beating during airplane travel that summer. I came back from vacation and went to class at STC. After class, in the rain, I loaded my kids into the car and then tried to close the stroller - - no luck. I was a mom of 4 kids, and I couldn’t close my stroller, in the pouring rain, in the parking lot! My husband came out, thinking he could fix the stroller, but he could not close it either. In the end, we collapsed seats in the back of our minivan and shoved the stroller in - - the stroller could not be saved. I bought a used double BOB the next week.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Just buy the used double BOB! Also, motherhood is tough, no matter how many kids you have. I’m so impressed with all of you who come out with your first baby, because I felt the most overwhelmed with just one.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

No mom guilt about working out if your kids are with you! Seriously, as a working mom, I struggle with constant mom guilt of being apart from my children – with Fit4Mom, I get to work out, chat with other moms, spend time outside, and be with my kids, all at the same time! It’s the best of all worlds!

IMG_6871.JPG

Halloween’s done--time to break out those Christmas decor...HOLD UP! Wait a gosh darn minute there! Let’s not forget about one of the best holidays--Thanksgiving. Yes, a time to stuff your face, hang out with family, and not feel guilty just lying there watching TV while digesting. Time to also count your blessings and practice gratitude--for sweet, sweet Thanksgiving crafts!

Thanksgiving crafts are usually focused on turkeys, but they don’t have to be. Like any mom, I’ve got a “turkey shrine” going of all the masterpieces brought home from school or Stroller Strides and I’m excited to add to it every year. However, you can find some really fun crafts for other aspects of Thanksgiving such as:

IMG_6688.JPG

"She is always so supportive of everyone around her. When I would do nursery time, I could hear her cheering the group on with 'We got this ladies! Woo!' She’s always so focused and dedicated in class that I tell myself I need to get on her level. I’m so excited and grateful that she’s a part of our Village." -Jessica Fischer, Fit4Mom Outreach

"She is always so positive at classes, pushing herself and other moms around her. Love seeing her kiddos at class with her. She is such a wonderful mother to her babies!" -Missy Greeley, Fit4Mom Instructor

"Leslie is a fellow Duke Dog so already gets extra brownie points in my book! But she also brings 100% to her workouts! I always see her going full force during cardio bursts in Stroller Strides and in (formerly) Body Back she’d be encouraging us to keep going. Always enjoy having her in class!!" - Katie Taves, Fit4Mom Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

We’re a family of four. My husband, Michael, our 4-year-old son Junior and 2-year-old Cadence.

I’m a military brat originally from North Carolina (Go Heels) but call Virginia home.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first class was actually Body Back last September. It was great, super welcoming, at your own pace and very supportive.

Where can we find you?

I’m usually somewhere outside with my littles as much as possible. We’re all better humans when we can get out 😊

What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

October has been lacking with my husband having surgery but I love the Monday/Wednesday/Friday in-person classes.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I’m currently a Rodan + Fields consultant from home and up until last year I worked for PWC Parks, Recreation and Tourism for 16 years.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Family time, being outside and a really good crab cake.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Go on a date with my husband!

What has being a mom taught you?

Time really does go by so fast and to cherish and embrace all the crazy!

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

Probably most embarrassing was really only to myself or at least no one said anything, haha. But Fit4mom was really the first time being active since my kiddos and realizing all those memes and stories of bladder leaking is so TRUE!

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Hang in there momma, we are seriously all just not trying to raise dragons!

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM?

Zero judgment! Even when my kids are acting up or being super loud (Junior) everyone just keeps on going and it's no big deal. Allows me to truly focus on myself and get a great workout and laughs at the same time!

What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

Just do it. There will be no regrets!

IMG_6452.JPG

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Maybe it's that first sniff of coffee, maybe it's the non-guilt at eating all the carbs because, hey, gotta have energy for the day. Whatever the reason, I have collected a slew of brunch, breakfast, and brinner recipes. Here are a couple of my favorites that you can prepare the night before and just stick in the oven in the morning. (The best for when you have house guests but also small children. They both can demand attention before you truly wake up.)

Easy Sausage Hash Brown Casserole

(from amindfulmom.com)

INGREDIENTS

  • 16 ounces frozen hashbrowns defrosted (this is usually half a bag)
  • 1 pound breakfast sausage, browned
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • INSTRUCTIONS

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and brown sausage.

    • Layer defrosted hash browns in greased 7x11 or 9x9 casserole dish.

    • Layer the browned sausage over the hashbrowns.

    • Sprinkle cheese over top the sausage and hashbrowns

    • Mix together the eggs with seasonings and milk and pour over the layers of hashbrowns, sausage and cheese

    • Bake for 40-45 minutes or until eggs are set.

    NOTES

    • You can brown your hash browns first if you prefer the texture of crispy hash browns mixed with creamy eggs.
    • To make this casserole the night before serving: assemble as you would up to step five and then cover and refrigerate overnight. Add an extra 10-15 minutes to the total baking time in the morning.
    • I love sharp cheddar for this sausage breakfast casserole, but Gruyere, Swiss, Gouda, or Mozzarella works.
    • This recipe can easily be doubled to feed a crowd. Most bags of frozen hash browns come in 32 ounces and this recipe only calls for 16 ounces. Prepare as directed, but bake in a 9x13 pan.
    • Feel free to add an additional 2 eggs to the custard if you like a really thick layer of eggs--just increase the bake time by 10 minutes.
    • Be sure your pan is an 9x9 or 11x7 or you may need to increase bake time by 10 minutes.

Freezer-Friendly Baked Oatmeal

(from moneysaving mom.com)

  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 3 cups oats (regular or quick oats)

Beat eggs, sugar and butter together. Mix in baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon and salt.

Stir in milk and oats. Pour into a greased 9×13 foil pan or baking dish and cover well. (Can use a Ziploc freezer bag, if freezing). Freeze.

To serve: Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, until set in the middle. Serve warm with milk. (We like to sprinkle sugar on top before pouring the milk on.)

If you want to serve it without freezing it first, let it sit in the refrigerator overnight and then bake it at 350 degrees for 35-45minutes in the morning.

Serves 6-8.

IMG_6044.JPG

"We love Cristine! She keeps my kids engaged all through kids yoga and has so many fun classes! She also gives me a killer workout in Body Ignite! She is super high energy and very kind!" --Annie Sevel

"Cristine is an awesome instructor! Her energy is contagious and keeps me motivated during her Body Ignite classes. She is amazing with little kids and keeps my girls busy and giggling during kids yoga. I have loved working out with her in class and am so excited she became an instructor! We all love her classes!" -Alicia Chiapusio

"Cristine really knows how to connect with her classes! She makes each child in her kids yoga classes feel seen and appreciated. Not an easy task given our virtual world! She helps moms understand the strength exercises and feel successful in Body Ignite, too. I love her positivity and enthusiasm for life!" -Megan Schmid

"We love Christine! My daughter looks forward to yoga with her every week. She makes it fun for the kids with different engaging activities each week. While having fun, they are keeping active and learning real yoga poses." -Sarah Yurasko

Who are the members of your family?

My husband Jason, my son Emerson (4), my daughter Kenna (2) and our dog Ole (OH-Lee)

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

Born and raised in NOVA. We lived in Hayfield through my second grade year, then moved to Clifton. I moved away for college and grad school then slowly made my way back to the NOVA area. I love raising my babies here!

Where do you typically teach?

VIRTUALLY - Body Ignite & Kidding Around Yoga

Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom LSBW NoVa.

Oh mama, I had a really hard, lonely, post-partum experience with Emerson and I was determined to have a different experience with Kenna. I joined Fit4Mom so that I could move my body and make friends with people who “get it”. And WOW did I get more than I ever expected. There is no doubt in my mind that being a part of this community changed my life (and thus my family’s life) for the better. I will be forever grateful for this – and I wanted to pay it forward and offer that same support and community to other moms. We need each other – and we’ve got each other.

What is your favorite thing to teach?

I’m obsessed with both Body Ignite and Kidding Around Yoga.

What is the BEST thing about being an instructor?

Helping mamas SEE & FEEL their strength – physically, mentally, emotionally. And seeing our little yogis learn to take care of themselves one stretch, song and deep breath at a time.

What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

My WHY is the tired, stressed, lonely, strong, survivor mama that can do anything.

What is one of your current wellness goals?

I am participating in the Fall Fit4Mom Run Club and I really want to finish the whole 5k WITHOUT STOPPING!

What is a fun fact that many may not know about you?

I can’t dive. I’ve never been a fan of doing anything (literally) head first. If you ever ask me to dive, you’ll see me tentatively approach the side of the pool, put my arms over my heads and drop into the pool like your favorite 8 year old might. I prefer to JUMP right into life 😉.

Anything else you'd like Our Village to know?

I am so so proud to be a part of this village and am so grateful for the immeasurable positive impact Fit4Mom has had in my life. If we haven’t crossed paths yet, I hope to soon! You got this, mama!

IMG_5867.JPG

I know what you’re thinking already. Not another crazy mom preaching about the magic of a plastic bucket full of rice. Well you’re right--I am one of those people. I love the sensory bin so much that I own a tower of different sized buckets and an embarrassing number of plastic tables. I have a shelf dedicated to tiny, messy, nonsense for my children to dig through. And I love it, so let me tell you why.

If you’ve scoured any array of mom-grams in the middle of the night than you know the “educational” benefits of sensory play. It can help with fine motor control, language development, problem solving, and cognitive growth. These are important things to remember when your partner walks into the room and sees beans all over the floor while mom is sitting on the couch staring at her phone. Ask your husband why he has a problem with supporting your child’s brain development and he will quietly back out of the room. Of course, none of these reasons are why I got sucked into sensory bins. I just wanted to stare at my phone and sit on the couch. Or drink my coffee while it was still hot. Or not be forced into another play scenario with my daughter who always makes me be Anna and never lets me be Elsa. So one day I got a little nuts and dumped a pile of dried beans in a baby pool and there was no looking back.

Now that you know why I live that bin life, let me tell you how you can join the party.

Step 1. Find a bin. I prefer a bin on the floor with low sides so even the smallest of children can really dig in. Note that a bin sitting on the ground will result in less things falling out and onto the floor. It also increases the likelihood that your child will climb inside of it. Pick your battles.

Step 2. Choose a filler. The most popular options are dried beans, rice, rolled oats, and water. When you’re feeling confident, you can start dyeing things different colors or mixing items together. If you’re one of those people who hates waste, I hear you. I’ve had the same Ziploc bags of rice and beans for three years and that’s an investment I’m willing to make.

Step 3. Pick add-ons. These can be as simple as scoops and cups. I like to add a figurine or two. If you’re fancy, people make themed bins on the internet you can buy. They’re adorable and I envy them. You can also buy holiday junk from the dollar store and make your own. I’m not that fancy, but if you’ll remember, it’s because I’m trying to sit on the couch and stare at my phone.

Step 4. Go over the rules. You throw the contents on the floor, I take the bin away. You put the contents in your mouth, I take the bin away. You don’t help clean up when we’re done, you don’t get the bin back in the future. I started this when my kid was eight months old. They will test you, but stay diligent, Mama. Just remember the promise of sitting and phone time that awaits you. Bonus points if you have a dog or Roomba who will help in the clean up process.

Have I convinced you yet? I hope so. I look forward to seeing all the memes you now have time to send me while your child sits across the room making a mess and working on their cognitive brain development.

Our popular bin fillers:

Beans, water, rice, dried pasta, cooked pasta, shaving cream, sprinkles, pony beads, perler beads, playdough, inside of a pumpkin (seeds and all), rolled oats (pro tip: add sprinkles), foam bubbles (bubbles you make in the blender with dish soap), cloud dough (google it), sand, kinetic sand, easter eggs, potting soil, paint, ice, dyed water, mini erasers, rocks, sea shells, water beads (try freezing them), corn kernels.

Popular add-ons:

Measuring cups and spoons, old yogurt cups, scoops, syringes, droppers, race cars, frozen fruits, ice cubes, liquid watercolors, animal figurines, busy book figurines, baby dolls, muffin tins, easter eggs.

IMG_5646.JPG

"Alexis is definitely motivating! I love that she attends so many classes and I miss chatting with her in person. She gives 100% plus an encouraging smile for all."

--Joy Robb, Fit4Mom Instructor

"Alexis is dedicated and works hard in every class! I’ve taught her in our virtual classes and worked alongside her in Body Back classes. She makes it look easy and never complains but you can tell she’s one strong mama!"

--Katie Taves, Fit4Mom Instructor

"Alexis is such an inspiration to moms in our community. I automatically smile when I see her; it’s always such a great feeling to have her positive vibe fill the room! Being a mom to three girls (one set of twins!) is surely not an easy task, yet she makes it look so effortless. Self care is very important to her and that is something I admire most about her. Last year I got to meet her mom, and she shared that Alexis is so much happier since finding Fit4mom - that is priceless! Alexis, thank you for being a part of our tribe!"

--Shannon Link, franchise owner

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My husband Steve and I are both from California. Our oldest Ava is 9, and our twins Emerson and Liesl are 7.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first class was in August of 2018, and I remember Krista (who was my point of contact) being so encouraging and welcoming. I remember meeting Shannon and her talking to me about Fit4Mom and this amazing community.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

Before the pandemic, I was a regular Body Back attendee. But in the past 5 months, I attend the total body workouts on Thurs, Fri, Sat; and Pilates on Tuesdays.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I used to teach secondary life science in California, but when my husband joined the Army I decided to pursue my doctorate in microbiology. I graduated with a phD in Biomedical Research from Auburn University, but since then I have been a full-time stay at home mom. I would love to get back to research someday.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Authentic Mexican food, Science and Nordstroms

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Head to the spa! And get a facial, a massage and a mani/pedi.

What has being a mom taught you?

Being a mom has taught me many things, but in particular, I have learned to be patient. I have also learned to prioritize self-care, finding and doing those things that are just for you. Lastly, I have learned to adapt and be flexible. So many moments (or days) do not go as planned or expected; I have learned to let go of the rigid schedule sometimes.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

When I was very pregnant with the twins, I absent-mindedly gave Ava wet cat food and gave the cat warm oatmeal for breakfast. I was completely oblivious until Ava came up with her bowl and asked me if she had to eat the cat food.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

It has been said before, but listen to that mom instinct inside of you. You know your child better than anyone else--don’t be swayed by opinions of family, friends, etc, even if they have the best of intentions.

What is your favorite thing about Fit4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

My favorite thing about Fit4Mom is the motherhood community, where you are supported and encouraged in your current stage of motherhood and fitness. Fit4Mom has become an important piece of my life. I used to dread the idea of working out, let alone actually doing it. Now, I look forward to working out and I enjoy it; I know I am getting so many emotional and physical benefits.

IMG_5527.JPG

I was trying to figure out what sort of back-to-school meals to post here, but I wasn’t finding any new ideas. Instead, I want to highlight an important service that local school districts are providing: FREE meals to all children aged 18 years and under. ALL OF THEM. Even younger siblings of your elementary kiddos.

That means that no matter your situation, you can go pick up breakfasts and lunches for your children at local distribution sites. For us, it’s every morning at our elementary school. I am amazed at Fairfax County especially; in addition to the distribution sites that are open all morning, there are bus routes that stop for about 10 minutes all over. They also provide weekend meals when you go pick up on Fridays. Prince William County has pickups on Mondays and Thursdays and hands out kits for multiple days. Both programs have funding through December 31st. Keep this program going and take advantage of the nutritious meals they are offering!

As for kid-friendly, sure, my kids don’t eat all the broccoli or carrots or whatever vegetable every time, but so far they are enjoying the variety. I skipped a day this week and my 7 year old was actually disappointed. It sure beats peanut butter sandwiches five days a week and it makes virtual school seem even more official. (Thank you for making my life easier, too!)

Wear a mask and bring a bag when you go! It varies, but you may need to provide proof of residency/enrollment in school. At mine, they only asked for the number of children that needed meals.

Click here to find your local sites:

Fairfax County

Prince William County

(Thanks, Rebecca, for the photos!)

GALA photo.JPG

"Denise is strong and committed. She is shows up consistently for the early morning Body Back classes and gives 100% effort. You can feel her energy through the virtual space! She has gained so much endurance and speed in Run Club, too. Her encouraging feedback for other mamas helps make Our Village a supportive group for all the moms. I look forward to having her in each class!" – Megan Schmid, Body Boost Instructor and Run Club Coach

"I am so proud of Denise. I first met her over five years ago when her second one was only a newborn. Time flies when you’re having fun! Denise has been a very dedicated participant in most all of our programs. I think Run Club and Body Back really got her going and she hasn’t looked back!

She resonates strength, beauty and tenacity. Working in the medical field during a world pandemic, while raising two children, running a household AND finding time for self-care can’t be easy. So props to you Denise - thanks for being so inspiring! YOU ROCK!" - Shannon Link, Franchise Owner

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

I am the proud wife of Ramsey and mother of Ashley (2009) and Dylan (2015). I was born in Connecticut but raised and call Boston my home. Go Red Sox!!

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

I attempted to attend my first Fit4Mom class when I was on maternity leave with Dylan at Springfield Town Center. I ended up tending to my hungry 8 week old and watched the class from afar. Days later I was welcomed by Becky at Lorton Town Center. Back then it was only Shannon and Becky!

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I can be found zooming at those 5:30am classes. If it doesn’t happen first thing in the morning, it likely won’t happen at all! I also have been part of run club for about 2 years now!

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I am currently the Director of Human Resources for a healthcare non-profit supporting children with pediatric specialty care needs. I have been there for 5 years now. 2015 was a busy year- new baby, new job, why not?

What are 3 of your favorite things?

I love spending time outdoors with my family. Northern Virginia has so many great parks to enjoy. Additionally I love to read, usually a few minutes at bedtime and travel. Prior to healthcare, I spent many years of my career in the hotel industry and benefited from those employee discounts!

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

I would enjoy one of those great parks with my husband followed by a lunch or dinner somewhere scenic while enjoying some adult beverages.

What has being a mom taught you?

Motherhood has taught me to appreciate my own mother sooo much! I have learned that everything you think is so important means nothing when your kids are hurting or needing something.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

During a road trip returning from visiting my family over the holidays, we stopped at a Dunkin Donuts for restrooms and coffee break. My husband only likes to stop if it’s absolutely necessary so I when we arrive I run to the restroom with my 4 year old. Yes- I cut him in line! When we walked back to meet my husband and daughter, Dylan announces, “Dad, Mom almost had an accident!” My husband looks at me, takes his coffee and walks to the car. The whole coffee shop turns and looks at me and I grab Dylan and walk out as well!

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Buy a rain coat with a hood! When Ashley was an infant I returned to worked one morning, hair/makeup done and there was a complete downpour in downtown Chicago. I had the diaper bag, infant carrier and umbrella while trying to maneuver getting out the car and into daycare. I only have 2 hands! I had to leave the umbrella behind, showing up at work drenched for the day! In other words, don’t sweat the small stuff. Ashley was safe and well-fed for the day. As for me, a hot mess!

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

I have been a member however very sporadic over the years. When Shannon says there is something for everyone, it true! I attend when my schedule allows and I love the bond that I see has formed with so many of you. My kids are too big for strollers now however I have never been more consistent with classes during the recent months than I am now.

megan blog.png

I run for my life. Some days I run fast and some days it’s slower with walk breaks. “Wait, what does that mean?” I can almost hear you asking. Let me try to explain why I say that I’m running for my life and also why I think you should try running with me in Fit4Mom Run Club this fall.

1. Running is good for my mind.

Let’s face it—moms carry a lot in their minds. From who needs new socks to how many vegetables each child ate any given day, we keep mental lists galore. All that mind chatter can take a toll! I firmly believe running clears and invigorates my mind. Some call it the “runner’s high.”

The mental health benefits of running are more than just a runner’s high. Did you know researchers have discovered aerobic exercise can be as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression? If you’ve ever experienced the feelings of depression such as lack of motivation, lethargy, apathy, or even agitation or feeling threatened, you know how depression can disrupt your life. I have experienced those feelings. Sometimes life feels too heavy to move forward. Sometimes it leaves me feeling stuck, unable to do the most simple tasks. But when I go for a run, suddenly my perspective opens up and I’m able to process life differently. While medication has its place in treating mental health, why not also use running as a first-line defense?

2. Running is good for my physical health.

Did you know official guidelines state we should get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week? That breaks down to about 20 minutes per day. Think about it like this: our blood pressure, immune system, sleep quality, and even our life span is affected by exercise. Live longer by exercising? Sign me up!

This is the part where people often say to me that they don’t have the time or aren’t able to stay consistent. That’s what I love about running—it can overcome every fitness excuse. First, signing up for a race commits you to run a set distance and a date by which to achieve it. A running plan tells you how long or how far to run, when to cross-train, and when to rest. Finally, running with a group of other like-minded people keeps you accountable and encouraged.

3. Running is accessible.

Repeat after me: I can be a runner! You do not have to be a fitness expert to run. If you’re a beginner runner, find a supportive group to help you choose a plan, work on your form, and teach you about different types of running like tempo and intervals. Some of my best gear suggestions, such as my running leash for my dog or my hydration vest for long runs, have come from conversations with other more experienced runners. The willingness of runners to share their love for the sport and help others fall in love with running makes it accessible.

Running is also the perfect traveling exercise. From treadmills in hotels to trying out new running paths while visiting out-of-town relatives, running can be as simple as throwing some exercise clothes and your running shoes into your suitcase. I have enjoyed running while visiting family in Nebraska, vacationing along the beaches of North Carolina, and even while traveling in Kenya. Running goes wherever you go!

4. Running is both solo and social.

I am an introvert. My recharge comes from being alone with a book, meditating or praying in silence, or running alone for miles. That said, running with others brings incredible social benefits. Group runs help me find inspiration from what my running partners are doing, personally and professionally. Running in a group is often referred to as “running therapy” and it does feel like therapy for the soul. Connecting with another mom as we run sidewalks and trails together takes my mind off the physical work, leaving me energized.

Now that you know my reasons for running, you can see why I am excited to be a Fit4Mom Run Club (RC) coach this fall. Here's why I would love to have you join me at RC. First, this group is the perfect place to find all three running essentials: a goal, a schedule, and a support group. Our RC brings moms together with coaches specially trained in pre- and postnatal fitness. Having had four babies myself, I can tell you that running while pregnant can be healthy and beneficial. And yes, the return to running after having a baby can be challenging. But trust me, postpartum running helps you gain the strength and energy you need to keep up with your child(ren). And with an optional race (that you’re going to want to do!) already selected for the group, you’ll have the running goal to aim for at the end of our 8-week session.

But will I fit in if I don’t have running experience? Yes! Our RC moms have all levels of running experience. Some moms begin with walking and gradually add intervals of running. We also coach moms who have been running for several months or even years and want to improve their endurance and speed. We run with all the moms!

Some days I run fast. Some days I run slow and take walk breaks. But every day that I run, I’m running for my life. Will you join me in running for yours?

Sources:

https://www.facebook.com/1396098854012719/posts/2769275946694996/?extid=40jHvcejPlv0rqKk&d=n

World Mental Health Day - Benefits of Running for Depression and Anxiety

How Much Should You Exercise? | NutritionFacts.org

Perks of Running Solo or Social | Runner's World

good bye.jpg

We all know goodbyes are never easy and this summer seems to be bringing a lot of transition with our Fit4Mom team! We have a few instructors leaving the area and we wanted to be sure to give them a proper send-off! Please join us in saying goodbye, farewell, and good luck to these amazing and strong women!!

Krista Long, Body Back and Stroller Strides Instructor

**Krista and her family moved a few weeks ago to Fort Lee. We are SO lucky that this is only a goodbye in proximity for now. Krista will still be teaching virtually 😊

Here is what some of our mamas and instructors had to say about Krista:

“I will miss Krista immensely! She is an excellent instructor, kicking our butts yet still keeping us motivated. She was one of the first people to befriend me when I began Stroller Strides 3.5 years ago and has always been my cheerleader whether it was pushing me in class or being someone to lean on when life got hard. I will miss her greatly. Good luck on your next adventure, Krista!” – Hallie Futterman, Stroller Strides Mama

“Krista, thank you so much for all of the motivation, sweat, and love you’ve given me in the last 2+ years. You helped me find myself again when I felt completely lost. I am a much stronger person physically and emotionally thanks to Body Back and you were my very first coach! I will miss seeing you in person but hope we can keep in touch via Facebook and Zoom! I wish you all the best and I will never forget how you helped me change my life for the better!” Amy Boogart, Body Back Mama

“Krista was one of the first people who made me feel comfortable when I moved back to NoVa. I look forward to her workouts because they are both motivating and challenging and I know I will be sore the next day! So glad we have virtual classes so it’s not a total goodbye!” – Annie Sevel, Instructor

“Krista is the ultimate motivator. Whether it’s her 5am positive energy, her 50 burpee a day challenge, her gentle encouragement to do more or her ability to encourage you to come back to class after a long absence. Krista always brings 100%! Thank you for being you! I will miss you!” – Teresa Archer, Body Back Mama

“You have been such a pivotal part of my team. There aren’t enough words to thank you for everything you have done to keep our tribe going. You have taken on so many roles here at my franchise. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m going to miss you and the girls around here. And I am so appreciative that you have considered staying on the virtual platform. You are very much loved and mamas really enjoy your empowering classes! All the best at your new duty station.” – Shannon Link, Franchise Owner

Tara Rose-Javed, S360 Instructor

What have you loved most about being a Fit4Mom/KAY Instructor:

1. I love being an instructor because it pushes me to focus on becoming a healthier and better Mama to my children. As I watch all the mom’s in my class, I love to feel the incredible energy, and I can’t help but want to push them to reach their goals!

2. Where are you headed on your next adventure?:

2. The Army is relocating us to HOME! We have orders to Michigan, and are looking forward to the time we are being given with family and friends. While in Michigan, I will be attending the University of Michigan working on my Ed.S Degree in Educational Leadership. I will also continue to be a part of Fit 4 Mom by instructing Body Back and S-360 at East Oakland County F4M.

Here is what some of our Mamas and Instructors had to say about Tara:

“Tara is seriously,.. no, SERIOUSLY, the sweetest,most supportive, hard working, dedicated friend/mama/instructor/teammate ever! I honestly never knew people like her existed until I met her at Burke Lake Park one sunny Stroller Strides morning. Tara, I love you with all of my heart and the world is such a better place with you in it. You are simply the best, and my crew and I will miss you so much! Best of luck, girlfriend!” – Candice Agustin, Instructor

“Tara has a contagious smile and enthusiastic personality. She shows up to work hard and do her best and encourages others to do the same. She will be greatly missed in this village!” – Rebekah Johnson, Instructor

“Tara is a truly warm and caring person. She shares her enthusiasm for working out and makes you feel that you can push yourself just a bit harder in her class. She puts you at ease and makes you feel like you belong. I will miss her!” – Laura Davis, Fit4Mom Mama

“I honestly can’t remember a s360 class before Tara. She is a great motivator with her energetic smile and fantastic hugs. She constantly encourages you to do more than you think you can do. She gives workouts her all and always has a fun relay at the end of every 360 class. I can’t believe her time in VA is up but can’t wait to hear about all the lives she will change for the greater in Michigan. ” – Christina Peterson, Fit4Mom Mama

“Tara and I just clicked immediately! We became instant friends and I'm going to miss her so much! She is soo encouraging, and fun to follow in class! She makes you work hard and pushes you when you need it. She's a fantastic instructor and I hope she can fall right back in when they come back in 2 years!! Love you Tara!!” – Margo Dallos, Fit4Mom Mama

“You rock mama! Thanks so much for being a part of my team. I’ve had so much fun getting to know you over the last few months. Well, not necessarily the quarantine months ;-) but you know what I mean. Going to miss your smile! It’s super contagious. Wishing you and your family all the best in Michigan. I will continue to send much love and support for your dad and family. You got this – I’ll be here two years when you get back.” – Shannon Link, Franchise Owner

Katherine Sandusky, KAY Yoga and Stroller Strides Instructor

What have you loved most about being a Fit4Mom/KAY Instructor:

I love being both a KAY teacher & a SS instructor because I am able to reach all ends of our village! It has been amazing to met so many wonderful families, from first time mamas to the older kiddos that don’t come to SS anymore. Being a KAY instructor has been much more rewarding then I ever could have imagined! Seeing all of your little yogis mediate and practice is so heart warming!

Where are you headed on your next adventure?:

As a military family we are always up for an adventure! This move is taking our family out west to Denver, CO! We are so excited for all of the outdoor adventures to come!

Here is what some of our Mamas and Instructors had to say about Katherine:

“My kids LOVED going to see Ms. Katherine for yoga. She always had such fun ideas and themes that Kendall would talk about for the rest of the day. We will miss her and her classes so much!” – Amanda Martin, Instructor

“We’ve loved doing KAY with Katherine! She has such great energy, but she also has such a calming presence at the same time. My 2-year-old has learned so much from her classes and loves to “rock the baby” and sing the songs long after the class is over. We’ll miss her!” – Jennifer Ward, KAY and Stroller Strides Mama

“My girls absolutely love Kidding Around Yoga. Katherine is awesome! She keeps classes fun & entertaining. My kiddos are always excited when I say it’s class yoga day. Sending positive vibes for her new journey. We will miss her. ” – Lindsey Thayer, KAY Mama

“I sure am going to miss you around here. Thank you for taking the leap on being one of my amazing team members. You did a fabulous job during the quarantine leading our little yogis. I cannot thank you enough! I hope you and your beautiful family have some awesome new adventures going forward. Can’t wait to follow you on Facebook!” – Shannon Link, Franchise Owner

Katherine Resendz.png

We love celebrating our Motivating Mamas! This month we learn more about Katherine and why she is a motivating mom for all of us!

"I absolutely love how Katherine & her little cutie bring the biggest most inviting smiles to every class! She truly sets the best tone and gives out so many friendly vibes! I know other mamas feel the motivation she radiates! Katherine is an amazing mama who works hard & finds time to take care of herself! We are so fortunate and thankful she is a part of our village! Love ya, girl!" - Candice Agustin, Fit4Mom Instructor

"Katherine is such a dedicated & strong mama. She shows up to class and gives no less than 100%. We are lucky to have her and her beautiful little Lilyanna in our group. She always brings a smile that is so contagious. I’m so proud of her for getting herself nationally certified as an interpreter, all while being a new first-time mom. She is a great role model for her daughter to never give up!" - Shanon Link, Franchise Owner

"Katherine is an amazing mama and friend! Every time she comes to class, her smile shines bright and is contagious. She always makes other mamas feel welcome, and spends the class making sure others feel included. Katherine gives forth every ounce of effort she can while attending class, and it is apparent that she loves being a part of Fit 4 Mom!" - Tara Rose Javed, Fit4Mom Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My husband, Lorenzo and our 10-month-old daughter Lilyanna. We are originally from Las Cruces, NM.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first Fit4Mom class was right after I was cleared to return to exercising when Lilyanna was about 7 weeks old. It was at the Springfield Mall and I didn't really know where I was going so I just followed someone else with a stroller. :) I was impressed by some of the other moms who made it a point to talk to me and welcome me as we walked between stations. I was also thankful for another mom who pushed my stroller a little bit when Lilyanna was fussy so I could do the workout.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I am at the studio, occasionally STC, and super excited to be at BLP now! Pretty much any in-person class I can!

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I am a freelance sign language interpreter. I love interpreting and I am thankful that this is a flexible job I can still do part-time, and the rest of the time mostly stay home with Lilyanna.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Jesus, my family, dessert :)

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Go on a date with my husband: dinner, a walk, ice cream, and just chatting

What has being a mom taught you?

Being a mom has taught me to be selfless, to love more than I ever thought possible, and that stopping for nursing, snuggles, and reading a book about tacos a million times (Lilyanna's new fave) is better than laundry and dishes that can wait.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

I was at church with Lilyanna when she was 2 or 3 months old. The priest was talking, and his microphone cut out for just a second, which perfectly coincided with an explosion in Lilyanna's diaper. There were several people around me who heard and were trying not to laugh or make eye contact.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Stock up on the cute smiles, giggles, and cuddles during the good moments to help get through the hard moments.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

I love that Fit4Mom is something I can do with my baby that's designed to be something for me and Lilyanna together. I'm not trying to squeeze a workout in, or sacrifice a workout to take care of her, but it's the perfect fit for my life as a mom! Especially as she is getting a little older now and can enjoy the songs and bubbles. :) I am also really thankful for the other moms and the community. After Lilyanna was born, I told my husband I felt like I needed to find new friends who were moms also and at the same place in life. Fit4Mom has introduced me to so many awesome moms to journey with!

Shaina.jpg

I AM meant to be a mother.

Unfortunately, it took me over 3 years and 2 kids to believe that.

“I am not meant to be a mother,” I thought as it took me over 8 months to get pregnant with my first and 6 months with my second. Yes, I knew and had read over and over again that the average time it takes couples to conceive is 6 months, but that’s the longest 6 months ever when you’re waiting impatiently every month to see that pink line.

“I am not meant to be a mother,” I thought when I had a subchorionic hematoma at 10 weeks and 13 weeks pregnant with my first and the ER doctor told me I had a 50/50 chance of keeping the pregnancy - the pregnancy it took me more than 8 months to conceive. Yes, I know 1 in 4 women have miscarriages and most have subsequent healthy pregnancies, but when it’s no longer a number you read, it becomes more real.

“I am not meant to be a mother,” I thought after 22 hours of labor ending in a C-Section. Not the labor and delivery I wanted. Then the doctors told me in my postpartum recovery room that I had a silent posterior uterine rupture that was discovered during the C-Section and repaired. I had had no symptoms during labor - no external bleeding (there was in fact internal bleeding), no distress to me or baby, nothing. So if I had not “given up” and agreed to the C-section at 22 hours, it would have become a life or death situation for me and my son. This haunted me over the next 3 years and caused severe anxiety during my second pregnancy. I kept thinking, if it wasn’t for medical advancements, I wouldn’t be here. If I was pregnant 50 years ago, I likely wouldn’t have survived. I had drawn the short straw in Darwin’s survival of the fittest game of life.

“I am not meant to be a mother,” I thought as I held my newborn son that I had almost died for and did not feel attached. I looked down at him and felt nothing. This wasn’t supposed to be like this. There was supposed to be this magical, instantaneous, deep connection. Yes, I read later that my lack of immediate attachment is common, but that knowledge was of little solace living through it.

“I am not meant to be a mother,” I thought as my daughter decided to come 2 days before her scheduled C-section date of 37 weeks. As I laid in triage awaiting my C-section, I had nurses, doctors, and the anesthesiologists constantly commenting on my previous silent uterine rupture - “Do you know how rare that is?”; “You really had no symptoms?”; “You know how lucky you were?”; “Your doctor said you could get pregnant again?” All very encouraging as I waited to undergo surgery - again - in order to have a child. Thankfully, this time was different and I felt the attachment to my baby girl when I first laid eyes on her.

Still, after returning home, I focused on the fact that, in my mind, I was only a mother because of modern medicine. Research indicates subchorionic hematomas occur in anywhere from 1% - 3% of all pregnancies and is one of the most common reasons for bleeding in the first trimester. Uterine rupture occurring in an unscarred uterus is very rare, with an incidence of 0.5–2.0 per 10,000 (or 0.005% - 0.02%). If only my “luck” in experiencing rare pregnancy conditions would translate to winning the lottery :)

Recently this thought pattern changed. I don’t know why, but one night, as I was nursing my daughter, I thought “I AM meant to be a mother.” Medical advances and technology are not 100%. Yes, it saved my life, my son’s life, and allowed me to have a second child - but it didn’t have to work out. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out for the best in all medical procedures or other facets of life. Tragedy happens.

Even more important than the medical advances though is what I finally saw that I was and am capable of. When I take a step back, I see myself interacting with my children. I’m navigating grocery stores and errands with them both. I am (usually) balancing tending to the needs of a newborn while still giving one-on-one time with my son. I’m not perfect and can’t say I’m always the model of patience and balance, but that’s ok. Strangers, friends, and daycare teachers often tell me that my son plays well with others, listens, and demonstrates empathy. That--that right there--knowing my son is a good little human is all the proof I need to know that I am meant to be a mother. God help anyone who thinks they can get between me and my children.

Everyone’s story is different, but I would bet many moms have had the thought “I am not meant to be a mother” or “I can’t do this” or something along those lines. Just know that yes you can do this and you are meant to be a mother. We may not be perfect, but no one is. Call, email, message me. I will tell you this every single day until you believe it.

We are meant to be mothers and we’re darn good ones.

May post.png

Not long ago our family had to PCS again. Being a military mom makes some things more difficult. Most of us are forced to build support systems every three years. In my last duty station, I had a few good friends with kids, and thankful my family was close. Then we had to PCS again.

The fear and the wonder of what and how I will survive hit me immediately, especially being a mom of two little ones. I remember on my way to VA I was so worried to have friends again, and I was just overwhelmed. I remember when I arriveded in Alexandria one day I was sitting in the hotel room looking for things to do, with the worry of how to even start my life again. Somehow I ended up on the Fit4Mom lorton website. I can't remember how.

I looked at the schedule of the classes and I got so excited to see so many classes on the schedule. At the same time I felt a little intimidated with the idea of showing up to meet a bunch of moms. But with nothing to lose, I took the opportunity to join the group. Soon after I signed up I went to the first class in one of the malls. I immediately felt welcome. Thank god the same week they had the monthly meeting and I got to meet Shannon, a really kind woman (and friend now) who navigated me, and patiently answered all my questions about each class.

All of the moms made me feel so welcome which was something pretty new to me as it was the first time I was in a group. I met really nice women, just like me, who weren't afraid to share their lives and their family. Since then, everyday I am so thankful for this group of women who share the life of motherhood. I will be forever thankful to Shannon, and thankful for her kindness since our first meeting!

Nikki Bennett.png

Nikki Bennett is a stay-at-home-mom and wanna-be writer. You can follow her on twitter @theconstantmama and check out her blog by the same name on WordPress. She’s been with FIT4MOM since 2019.

Motherhood! It's wonderful, beautiful, amazing, and so fulfilling. It also hurts! Not just labor and delivery. Everyone knows that hurts. I'm saying momming hurts too. The actual day-to-day motherhood. I had no idea how achy and over-touched I would feel. ...or how stepped on, pushed, pulled, jumped onto, bumped into, head-butted, scratched and pinched I'd get. In general, the physical torment, that would be a natural (usually unintentional) by-product of daily interaction with my kids, was not something I expected or prepped for.

Everyone told me what pregnancy would be like and what to expect during delivery; I even took a class about how to manage the pain of childbirth. I talked for hours with friends, mentors, and health professionals about how to survive the aches and pains of pregnancy, manage the intensity of childbirth, and how to prepare for postpartum safety and recovery. But the thing no one warned me about is how much motherhood hurts! This may seem whiny but I think it is fair for us to indulge in a little whining now and again, Mamas. After all, we are patient with so much whining from our littles. We can whine a little too. Sorry-not-sorry! I digress, my point is: I wish I had known what was coming and how to cope with this new phase of life where I can't always control how I'll be touched. I am not just talking about the pain associated with breastfeeding (dear goodness, that could be another post entirely!) or how being a stay-at-home-mom means being around my kids all the time, which means more time getting bumped into and bashed and pulled on. I'm guessing this is to some extent universal and experienced by all mamas.

I think all mamas are going through extra physical strain and extra ouchy scenarios at a time when our bodies are hormonal and trying to heal. There's just so much that can add to the pain and strain: the holding them and rocking them; the lifting! it's non-stop; the dancing and singing with sign-language and choreographed movements; the crawling around with them; the always squatting!--to pick them up, to pick up their toys, to try not to further hurt your back as you lift something heavy... Oh, and here's a current favorite of my littlest one: the scratching! Is my 8-month-old sharpening her talons on the sides of the Pack N Play or something? Why is it that no matter how often I tend her nails by nightfall they can slice me open?! My chest looks like I've been mauled regularly by a kitten. And yes, I have tried mittens or socks on her hands, but then she won't nurse because she is trying to take them off! So I just let it happen because I feel defeated and I really, really, want to go to sleep too! And the threenager likes to head-butt all a sudden. I think my pelvic bone is bruised from a particularly violent head-butt that came out of nowhere when I thought we were having enough fun during our daily dance party. But apparently MMA was the new plan and that was her way of delivering the memo. And the 8-month-old has a helmet! so when she hit me hard in the ear the other day it hurt so bad I thought "it must be bleeding." And insult to injury: that was my good ear! The other one isn't up to par because she shrieked right into it when her sister did something apparently amazing and her vantage point right up by my ear was the perfect place to notice it and celebrate in the loudest way possible. She's also the loudest baby ever, I swear. Call Guinness Book, people.

There are so many little injuries from this kid: one morning after a shower, when she was about six months old, I discovered several vibrant-purple circular little bruises on my upper thighs and I panicked. I asked my husband, "Am I dying? What is this?" We talked it through and he suggested it was from the baby, not some strange, potentially-fatal thigh bruise disease I hadn't yet heard of. He made a lot of sense when he suggested they were from the baby learning to jump and stomp in my lap. She's so cute I didn't notice any pain but that had to be it: I realized she's just heavy, wicked strong, and I am pale. And also easily distracted by the pure joy of her giggles.

All this is to process and acknowledge the most unexpected effect of motherhood on me: I ache. A lot. And in many ways. Each alone makes perfect sense, but all at once, it feels like a lot. And my chiropractor can't fix it all. Exercise helps. I need and want to get stronger. I have strong girls and when I can pick them up and carry them with less back pain, I feel proud. I am so grateful for FIT4MOM and my new friends through Stroller Strides classes. Because though these girls hurt me, I want them with me. Even for my workouts. I want them to see me taking care of myself. And I feel so much less anxious after some cardio. So I want them to learn that too: exercise is good for us in many ways, not just physically.

Anyway, I think motherhood hurts and/or mothering can often be ouchy. Turns out, my kids are unintentionally abusive, but whoa are they cute! And we say "no pain, no gain," right? I think this closeness (uncomfortable though some moments are) is something all three of us will be forever grateful for. Because "the little things" are actually a lot bigger when the people I love most are this cute and little. For example, when the threenager jumps on my lap demanding to be tickled she has the most amusing look on her face. And when my eight-month-old bear claws my shoulder during one of her fierce hugs my first thought is not of scars (that is my second) but rather that this love she has for me--so much gratitude and excitement and intensity--is the best feeling in the world. And so worth any pain they can manage to cause. My "Mama Aches" are worth noting and need venting, and they're worth it.

Sara MOM of the Month.png

“I met Sara through the INOVA New Moms Group. It was there that she introduced me to Fit4Mom and for that alone, I’m appreciative of her. Beyond that, Sara always knows the right thing to say to provide comfort, support, or a laugh. She is down to earth and provides the perspective and encouragement that I need to survive motherhood. Plus, we wouldn’t make it to class most days if my toddler wasn’t so eager to go see Jack!” – Laura Chonko, Stroller Strides Mom

“Sara is a devoted Stroller Strides mom! She always takes her workouts to the next level which challenges and motivates the rest of us during class!” - Karlee Goeres, Instructor

“Sara is a great mama to have in class and our village! She was a dedicated Stroller Strider before and during pregnancy #2, and then came right back without missing a beat. She’s laid back and easy to talk to, which makes other moms feel welcome!” – Katie Taves, Instructor

“Sara is a rockstar S360 mom! She goes on those 5 out and back runs with two boys in the stroller whether it’s 65 degrees or 25 degrees! She is very easy to talk to and always seems to have good advice!” – Annie Sevel, Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My husband Jon and I have been married since May 2016 and Jack is nearly 2.5 and Andrew is 7 months!

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first class was in February 2018 and I think it was one of Jenna’s first classes back after Isla was born! After a not as great experience with another Fit4Mom chapter I knew immediately that this village was going to be a great fit for us!

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I usually go classes at Springfield Town Center and try to get in one S360 class per week.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I currently work part time as a personal trainer working with clients ranging from 30-94 and I spent 9 years as an Officer in the US Army Reserve.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Wine, good food, and sports!

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Massage followed by a quiet dinner with fun cocktails and wine.

What has being a mom taught you?

Letting go of what you think you thought was going to be the plan and just rolling with reality.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

When Andrew was about 2 weeks old we went to one of our favorite diners for breakfast. As soon as we arrived Andrew spit up all over himself and me and then right after we ate Jack proceeded to throw up all over me. I think both boys left in just diapers and I left in a nursing tank and vomit covered shorts. I have not been back since.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Don’t get caught up in some else’s Instagram life and remember that their kid has meltdowns over being handed goldfish instead of graham crackers too.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

I love that I can show up to class and know that I’m not the only one going through toddler struggles or a teething baby and that for an hour or we are all in it together. I would tell any mom, whether struggling or not, that joining this village will give you the support you need to get through whatever comes up with the challenges of raising kids today.

March new team.png

Our team is ever-growing and we want to introduce some of our newer team members to our community! Read on to learn more about Tara-Rose, Amanda, Kara, and Sultana!!

Tara-Rose Javed

1. What is your position with Fit4Mom? - Instructor for S-360

2. Who are the members of your family and where did you come from before Virginia? - . I am married toy amazing husband, Moeen and we have three amazing children! Ariana is 8, Elyas is 6, and Aydin is 1. We are a military family, and before arriving in Virginia, we were living in Georgia. We have been fortunate enough to live in Colorado, Arizona, and Tennessee, also. Our home state will always where we are from, the great state of Michigan.

3. What do you love about Fit4Mom? - There is so much to love about Fit 4 Mom! I was initially hooked by the energy and love the tribe possesses. You not only get an amazing workout from any class you attend but while there you have some incredible mama friends cheering you on along the way!

4. Where do you typically attend class? - . I attend classes at, Burke Lake Park, Abiding Presence, and Link Family Fitness Studio.

5. A fun fact we may not know about you - One fun fact about me is in my past life, I was an Elementary Education teacher. I hold 5 valid teaching licenses.

Amanda Martin

1. What is your position with Fit4Mom? - I teach morning Body Back in Kingstowne on Tuesday and Fridays.

2. Who are the members of your family and where did you come from before Virginia? - My husband is Drew. My daughter, Kendall, is 4 and my son, Griffin, is 15 months. My husband and I are actually both from this area originally. I went to TC Williams High School in Alexandria, which was the high school in the movie Remember the Titans. I left to go to college at William and Mary and then moved back here after I graduated.

3. What do you love about Fit4Mom? - I love that Fit4Mom combines working out with a mom tribe. Working out has always been important to me. When I decided to stay home after Griffin was born, I really needed a mom tribe and I found it with Fit4Mom. Everyone is so supportive of one another. When Griffin burned his hands last fall, so many mamas in our tribe offered support and prayers and still everyone asks how he is doing. It really means so much to me! I think Fit4Mom is what has kept me from completely losing my mind

4. Where do you typically attend class? - I go to Burke Stroller Strides, and I go to Body Back, S360, and KAY classes at Link Family Fitness.

5. A fun fact we may not know about you - I was a competition dancer growing up. Like a slightly less crazy version of the show Dance Moms. Also I never learned how to ride a bike.

Kara Powers

1. What is your position with Fit4Mom? - Woodbridge Play Group Captain

2. Who are the members of your family and where did you come from before Virginia? - Husband, Jeremy, 1year old Blair, and our golden retriever, Piper. Baby girl #2 is due August 2020! I grew up in Fairfax County and ended up in Richmond for a few years after college before moving to Lake Ridge in 2016.

3. What do you love about Fit4Mom? - I love the supportive Mom Tribe and the ability to get a workout in with my sweet girl by my side.

4. Where do you typically attend class? - Potomac Mills Mall & LFF

5. A fun fact we may not know about you - I have my minor in Ballet!

Sultana Karim

1. What is your position with Fit4Mom? - I am the Fit4Baby Program Manager.

2. Who are the members of your family and where did you come from before Virginia? - My immediate family is from Bangladesh and different parts of the US. I grew up in New Jersey for several years before I was enrolled in Milton Hershey School in Hershey, PA when I was a teenager; and it is that same place where I met my husband (who is from Illinois). The family members are Aaron (husband), and Pranavi (daughter).

3. What do you love about Fit4Mom? - There are so many things that I love about Fit4Mom. I enjoy the fitness classes with and without baby, the community, fun field trips, mom night out events, educational events, and play groups.

4. Where do you typically attend class? - Sunday-Body Ignite at the studio, Monday-Body Ignite (once a month) at the studio, Wednesday- either Stroller Strides at Potomac Mills mall or S360 at the studio, Friday- Stroller Strides at Potomac Mills Mall, and Saturday- Stroller Strides at Potomac Mills Mall

5. A fun fact we may not know about you - My favorite video game is Mortal Kombat!

St Patrick sensory.png

We are taking our playgroups virtual! Each day this week we have had something awesome for our mamas to look forward and Friday it will all come together with a virtual playgroup. This week, we will be doing a color and shape scavenger hunt and sensory bin play. If you missed our live sensory bin demonstration, follow along below:

What you will need:

-dried rice

-food coloring

-ziplock bags

-aluminum foil or baking sheet (to dry rice on)

-objects for kids to search for in the sensory bin

Have kids scoop rice into small ziplock bags. Add 6-10 drops of desired food coloring and teaspoon of water to the bag. Mix up to color the rice. Dump out on a baking sheet or foil to dry (15-30 minutes). You can do multiple colors or keep it to one. Add dried rice to your sensory bin container and add in other items. Ideas for St. Patricks day - gold coins, lucky charms cereal, other green objects around the house (crayons, markers, etc)

Want a sensory bag to go? Add the rice to a small ziplock along with some little objects. Tape the top shut and then ask kids to find the various objects in the rice without opening up the bag. Great to have at the kitchen table while you are getting lunch or dinner ready! Or take along with you in the stroller for a walk!

And don't forget to have your sensory bin on hand for playgroup Friday!

Show us your sensory bins and tag us in your post!

Homeschool.jpg

Three years ago, I was a military professional in a challenging and satisfying career. Today, I am a stay-at-home mom with the privilege of homeschooling two of my four children. Sometimes I am asked how I made this transition, and I can sense the unasked question, “Why are you homeschooling?” Here is a brief glimpse of what led to this major transition.

While I was pregnant with my fourth daughter, my oldest daughter (who was in 2nd grade at the time) started refusing to go to school in the mornings. She would hide, beg not to go, and repeatedly asked to be homeschooled. My sister and sister-in-law both homeschool their children in Nebraska, so while we were aware of the concept, we really had no idea how it works. At the time, I was planning to transition out of the military after my baby was born and begin staying home full-time. Why not give homeschooling a try, I thought. It had to be better than the sickening feeling I had when wiping tears from my daughter’s face and insisting she had to go to school.

The first step was providing the school system a notice of intent to homeschool, proof of qualification (the minimum is a high school diploma), and a list of subjects to be taught in the coming year. Next was choosing the curriculum, a daunting task given the plethora of options available. My sister made a fantastic suggestion—go to the public library to check out books on various homeschooling curricula and philosophies like unit studies, Montessori, classical, even one called unschooling. Hence, without spending a penny, I was well on my way to exploring the world of homeschooling.

That first trip to the public library was a fateful one. I noticed a book about reading problems and decided to add it to my pile. Later that day, while nursing my newborn baby, I flipped through the book on reading problems and found a list of dyslexia symptoms. Stunned, I stared at the list; this single list described my daughter to a tee. Quickly reading the chapter on dyslexia, I was convinced she has it. We decided to arrange private testing, which confirmed my suspicion—she has dyslexia.

Dyslexia is not something you outgrow; it’s a learning disorder that makes reading difficult and with the right support you can learn to overcome. With the encouragement of our daughter’s evaluator, we began an intensive reading and spelling program specifically designed for people with dyslexia. In just two years of homeschooling, my daughter has made tremendous progress. She will pick up books to read on her own whereas before she would avoid reading for pleasure or education. Can you imagine how amazing that is to see?! My daughter, the one who used to cry when we asked her to read for just 10 minutes will now pick up a book. For fun. On her own!

At this point in our homeschool journey, we are not focused on if or when she will return to mainstream school. We enjoy the flexibility of homeschooling and the freedom to choose our subjects, pace, and content. We have a fantastic faith-based co-op and supportive friends.

Certainly, we have days that feel agonizing. Days when she doesn’t want to do her schoolwork or I feel exhausted from single parenting while my husband travels for work. However, the relief I feel in understanding how her brain works, where she excels, and where she struggles far exceeds any rough days. Although homeschooling is not an option for every child or parent, I have tremendous gratitude for those who encouraged me to listen to my mother’s intuition with regard to my child, her needs, and my abilities.

Thank goodness for a little girl who expressed her struggle, and that my ears and mind were open enough to respond.

Do you want to learn more about homeschooling in Virginia or the reading and spelling program we use? Here are some helpful links:

VDOE :: Private Schools & Home Schooling

Virginia Homeschool| Home Educators Association of Virginia

Bright Solutions for Dyslexia

#homeschool #momofgirls #dyslexiaawareness

Missy Feb.png

“Missy brings such great energy to class! Her classes keep me laughing and working hard and that hour just flies by. She makes every class exciting for both moms and kiddos. She's a great part of our village!!” - Kara Powers, Woodbridge Playgroup Captain

“My first Fit4Mom class was with Missy and she made the class such a great experience that I was sold! Her energy is contagious. She always comes up with exciting ways for us to exercise to the songs while singing. We are lucky to have Missy ” – Courtney Czerwinski, Stroller Strides Mom

“Missy is such a great motivator. She was the one who ran my first class and she definitely makes you put in the work. And she is right there, putting in the work with you! She’s a true fitness inspiration and someone who can make you actually want to come back and work out!” – Margo Dallas, Stroller Strides Mom

“Missy is such a warm, welcoming, and inspiring instructor whose classes are so much fun! Just like she is!” – Danielle Kama, Body Back Mom

1. Who are the members of your family?

I’m married to my wonderful husband Bobby, and we have two boys, Andrew and Brady. We have two doggies, Buddy and Bailey!

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

I grew up in Charlotte, NC. Moved to Burke, Va when I was 16. Been in the NOVA area ever since!

3. Where do you typically teach?

I teach Stroller Strides at Potomac Mills Mall, Body Back at the Studio, and Run Club on the weekends. So a little bit everywhere.

4. Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom LSBW NoVa.

Well, I never imagined I would be doing this. If Shannon never came to me and asked. Who knows. But I’m so glad I took the steps to become an instructor because it’s one of the best decisions I have made.

5. What is your favorite thing to teach?

It would have to be Stroller Strides because I get to be silly and funny with the kids. Stroller Strides is just so fun and upbeat to teach.

6. What is the BEST thing about being an instructor?

Definitely, seeing moms coming out and working hard. No matter what class I’m teaching, I see that in every mom that I teach.

7. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

I think I want to give each mom the courage and empowerment that I needed, after having kids.

8. What is one of your current wellness goals?

I have been on a health journey since having my second child. Since having Brady I lost 85lbs, and become the strongest I have ever been in my life. So one of my current goals is to just keep going to stay healthy.

9. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you?

Well, some know that I have a twin brother. We don’t look alike or really do anything like twins, so he is more just like my brother, but we share the birthday!

10. Anything else you'd like Our Village to know?

That I’m so grateful to be part of this village! And you guys let me lead your classes each day. I’m always so inspired but each of the moms I meet, and how hard they work each and every day for their littles!

Kristin Feb.png

“I’m always so happy when I get to a Body Back class and Kristin is there! She’s always so kind and positive, and I love how she pushes me to work harder! She is so fast! Whether we’re chatting about our au pairs or commiserating about how many burpees we have to do, I always enjoy being in class with Kristin!” – Amy Vanden Boogart, Body Back Member

“I’ve been taking Body Back classes with Kristin for about a year now and I’m always amazed at how consistently dedicated she is to her fitness! She’s so fun to be with in class- always up for a challenge, will give you that extra push you need to run just a little bit faster, and she’s always got a funny story to make you laugh.” – Monica Lennon, Body Back Member

“It seems like Kristin never misses a workout! She is so dedicated and is always working hard in class with a smile on her face! She is easy to talk to and very supportive of other mamas!” – Annie Sevel, S360 Instructor

-Kristin is like a beautiful ray of sunshine in every class. She has a warm, friendly personality that helps everyone feel welcome. And she knows how to bring the heat in the workouts! She motivates moms with her dedication and intensity!” – Megan Schmid, Body Back and Body Ignite Instructor

“Kristin is strong and dedicated. She has a winning attitude and always gives 100% at our workouts. I love having her as part of our Burke Early Birds crew!” – Becky Krispin, Body Back Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My husband Bob and I are originally from Rhode Island. We’ve been married for 10 years. We have two boys named Luke (6) and Benjamin (2).

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

About a year ago, a friend posted on Facebook that she was considering doing a transformation session and was looking for someone to join with her. I hadn’t been exercising at all in the past year since my youngest was born. I didn’t really know what Body Back was, but I thought signing up for the session could be the push I needed to start getting healthy again. I remember being so proud of myself for waking up and making it to my first 5:15 am class. The other moms were really welcoming, and Megan was very patient and encouraging as I tried to keep up and not get tangled in my band. In the days afterward, I felt like I’d been run over by a truck. Thankfully, it got easier after only a few classes, and I’ve never been that sore again.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

My typical schedule now is Body Back on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings. I add in Body Ignite on Sunday mornings.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I am a hospital pharmacist, and my practice is within the Emergency Department. I also run our pharmacy residency program.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Traveling, being outdoors, and trying new foods.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

I would either sleep or go on a date with my husband. Typically, we do dinner and drinks so I would do something special like the theater or a concert.

What has being a mom taught you?

I would like to say patience, but I’m still working on that. Truly though, being a mom has shown me that love is limitless.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

It’s hard to pick a favorite funny thing. My two-year-old especially is at the age for saying and doing cute and ridiculous things. Simple joys like pancakes or a favorite song make him yell hooray and do a little dance. It’s fairly common to find he’s dumped sand in his hair or drawn with marker on his face.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

We all have moments where we struggle every day. Trust your gut and be kind to yourself.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

This morning in my Body Ignite class, there was a mom in my row whispering to the mom next to her. She was saying things like “you’re doing great” and “I’m so proud of you.” It’s the only place in my life where moms actually talk like that to each other. For any mom that is looking to feel healthier, happier, and a sense of belonging, I would encourage them to join.

#fit4momlsbwknova #motivating #momofthemonth #strongmama #bodyback #bodyignite

Jenny_Jan Team Member.png

"Jenny is one of the most creative and giving people I know. She quietly jumps in to help if she sees you struggling, usually with bubbles or coffee in hand. She makes the most amazing snacks and comes up with incredible craft ideas. My kids and I look forward to Friday playgroups so much! She's one of the best parts of coming to Stroller Strides." - Laura Wooley Davis, Burke Mama

"Jenny is one super amazing mama and friend! Whenever you see her at class she has a smile on her face and compassion in her heart. Jenny is so warm & welcoming and always does her best to support new and veteran mamas in our village. You can find her pushing a stroller to calm the babies, blowing bubbles to make the big kids giggle, chatting and laughing with the mamas about all things motherhood and feeding us yummy coffee and homemade goodies. Outside of Fit4Mom Jenny is someone you want to be around because she’s always into having a good time! We love you Jenny Bubbles! Thank you for being you and the best partner I could have ever asked for!" - #Burkeisforfit4momlovers #andjennybubbles, Candice Agustin, Stroller Strides Instructor

"Jenny carries a sense of peace and calm that makes others feel more at ease when they're around her. She is a playgroup magician, making every Friday fun for both kiddos and moms. She is also goes above and beyond to keep the kiddos calm and entertained while the mommies workout, often walking a fussy baby, blowing bubbles, or providing fun toys or books. We are so thankful to have Jenny as our Playgroup Captain!" - Rebekah Johnson, Stroller Barre Instructor

"There is so much I could say about Jenny Bubbles! I feel so spoiled by her! She brings homemade baked goods and coffee for us every single Friday even if it’s not a snack playgroup. I count on that coffee! But beyond her baking and crafting skills, she does the relational part of her job so well. She brings a caddy of books and toys for whining kids and will stop her own workout to blow bubbles for everyone or push around a fussy baby. There have been times when I’m frustrated with one of my kids or I’m busy nursing a baby and she will take them during playgroup to get a snack or even do that week’s craft with them. She goes out of her way to introduce herself to any new moms and engages them in a conversation between stations so that everyone feels welcome. She really goes above and beyond. Finally, she has a novelty sock collection to be envied." -Rebecca Carlson, Burke Mama

1. Who are the members of your family?

Me, Sal, Arwen (7) and Lorelei (4)

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

I consider myself a native now. We moved a lot when I was a kid but I’ve been in Fairfax since I was 12.

3. Which location(s) do you typically attend class?

You can find me in Burke Body Back and Stroller Strides a lot and occasionally at the studio.

4. Tell us your story about how/why you became a PGC for Fit4Mom LSBW NoVa.

Shannon made me do it! There was an opening back in 2016 and, while I wasn’t sure if I was crafty enough then, I sure am now.

5. What is one of your favorite playgroup activities?

I think my favorites are always the crafts because it is so satisfying to see children and moms create something special. But I also love it when the kids take an activity I think will last for three minutes and play for an hour all together.

6. What is the BEST thing about being a PGC?

Getting to know all these amazing moms and kids!

7. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

Everyone says “because of my kids” for this one, but I’ve somehow made it past that stage. Now I just love being involved in this community and helping new mamas get some of their sanity back. If only for an hour.

8. What is one of your current wellness goals?

My current wellness goal is to significantly lower my intake of SUGAR. It’s been a struggle for the past few years but I’ve recently been proud to tell my Navy dad how I actually enjoy black coffee now *insert goofy emoji*

9. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you?

I can mostly play the ukulele but only to entertain myself and my kids. Who knows, maybe I’ll be brave enough to bring it to playgroup someday?!?!

10. Anything else you'd like Our Village to know?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—come to your workout class even if you think you aren’t feeling it (unless someone is sick!) You don’t have to pretend you’re okay, but you won’t feel better just sitting around the house. The village is here for you!

Sultana Jan MOM.png

"Sultana radiates all things Fit4Mom! She has an amazing smile and energy in class. Her Halloween costume and decorated stroller were on point. I love her enthusiastic posts during challenges such as the 12 Days of Fitmas! Keep it up mama!" - Joy Robb, Stroller Barre, Fit4Baby, and Body Ignite Instructor

"Sultana has so much to offer to our village. She attends classes and other events regularly. She is also very supportive and helpful to all other Mom's. I love her competitive nature and having her in our village!" - Courtney Czerwinski, Woodbridge Playgroup Captain and Stroller Strides Mama

"Sultana is a GO GETTER and I love it! She always has such a positive attitude and is always so friendly- not only to regular members but anyone new. Her laugh is seriously contagious, and she’s great at taking over the countdown for exercises (bahaha she’ll know what I mean ) I’m happy that I met her and her precious fam through this group!" - Joanna Hicks, Woodbridge Mama

"I am so thankful Sultana brought me into FIT4MOM. She’s always in class; her attendance is amazing. She is so patient and kind to all the moms, and her daughter is so sweet! She’s a great mom, a great friend, and I admire her!!" - Nikki Miller, Woodbridge Mama

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My immediate family is from Bangladesh and different parts of the US. I grew up in New Jersey for several years before I was enrolled in Milton Hershey School in Hershey, PA when I was a teenager; and it is that same place where I met my husband (who is from Illinois).

The family members are Aaron (husband), and Pranavi (daughter).

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first Fit4Mom class was the Fit4Baby class in Woodbridge when I was in my second trimester (2018). I remember how welcoming everyone was. I actually enjoyed the Fit4Baby class more than the prenatal yoga classes that I was going to.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

You would usually find me at Stroller Strides class at Potomac Mills Mall at least twice a week and at Body Ignite class on either Sunday or Monday at the studio.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

Before I decided to stay at home, I was a Licensed Counselor at Action in Community in Prince William County (ACTS PWC). My office was located in Old Town Manassas. I developed the counseling program in domestic violence and sexual assault programs. I provided therapy to children, adolescents, and adults who were survivors of domestic and sexual violence. I also presented on the topics of trauma, child sexual abuse, and the effects of domestic violence on children.

Currently, I am a support group facilitator volunteer with Postpartum Support Virginia. I facilitate two support groups each month at Sentara Hospital in Woodbridge and attend quarterly maternal mental health coalition meetings.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

My three favorite things are watching my favorite shows (such as The Flash, Dynasty, How To Get Away With Murder, Almost Family, etc,.), exercising, and sleeping.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

I would go on a date with my husband. We would go to a comedy club and then a candlelight dinner.

What has being a mom taught you?

It has taught me that time is short. So, be mindful and cherish every moment. Also, take pictures!

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

I’ve had several embarrassing moments when nursing. I forget where we were but I was nursing Pranavi and she unlatched because she heard a noise and milk was spraying everywhere- the side of her face, on my shirt, and even on the person sitting next to me. Oops! One time, I tried to catch the milk with my hands. That was a mistake! I didn’t catch any milk instead I had a sticky hand and a wet shirt.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

My words of wisdom would be to take care of yourself, it is okay to ask and accept help from others, accept and love yourself, and cherish every moment.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

If someone was thinking about joining, I would tell them to DO IT! There are so many things that I like about Fit4Mom. I enjoy the fitness classes with and without baby, the community, fun field trips, mom night out events, educational events, and playgroups. I think it is worth every penny!

IMG_1596.jpeg

Some of you are probably wondering what IVF is and why there are needles that look like they are about to pierce the onesie in this photo. Well it’s time to let out a very emotional and heart wrenching secret that Carolina and I have been holding in for close to three years now....Our struggle with unknown infertility. Yep, we are in the 12% or 1 out of every 8 couples who have struggled with this beast called infertility. Over the past years since we have been married we have always known we wanted kids. We started trying naturally as soon as we got married. After about a year of let downs every month, we decided to seek medical help. Carolina, as well as my self, underwent multiple blood tests and physical exams. All with the same results, nothing wrong or abnormal found.

After you are told repeatedly that you both looked perfectly fine, your mind starts to wonder and you start to ask questions. Why us? What have we done? Is it just not our time? Carolina prayed almost every night and, she got to the point to where it was hard for her to keep faith. Then we looked in to Shady Grove Fertility Center. We were welcomed with open arms and for the first time in a long time made to feel that the goal of having our first child was actually possible. We soon learned that this process was extremely expensive and of course “our luck” was not covered by insurance. However, the disappointment we have felt up until this point has no monetary value. We signed up with the Shady Grove team for help. We started the process of blood work and physical exams all over again. Carolina went through three surgeries, three Intrauterine insemination (IUI), and two in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. The process of IVF is one of the most emotionally and physically draining things we have ever been through in our lives. The needles in the picture above, yeah that’s four injections a day given by myself to Carolina, the endless amount of pills taken multiple times a day that of course are not in the photo. The almost daily blood draws required that are not in this photo, the multiple sonograms that are not in this photo. That’s IVF. She never complained, not one time, not over the blood being drawn, the needle jabs, or the bruises left on her stomach everyday. My wife is the strongest person I know. She was prepared to do as many rounds of IVF that it took. Thank God it only took two attempts because I don’t know how much more I could’ve taken and I was just giving the shots. We can’t explain the pain and the emotions we have been through in just this writing , for words can’t explain this struggle.

We are not writing this for people to read and feel sorry for us, or to answer everyone’s questions about why we have not had kids yet. We are simply writing this because when you want something so bad and it seems like it’s so far away or completely out of your hands, there is always hope. Never give up, never stop believing in one another. Don’t let anything drive a wedge between you and the love of your life. We want people to know our story because it was scary not knowing anyone who had been in our situation. We are sharing this so if there is a couple like us who needs to talk, we are here. There is nothing wrong with being one of the 12%. Never give up there is always a way.

Baby Pollock June 2019! Thanks to those who helped make our miracle baby possible. #TheOvenIsHot #IVFbaby #StrongestWife

New year.png

2020 is your year to do YOU mama. It's time to welcome in a new decade. Not into New Year's resolutions? How about committing to simple daily check-ins with yourself. Doing things that raise your spirit, that honor your body, that serve your well-being, and that lift you up.

Check out the New Year Do You 31-Day Calendar to help find your #strengthinmotherhood. Get your 2020 off to a great start!

Caitlin.png

"Caitlin is a laid back mom that is really easy to talk to. She is relatable and encouraging to other moms and compassionate towards the littles." – Karlee Goeres, Stroller Strides & Body Ignite Instructor

"Caitlin is a wonderful part of our Fit4Mom community! She is down to earth, has great mom “hacks”, and is always willing to jump in when babies are fussy during class. It’s been fun watching Lyle and Laurel grow during these past few years too!" – Katie Taves, Stroller Strides/Barre Instructor

"Caitlin is a great mom to chat with. I feel like she always has helpful advice and mom hacks to share with newer moms (like me)! Quinn and I love striding next to her and Laurel and occasionally Lyle at class." – Kylie Powell, Stroller Strides Mama

"Caitlin is one of my favorite people and the ultimate mom-fluencer. I pretty much want to be her when I grow up."– Sam Matthews, Stroller Strides Mama

"I love seeing Caitlin at classes! She always has great advice for pretty much every scenario, which I appreciate. This past fall when I felt guilty for having such bad pregnancy sickness and not entertaining my two year old like I used to, she reminded me that he is too little to remember it anyways. It was exactly the perspective I needed. She is such a calm presence and seems to have a never ending supply of patience - mom goals for sure! So glad she’s part of our village!" – Jessica Carillo, Springfield Playgroup Captain

"I love being in class with Caitlin! She works hard and takes time for herself each week even with 2 kids at home. Caitlin's laid back and positive attitude often leave me in awe of how calm, cool, and collected she looks as a mom. She keeps it real!!" – Jenna Parkhurst, Stroller Strides Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

Our family includes myself, my husband Brooks, our son Lyle (5) and our daughter Laurel (2.5)

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first Fit4Mom class was a pop up at Luvell-Dupell, I had just moved here and was 36 weeks pregnant with Laurel. I signed up for the unlimited pass and gave birth after class three weeks later!

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I typically go to the Springfield Mall, but when the weather is right I’ll venture out to Kingstowne or even Burke if I’m feeling adventurous.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

My current job is to keep my kids alive, but before becoming a mom I was a Special Education teacher working with preschoolers.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Besides my husband and two kids? Naps, sugar (I don’t discriminate), and Target.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

A couples massage and eucalyptus steam room with my husband, and then a dinner date.

What has being a mom taught you?

Being a mom has taught me to judge others less, to be a kinder person and better example of who I want my kids to be. And patience. All the patience.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

I have a whole list of mom fails, not a whole lot are particularly hilarious or embarrassing. But when Lyle licked the arm rest of the airplane that was a real highlight of parenthood. Later on Laurel licked the seatbelt buckle so they’re even on the gross scale.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Find your people and hold onto them. Don’t ever say you won’t be THAT mom because your kids can hear you and they will make you eat your words. Cut yourself some slack, and enjoy yourself, because they change so quickly.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

I love that it benefits me AND the kids. It’s something we can do together that makes us all happy and we all enjoy going. There’s such a wonderful group of moms and kids that it’s always a good time. If you’re on the fence about joining give it a try, and I’m sure you’ll love it too!

#momfluencer #fit4momlsbwknova #motivatingMOMofthemonth #allthemoms

Shaina.png

I was sitting at a table at a favorite local brewery, enjoying a beer, talking with friends, and watching my 2.5-year-old son climb up the stairs and go down the slide over and over again on the playground. It was a beautiful fall day—just the right temperature and the sun was shining. At one point, my son wanted to play with stickers. He came over to me, retrieved a sheet of stickers, and went back to playing on the playground. He then proceeded to share his stickers with the other kids on the playground and the other moms, who were helping their children navigate the stairs and slides. My son was striking up conversations with the kids, the parents, and even occasionally asking for help from the closest mom to get off the slide. Over and over again, other moms comment to me on how sweet and friendly my son is. I take pride in this. I’ve worked hard to teach him that it’s always best to be nice, share, and take turns. His father and I remind him to say “please” and “thank you”, which he often does now without reminding.

This sounds pretty picturesque, right? You would think that I was sitting content and enjoying the situation—weather, friends, drink in hand, and well-behaved kid running his energy out. What parent doesn’t want a friendly kid, quick to share with good manners?

But instead, I sat there filled with anxiety. I can’t tell you what I discussed with my friends and husband that day. My mind was completely occupied with the thought that if I turned my back for one minute, my son would easily walk off with a complete stranger who offered him candy or ice cream or stickers. On another occasion, when I dropped him off for a date night at a local kid’s entertainment venue, he showed shockingly little hesitation in acclimating to the new environment, adults, and children. It didn’t matter that he’d never been there before.

How do I teach my son that it’s not okay to go anywhere with a stranger without talking to Mom or Dad first? More importantly, how do I teach him this without scaring him? Or erasing his innocence? I love that he’s so friendly and willing to share, I’d hate to do anything to ruin that.

I do remember bringing this up to my friends at one point on that day at the brewery. One responded, “Why do you have to teach them stranger danger? Kidnapping is not that common, but maybe my viewpoint will change when I have a kid.” Yes, it may not be extremely common—I may be more likely to get in a car accident—but I also remember several news articles about kidnapping or attempts within the Northern Virginia area in the past year. If this were to happen to me and my son, I struggle to imagine how I could recover from it. So if there’s a chance, and there’s anything I can do to help prevent it, you better believe I’m going to do it.

These questions quickly became an obsession of mine, growing into constant anxiety and worry. It’s something I bring up with my therapist who I am seeing to manage post-partum/pregnancy-related anxiety (On a side note, these sessions have been very helpful. PP Anxiety is a thing just like PP Depression. I encourage you to talk to someone if you think this may affect you). And I mean it when I call it an obsession. It plagued my dreams and distracted me whenever I was in public with my son.

Instead of looking at it and teaching it as “stranger danger”, I chose to pursue a “stranger awareness” tactic. My son is only 2.5 so still pretty young to understand many things. I decided to start by asking my son general questions following interactions with a stranger, usually centered around if he’d take something from them or go somewhere with them. For example, he engages in conversation with the cashier at checkout at the grocery store. Upon leaving, I ask him, “If that lady, the cashier, offered you candy, would you take it?” Not surprising, he usually says yes. My response is simply “I know you like candy and want candy. But remember, we don’t take things from people we don’t know without asking Mommy or Daddy first if it’s ok. We always ask Mommy and Daddy first.” In another case, after playing with the neighbor girl who is about 10, I may ask “Would you go over to her house and play with her?” Again, he usually says yes and I remind him “We don’t go places with other people without asking Mommy or Daddy first.” It doesn’t address the potential “dangerous” aspects, but it starts to reinforce asking our permission in an appropriate way for his age.

We have a long road ahead of us, but it’s a start, and it makes me feel less anxious. And importantly, I’m not crushing his spirit and friendliness in the process. I don’t have all of the answers and am always open to suggestions on how to address these complicated issues. But in case there is anyone else just starting on this path, know you’re not alone, the anxiety is real, and we can do this.

Candice.jpg.png

"We love going to Candice’s classes! As soon as I tell my toddler we’re going to stroller strides she yells, “See Miss Candice!” and usually gives her a hug when we arrive too. Candice always brings tons of energy to her classes. I can count on a great workout, unique and seasonal songs, and maybe some extra dance moves thrown in too. She makes everyone feel comfortable and it’s easy to tell she loves what she does." – Rebecca Carlson, Burke Village Mama

"Candice is another of our Burke treasures! She thrives on making our mamas work and building our community. Even before she was an instructor, she was already the girl who worked hard at class and still had energy left over to cheer on and motivate the rest of us. I was so excited when she decided to join the team. She makes every class fun for moms and the kiddos. Everywhere we go, people oughta know—we love you, Candice!” – Jenny Bezos, Burke PGC

"Candice is kind, positive, and absolutely captivating. In fact, I'm pretty sure I do fit4mom just to hang out with her. She can turn anything into a song, whip your booty into shape, and soothe your baby at the same time. I feel so lucky to have unknowingly walked into one of her free classes two years ago. I can't imagine motherhood without her." – Sara Friedman, Burke Village Mama

1. Who are the members of your family

The Agustin family consists of my Hubby Pete, myself, Aurora (11), Anila (3), & Prinny the cat.

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa

I am originally from Cary, NC and have been a VA resident for 7 years. Took some adjusting but I really feel at home now :)

3. Where do you typically teach?

My Fit4mom home base location is Burke Lake Park and Abiding Presence Church also in Burke. I really enjoy working out when I’m not teaching so you can usually find me floating around Springfield Mall, Lorton Link Family Fitness Studio & Potomac Mills Mall

4. Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom LSBW NoVa.

I stumbled across Fit4mom-LSBWK through Facebook, after many years of searching for a moms group that did more than drink wine @ 10am (which also doesn’t sound like a bad idea but not what I needed at the time ;) Tried the free trial class at Springfield Mall and instantly fell in love with the exercise and community. Our Village Momma Bear Shannon, noticed how head over heels I was about joining classes and finding success in my wellness journey, she asked me to join the team and after some anxiety wondering if I could actually hang with the awesome instructors, I took the leap of faith and said yes! I couldn’t resist the chance to share the fit4mom mission with #allthemoms. I love my job! <3

5. What is your favorite thing to teach?

My FAVORITE program to teach is Stroller Strides for a couple of reasons. First is - I LOVE CHILDREN! I think they are the most precious thing life has to offer and I love spending time with the babies and the big kids! I love to watch them learn and grow! Second, I love to sing and be silly. Stroller Strides keeps me feeling feisty & young! And last, the full-body exercises have truly strengthened me and helped me get into the best shape of my life and I love sharing my fitness knowledge with other women through their own fitness journeys. Secretly, I would love to one day get certified in Body Back because I LOVE HIIT!

6. What is the BEST thing about being an instructor?

The best thing about being an instructor is forming the bonds with #allthemoms. Motherhood is real and it’s real tough. Fit4mom instructors are a special kind of people. We understand what the postnatal body needs and how it feels to balance womanhood, work-life, stay at home life, parenthood, married life, stress and wellness all bundled into one body because we’re there too. We get it! I truly feel like my life purpose outside of motherhood is relating, strengthening and uplifting all women. You can’t find this at a gym or on a DVD.

7. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

I keep going simply because I NEED THIS. Moms come to us because they need support, motivation, friendships, strength to get through motherhood. I stay because I need them just as much for the same reasons.

8. What is one of your current wellness goals?

My current wellness goal at the moment is cutting out caffeine ( so far so good, I haven’t had a soda/coffee, etc in 3 months and I’m loving how I feel! ) and taking more time to do the things I love. Like doing NOTHING sometimes! LOL

9. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you?

Fun fact about me - I’m a wild girl at heart! I love to go dancing, try new experiences and be spontaneous! Who wants to go get a tattoo?! Right now?! Hehe!

10. Anything else you'd like Our Village to know?

Something I would like to share with our village is never, EVER, be afraid to share your story. Our community is packed with women who are understanding, non-judgmental, supportive, beautiful-hearted people. I used to keep inside things about motherhood, married life, my personal life, all bottled up because I didn’t want to bother people with my dramas. Meeting you amazing people over 3 years ago has truly made me feel secure with who I am because of the support and love that you continue to give no matter what I have to bring to the table. I love you all so much from the bottom of my heart for always listening when I’m feeling a hot mess and hugging me when I’m feeling down. Thank you for having me Fit4mom fam. Love you!

#fit4momlsbwknova #instructorspotlight #welovecandice #wildatheart #

Lauren.png

"Lauren is a Fit4mom OG! I’ve been attending classes with Lauren for the past 3 years and it has been such a pleasure to get to know her and her family. I always love to laugh, chat about our crazy little people and get strong with her! She gives nothing less then 100% of her best effort every class and makes new mamas feel welcome into our village with her amazing smile and personality. Lauren is one special lady and we are so lucky to have her with Fit4mom." – Candice Agustin, Stroller Strides instructor

"Lauren Nguyen was a mama with whom I really felt a connection with early on in my Fit4Mom journey. She has a calm and warm demeanor that immediately makes me feel like everything is going to be ok, no matter what kind of day I'm having. She's realistic and respectful when discussing all aspects of motherhood, sharing her own experiences and always willing to listen and sympathize with my struggles. Lauren and her kids are such a special part of our Burke village, and I feel so fortunate to know her." – Abbe Minor, Leads Manager and Burke Mama

"Lauren's warm smile and calm demeanor are a-maz-ing! I love how dedicated she is to attending class and setting a great example for her littles! You rock Lauren!" – Joy Robb, Stroller Barre Instructor

1. Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My family consists of my husband, Hoang, and kids, Madelyn (3) and Joseph (1). I am originally from New York, but have lived in Northern VA for most of my life.

2. When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

I first attended a Stroller Strides class in 2016 when my oldest was less than a year. I don't remember much from that time period because she didn't sleep (ever) and neither did I, but I do remember that she cried most of the class (because she hated strollers, car seats, life...) and I was ready to just give up and leave early, but the instructor took her out of the stroller and held her while she taught so that I could work out.

3. Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I attend classes at the Burke location.

4. What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

My current job is keeping these kids alive on a daily basis, and attempting to help them to become kind human beings. Pre-kids, I used to teach students with severe emotional and behavioral disabilities. Raising toddlers is way harder.

5. What are 3 of your favorite things?

Chocolate, music, and sleep.

6. You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

I've dreamed about this answer: I'd scrub and organize my house from top to bottom without little people undoing it all behind me, get through a portion of my untouched to-do list in quiet, and eat alone, sitting down, without having to share.

7. What has being a mom taught you?

That my heart now lives outside of my body, and that this makes life way more beautiful and way more terrifying.

8. What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

Probably anytime that someone (too frequently) stops me in a store, restaurant, school, church, etc., and tells me that they recognize us from <take your pick: a store, restaurant, school, church, etc.>, and then tells me how cute my kids are and how they are exhausted just watching me parent them.

9. Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Be gentle with yourself and with your kids, and learn to forgive (both yourself and your family members) the way that toddlers are able to forgive-- unconditionally and immediately.

10. What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

FIT4MOM is a great place to get a good workout when you want to have your kids with you, but it has also been a place where I've been able to ask all of my questions of moms with kids the same ages, where I know I can come when we're having a hard morning at home and my kids will be safe and happy, and I can get some much needed adult conversation. It has given us routine and predictability, and great relationships (for both me and my kids).

#fit4momlsbwknova #motivatingmom #strollerstrides #strollerbarre

Chili.jpg

The temperatures are dropping and the crisp chill in the air is the best time to start experimenting with different chili recipes! Chili is healthy, versatile, and easy to throw in a crockpot or instant pot all fall and winter long. It can be made with beef, chicken, or vegetarian, Spicy, sweet, or a little of both. The possibilities are endless!! And, it freezes well!

A few of our tried and true favorite recipes:

https://happymoneysaver.com/darn-good-chili-recipe/

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/268082/instant-pot-white-chicken-chili-freezer-pack/

Chili serving suggestions:

Top with cheese, cornbread, and sour cream. Or put on top of a baked potato, sweet potato, or mashed cauliflower. Serve with a side salad to round out a yummy meal!

#chili #freezermealofthemonth #fit4momlsbwknova #monthlyrecipe

Aneta.png

"Aneta is one of the strongest women I have ever met. She gives no less than 100% when she’s in class. During our stroller based classes, she makes mothering Victoria look so easy - she has it under control. Time for her and fun for her baby. I love it when Aneta tells stories of her motherland - Poland. We sort of have a kinship due to our European backgrounds - it’s great to connect in that way. I’ll always remember the day I met her and her precious NEW family in Occoquan. Yes, I’m a stalker of babies and moms - actually I think I approached her husband John first (outside of a coffee shop!) and he was enamored with our program and was excited to see Aneta gain friendships through motherhood. Aneta - THANK YOU for being such an inspiration to others around you - let the light continue to shine!" - Shannon Link, Franchise Owner

"Aneta is one strong mom!! She works so hard in every class she comes too. She has motivated a lot of moms, and including me!!" - Missy Greely, Stroller Strides and Body Back Instructor

" I love Aneta's energy and smile in every class she comes to (and she comes to a lot)! Our littles are a few weeks apart and it's been a blast getting to know them both. Plus her plank time is impressive!" - Joy Robb, Stroller Barre and Body Ignite Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My husband John and our baby girl Victoria 22-month-old. I am originally from Warsaw, Poland. I visited the USA for the first time in 2005, and moved here in 2007. I lived in Maryland, prior to moving to Virginia for work in 2016.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

If I’m remembering correctly, my first class was in February 2018. My husband came for support (it was a weekend family friendly class). I didn't know what to expect, I just showed up for the free class. After the class my first thought was that the Moms really worked out hard. I could feel my muscles were burning...I liked it and I signed up!

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, you can find me at the BB class in the Lorton studio, on Fridays I try to attend the playgroup at the Potomac Mills (sometimes I join STC). I love S360 classes. If my schedule allows me I drop in on Mondays, and sometimes on Saturdays.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

Currently, I am a SAHM. Before that, I was worked as an HR manager.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Working-out, drinking coffee, and making my daughter laugh.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Go on a date with my husband:)

What has being a mom taught you?

To be more patient, how to take 5-minute showers, and multitask in the kitchen.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

I think the time when we were in the pool. The moment when I didn't catch her as she slid down. She slipped out of my hands and went straight under the water for a few seconds. I got scared, but when I took her out she was fine and surprisingly happy asking for more! I guess I can say thanks to swim lessons:)

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Don't forget about yourself...go work out, meet with your friends, reset:)

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

It’s a great opportunity to make yourself get out of the house and to be around other moms. I love the fact that Fit4Mom allows you to work out with your kids. They offer such a variety of classes for your body and mind, and awesome events/field trips. I am always discovering fun stuff to do, or places to go thanks to our village! Not to mention the BB Transformation Program...I got my body BACK:)

I am so happy that Shannon found me because I don't know if my motherhood would look the same without Fit4Mom. You need to try it!

#Fit4Mom #motivatingMOMofthemonth #bodyback #strollerstrides

pregnancy-infant-loss-remembrance-day.png

We talk about breastfeeding, the soreness and bleeding nipples, when our kids are constipated, their tantrums, the laundry list of what’s leftover after pregnancy like incontinence, stretch marks, varicose veins, bigger feet. You name it, we talk to our mom friends about it. We talk about the struggles to get pregnant, being in labor for 36 hours, having an emergency caesarian. Everyone has a different story and each of their stories is special. But why don’t we talk more about our losses? Miscarriage is as common as most anything else we discuss when it comes to motherhood. Around 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, this number would be higher except some are so early, many women mistake it for their period. I get it, some people don’t want to talk about it. Just the thought of it hurts, whether you’ve experienced it or not. Sometimes though, you may want to know you are not alone. Just like everything else motherhood brings our way, there are others there with you.

It’s been just over a year since we started our journey for #2. But before I go into that, some background. We tried for two years to get pregnant before we finally did fertility testing and found out we had a minor fertility issue. We met with a doctor at a fertility clinic to discuss our options and found that an IUI procedure could work for us, less invasive and less expensive than IVF. Sign us up! No luck on the first cycle, but on April 25th of 2017 I found out I was pregnant after the second cycle. How lucky were we that after only 2 tries, it worked! I had a pretty seamless pregnancy all things considered. I went to the hospital 4 days before my due date with a migraine and spiked blood pressure, turns out I developed preeclampsia and my little man was born on New Year’s Day via c-section. He’s been the absolute best thing I’ve ever done, ups and downs sure, but the most happy and healthy little boy. Fast forward and just like many others we get into a groove, we’re so blessed to have such an awesome little boy, it’s time to shake things up and start trying for #2! Back to the fertility clinic we go, we opt for doing the IUI route again, why wouldn’t we?! Of course, I haven’t gone into that process, because well looking back to the first time, it seemed so simple. Unfortunately, this time it was not. I mentioned IUI is a less expensive procedure, but that does not mean it’s free. Insurance does not cover any of it and the meds are what really get you! Injecting myself countless times with the fertility meds, the ups and downs of the additional hormones running through you. Not to mention the constant monitoring, going into the clinic almost every other day for bloodwork and ultrasound so at that perfect time, we do the procedure and then we wait an excruciating 15 days for the blood test to find out if it worked. So incredibly grateful for my good friend that would watch D during these countless appointments, not to mention having someone to confide in and with this whole process. It’s not easy, we wanted another baby though so it was worth it.

August/September 2018 we start our first cycle, shots every night, bloodwork/ultrasound every couple days until the timing is right and we have our IUI done. Two days before I’m scheduled to go in for the pregnancy test, I get my period. They have to be thorough though and I still go in for the blood test, they call that afternoon, I’m pregnant! What, but I’m bleeding? Sometimes that happens early on they say, we’ll keep monitoring to make sure your HCG level continues to rise as it should. But the bleeding doesn’t stop and after a couple more tests, it’s determined it was a chemical pregnancy. Such a cold, technical term for an early miscarriage, as if that term makes it hurt any less. You haven’t built a bond yet, but it still makes you feel like your body failed you, at least that’s how I felt. Why didn’t my body do what it’s supposed to do? Age counts, at 37 my egg supply is not what it used to be. On the positive side, the procedure did work so that’s at least good. Time is against us, no use in waiting, let’s gear up for round two. Higher dose of meds this time, fertility shots every day, go into the clinic for bloodwork and monitoring almost every other day. Hormones are running wild and I’m just trying to stay sane. This is a 365 day a year business, our bodies don’t take days off so on Christmas Eve I go in for the pregnancy test and patiently await the results. They call that afternoon, pregnant! No better Christmas present than that! Fertility clinics continue to monitor you the first few weeks to ensure everything looks good before graduating you to your own OBGYN. At our 6-week appointment, you can see the teeny tiny little heart beating, but the doctor looks worried. The placenta is larger than it should be at this stage, but he doesn’t want to jump to conclusions yet, it’s still so early, let’s come back in 2 weeks and take another look. I feel great, just like did with my first pregnancy, no morning sickness, more tired, but I’m also chasing around a one year old this time around. We go to our next appointment and there’s no heartbeat…. They can somehow tell it’s been recent, ‘have you felt any different?’ I’m sorry, what?? Should I feel different? Should I have known something was wrong? Should I have felt it when my baby’s heart stopped beating? Such a ridiculous question, right? You never feel the heartbeat even with a full-term pregnancy. But these are the places your mind goes. Should I have known something was wrong? Was it something I did? All these thoughts constantly running through your mind, should I have done this, what if I hadn’t done that. Your rational side telling you that you’re being silly, it wasn’t your fault, you did everything right. But the irrational side always wins in these situations, always… The sonogram they gave me at the 6-week appointment still sits in my nightstand drawer. I know it’s probably not good to keep it, but I don’t feel like I can throw it away either.

Again, I thank God for good friends. I’m so grateful to have had a friend who knew what I was going through, who knew exactly what to say and what to do. I’m also so very sad that I had a friend that knew what I was going through. I could not have gotten through this without her and I hope she knows how much it meant to me.

Once again, my body wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do and I had to have a D&C scheduled. Not a pleasant experience at all, although I can’t imagine the pain of the alternative. However, a couple days of walking around knowing your baby no longer has a heartbeat inside of you is simply torture and I can’t stop crying. But I have a 1 year old and I can’t curl up in bed and let it all out like I want to. It’s in the shower, in the car, in the laundry room. We opted to have testing done to see if it will show a reason for the miscarriage and it did, additional chromosome 22 which is an abnormality = it wasn’t a good egg. As I’m sure most women know, you’re born with a certain amount of eggs and that’s all you get. Stands to reason, the older you get, the older the eggs get. Here come the thoughts again - maybe it’s not meant to be, everything happens for a reason, don’t be greedy, you have a perfect, healthy child already. I’m heartbroken. But it’s still not over. The fertility clinic still has to be thorough and I have to go back in shortly after the D&C for another blood test, just to be sure my levels go back down. I procrastinate on this, I don’t want to have to go for another pregnancy test, but I have to and I forget to let my nurse know that I had scheduled it. She didn’t know to put the orders in for what needed to be done. So there I am in the waiting room, barely keeping it together because I do not want to be there in the first place and the wait is getting ridiculous. Then a nurse comes in and asks what I’m there for, and I can barely keep it together enough to tell her that I’m there for a pregnancy test to make sure nothing is left behind after the D&C. How can this be happening? What did I do to be going through this?

My husband and I take a little break; we get away to clear our heads. After much back and forth, we decide one more try. We agreed at the beginning we’d go three rounds, let’s finish it out and what is meant to be, will be. Round three begins, start the shots, start the monitoring. Everything looks good, the procedure is done and now we wait those 15 excruciating days again. 13 days later, bleeding starts… But again, test is positive! They continue to monitor and my levels continue to rise as they should. But I know something is not right, unfortunately this is not my first time. After a few days the bleeding stops! Great, they were right, sometimes it just happens at the beginning. At our next appointment, they can see the gestational sac which is a good sign, it’s still very early. A few days later, more bleeding but only lasts a couple hours. As I mentioned earlier, this is a 365 day a year business so luckily, I was able to go in on a Sunday to make sure everything still looked good. They no longer see the gestational sac on the ultrasound… another miscarriage… that’s makes 3 in 7 months…

How do you process such heartache, how do you get rid of all the irrational thoughts, how do you stop the tears? You start with time, lots and lots of time. Thankful once again for that perfect little boy I am so lucky to have, thankful again for having a good friend to talk to who knows what to say and what not to.

Now we’re left with the unanswered questions. Are we ok with just one? Are we meant to be a family of 3? Will D ever get to be a big brother? Do we feel whole? It all takes such a toll – emotionally, mentally, physically and financially too.

It’s been almost 6 months since the last one and I write this now as it’s somehow therapeutic for me to. If you’re reading this and had to go through any of these experiences or ones of your own, you are not alone and it’s ok to talk about it if you want to. I’m sorry to all the women who have to go through any of these pains, sadly I guarantee a woman standing next to you has been there too, it’s terrible that so many of us have. Hopefully, you are stronger coming through it. Hopefully you have or will soon have your rainbow baby. Hopefully one day I will too.

New INstructors.png

We have had SO many new team members join us over the past month or two! Our growing team means more classes and services for all of you! Learn a little about a few of our newest instructors, managers, and playgroup captains. Hopefully, you get to meet all of our awesome team members soon!

Abbe Minor, Leads Manager

1. Who are the members of your family? Me, my husband Kyle, our 2.5 year old Owen, 2 kitties, and our pup

2. Where did you come from before here? I grew up in New Jersey, went to college in Rochester, then moved to DC for work before settling in Burke.

3. How/Why did you become a member of the Fit4Mom team? Fit4Mom has been such a crucial presence during my motherhood journey. It was somewhere to go, then something to do, and now it's all about the "someones" we want to be around. I've been eager to get involved with the team in some capacity, since I believe in our mission so deeply. The timing and nature of the Client Relations Manager position feels like it will be a wonderful fit.

4. Where do you typically attend class? I'm usually at Burke!

5. Fun fact we may not know about you: My sport growing up, other than a couple of years of JV Volleyball, was dance. Starting at age 4, I've always been involved in some combination of tap, jazz, ballet, or lyrical...I also did some West African dance and Middle Eastern belly dancing!

Katherine Sadusky, Kids Yoga Instructor

1. Who are the members of your family? My husband, Rob, & I have two sweet girls. Clara Anne 2.5 yo (Jan 17) & Lillian Grace 9mo (Dec 18).

2. Where did you come from before here? We are a military family and were stationed in Ramstein, Germany. I absolutely loved it & hope to live there again!

3. How/Why did you become a member of the Fit4Mom team? Before having my youngest daughter I was an early childhood teacher ( PreK3 - Second grade). I heard about Kidding Around Yoga through Fit4Mom. I looked into becoming KAY certified & it seemed like the perfect way to share my passion of teaching with setting an example of a healthy lifestyle with children!!

4. What do you teach? Kids Yoga! Monday’s at 10:45am, come join me!!

5. Fun fact we may not know about you: I traveled to 20 countries in my twenties (17 in three years) & in my thirties, I hope to bring that number to 30!

Courtney Czerwinski, Woodbridge Playgroup Captain

1. Who are the members of your family? Me, Chris (hubby), Declan (1) and a little boy on the way.

2. Where did you come from before here? I am originally from Pittsburgh, PA

3. Where do you typically attend class? Potomac Mills Mall

4. Fun fact we may not know about you: Before I became a Stay at Home Mom, I used to teach Middle School

Bekah Johnson, Stroller Barre Instructor

1. Who are the members of your family? Me, Bekah, and Matt, married almost 6 years. Joshua is 3 and loves trucks, dinosaurs, and anything loud that crashes and bashes. Caleb is 17 months and loves climbing and throwing food everywhere

2. Where did you come from before here? We lived in Alexandria for almost 5 years prior to moving to Fairfax (near Burke) last year, but both my husband and I were born and raised in Minnesota.

3. How/Why did you become a member of the Fit4Mom team? I don't remember when I first thought of it, but even prior to having kids I thought I would try teaching fitness part-time while raising my family. I love being active and I really enjoy teaching. At this stage in my life I need the support of The Village, which is why I chose to teach with Fit4Mom verses a gym.

4. What do you teach? Stroller Barre! But I would like to gradually add other certifications. Maybe Zumba or Pound someday!

5. Fun fact we may not know about you: I love traveling and have an adventurous spirit.

Daisy Rincon, Kidding Around Yoga Instructor

1. Who are the members of your family? I’m Daisy, born and raised in California, mama of one little boy Morgan Jr., wife or Morgan.

2. Where did you come from before here? California

3. How/Why did you become a member of the Fit4Mom team? I became certified back in August and loved it ever since then! When I took my training, I never realized how much of an impact I would have on children. I became an instructor because I believe, that yoga help to balance body and mind, it is healing, nurturing and grounding as well. I also wanted help children and families to again more peacefulness.

4. What do you teach? Kidding Around Yoga

5. Fun fact we may not know about you: I play the guitar!

#newteammembers #growingteam #fit4momlsbwknova #fit4mom #moreclasses #allthemoms

Pumpkin.jpeg

The temps are getting cooler, the smell of leaves are in the air, and it is time for all things fall and PUMPKIN!!

Move over PSL, there are a lot of healthier pumpkin options to help you get through October without overdoing it. Our weeks are busy and we don't always have time for all the fall baking we would like to do. But don't fret! We have a few options that can be prepped ahead of time, will check off your pumpkin box, and are good for you too!

Everyone loves a good energy ball. They are easy to make, easy to double (or triple), and great for taking on the go for a snack. Filled with tons of goodness, just a hint of sweetness, and all the pumpkin punch you need! Make these ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze! Two of our favorite recipes are Pinch of Yum Pumpkin Energy Bites and Two Peas and Their Pod Pumpkin Energy Balls.

Still looking for more pumpkin? Look no further! Another great make-ahead breakfast is overnight oats. There are SO many variations to this awesome breakfast recipe. Make a large batch on Sunday to last a few days. Top it off in the morning with your favorite berries and a few pecans, and you have a breakfast that tastes and smells like fall in a bowl. There are so many recipes out there, but here are a few tried and true. We love Ally's Cooking Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats and Everyday Meal Prep's Pumpkin Protein Overnight Oats.

All this talk about pumpkins is making me want something now. Too bad the weather feels a bit more like summer in Virginia this week. Next week looks cooler so be sure to add these to your menu for next week!

#pumpkin #healthyfallcooking #mealprep #overnightoats #makeaheadmeals

Erin_September MOM.png

"Erin is a pleasure to have in class. Most times she has all 3 of her boys with her and somehow manages to not only come to class but is on time or early! She’s a great participant in class and her boys are so well behaved. She makes this motherhood thing look easy!: – Candace Prabhaker, Instructor

"Erin comes to class with all 3 kids in tow which is pretty motivating for those of us that struggle with only 1 or 2. She always has a bright and outgoing personality that is encouraging." - Karlee Goeres, Instructor

"I love having Erin in class! She works hard and does something each week to get out and take care of herself, even with 3 boys! She is an awesome boy mom and exudes a sense of calm and patience. Thanks for showing me that 3 is not only possible, but you can also rock it!" - Jenna Parkhurst, Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My husband Cody and our three sons Jackson(4.5), Logan(almost 2.5), and Mason(8months). We have surprisingly always lived in Northern Virginia!

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

·My first fit4mom class was back in February once I was cleared from my doctor after Mason was born. I remember finally feeling like I had found other moms that I could easily talk to about anything. I couldn’t believe I had waited so many years to give it a shot!

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

·You can find me at STC...I try to go M,W,F...and I am ready for our school routine to get back to normal so I can attend more often. I really love Barre!

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

·Before I became a stay at home mom, I did preschool administration work.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Going to the beach, eating cookie dough, and sitting outside at night looking at the sky.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

I’d love to go to a beach or lake and sit alone with a glass of wine and just relax! Not have to do any thinking!

What has being a mom taught you?

Being a mom has taught me to cherish all moments, even the littlest of things!

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

My most embarrassing mommy moment has been when I accidentally hit my son Jackson's head with the car door and had to take him for stitches. I felt terrible! But in my defense...he moved his head at the last second.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Relax, breathe deep, and have fun!

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

My favorite thing is the community of mamas! From the instructors to the other moms you can talk to anyone about anything judgment free! It’s wonderful! Even if you aren’t big into working out it’s something all moms need to give a shot!

#Fit4momlsbwknova #motivatingmomofthemonth #momofboys #momof3

blog post.jpg

With their rapidly growing bodies and excess energy, kids need a lot more sleep than adults. A five-year-old, for example, needs between ten and 12 hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, many parents struggle with getting their little ones to embrace bedtime and fall asleep on time.

If this is you, one thing you may want to include in your child's nighttime routine is giving them a healthy snack about an hour before they go to bed. Foods that contain tryptophan—an amino acid that can encourage drowsiness—make good choices. Turkey and chicken meat, bananas, light healthy carbohydrates such as popcorn or unsweetened cereal, and non-sweetened dairy foods can all help your child fall asleep.

There are several types of foods that should be avoided at bedtime, as they can have the opposite effect and keep your child awake. Here are five foods kids shouldn't eat at nighttime.

1. Sugary Foods and Drinks

Sweet foods before bed do not lead to sweet dreams. While research hasn't quite determined why sugar interferes with sleep, one theory is that the spike in blood sugar it causes disrupts our sleep hormones, affecting our ability to sleep and stay asleep through the night. Plus, sugar isn't good for teeth and contains empty calories. It's far better to give your child a small apple, banana, or a handful of grapes if they're craving something sweet at bedtime.

2. Caffeinated Foods

It goes without saying that any foods with caffeine shouldn't be consumed at bedtime, but they should also be avoided earlier in the day as well, as caffeine has a half-life of five to six hours (that's how long it takes the body to eliminate half the drug.) Its effects can linger on longer.

It isn't just found in soda, either. Hot cocoa, chocolate, and some types of ice cream can contain caffeine, so you may want to restrict these foods after dinner. Instead of serving chocolate cake after dinner, try making a healthy fruit-based dessert such as these grilled peaches with coconut nice-cream.

3. Spicy/Acidic Foods

Although children aren't as prone to heartburn like adults are, some spicy foods may cause discomfort and keep them awake. Acidic foods such as orange juice, pizza, and spaghetti sauce don't make suitable bedtime snack choices as your child may burp up the acid.

4. Fatty Foods

Fatty foods such as red and processed meat can make your child's digestive tract work harder, making it more difficult for them to sleep well. The high protein content in these foods can also interfere with sleep.

5. Cruciferous Vegetables

Yes, veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and cabbage contain antioxidants and other nutrients that are great for kids. But the high fiber content of these foods also tend to make them gassy and could keep your child up later. You may want to serve them only at lunch or in small portions at dinnertime to prevent them from interfering with sleep.

These Bedtime Food No-Nos Are Not Just For Kids

Although kids should avoid eating these types of foods to get quality shuteye, adults should stay clear of them as well. Know how much sleep you need and then create a bedtime routine for you and your child, so both of you will always feel your best and ready to take on the day together!

When you and your child have energy from a great night’s sleep, you can enjoy working out together. Check out our mom workout classes with Fit4Mom to find a fitness routine that is right for you.

#nutrition #foodstoavoide #bedtimeroutine #fitmoms #fit4momlsbwknova

New Instructors Aug 2019.png

As our village grows, so does our team!! Over the past few months, you have seen new classes added to the schedule, as well as new instructors leading class. We want to introduce you to 3 of our new instructors- Nina, Annie, and Karlee! We are so excited to have these strong mamas with us!

Meet Nina Askvig

Nina is one of our newest team members. You can find her early mornings teaching Body Back and also our new class, Body Ignite!

1. Who are the members of your family? - My husband Jerrit, son Jakob (9), son Lukas (7), and Mason our mini golden doodle.

2. Where did you come from before here? - I have lived in NOVA for most of my life.

3. How/Why did you become an instructor? - I became an instructor because I want to celebrate mamas; showing them how special, strong, and awesome they are.

4. What do you teach? – I teach Body Back and Body Ignite

5. Fun fact we may not know about you - I am terrified of sharks but obsessed with Shark Week and shark documentaries. I think the Great White is an amazing animal but I fear the crazy bull and tiger shark!

Meet Annie Sevel

Annie wears many instructor hats. You can find her teaching a variety of classes each week, including our cardio-focused S360!

1. Who are the members of your family? - My family includes myself, my husband, Dan, my four year daughter, Cora, one year old son Camden, and our dog, Brutus.

2. Where did you come from before here? - We just moved back to NoVa from Savannah, GA. We lived here previously from 2012-2015.

3. How/Why did you become an instructor?- I have always loved group fitness! I fell in love with Stroller Strides when my daughter was 5 months old, and I knew I wanted to teach and share my love for fitness and motherhood with as many moms as I could! I truly enjoy exercising and my goal is for everyone to enjoy it as much as I do!

4. What do you teach? - You can find me teaching Stroller Strides, S360, and Body Back

5. Fun fact we may not know about you - I have a gymnastics background and was cast in an Opera as an acrobat when I was 16

Meet Karlee Goeres

Karlee is our newest team member and has jumped right in to help out our team!

1. Who are the members of your family? - My husband is Jonathan married for 5 years. My daughters are Brighton (Oct 2016) and Aila Kate (May 2018).

2. Where did you come from before here? - Military family, moved from Alabama, but originally from Florida.

3. How/Why did you become an instructor? - I became a Fit4Mom instructor because it had such an impact on my life after having my first daughter that I wanted to be a part of empowering #allthemoms both physically and mentally and hopefully make the same impact on them.

4. What do you teach? - I teach Stroller Strides and Body Ignite

5. Fun fact we may not know about you - I was a competitive weightlifter in high school.

Meal prep.png

Are your kids heading back to school? Is your 3-year-old about to start preschool? Are you a teacher heading back to work? Maybe you just want to streamline things a bit to make your evenings less stressful. Here are 5 quick tips to take some of the stress, and time, out of one of our most time-consuming tasks - meal planning and prep.

1. DESIGNATE A SHOPPING AND FOOD PREP DAY

Figure out day each week where you can plan out your meals, shop, and do some minimal food prep. It will make your week run smoothly and feel less busy if you aren’t running out the store throughout the week. You can make it a family affair! Have big kids help you write the list or wash vegetables and fruit when you get home.

2. PRE-CUT FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

If your peppers and cucumbers are pre-sliced, you (and your kids!) are more likely to grab them to go for a snack. While you are at it, proportion other items like trail mix, pretzels, etc. so you are sure to keep portion sizes down.

3. BATCH COOK A FEW ITEMS

Think about your meals throughout the week. Are you doing a few dinners with brown rice or quinoa as a side dish? Batch cook it all at once and use it throughout the week. Another great option is roasting various vegetables for quick snacks or side dishes. Instead of cooking veggies every night, batch cook multiple night’s worth at once so all you need to do is reheat.

4. MAKE FREEZER FRIENDLY MEALS IN BULK

Making your favorite chili for dinner? Double it and freeze the other half! Or when making freezer meals, make double or triple so you have multiple of your favorite meals ready to go.

5. HAVE A WEEKLY OR NIGHTLY THEME

Having a theme night makes meal planning easy and it is a great way to get the kids involved. Also, you have room for flexibility to meet everyone’s needs. If Friday nights are always pizza night, you can add tons of veggies, use a cauliflower crust, or tortilla shell pizzas. If you always have the same theme, you can easily plan for it each week. Here is an example of a weekly theme menu:

Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Leftover Wednesday (leftovers or anything you feel like eating), Slow Cooker Thursday, and Pizza Friday

Monica.png

"Monica shows up every morning with a smile on her face, a positive attitude, and with enthusiasm to sweat and have fun. She is open and welcoming; always willing to share her experiences and provide guidance. She encourages other mamas, by listening to them, empathizing with their struggles, and reminding them how strong they are. Enthusiastic about nutrition, Monica enjoys discovering healthy recipes. Committed to her wellness, she holds herself accountable by logging her food." - Burke Body Back Instructor, Nina Askvig

"Monica is such a pleasure to have in class! She always gives it her all. When you say push, you can see her pick up the speed. Even at 5am!! She is welcoming to new classmates and always quick with a smile." - Liviya Piccone-Sand, Kingstowne Body Back Instructor

"Monica is a sweet, strong, hard-working mama! She has embraced all that Body Back has to offer—nutrition tracking, meal planning, in-class and at home workouts, all while juggling two precious kiddos. I’m so grateful she gave Fit4Mom a try before baby #2, and that she keeps working hard while encouraging others!" - Megan Schmid, Burke and Lorton Body Back Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

Myself, my husband (Nick) and our two boys, Emmett (4), and Milo (15 months). I grew up just across the Potomac River, in Rockville, MD. Nick and I have been in NoVA since 2012.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

When my first baby turned 1, I was desperate to get back in shape. I went on a MRTT run and met Megan Schmid who told me about Body Back. My first Fit4Mom class was a Body Back open house in October 2016, led by Shannon Link and Rebecca Newnum. I remember how nice and welcoming everyone was, the lavender-scented wipes Rebecca gave us for meditation...and thinking I was going to throw up and/or not be able to finish the workout haha. I signed up for a Body Back Transformation session as soon as class ended, and have been hooked ever since!

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I just finished a Body Back mini session and am signed up for the next one in September. Most weeks, you can find me at Body Back: Mon. and Thurs. in Burke, Tues. and Fri. in Kingstowne, and Sat. in Lorton. I'm waiting for my youngest to drop his morning nap, so we can start going back to the Friday playgroups after Stroller Strides at Burke Lake Park :)

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

Before kids, I was a full-time graphic designer for a real estate company. When my first son was born in 2015, I went out on my own and since then I've been working part-time, as a freelance graphic designer.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Coffee, traveling, and mani/pedis

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Go out for dinner/drinks with my husband...getting a babysitter is more complicated these days since we had our second!

What has being a mom taught you?

To give up (some) control. Before I had kids, I was definitely a bit of a perfectionist! Having kids made me relax about some of that.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

The first funny moment that comes to mind is when our oldest son, was just a few months old and we were having lunch with family in DC at a pretty fancy restaurant. My husband took the baby to the bathroom to change his diaper. Of course, there was no changing table and when he realized the diaper was a pretty bad poop blowout situation, he called me in there for help. We were all on the floor of the bathroom (in our nice clothes), we got the diaper off, and while we were taking off the baby's clothes, he peed and threw up at the same time. Meanwhile, we had been in the bathroom so long, the manager was knocking on the door asking us to leave because they were closing and needed to set up for dinner!

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

I would say to manage your expectations--how vacations/events/holidays/etc will go, how your kids will react to things, how many things you can get accomplished during naptime, etc.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

Of course, the workouts are amazing! But for me, it's really the community. It's so great to be able to workout with other moms--there's no judgment, and everyone is so welcoming and supportive. I love being able to get advice from other moms in class, or on the private Facebook page.

meals.jpg

It is hard to believe the school year is right around the corner. Back to school (even preschool!) means busy schedules and less time for grocery shopping and cooking. Take time in August to prepare a freezer stash of ready to go, healthy meals for those busy weeknights. Not sure where to begin? Here are some easy tips:

1. Print out all of your recipes and pick your prep date (you will need a few hours).

2. Label freezer bags and containers you will be using for storage with the recipe name, and additional directions and additional ingredients for when it is time to cook, and the date the meal was made.

3. Make your shopping list. This takes time but be sure to double-check your pantry for items you already have on hand. One tip - If you write down chicken on the list, tally each pound next to the item for each recipe. That way you are sure to get enough for everything you are making. Be sure to account for any recipes you are doubling or tripling.

4. Grocery shop (duh!). Decide if there are items that are better to buy in bulk and shop accordingly.

5. Prep. Make sure you have everything you need and get started! You can prep everything for all meals at once, or go one meal at a time.

6. Bag it up and freeze. It is best to lay zip locks flat so they can stack on one another in the freezer.

Chicken Teriyaki Dump Meal (easy to double/triple)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 package frozen stir fry veggies or cut up veggies
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • ½ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger root, grated

Add all the ingredients to a gallon-size freezer bag. Make sure to eliminate any air, seal tight before freezing, and store laying flat.

The night before you plan to cook it, place the bag in the fridge to thaw. Then, on the day of, dump the ingredients in your slow cooker, and cook on low for six hours or until chicken is tender enough to shred with a fork. Remove the chicken, and shred. If you want to thicken the sauce, add a mixture of one tablespoon cornstarch and one-fourth cup water. Return the shredded chicken to the pot, and stir it into the sauce.

Serve with rice, cauliflower rice, or a side salad.

#freezermeals #mealprep #backtoschool

Anna.png

"Anna is always such a joy to be around! She is always so focused and pushes herself to the max, working out 5 days a week doing both BodyBack and Stroller Strides She always seems like she is CRUSHING it at doing this hard job called motherhood: doing cloth diapers, making own baby food, hanging clothes outside to dry! You name it, she does it! I love having her in class." - Jessica Fischer, Woodbridge Playgroup Captain

“Anna is a wonderful mother! She is a warrior mama, doing Stroller Strides and Body Back though out the week!! She always has a positive outlook on life. And always supports mom's around her!”- Missy Greely, Stroller Strides and Body Back Instructor

“Anna always has a smile and encouragement for other mamas! She gives 100% in various classes and is a great example for Roy!” - Joy Robb, Stroller Barre Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My family includes my husband, Tim, our 10-month old son, Roy, and our two dogs, Sophie and Obi Wan. I am originally from Fayetteville, Arkansas (Woo Pig Sooie!!) and my husband and I have lived in Northern VA for almost three years.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first Fit4Mom class was at Potomac Mills Mall in October 2018 when I was about 8 weeks postpartum. I remember feeling very welcomed by Joy Robb, Missy Greeley, and all the mamas. I also remember it being a great workout! It was so nice to be out of the house, working out, and surrounded by strong moms in the same phase of life as me! I was hooked!

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I did a Body Back Transformation session this Spring and I loved it! You can find me at Body Back classes on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday at Lorton Link Family Fitness and Stroller Strides on Wednesday and Friday at Potomac Mills Mall.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

Currently, I work as a remote assistant for an amazing florist, Rose of Sharon Floral Designs, based in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I worked as the design/shop assistant there before we moved to NOVA and my boss has been super awesome and flexible now that I’m a stay at home mom to Roy.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

I love a good workout, ice cream, and being with my family.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

I’d go on a date with my husband. Leisurely dinner with drinks, a comedy show or symphony concert, and ice cream on the way home of course!

What has being a mom taught you?

Being a mom has taught me not to set such unrealistic expectations for myself. I tend to have a very long to-do list and high expectations of all I’ll get done in a day. Most days go by in a blur; before I know it, it’s 10PM and nothing is crossed off the list. Roy is teaching me to put my to-do list aside and embrace the simple joys - watching butterflies, the feeling of grass on bare feet, the patter of rain on the window. I’m learning that enjoying those things and teaching Roy that it’s good to enjoy those things is plenty to get “done” in a day. Also, I’ve learned that there is no greater gift to a mom than nap time!!

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

I can’t think of anything too embarrassing, but I’ll share one of my favorite things. As I’m sure most of us have experienced when you go out in public, people love to “oooh and ahhh” over your cute baby. We have a local Giant grocery store that we go to weekly and we always go to the same cashier’s line. Her name is Jewel. She is a grandmotherly type and she loves Roy! The first time they met, Roy smiled at her like he doesn’t smile at most. She asked what his name is and I told her, “Roy.” And she lit up and gushed about how that was her daddy’s name and how she knew it was her daddy smiling down at her from heaven through my baby boy. Roy loves Jewel and always gives her the biggest smiles every week. We call her his “Giant girlfriend.”

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Find your community and lean in! It’s so easy to isolate yourself and feel very lonely in motherhood. Put yourself out there, find a mom group/exercise class/storytime, and go to that first event. We need each other and there’s someone(s!) out there that needs your friendship and camaraderie on this wild ride called motherhood!

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

It’s hard to pick one thing! I love everything about Fit4Mom! If I had to choose just one, I’d say the community of strong moms. Everyone is welcoming, genuine, understanding, and accepting. There’s no apologizing for running late or not being more put together. You can come just as you are and feel like you belong. If you’re thinking about joining, do it! It’s worth every penny. You get to invest in yourself through exercise, model healthy habits to your kids, get out of the house, converse with adults, and there are awesome events and mom’s night outs. Joining Fit4Mom is easily the best thing I’ve done for myself and my family since becoming a mom.

#motivatingMOMofthemonth #Fit4MomLSBWKNova #bodyback #strollerstrides

Candace3.png

“Candace is an awesome instructor, always filled with energy & great ideas! She always has new fun games to add to our workouts. She is so welcoming to all mamas & always has on a smile!” – Katherine Sandusky, Stroller Strides Mama

“I always appreciate Candace's creativity and willingness to try new things. She provides a great workout! Thanks, Candace!” – Che’ Jones, Stroller Strides Mama

"Candace always makes sure BOTH kids & Mommas have fun during her classes! She makes sure all feel welcome & is great at answering any questions - Fit4Mom related or even general Momma questions." - Jessica Moody Khatib, Stroller Strides Mama

1. Who are the members of your family? My husband, Pete, our son Lucas who is 18 months old, and my fur babies Cocoa and Rocky.

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa? I’ve been around this area my whole life, I grew up in Southern Maryland. I moved to NoVa for a couple years in my early twenties, then back to MD for a few years and now have been here for the past 6 years.

3. Where do you typically teach? I teach Stroller Strides at Lee District on Wednesdays, Kingstowne on Thursdays and Springfield Town Center on Fridays. I also teach Fit4Baby once or twice a month.

4. Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom LSBW NoVa. I joined as a member when Lucas was 3.5 months old, it saved us! As he got older and more on a routine, I started wanting to do more with my time, but still be home with him. Shannon posted about opportunities and originally, I reached out with the thought of an admin role, but poof I became an Instructor instead! A few months later I started the Client Relations role too.

5. What is your favorite thing to teach? Everything! Fit4Baby is great to chat with expecting moms, hear how they are doing and how excited they get for their first baby. I’ve met so many amazing moms through Stroller Strides, I love being able to see them every week plus creating class plans to keep them on their toes!

6. What is the BEST thing about being an instructor? I really like trying to think of new games and stations to keep my classes fun, but I would have to say the BEST thing is really seeing the moms connect and getting to know each other.

7. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do? Fit4Mom really helped me when I joined as a member, making me realize I wasn’t alone on this motherhood journey and that everything I felt and was going through was normal. Being a part of that for other moms is a great feeling!

8. What is one of your current wellness goals? Just to be more health conscious in general. We go to class almost every day, but it can’t end there, being healthy physically and mentally has to be an ongoing effort.

9. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you? I’m pretty much an open book, not too many secrets here. I hate roller coasters, at least twice when I was younger, they had to stop the ride because I was screaming so loud!

10. Anything else you'd like Our Village to know? Try to take advantage of everything there is to offer with F4M – classes, MNO’s, playgroups, field trips, FB page – it’s all helped me to be a better mother.

FreezerMealPrep-Blog.jpg

Anyone else feel like they are always in the kitchen? Between grocery shopping, planning, chopping, meal prep, cooking, and making sure everyone is fed a somewhat healthy meal 3+ times a day is EXHAUSTING! Freezer meals are a huge help in taking the guesswork out of meals. Not sure where to get started on freezer meals? Read on to get a rundown of how to begin and a new recipe. And stay tuned for a freezer meal of the month to start popping up on the blog!

Part I:

I joined a freezer meal swap nine months ago and a big part of the mom stress melted away.

One of the moms in the village organized it. We keep it simple—once a month, we meet at her house, bring the kids, our frozen meals, and maybe someone brings a bottle of wine to share. The older kids play outside, the little kids play inside, moms chat. Some months, people might drop off meals in advance if they can’t attend, or leave the kids at home for a breather, or just swap and run. We’re flexible. As long as we get our monthly rations of sanity in, we’re good.

Some meals are Costco meatballs and sauce with a side of frozen rice and frozen broccoli. Some meals are casserole-style. Some meals are “you clearly had too much time on your hands this weekend and went all out”-style. Anything that can be stuck in the oven directly, dumped in the crockpot, or better yet, cooked from frozen in the instant pot, are all right in my book. (But really, the meatballs are my favorite…)

Everyone makes 6-8 family portions of the same recipe. Then, everyone gets one each of what each person brought. Voila, meal planning is done. You get to try out a variety of flavors, maybe something you would never cook before but surprisingly, something the whole family loves. It helps you stay out of a culinary rut and, most of all, erases that mental load you’ve been carrying around, the struggle of making healthy meal plans vs throwing mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and pizza at the kids every night.

Here are our rules:

Everyone makes a freezer meal of their choice. Bring 1 meal for everyone who signs up for the swap. Your meal has to be labeled with what it is and cooking directions. Each meal should cost no more than $15 and that includes the storage container. Each meal should feed between 4-6 people and be a complete meal (contains a protein/vegetable/starch...). Some meals might require a salad on the side, there is no need to bring the salad, just bring the freezer part and make a note that a salad would go great with it. Meals can either be cooked in a Crock Pot, oven, OR stovetop. Meals can be pre-made and simply need to be reheated. Meals need to be stored in a freezer safe storage.

Just google “freezer meals” and you’ll find a billion websites with free recipes. Here’s just an example of one I’ve used. I like it because it has breakfast recipes, too! (see below)

https://www.dinneratthezoo.com/freezer-meal-recipes/

TL; DR—If you’re the “oh dangit it’s 5 pm and the kids are *this close* to a hangry meltdown” kind of person like me, you gotta join or organize a freezer meal swap.

If you would be interested to join us in the North Springfield area, email me at jbezos@cox.net!

Part II:

Speaking of breakfast freezer meals…

English muffins. Making bread can be an intimidating task. I get it. But this recipe requires only the teensiest bit of time and effort on your part. There’s no kneading, no over- or under-proving the dough. There is a range of acceptable rising time and it’s easy to fit into your schedule. Basically what I did yesterday:

10 min to mix the dough around 4 pm

(let rise 4-5 hours)

5 min to scoop out spoonfuls into vaguely round dollops onto a cookie sheet around 9 pm

(let rise 12-42 hours)

The next morning (or even the next!) heat up a griddle and cook those suckers in about 20 min.

Actually, I think they only rose about 10 hours overnight and they were still perfect.

Impress your friends and family! I’m never buying English muffins again. This time I took it a step further and cooked up some eggs and bacon and made sandwiches to stick in the freezer for a quick breakfast later.

https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2016/04/no-knead-english-muffins-recipe.html

· YIELD: Makes twelve 3 1/2–inch muffins

· ACTIVE TIME:20 minutes

· TOTAL TIME:16 to 30 hours

· RATED:

Ingredients

· 10 ounces bread flour (2 cups; 285g)

· 5 ounces whole wheat flour (1 cup; 140g) (see note)

· 2 3/4 teaspoons (11g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use the same weight or half as much by volume

· 1 1/4 teaspoons (4g) instant dry yeast (not rapid-rise)

· 12 ounces cold milk (1 1/2 cups; 340g), any percentage will do (see note)

· 3 1/2 ounces honey (1/4 cup; 100g)

· 1 large egg white, cold

· 5 ounces fine cornmeal (1 cup; 145g), for dusting

· Roughly 1 ounce bacon fat, unsalted butter, or oil (2 tablespoons; 30g), for griddling

Directions

Make the Dough and Let Rise: In a large bowl, mix bread flour, whole wheat flour, kosher salt, and yeast together until well combined. Add milk, honey, and egg white, stirring with a flexible spatula until smooth, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic and set aside until spongy, light, and more than doubled, 4 to 5 hours at 70°F (21°C). (The timing is flexible depending on your schedule.)

For the Second Rise: Thickly cover a rimmed aluminum baking sheet with an even layer of cornmeal. With a large spoon, dollop out twelve 2 2/3–ounce (75g) portions of dough; it's perfectly fine to do this by eye. If you'd like, pinch the irregular blobs here and there to tidy their shape. Sprinkle with additional cornmeal, cover with plastic, and refrigerate at least 12 and up to 42 hours.

To Griddle and Serve: Preheat an electric griddle to 325°F (160°C) or warm a 12-inch cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. When it's sizzling-hot, add half the butter and melt; griddle muffins until their bottoms are golden brown, about 8 minutes. Flip with a square-end spatula and griddle as before. Transfer to a wire rack until cool enough to handle, then split the muffins by working your thumbs around the edges to pull them open a little at a time. Toast before serving and store leftovers in an airtight container up to 1 week at room temperature (or 1 month in the fridge) (or even longer in the freezer).

4th.jpg

There is so much to do in the area to celebrate the Fourth of July! Here is a round-up of some of our family friendly favorites if you are brave enough to venture out for the festivities!

Fit4Mom LSBWKNova – Join us for a Free Family Class to start off your holiday with us at Fit4Mom. Register here https://fit4mom-lortonspringfield.pike13.com/e/102660615

Mt. Vernon An American Celebration – all day event including daytime fireworks and birthday cake!

More Information: https://www.mountvernon.org/plan-your-visit/calendar/events/an-american-celebration/

Fairfax City - A Hometown Celebration

Parade, 10-12

Evening show/children’s activities, 6:30-9pm

Fireworks – 9:30pm

More Information: https://www.fairfaxva.gov/government/parks-recreation/special-events/independence-day-celebration

Washington, DC Fourth of July Celebration

Parade, 11:45am-2pm

A Capitol Fourth, 8-9:30pm (Hosted by Uncle Jesse himself, John Stamos!)

Fireworks, 9:07pm

More Information: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalmall4th/things-to-do.htm

Manassas – Celebrate America, 3-10pm

Bike decorating contest, concessions, fireworks and more!

More Information: http://visitmanassas.org/event/celebrate-america-2/

Manassas Park 4th of July at Signal Hill Park

Food trucks and fireworks

More Information: https://www.facebook.com/events/1153246748192037/

Missing out on the Fourth festivities but need your fireworks fill? The Old Town Alexandria Birthday celebration on July 13th is another fun way to celebrate!

https://www.alexandriava.gov/recreation/info/default.aspx?id=104804

#fourthofjuly #fourthfestivities #fit4momlsbwknova

Robin blog.png

"Robin’s positive personality and energy makers her an amazing run club coach. Having her support and motivation, I’ve been able to get back to my pre-pregnancy running pace much quicker than I ever thought. I now look forward to waking up early on Sunday Mornings!" - Heather Groth, Run Club and Stroller Strides Mama

“Robin is an awesome run club coach! She is so motivating- so positive and enthusiastic. I really look forward to spending Sunday mornings with her and Missy!” - Jen Conrad, Run Club and Body Back Mama

"Robin is a wonderful Run Club coach, she is very patient and works with all level runners. She is very energetic makes run club so much fun!"- Missy Greely, Run Club Coach

"Robin is an amazing coach! She loves running and shares her enthusiasm with all of us. She is motivating and makes being in Run Club so rewarding!" - Becky Krispin, Team Member and Run Club Mama

1. Who are the members of your family?

I am married to Matt and we have two children. Noah will be 5 next week and Abigail will be 3 in August.

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

I am originally from the northwest suburbs of Chicago, IL. When I was 17, I moved to Santa Barbara, CA to attend college and lived there for 14 years. Then, we moved to Ann Arbor, MI for one year while my husband completed his Master’s degree and finally, we landed in NoVa. We have lived in NoVa for six years and plan to stay.

3. Where do you typically teach?

Run Club meets at a different location every week so you can find me anywhere from Occoquan to Springfield. You can also find me subbing for Shannon’s Tuesday and Friday night Body Back classes at Link Family Fitness.

4. Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom LSBW NoVa.

Four years ago, I met Shannon at an open house at Lorton Station when my son was only 9 months old. I was sleep deprived and out of shape, but after the class, I had so much more energy. Everyone I met was so nice and I knew that joining this village was something that I needed. I was hooked. Shannon approached me about being an instructor when I was pregnant with Abigail, but I was not ready. When Abigail was about a year old, Shannon asked me if I would consider coaching Run Club and I jumped on board. I have always loved running and I wanted to help give back to the village that gave me so much. I enjoyed teaching so much that I decided to get certified to become a Stroller Strides instructor and a Body Back coach.

5. What is your favorite thing to teach?

I love something about teaching every class. At Stroller Strides, I love watching all the moms interact with their babies. I love the process of designing classes around all the fun children’s songs. At Run Club and Body Back, I love seeing mom’s push themselves and meet their goals.

6. What is the BEST thing about being an instructor?

I love to see moms accomplish something that they never thought possible whether it is running their first race or meeting their pushup goal.

7. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

I truly believe that maternal mental health is important at all stages of parenthood. It is important to take care of your body with healthy food and exercise and be part of a village that is supportive. Fit4Mom provides a safe place for moms to take care of themselves and I like to be part of facilitating this process.

8. What is one of your current wellness goals?

I am trying to focus on strength training. I love cardio exercises like running and plyometrics, but if I do not make strength training part of my routine, I tend to be more prone to injury.

9. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you?

I was a beach lifeguard for 7 summers when I lived in CA.

10. Anything else you'd like Our Village to know?

Before staying home with my two children, I taught high school and middle school history and English. In August, I will return to teaching high school English and will step down as a Fit4Mom instructor. It has been a wonderful experience to be both an instructor and client with Fit4Mom and I will truly miss being part of this wonderful community. I’m hoping to return as a client once I get settled into my new routine.

Amy MOM of the month.png

"Amy is amazing! No matter what’s going on in her life she’s committed to coming to class and giving 200% every single time. She always has a kind word to say, she is super motivating, and she does an awesome job keeping the energy high in class. When I first started teaching, she was so kind as to offer words of encouragement about how the class went. I will never forget how gratifying it was to have a long time client take time out of her day to message telling you she loved class, or meditation, or whatever. That is just the type of mama she is, handling her own (and rocking it) and looking out for others as well." - Liviya Piccione-Sand, Body Back Instructor

"Amy is a Rockstar! She works hard and is sure to take time for herself each week, despite having 3 kids (including a set of twins!) and an intense job. She has little time for herself, yet makes sure that her health is a top priority. On top of that, she is truly one of the kindest people I know. She is always motivating others, shows up and gives 110%, and has a great sense of humor. I love having her in class each week!" - Jenna Parkhurst, Body Back Instructor

" ‘Do we have any weights heavier than 10lbs?’ This is what Amy asked me at a recent Body Back class. Thinking back to Amy’s very first class in January 2018, she told me she didn’t think she could do 20 reps with those 10lb weights. Look at you now, Amy! I am so proud of how hard you have worked. Your strength and more important your confidence is at an all time high! You always prioritize time for your health but also enjoy life and have mastered that balance. I love seeing you in class and seeing your determination as you push yourself a little past comfortable! We are so lucky to have have you as part of our village! But don’t worry, I’ll have those 15lb weights for you next class;)." - Krista Long, Body Back Instructor

"Amy is one of the most determined women that I have ever met. She is my superhero mom. Nearly 5 years of being a client, I have seen her go through many phases, changes, and struggles and has ended them all in success! She makes it all look so easy. Being a mom of three littles under the age of five is quite the task. With little Mr. Z she was a first-time mom, and oh, by the way, also working on her PhD. I was so proud of her once she graduated. Over the last year, I have seen her make the most positive transformation of all. Body Back has given her so much confidence, strength, and empowerment to help her realize what she is made of! I’m so grateful to have her in my life." - Shannon Link, Franchise Owner

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My family includes my husband, Matthew, my 4.5-year-old son, Zachary, and my twins, Max and Madison (Maddie), who are almost 2.5. We also live with our amazing au pair, Maxmiliana, who is originally from Brazil. I am originally from Long Island, NY, and much of my family still lives up there. I’ll always consider myself a New Yorker, even though we’ve lived in Northern Virginia for 13 years now.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first Fit4Mom class was all the way back in January 2015 when Zachary was about 9 weeks old. It was when Shannon had just started her franchise a few months prior, so we were a small group doing Stroller Strides at Melina’s Dancing Garden in Lorton. I was desperate to work out and get back in shape and also to connect with other moms. I remember thinking that the moms seemed so friendly and had clearly formed some great friendships already, and I desperately wanted to be a part of that community. I remember that Shannon talked with me at Great Harvest after class and was so welcoming and kind, and the rest is history!

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I began doing Body Back when the twins were about 1, and I never looked back! I adore Body Back and try to sneak in as many classes a week as I can. You can almost always find me at the Kingstowne My Gym location on Tuesday and Friday mornings (shout out to my #crazymorningcrew) and Wednesday evenings, and I also try to go to the Saturday morning Lorton class as much as I can.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I am the Director of Curriculum and Product Development for a small educational publishing company. I work 25-30 hours a week and am blessed to work from home. We create curriculum and other materials to teach beginning and struggling readers how to read. Although it is often stressful, it is amazing to have a flexible work schedule, and I try to balance work with the kids’ activities as much as I can.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

I love good coffee, a good workout, and the beach!

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

I would probably take a marathon nap, and then watch one of my favorite shows while sipping a hot cup of coffee (or maybe a glass of wine) and eating a treat!

What has being a mom taught you?

Being a mom has taught me so much about patience and about letting things go. Letting go of things has never been easy for me, but when we had three under three, I realized that I just couldn’t hang onto and stress about every single thing. I still struggle with this notion, but I try so hard to focus on the good things and remember that no mom is perfect, but every mom is perfect for her children.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

When the twins were a few months old and I was pumping breastmilk like a maniac all day, every day, I had a very embarrassing (and gross!) experience. I had a big bag of pumped milk, maybe 8 oz. – it was in one of those breastmilk storage zip-top bags. I had it in my hand and was going to put it in the fridge, and then all of a sudden, it was gone. I looked EVERYWHERE for that darn bag for days, and I could not find it! A few days later, while I was heading someplace in the car, I realized my purse was wet. Turns out, I had shoved the milk into my purse for some reason, and it had spilled allllllll over everything. I definitely cried over the spilled (and smelly!!) milk that day!

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

My biggest recommendation, especially for new moms, is to get out of the house when your kids are young. Things can be so monotonous and stressful when you’re stuck inside, but if you can get them out into the sunshine, the mall, the library, or a Stroller Strides class, it will make all of you feel so much better. Whenever my kids are totally nuts and I feel like I’m about to explode, I try to think of someplace to go and something to do, even if it’s just a quick walk outside. It’s good for you and for them!

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

My favorite thing about Fit4Mom is that there is something for every stage of motherhood. My Fit4Mom journey began with Stroller Strides, but now Body Back gives me what I need to keep myself healthy and strong. No matter which program works best for your lifestyle, you have a great community of other Fit4Mom moms who are there to share the journey with you. I would tell a mom who is thinking about joining to absolutely try it. It will give her a reason to get out of the house and a chance to connect with other moms, and it will likely be the beginning of some long-lasting friendships. Getting out the door is the hardest part; once you’re there, it’s easy!

Stephanie.jpg.png

Goodbyes are never easy, especially when they mean sending someone an ocean away. To know Stephanie was a true gift. Her kindness, generosity, and genuine love for all the moms will be missed!

"I’ll miss the great enthusiasm Stephanie always brings to her classes. She’s awesome with the kiddos, being sure to acknowledge all of them with smiles and tickles. I’ll also miss her how genuine she is with everyone." – Candace Prabhaker, Fit4Mom Instructor

"Stephanie is one of my favorite instructors! She's friendly and welcoming. For me, her workouts are just challenging enough and I always looked forward to attending her classes. I will miss her dearly!" – Amy Rosner, Stroller Strides Mama

"Stephanie is super creative with classes and she’s always got something new up her sleeve for us and the kiddos. She keeps us working hard and engaged and the kids happy." – Kayla Lyon, Fit4Mom Instructor

"Stephanie is a great instructor and so much fun to be around. Her great workouts and positive energy will be missed." – Kylie Powell, Stroller Strides Mama

"Stephanie is a fearless instructor! The variety of workouts she brings is greatly appreciated. Love how engaging she is with the nuggets and how encouraging she is for the mamas. Plus, her positive attitude is so contagious! You see her smile and know it's going to be a great class. Thank you, Stephanie! You will be missed." – Che’ Jones, Stroller Strides Mama

"We were so lucky to have Stephanie on our team this past year. When she first came to us with her two little guys she had no idea how much she would fall in love with FIT4MOM. She had tried several other workout groups and ours one her heart! We've been so blessed to watch Hayden and WIlliam grow up with all of their Stroller Strides buddies. We are sad to see Stephanie and her family leave, yet duty calls and her husband has orders to Italy! We wish her well and hope to keep in touch via social media throughout their time there. And maybe, just maybe, they'll end up back here - a woman can wish, right?!?!? Good luck girl - you are truly amazing!" – Shannon Link, Franchise Owner

And what has Fit4Mom meant to Stephanie?

"I have had the hardest time trying to summarize all the things I love about Fit4Mom and this village of amazing mamas! My youngest, William, was just a couple months old when I rolled our stroller into my first Stroller Strides class. I had no idea at the time how much my life (as well as my boys') was about to change for the better that day. We had been living in NOVA for about a year at that point and I could not wait to leave. Then, I found this group of women who like to work out together and so much more. I have made lifelong mama friends and have watched my boys grow up next to their friends. Seeing all the little babies and kids grow and learn together has been one of my favorite parts. Not many know this, but I have lost over 50lbs since I was pregnant. I owe that all to this amazing and supportive group of ladies! The scale may read a little less, but my heart is so much bigger! I will miss these mamas and kiddos so much! Ciao!" - Stephanie Curl, Instructor

#fit4momlsbwknova #instructorgoodbye #militaryfamily #Italyadventure

Krista.png

"Oh, I will always remember the first time meeting Krista - I was in awe. Two- year old in tow, working out hard even while 5 months pregnant with Abby. She amazed me with her calm demeanor and making motherhood look so effortless. We quickly began discussing team positions, and shortly after, Krista became my play group captain at Springfield Town Center. Every week was a new adventure for the kiddos to explore and express themselves. Once Abby joined her family, Krista made the decision to move up to teaching Stroller Strides, also added Body Back, and most importantly even took on the role of Client Relations Manager - whoa nellie, talk about overload. Oh, did I mention she also has her own side hustle of being a doTerra representative? This woman - I will never know how she kept it all together. I couldn't have run my business without her help on the backside, the side that clients never see. The countless hours of answering emails, following up with people, finding new ways to meet moms, for putting up with me as her boss. Wow, just wow! Over the years it has been a pleasure to have Krista on my team and I thank her every day for everything she gives to the team and village of mamas! THANK YOU KRISTA <3," - Shannon Link, Franchise Owner

"Krista is an amazing Fit4mom instructor! Her classes are super creative (my child loves watching the chaos of the clothespin game), fun, and I always leave feeling like I got a great workout. Her positive energy is contagious and so appreciated on Monday mornings!!" – Jessica Carrillo, Springfield Playgroup Captain

"I always know I’m in for a hard workout when Krista teaches! She is always energetic and pushes us to work hard, I am almost always sore the day after her class and I love it!" – Caitlin Crawford, Stroller Strides Mama

"Krista is a great instructor who pushes you out of your comfort zone, while also recognizing that some days are a struggle, so I love that she always encourages everyone to workout at their level of comfort! I look forward to starting my Monday mornings with her because I know I’m going to get a good workout in that will set the tone for the rest of the week!" – Melissa DAvilar, Stroller Strides and Body Back Mama

1. Who are the members of your family?

My husband, Mike, and daughters, Christine (5y/o) and Abigail (3 y/o).

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

I am from upstate NY (Seneca Falls) but we’re military and have been in NoVa for almost 4 years!

3. Where do you typically teach?

I teach Stroller Strides on Mondays at Springfield Town Center and Body Back at Link Family Fitness in Lorton on the Saturday rotation. You’ll find me subbing in some of the early morning Body Back classes too😊

4. Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom LSBW NoVa.

We moved to NoVa in August 2015. I was pregnant with Abby and quickly realized I needed a village. So I joined FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa in December 2015 and loved it! Shannon offered me the position as Playgroup Captain in Springfield a few months later and I was super excited! Then, Abby was born and I just felt so stuck with the baby weight when she was about 10 months. So I decided to do Body Back Transformation. I loved everything about it, so I talked to Shannon about becoming an instructor and here I am 2 years later:)

5. What is your favorite thing to teach?

I love both programs but for different reasons! I love teaching Stroller Strides because of the mom to baby interaction – the smiles, the giggles, and the love. I love teaching Body Back because I get to see how proud moms are when they are working towards their goals, when they do something they couldn’t just a few weeks earlier and when they reach their goals! The best thing is watching that mom’s confidence increase week to week – she walks taller and smiles wider!

6. What is the BEST thing about being an instructor?

Leading a group of moms working out together and seeing them encourage one another to keep going! Hearing them cheer one another on and seeing the high 5s. It’s also experiencing the hugs and ‘you’ve got this!’ when we encounter obstacles. I love this community of supportive women all working to be the best version of themselves!

7. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

I am so thankful that I found this village when we moved to NoVa and I want to give other mom’s that same experience – a safe, non-judgmental space to connect with other moms and get their workout in. And maybe I love when moms tell me they are sore from my classes. HaHa!

8. What is one of your current wellness goals?

I am working on decreasing my run time! I can’t wait for Strides 360 to start up so I can do the speed, agility and quickness drills. Woo Hoo!

9. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you?

I was in the Army for over 8 years and I love DIYs!

10. Anything else you'd like Our Village to know?

Christine and Abby help me plan my Stroller Strides classes – they love this village just as much as I do!

#strollerststrides #bodyback #findyourvillage #Fit4momlsbwknova #smallbusinessowner #strongmama

BLog.jpg

With a new baby comes so much joy, so much to do, and so little sleep. It can affect the mood of even the most positive mom. However, developing daily habits to improve your mood, health, and overall well being doesn’t need to be difficult — especially when you’re a mother who has so many other things on her to-do list. While self-care and your own health is often times not a priority when you’re a parent, adults often struggle with dark moods. However, by making a few small changes each day, you may notice major improvements to your overall mood, and outlook on life. Here are five simple habits that can help keep your spirits up on even the most trying of days.

Go Outside

You may encourage your children to “play outside,” but do you ever take your own advice? A daily change of scenery is needed to decompress from the nonstop sleep-deprived schedule of a new, or even a seasoned mom. When weather permits, go outside and take a walk, read a book in the yard, or have a meal alfresco. Breathe in the fresh air and take in the vitamin D that comes with the sunlight hitting your skin. It is a natural endorphin. This is even an activity you can do with your child. Whether it is a short stroll with the stroller or a long power walk, walking lifts your mood.

Exercise

This might not be your favorite action item on this list (especially if you’re a busy mom), however, it’s important to make exercise a priority – exercise is good for your mind, in addition to your body. When we exercise, our brain produces endorphins, which minimize discomfort and are shown to improve both energy and mood. Additionally, exercising helps relieve any stress that you may have accumulated throughout a busy day, and even helps you sleep better at night.

Take Brain Healthy Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements

Vitamins taken in the morning, preferably on a full stomach, help fuel your energy for the day. If you find the B vitamins hard to handle, most vitamins can be taken in sublingual form, where the vitamins are absorbed under your tongue and into the bloodstream without upsetting the stomach. Vitamins B2 and B6 are mood boosters, as are vitamin D and vitamin C.

Don’t forget magnesium, selenium and zinc, the three most helpful minerals in improving mood, either. Deficiencies in these minerals can increase the risk of depression. Studies have shown they have a therapeutic effect on improving mood. You will also want to include omega 3s, especially if you are nursing. The advice for taking omega 3s during pregnancy holds true for after you've given birth. The supplement benefits both mother and child and is known to improve mood.

Be Mindful

Mindfulness meditations have an extraordinary list of benefits for both mental and physical health. The practice can make us more resilient and able to cope with both the everyday ups and downs of life along with larger issues that arise from time to time. Meditating for just 10 -15 minutes at the start and end to each day will improve your mood and ability to cope with what has happened or for what lies ahead.

Take Time for Yourself

Schedule an hour in your day for yourself, whether it’s for an at-home spa treatment, an exercise routine, your favorite show, or your new favorite book. Taking some “you time” will bring you back to a renewed perspective. The hour spent on yourself will boost your mood and increase your overall energy throughout your day.

#boostyourmood #mentalhealthawarenessmonth #exercise #Fit4MomLSBWKnova

Picture1.png

"Alicia is hands down the definition of a motivating mama! She is so positive, uplifting and her squats and lunges bring HAPPY tears to my eyes! Alicia is the leader of her 3 girls + one on the way #girlgang and the other mama and myself included think she's one incredible lady! Keep on keeping on, girlfriend! You are our HERO!" – Candice Agustin

"I love Alicia's smile and calm demeanor with multiple kiddos in tow She works hard in class and is a wonderful part of our village!" – Joy Robb

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My husband, Nick, and daughters Bella (8), Gina (5), Sofia (3), and baby girl due in August. I am originally from Memphis, TN.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

December 208 at a new location that just opened near my neighborhood. I was excited to find a great group of welcoming women and a place where I could exercise but still have my littles with me while we all had fun.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday in Burke

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

Before staying home with our girls, I was a sales tax auditor with the Idaho State Tax Commission.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Family time/game night, coffee, Chicago Cubs

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Spa Day!

What has being a mom taught you?

There is a near-supernatural ability in a mom that allows us to unconditionally love and fiercely protect these beautiful lives with which we’ve been blessed, even when we’re completely exhausted or feeling awful.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

After we brought Sofia home from the hospital and running on little sleep, I was holding both Sofia and Gina at the same time. After putting Gina down, I freaked out and kept asking where the baby was. My husband reminded me I was holding her.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Be able to laugh at yourself and difficult situations. Motherhood is tough, and keeping your sense of humor through the tantrum or whatever difficult moment you’re in can help get you through it. Of course, it’s not all funny, but when all three kids just had a fun day and one starts to whine and it sets off a chain reaction of whines, a little laughter is better than joining in.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

I love having a place to do something for myself, but still have my littles with me and we are all having fun. Being a stay at home mom can be isolating at times and there is an amazing village of moms here who understand and are always willing to help or listen. In addition, I love being active, but gyms intimidate me. At Fit4Mom I am working out, laughing with friends and engaging our littles all at the same time! Win-Win!

#fit4momlsbwknova #momofgirls #strongmama #strollerstrides

Kayla.png

It is never easy to say goodbye, but goodbyes mean a new adventure in a new place, this time in California. We will miss seeing Kayla and Addy each week at class! Thank you for all you have done for our village. We wish you the best of luck on the west coast!!

"Kayla was one of my very first friends when I first joined stroller strides! She was so welcoming and we instantly bonded over both being MD girls I was so excited to watch her begin teaching - even while pregnant with her little one! Her classes were fun, and she tackled the HUGE classes with ease She will be missed!!" – Christie Wood, Stroller Strides Mama

"Kayla is one of the first actual friends I made since moving to the area. Her classes are always full of laughter and sweat and I can always count on her to hold me accountable. She'll definitely be missed. I'll never read a Llama Llama book without my muscles shuddering again." – Sam Matthews, Stroller Strides Mama

"Kayla introduced me to stroller strides and always has been so welcoming and positive. Her classes have been such a great way for me to start my Fridays!" – Shaina Goldberg, Stroller Strides Mama

"Kayla is an amazing Instructor! She has great energy and is very creative with her classes, that keep us and the kiddos entertained. She’s extremely motivating, she’s 8 months pregnant and still doing regular push-ups! We’re really going to miss her teaching class, and being in class with her too." - Candace Prabhaker, Instructor

"Kayla makes motherhood look so easy. She has been such a wonderful part of our team. We first met at a MOMS Group demo class in Kingstowne. Tiny little room - I went in wondering how the heck I was going to pull it off - it worked and Kayla found FIT4MOM - she had no idea how much she had needed this in her motherhood life. She didn't miss any classes and when the opportunity arose she became a Stroller Strides instructor. Kayla has helped out so much with class all around. Her active duty husband has orders and we wish them well on their new adventures. Not only will Kayla be mom to TWO very soon, but she's also a reservist in the US Navy. Thank you for ALL you do!" - Shannon Link, Franchise Owner

"My favorite thing about teaching SS is definitely the community/village of moms and being able to contribute to the village that has done so much for me over the past year. I love hearing from moms that they enjoy class and got a good workout, but even more seeing everyone connect and the kids play and the friendships that I've made. It's been such a game changer for Addy and I, we're so sad to leave this village. But, knowing that I'll be able to go to classes and hopefully keep teaching in San Diego has made our pending move a little less stressful. It's nice knowing there's an easier way to meet other moms and I wont have to stalk moms and kids at the park to try and make new friends." - Kayla Lyon

#farewell #goodluck #militaryfamily #Fit4mom #llamallama

Joy post.png

"Joy’s easygoing personality makes going to Stroller Barre lighthearted and fun while still giving us a challenging workout. Her finger puppets and ribbon wands are a big hit with my Little." – Jessica Rindt, Burke Mom

"Joy leads a fun class and a great workout. Her songs carry us through the class with a smile on our faces!" -Laura Davis, Burke Mom

"Joy is just so much fun. She’s always smiling and in a positive mood, she’s always engaging with the kiddos making sure they’re happy and making sure we get in a great workout!" – Joanna Hicks, Woodbridge Mom

"Joy is one super amazing woman, mother, instructor and friend. Being around her positive energy truly makes you feel uplifted and her Barre classes leave you feeling energized, refreshed and confident. I absolutely love how Joy brings all the smiles and laughter to every occasion with her upbeat, funny and outgoing personality. If you haven't attended one of Joy's Stroller Barre classes, you are missing out! Love you, Joy!" – Candice Agustin, Team Member

"Joy is so warm and welcoming. She always has a great attitude and energy in class. I especially love some of her special routines and songs like the Cupid Shuffle Squat Burn routine and the "This Fit Mom" song set to the tune of "This Old Man". She always makes class fun and a great workout!" – Anna Ransom, Woodbridge Mom

1. Who are the members of your family?

My husband Jackson and son Beckett (15 months)

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

I'm from a small farm town in Ohio (also home to Luke Perry, R.I.P.) and I've lived in NoVa since 2008.

3. Where do you typically teach?

I teach Stroller Barre at Potomac Mills Mall and Abiding Presence/Burke Lake Park and Fit4Baby on rotating Sundays at Shannon's studio.

4. Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom LSBW NoVa.

I became a member when Beckett was 3 months old. When our instructor moved (miss you Heather!) I looked into teaching. I led a dance company in college and loved choreographing routines. I also love performing in community theater so thought Barre would be a good fit!

5. What is your favorite thing to teach?

It's a toss up because I love entertaining our littles during Stroller Barre and also love mama only time during Fit4Baby. It's fun working out to top 40 songs and I wish I had known about Fit4Baby when I was pregnant!

6. What is the BEST thing about being an instructor?

I love seeing mamas push past uncomfortable (as Shannon says) and share smiles and giggles with their littles.

7. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

My family is my why. I want to stay healthy and strong to hopefully have a long life with them :) I also want Beckett to see a healthy lifestyle in action.

8. What is one of your current wellness goals?

I want to keep taking Body Back as I feel better than ever (literally) and enjoy 100% focusing on me time :)

9. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you?

I won a freckle contest (most freckles) at Ocean City, NJ.

10. Anything else you'd like Our Village to know?

Thank you for all the friendships, play dates, hand me down toys, and advice via Our Village Facebook page!

#instructorspotlight #strollerbarre #fit4baby #frecklesareawesome

Heather Farewell.png

Heather Hilton, our fearless weekend warrior instructor is a full-time working mom to son Noah. She has been there to support our working moms and weekend warriors at Potomac Mills and River Mill Park for the past year and a half. Heather and Noah will be making a move next month to Ashburn and we wish them all the best, but we sure will miss you and your bright smile, Heather!

"Heather will definitely be missed! She was always motivational and fun to work out with. Although I'm still a little traumatized from her 42nd birthday workout! We'll miss her so much!" - Janet Piston, Stroller Strides Mama

"Heather is a great Stroller Strides instructor - she knows how to push you past your comfort zone with the perfect level of challenge and encouragement! Her workouts contain a nice mix of fun, competitive stations, and staple workout moves. She’s super welcoming and will definitely be missed!!!" - Jennifer Ward, Stroller Strides Mama

"Heather has been an amazing instructor for us on Saturdays. She always has a smile on her face and makes sure to work us hard, because, for a lot of us on Saturdays, that's our only time we can get to Stroller Strides. She is so kind, caring, and supportive of our needs. And, lastly, has made the reading of "Little Blue Truck" turn into a workout that my husband and I will never forget. Jackson, Ethan, and I thank you for your time and are going to miss seeing you every Saturday." - Kathy Murphy, Stroller Strides Mama

"I first met Heather and her little guy Noah at a Saturday stroller strides class. The thing I remember most is her infectious smile and positivity. She was beyond excited to find a tribe of weekend warrior mamas to hang out with. That was 3 years ago! Two summers ago we had an opportunity to start classes at Occoquan and Heather decided she might enjoy teaching classes there - and indeed she did! She also helped out at Potomac Mills during the winter. Not only was she a fabulous team member but we also became really good friends. I am going to miss her dearly and wish her all the best with her move to Brambleton. (Let’s meet for lunch )" - Shannon link, Franchise Owner

“Heather is great weekend warrior instructor!! Always a fun, and energetic class! I'm going to miss coming to her classes!” - Missy Greely, Stroller Strides Instructor

And what does Heather have to say about Fit4Mom? Read on below.

"As a single mom working full time, FIT4MOM have me an opportunity to work out without worrying about what to do with my kiddo during the workout. And then I got the opportunity to help other weekend workout moms do the same. Through BodyBack I not only got ahold of my physical health, but my mental health came back into focus at a time when I really needed it (which, really, as a mama, is always) - Heather Hilton

#goodbyesarenofun #workingmama #strollerstrides #weekendwarriors #fit4momlsbwknova

Courtney_April.png

"I love having Courtney and Declan in class!! She works so hard and is great to chat with after class. Our little guys have fun twinning Thanks for printing our MNO Target scavenger hunt shirts Courtney!" - Joy Robb, Woodbridge Stroller Barre Instructor

"Courtney brings a smile to my face every class. She goes above and beyond when it comes to helping other momma’s. She has a strong, commanding presence that I ADORE I also love her competitive nature, which keeps me laughing during any group events." - Jessica Fischer, Woodbridge Playgroup Captain

"Courtney is such a joy to have in class!! I love her effort she puts in every class. She is always there to help a mama in need And her obsession with Harry Potter!!" - Missy Greely, Woodbridge Stroller Strides Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

Chris (husband) Declan (5 months). I am originally from Pittsburgh, PA.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first Fit4Mom class was right before Christmas. I remember how welcoming everyone was and what a great workout it was.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at Potomac Mills.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

Before having Declan I was a Special Education Teacher in an Autism Self Contained Room.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Spending time with my family, traveling and reading.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Sleep!

What has being a mom taught you?

To go with the flow. Not everything can be planned.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

Declan hasn’t been sleeping the best. One night I woke up (I think I was actually sleep walking for a a few minutes). I woke Chris up and said “what am I supposed to do with him”. Then I just walked out of the bedroom. I realized what I had said and I was laughing so hard I was crying as I feed Declan.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

It’s rough at times but well worth it !

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

My favorite thing about Fit4Mom is the community and friendships.

MOM March.png

“Sarah’s husband has been deployed for months and she still gets to class ~3x a week. I know she spends some time in the gym too and has been reaching all kinds of PRs there. She’s a great mom, finds time to take care of herself, and works part-time as well. She’s always upbeat and has a smile on her face, and is super motivating for other moms!” – Kayla Lyon, Springfield Instructor

“Sarah is always a great inspiration to have in class! She has such positive energy, you know you’ve hit the Stroller Strides lottery when your stroller is parked next to hers! Her husband is currently deployed and she’s along with two small kiddos, but you would never know it from her positive attitude! We were so fortunate she looked up Our Village and joined us after moving here last year!” – Stephanie Curl, Springfield Instructor

“Sarah is a great participant in class and inspiring as a mother. She joined our Lee District crew in the middle of the summer with Cal coming any day and she was sweating it out with us every day. With 2 little boys and a deployed husband, she makes it look easy when we all know it’s a daily struggle. Plus did you see her pull up video?! Amazing!! Sarah is friendly, easy to chat with, and a pleasure to have in class and be in class with.” – Candace Prabhakar, Springfield Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My husband Brian, 3 year old Teddy, 6 month old Cal, our dog Kona, and me. I was born in Boston and grew up mostly in Vermont but have lived in nine states!

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first Fit4Mom class was in San Antonio, Texas a little over three years ago— Teddy was six weeks old and I was desperate to get out of the house. My first class with this franchise was last July— I had just moved here, was 7 months pregnant, had to borrow a stroller, and went to totally the wrong place in Lee District Park but eventually found the class! Afterward, there was a playdate at the splash pad and Teddy snuck out, past the lifeguards, to the playground and caused me more than a few minutes of panic.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I usually go to Stroller Strides/Stroller Barre at Springfield Mall on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and can’t wait to be back at Lee District Park when it warms up!

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I’m a freelance science writer— before having kids I wrote for mainstream magazines, newspapers, and websites, covering mostly medicine and health. I talk to researchers and try to explain what they do and find to the average person. I had articles in publications like the Huffington Post, LA Times, and Science. Since having kids, I found the speedy deadlines at many of these publications tough to meet, so I work for a handful of big universities and medical schools, writing press releases or alumni magazine articles when a scientist discovers something.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Reading, craft beer, and traveling (especially to National Parks!)

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Oh my gosh, I’m trying to be better about self-care and doing things for myself, so I am going to not say I’d just catch up on work, which is probably the truth. In an ideal world, I’d get a massage and then just sit and read a book somewhere quiet.

What has being a mom taught you?

It’s given me a whole new respect for my own parents, and definitely made me more patient and more flexible when it comes to rolling with the punches.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

There are so many! One embarrassing moment was near the beginning of Teddy’s first year at preschool in Texas— I hadn’t paid very much attention to the calendar they handed out, and showed up at his school after a frantic morning of getting ready only to discover it was closed that day for some kind of inservice! The director of the school (who didn’t really know me or realize that I was a clueless parent) saw me in the parking lot and came over and asked if I needed anything.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Remember to have fun with your kids sometimes— get dirty in the mud or wet in the rain or make a big mess without worrying about cleaning it up (until later). Getting to act like a kid again yourself makes all the stressful parts of parenting more worth it.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

The other moms! It’s so much more than an exercise class and I don’t think a lot of people know that before they join— I especially love the playdates that give us an excuse to check out kid places in the area since we’re relatively new here.

#militaryfamily #fit4momlsbwknova #pullupgoals #motivatingmom

Brittany.png

"Brittany is a great playgroup captain! She is SO welcoming to everyone and was one of the first people to start chatting with me last summer when I came to my first class. She always offers to help other mamas out in all sorts of ways, and comes prepared with activities and treat that all the kids love!" - Sarah Benson, Springfield/Lee District Mama

"Brittany is such a sweetheart! I love that she is always willing to step in and help out when the kiddos get fussy during class, so the mommas can continue their workout Her playgroup ideas are always fun and creative, and she's always prepared with plenty of yummy snacks and toys! I've really enjoyed getting to know her over the past year." - Christie Wood, Springfield/Lee District Mama

"Brittany is such a joy to be around! She has the most creative ideas when it comes to playgroup, and she always seems to be prepared for the unexpected! In addition, she never forgets anything!! She always has plenty of snacks to go around! She is such an awesome asset!! We have loved getting to know her over the past year and we love attending her playgroups!" - Andi Lyons Schmiedebusch, Springfield/Lee District Mama

"I love that every week we get the opportunity to enjoy a well organized gathering of mommies and littles. Sometimes we forget that those events don't just appear out of thin air. Brittany does a wonderful job! We never have to lift a finger" - Sam Matthews, Springfield Mama

1. Who are the members of your family?

Husband Todd, stepson Tyler (10), daughter Makenzie (3), and our dog Lexi (7).

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

I grew up in a small town right outside of Charlottesville, VA named Louisa. I ended up in northern, VA about eight years ago.

3. Which location(s) do you typically attend class?

I can be found at Stroller Strides on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. I try to attend Body Back classes in Kingstowne and/or Lorton as well.

4. Tell us your story about how/why you became a PGC for Fit4Mom LSBW NoVa.

After my daughter was born I was really frustrated with how any activity involving children was expensive. So, I was fully invested in finding “free” things to do with my child that yielded the same outcomes--exercise, socialization, coordination, manners, new experiences...etc.. When I came across a free Stroller Strides class I instantly thought ‘nope’ because to me, it didn't seem to expose my daughter to any of those things. A few days later, still contemplating, I had the thought of ‘well, It's only for an hour, maybe I'll try it.’ so, I attended Stroller Strides, which happened to be on a day they had playgroup after class. I quickly learned that I completely judged Fit4Mom before I had even experienced it firsthand. My daughter was exposed to all of the things I was looking for during class and afterwards at playgroup... and I also got in a workout! After months of only attending ‘free activities’ I had finally found something worth investing in- ‘US’ not just for Makenzie or myself, but something we both benefited from in so many ways! I knew I had to become more involved, which is why I became Play Group Captain!

5. What is one of your favorite playgroup activities?

Definitely making sensory water bottles. I loved watching the kids fill their bottles with things they loved. when they were done the kids would stare at their bottle for minutes watching the objects float around. It's so cool to see how captivating it is to them.

6. What is the BEST thing about being a PGC?

I get to plan all the activities for birthdays, baby showers and holidays. I love Pinterest and the Dollar Store, so having a group of kids to plan things for just fulfills all my Pinterest desires! (And they're kids, so if you do have a Pinterest fail, they don't even care 😂)

7. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

My why is my daughter. If It continues to be something she enjoys and grows from, I will be there!

8. What is one of your current wellness goals?

I am a big believer in getting outside and breathing in the fresh air. We are trying to spend at least thirty minutes outdoors a day (on really cold days this includes walking to and from the car etc.. Because its technically still breathing in fresh air👌)

Also, I recently became certified in ‘Kidding Around Yoga’ (If you haven't heard of it, Google it! It's SO much fun.) So I am trying to practice some type of yoga every day with my kids!

9. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you?

It's embarrassing, but I Iove Taylor swift. 😒🤷🏼‍♀️

#playgroupcaptain #Fit4MomLSBWKNova #KAYoga #pinterestfun #tswift

Emily.png

Photo above: Emily McCrory (middle) pictured with her daughters Ryann (2) and Devynn (1). The only pockets in this picture are rear pockets and a miniature pocket inside of the fake Jean pocket...on the pink jeggings of the baby.

Dear women’s clothing:

There’s something you need to know... I’ve been putting up with it for a long time now, but I’m at a point in my life now where I really don’t care what you or anyone else thinks. If you don’t have pockets...you’re useless to me. There’s kids in the picture now... and they want my phone. Sitting on it... is not an acceptable solution. Tucking it into the couch...wastes 20 minutes of my “free time” while I’m attempting to fish it back out. Putting it away... means my husband is furious that he couldn’t reach me when he needed to know what’s for dinner. Bras... ARE NOT POCKETS! Stop making me stoop to this level! Plus, my kid is up in there every few hours anyway, so that defeats the purpose immediately.

Put pockets in my clothes. And not those miniature pockets that can only hold a Polly Pocket circa 1999. (WTF are those interior Jean pockets even for??? One key? Who carries around one lonely key? I know I’d certainly lose it immediately...unless I had a miniature Jean pocket inside my Jean pocket! Men...)

Give me a pocket that I can fit my whole hand in... and (is it even possible) wiggle my fingers! I want my whole phone to fit in there... not just the home button. And be generous... no exterior article of clothing is off limits. Dresses? Brilliant. Shirt? You betcha! Leggings? I hope the lady who came up with that idea is swimming in dough.

With that being said, if a pocket is useless, I’m not using it. No self-respecting female is putting anything in the boob pocket of her button-down. I’m not the designer here so don’t expect me to do your job for you... but as long as over-sized clothing is in style, there’s no reason to make a shirt the size of a tent that can’t hold anything!!

I don’t think this is too much to ask. I mean, men never had to and I wouldn’t be surprised to find a pocket in a pair of boxer briefs. I know we have purses and diaper bags and Fanny packs and clutches, but if you’re worried about the money, having a pocket is not going to stop us from buying more bags!

I have no leverage here. I can’t threaten to stop wearing clothes because let’s be honest, that’s not a win for me (I’m cold in most of the clothes I wear anyway) and it’s most definitely a win for a few too many of the men out there too. So I have a proposition for you. I could be wrong, but I think it’s sensible. Ready? If you put pockets in women's’ clothes...decent-sized, functional, stylish pockets...I will...(wait for it...).... BUY THEM!

That’s all.

Sincerely (tired of living in unnecessary inconvenience),

Emily

PS - At the wise age of three, my niece was convinced that pants with pockets were “boy pants.” Check out your local toddler section...she’s not wrong. Pass this pocket memo onto your friends in the kids’ department...no reason why girl moms should have to miss out on the beautiful sound of a rock collection clanging around in the washing machine. K, thanks bye!

#fit4momlsbwk #psa #womensclothingfail #girlsneedpocketstoo #girlscollectrocks

MOM February.png

“I still remember when I first met Victoria and her girls almost two years ago at our Mother’s Day class. I knew immediately we would get along! As a fellow mom of two girls, she’s making parenting look easy, and she might be the coolest mom we know with her amazing hair skillz and margarita know-how. It’s not an awesome class without Victoria!” – Jenny Bezos, Burke Playgroup Captain

“Smart, beautiful, funny, strong, kind…these are just a few words to describe Victoria! I nominated Victoria for Mom of the Month because she is truly so inspiring to me and our village. When women support each other, incredible things happen and she is so uplifting and someone you love to be around. I absolutely love working out with you and the friendship we’ve made! Keep being you, girl! Go Tall Latte, go!” – Candice Agustin, Burke Stroller Strides Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My family consists of my husband JJ, two daughters, Spencer (3) and Dylan (2), two crazy dogs and myself. We’re soon to add ANOTHER baby girl named Taylor (due June 1). I am a native of this area, born in Fairfax, but I grew up in Springfield.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first Fit4Mom class was the Mother’s day class in May of 2017. I had met Shannon shortly after my first daughter was born and was very interested in the classes, but being a typical first-time mom was too afraid to stray from the strict nap schedule I had set up (something I laugh at now, of course). I was finally convinced to try it out by Monica Lennon. I think it was a perfect class because it was such a beautiful day and because it was a huge class you could feel all the positive energy. You really got a sense of being part of a community.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I regularly attend Tuesday, Thursday, and Fridays at the Burke location, although I’ve been adding Springfield Mall on Wednesdays recently, as well. I only have done the Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre classes thus far. I think I would like to try Body Back once I stop having all these babies (ha!)

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I currently stay home full time with my girls. Prior to having kids I was a hair stylist.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Coffee, cooking (kid free), and spending time with my family.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

I would most definitely be at the spa getting a massage, facial, nails done…basically, whatever I could squeeze in I would get done.

What has being a mom taught you?

Being a mom has taught me that I’m a control freak by nature. That has been my biggest struggle, constantly trying to control tiny humans that don’t care about my agenda. I’ve made a lot of progress but letting go of things I can’t control and having patience are still things I’m constantly trying to work on. Being a mom, particularly to multiple kids, has also taught me how to multitask. I’m amazed when I think about some of the situations, especially emergency type situations, that I’ve been able to handle on my own and live to tell about it.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

I’ve had so many funny and embarrassing mommy moments, in fact, most stuff doesn’t even phase me anymore. The one that sticks out the most in my mind as being the most embarrassing/funny might be a little TMI. I’m sure most of us have experienced the dreaded first postpartum period. I got pregnant with my second daughter before ever getting one the first time around, so it had been A WHILE since Aunt Flo had been to town. A few months after my second, Dylan, was born, we took a family trip to Target. We were shopping around when all of a sudden I had that familiar feeling. It was totally unexpected and I couldn’t have been more unprepared. I was having flashbacks of 7th grade all over again. Lucky for me we were at Target, the holy grail for everything you could ever need. I got my supplies, including new underwear and after quickly checking out, tried to discreetly head to the bathroom. My firstborn daughter, however, was about to have a meltdown because she wanted to go with me. I just wanted to get in the bathroom as soon as possible so I brought her along. While we were in the bathroom (full of people) Spencer proceeded to give a full narrative about what was happening in our stall. “Mommy, is that blood??!! Why are you bleeding from your butt??! Why are you throwing your underwear away??!” All said at that nice elevated toddler volume, of course. It was so bad.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

I’m definitely still learning as I go along. Something I would say to other moms though would be to not hesitate to reach out and ask for help at any point if you’re feeling overwhelmed. I found myself at a point after having my second daughter where I was struggling daily emotionally. Aside from obvious postpartum hormones that were playing a factor, my two kids are only 19 months apart and my second was up every 1-3 hours until 15 months. I was totally overwhelmed with a baby who wanted to nurse constantly and a super active toddler running around. I wanted to handle everything myself and had a hard time asking people for help. It is so hard to differentiate the daily stress of having kids and being sleep deprived with having more serious emotional issues going on. I was obviously struggling and constantly on edge at home and after reaching a breaking point, I finally confided in my husband. Looking back I wish I would’ve been much easier on myself and asked for HELP. I also wish I would’ve been more honest about how I was feeling and not ashamed to admit the rage I felt at times towards my kids whom I love more than anything. Being a mom is so hard and I’ve just learned to take it day by day.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

My favorite part about Fit4Mom is that I can work out with my kids. Exercising is a huge stress reliever for me and it makes it so easy to just throw them in the car and go get a great hour workout in. A very close second thing that I love that its such a supportive community for my girls and me. At the Burke location, most of the moms stay after each class and socialize while the kids play together. Being able to regularly talk to women who can relate to the joys and struggles of being a mom is invaluable. I would tell someone thinking about joining to just try one class and I’m sure they will be hooked!

#fit4mom #fit4momlsbwk #momofthemonth #strollerstridesmama #exercise #stressreliever

Shannon.jpg.png

Get to know our fearless leader and Franchise Owner, Shannon Link! Shannon has been a franchise owner for over 4 years and continues to bring moms from all over NoVa together. She has created the village we all love! This month, we’ll put the spotlight on Shannon. When she isn’t doing all of the behind the scenes of running a business, you can find her teaching Body Back (and more!) throughout the week.

“I am so glad I got into the Body Back program. I know I am stronger and more at ease because of this program! Shannon as a Body Back instructor really makes you want to bring you’re a game! I love the energy that she puts into her workouts and I never leave without breaking a hard sweat! Thank you for all the encouragement and pushing me past my ‘limits.’” – Brittnay Watson, Team Member and Stroller Strides/Body Back Mama

“I love going to Shannon’s Body Back classes. Whether it’s a quick chat before class, an extra verbal push while we are doing burpees, or a passage she reads during meditation, she is always encouraging you to be your best.” -Diane Rumberger, Body Back Mama

“Shannon’s energy is unreal. She’s always so positive and upbeat and no one really knows how she does it. Her workouts are always intense but in a great way, and her personality and energy make it so you don’t really realize how hard you’re working while you’re in it. She’s built an amazing community that has brought us all together and impacted so many of us in the very best ways.” – Kayla Lyon, Team Member and Stroller Strides Mama

“I love that Shannon keeps it real. She’s a working mom who has kids and a husband who need her, just like the rest of us. So she understands. BUT that doesn’t keep her from encouraging and pushing you to be a better you. She has challenged me to raise my expectations of myself, and I already know that I’ll come out of Body Back a new woman because of her.” -Ashley Varga, Body Back Mama

“I’ve known Shannon for nearly four years and she has truly changed my life. Shannon possesses the qualities of all great motivators. She’s hard-working, honest, passionate, inspiring, and has amazing energy. She makes you want to work really hard and bare your soul. I always leave her Body Back classes feeling like a million bucks!” – Robin Houlahan, Team Member and Stroller Strides/Body Back Mama

What is your WHY?

I wish for every mom to have a place to just BE and to feel supported on this crazy ride called motherhood. Nearly six years ago Stroller Strides literally saved my life. The feeling of isolation and depression vanished – that is why I have to share my love of FIT4MOM to every mom crossing my path. Moms need to know that they are not ‘just’ a mom, they too need to be heard, valued and respected for all the change and hard work they do every day. Solidarity – it takes a village!

What do you love most about being a franchise owner?

I absolutely love seeing all the friendships that get forged and blossom throughout the years for both moms and the kiddos. Never in a million years did I imagine doing this type of a ‘job’ – can’t really call it a job because I love it so much. I mean, I get to mingle, provide support, hold babies, drink coffee, have lunch dates, have play dates, enjoy good company at Mom’s Night Outs and field trips, I get to meet so many awesome local business owners that I partner with (without them I wouldn’t be able to do this!), my team members are absolutely phenomenal (they hold it all together in our crazy large franchise!) and of course I do kind of like to tell people what to do…………………….just kidding, well, no I’m not…. 😉

What is your favorite song and exercise combo to sing at Stroller Strides?

Oh, how I love teaching Stroller Strides. Seeing all the mamas belt out the songs which in turn makes the babies smile is PRICELESS…………………….the one I love the best is ‘Way up high in the Apple tree’ – mamas start out with standing mountain climbers as if they were climbing a tree, then they hold a plie squat and shake their arms like shaking the tree, and then the arms make a swish movement and rub their bellies for ‘mmmmmmmmmm, good!’ --- you might need a video to accompany this! 😉

What is one thing being a business owner has taught you about yourself?

Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. It takes lots of blood, sweat, and tears to get through the roller coaster of emotions. The best thing it has taught me is that I can ask for help and that help isn’t a sign of weakness, it just means that a team of passionate and giving people can do so much more together. It has taught me that I am not alone. (thank you team!)

What do you do for self-care and how do you find the time with your busy schedule?

This might sound corny to most of you, but teaching classes are taking care of me as well. I get physical movement, I get inspired by all the wonderful women in my class, I get to connect with them, they make me feel good and make me smile – that is such a great feeling. I don’t see it as ‘work’ – it’s a form of self-care. On top of that I like to get pedicures (I mean – foot/leg massage in a massage chair!), I go out to lunch BY MYSELF to give me time to reflect and just BE, I get in sporadic full body massages, I take nice long hot showers after everyone else is already asleep & I get together with friends to laugh and have fun. It isn’t easy to find the time – that’s for sure. I actually have to write it in my calendar as an appointment to ensure it gets done!

What is one of your favorite FIT4MOM classes to teach?

Stroller Strides hands down – I mean, who doesn’t love seeing the mamas interact with their babies while sweating AND singing?! However, I hardly teach it anymore due to timing AND I have an amazing team of mamas that are better at it than I am (I’m getting up there in age!) <3 so I suppose I’ll have to say Body Back ----- I get to see women transform right in front of my eyes, week after week – seeing the smiles and confidence grow is quite breathtaking.

What is a fun fact that most of our moms wouldn’t know about you?

I’m a certified forklift operator, I can operate a concrete demolition breaker, I can build walls out of cement and cinderblocks …………… I used to flip homes in Europe for 12 years (and live in them at the same time! I do not recommend that to anyone!)

What is one of your hopes for the franchise in 2019?

My biggest hope is to get the word out to local hospitals, OB/GYN offices, women’s care centers, pediatricians and doctors about our programs. Moms need a village and we are just that – a village of mothers that have open arms to take in even more moms – the love we have is endless. I’d like to see every mom come to at least ONE CLASS so they can see that we are more than just a ‘workout’ – what we offer cannot be provided anywhere else. #AllTheMoms #Fit4MomLSBWKNoVa --- and I might want to open a few more locations … stay tuned! 2019 is going to be AWESOME!!!!!

#Fit4MomLSBWKNova #franchiseowner #fearlessleader #strength #energy #businessowner

Sarah.png

Just add water (bottles) and mix

Here’s a recipe for feeling isolated: Move across the country, have a new baby, and then have your husband leave for a long deployment, all within a few months time span.

But here’s an ingredient that changes the whole recipe: Fit4Mom

Last July, my Army doctor husband and I moved from Texas to Virginia with a toddler and a seven-months-pregnant belly. Less than eight weeks later, my second son was born. And nine weeks after that, my husband left for a many-months deployment to Afghanistan. I was alone with two young kids in a place that had just barely become our new home.

For me, staying busy—sometimes really, insanely busy—is my coping method for just about everything. But being in a new place can be a recipe for disaster when it comes to staying busy with an infant and a toddler. It can take months (or, dare I say, years?) to make friends and discover the lay of the land in a new community. I was seriously worried I would become a hermit when my husband left (or at least, a hermit with two kids who has to occasionally leave the house for Target essentials).

But here’s where I lucked out.

At our last duty station in San Antonio, I had the incredible fortune to discover Fit4Mom and Stroller Strides. For nearly three years, my life revolved around Monday, Wednesday and Friday workouts with an amazing group of moms. We commiserated over kids that wouldn’t sleep, watched in amazement as our babies grew, and pushed our bodies to be stronger.

I didn’t think every Fit4Mom community could possibly be as amazing and supportive but figured I had nothing to lose by checking out my new local Fit4Mom when we arrived in Virginia (like, literally, a few days after we arrived, when we were living out of a hotel).

So I showed up to this new Stroller Strides group, seven months pregnant with a borrowed jogging stroller and a little (or maybe a lot) skeptical of how different they might be from my last Fit4Mom group. And here’s the wonderful thing: They were different in all sorts of ways from the San Antonio Fit4Mom friends I’d said tearful goodbyes to, but still this fantastic welcoming community. So four months later, when my husband was halfway around the world and I was stuck here with a 9 week old and a 3 year old, I wasn’t nearly as alone as I might have been otherwise. In fact, with the high number of military families in Northern Virginia, there are even other moms in the Fit4Mom community with deployed spouses, recently-deployed spouses, or soon-to-be deployed spouses.

In the first weeks of my husband’s deployment, I not only had three or four Stroller Strides classes a week, but also this steady stream of social events keeping me busy— Fit4Mom playdates, birthday parties of Fit4Mom kids, a Fit4Mom “mompreneur” event, and gymnastic classes with Fit4Mom friends. I also had people I barely knew, or had only known for a few weeks or months, sending me messages asking whether I needed anything.

There’s no denying that going through a deployment with young kids is tough, and I’m still in the thick of it, counting down the days until it’s over and I have a helping hand at bedtime again. Maybe the rest of my survival techniques will be another blog post, when I’ve come out the other side. But for now, I’m so thankful that—within weeks of moving to Virginia— this Fit4Mom community became part of my deployment survival recipe.

#Fit4Mom #deployment #community #bandofmothers #militaryspouse #militaryfamily

MOM January_Lisa.png

We are so excited to announce our MOM (Motivating Mom of the Month) for January! Each month we take a moment to honor one of our local FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa Moms for her efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle and for her dedication to the program. This month we honor Lisa Neal from our Woodbridge village!

“I love Lisa’s enthusiasm and friendliness! She gives 100% during class and rocked the Halloween costume contest. She also made Body Back transformation ladies feel beautiful with a complimentary photo shoot!” – Joy Robb, Woodbridge Stroller Barre Instructor

“Lisa is always full of smiles and gives 100% at class. So helpful with other moms at class, and a wonderful photographer!” – Missy Greely, Woodbridge Stroller Strides Instructor

“Lisa is awesome!! She is such an inspiration! For class, she sometimes comes with two kids, sometimes one, but she always does it with a smile. She is selfless and never focuses on herself. Every time you talk to her, she always asks YOU about YOU! She is always so welcoming, compassionate, and sweet.” – Jessica Fischer, Woodbridge Playgroup Captain

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

I was born in the Philippines and raised in NoVa. My family includes husband name is Chris, a son, and daughter Aiden (3) and Amaya (9 months).

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first class was in June. I remember I was not functional before 11 am (my daughter was 3 months at that time). One of the other moms had a motivational shirt that said “PUSH YOURSELF”, so I was pumped to start my workout. I proceeded to be sore for 2 days after that!

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

Stroller Strides and Barre at Potomac Mills

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I photographed newborns at the hospital until I decided to become a stay at home mom and pursue photography on my own by creating a home studio.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

I love all things chocolate, shopping and napping when possible.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

I would love to do a dinner and a movie or reading a good book.

What has being a mom taught you?

Enjoy and treasure the little things. Treasure their little hands, feet, hugs, kisses and even sick snuggles because one day they will say “No! I’m a big boy/girl I don’t need hugs and kisses!

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

My parents and I were at a hotel getting ready for a wedding. My son was sitting on a relatively high bed. All three of us thought that the other was watching him, so down he tumbles onto the floor! He cried and cried and cried! He was inconsolable for a long time. So, I did what parent would do after a long crying spell with no end in sight, I got ready for the wedding before the shuttle bus left without us. Of course, the cleaning lady came while my son was still crying and I was doing my makeup! She probably thought I was the worse mother ever!

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

When someone told me they used paper plates when their child was born, I was thinking “Paper plates? What? It’s not that bad!” Baby number two comes along and I hate to say it but paper plate saved my sanity. Things will get done when they get done, whether it’s a day, week, or a month.

#MOMofthemonth #strollerstrides #strollerbarre #Fit4MOMLSBWK #photographer #motivatingmom

Mandy Farewell.png

With every new season there are changes. We have one coming to our Springfield Village as Play Group Captain, Mandy Welch, and her family makes a big move across the country to Colorado in the coming weeks.

“Mandy’s playgroups are always so cute and organized. Clyde and I really look forward to them. I remember telling Mandy I thought she was a veteran mom because of the detail she puts into every aspect of playgroup and how effortlessly she parents Natalie in the process. Not to mention how cute Natalie is always dressed. When she told me she was a first-time mom, I was blown away. Mandy definitely gives me #Goals vibes for sure 😊 Mandy and Natalie will be missed!” – Octavia Cross, Springfield Stroller Strides/Barre Mama

“Mandy was a great playgroup captain! She always had a great mix of things for different age kids to play with and kept a smile on her face through workouts and playgroups alike! She will be missed.” – Sarah Benson, Springfield Stroller Strides Mama

“Mandy has been a crucial part of the Stroller Strides experience for us. Her playgroups are so fun and engaging for all ages. She has an amazing ability to keep activities planned and organized all while loving on Natalie and the other kids. She has a wonderful grace and calm about her that makes going to playgroup a perfect cool-down activity. Thank you for all the awesome fun and friendship, Mandy!” – Casey Applegate, Springfield Stroller Strides Mama

“Vivian will miss Mandy’s snacks. She is always the first to enjoy them. Mandy’s sweet disposition and welcoming smile will be missed!” – Jennifer Johnson, Springfield Stroller Strides Mama

“Mandy has been great! She’s super helpful in class when kids are being fussy, always has a positive attitude, and organized great playgroups with toys and activities for the kiddos.” – Kayla Lyons, Springfield Stroller Strides Instructor

“I first met Mandy in line at Starbucks inside Springfield Town Center. She was pushing her dearest little newborn Natalie. I said hello from behind her, and invited her to come to a free class. She put my postcard in her purse and said thank you. I didn’t realize at that time, but it was a moment that turner her lonely motherhood journey around. She started coming to Stroller Strides all the time, easily connected with the other moms and when the opportunity arose to have a position as Playgroup Captain, she eagerly accepted. It’s been a pleasure watching her grow into her role. Thank you Mandy- you will be missed!” – Shannon Link, Fit4Mom LSBWK Franchise owner

“Over the past year, Fit4Mom has given me the strength and support I needed to adjust to becoming a first-time mom. I have made friends that will last a lifetime and I wouldn’t be where I am without them. Natalie and I have been so blessed to be a part of this tribe and we will miss them tremendously.” – Mandy Welch, Springfield Playgroup Captain

#Fit4MomLSBWK #StrollerStrides #Playgroup #Farewell

Heather Hilton.png

Get to know one of our awesome Team Members, Heather Hilton! We have an amazing, dedicated and talented team of moms here at FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa, and we want you to get to know a little more about each one of them. So for January, we'll put the spotlight on Heather, Stroller Strides Instructor for our Woodbridge Village weekend warriors.

“Heather is a fantastic coach! She always has us laughing, which distracts us from the wonderful pain going through our muscles.” – Janet Piston, Stroller Strides Mama

“I am so thankful to have Heather Hilton as my instructor for Stroller Strides. She has been both inspiring and understanding as I have attended her classes pregnant, very pregnant, and now postpartum. Heather is in tune with the variety of fitness abilities and needs of the weekend warrior mamas. She is always enthusiastic and entertaining! Thank you, Heather.” – Carly Debernas, Stroller Strides Mama

“Heather is an amazing instructor! She gives an incredible workout for us weekend warriors. Despite me complaining about certain exercises, I can guarantee that it is a good workout. And when my husband joins, she makes sure to work him hard!” – Kathy Murphy, Stroller Strides Mama

1. Who are the members of your family? Noah (4yo) and I are a family of two! I am a Single Mother by Choice (a Single Mother by Choice is a single woman who decides to become a mother knowing, at least at the outset, that she will be the sole parent of her child), and Noah was conceived by IVF.

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa? I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Maine. I’ve been in NoVa since 2008, but would go back North in a heartbeat if my job were there!

3. Where do you typically teach? River Mill Park and Potomac Mills Mall

4. Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom LSBW NoVa. I work full time, and I couldn’t find any options when Noah was born for a good “mommy and me” workout on the weekends—until I discovered Fit4Mom. After about a year of going to SS, and a round of BB, I wanted to help give other weekend warrior workout Mamas the same opportunity I found with Fit4Mom.

5. What is your favorite thing to teach? I love weekend SS. Sometimes it is the only hour my Mamas get to give themselves, and I love to see them get the most out of it.

6. What is the BEST thing about being an instructor? My favorite moments are when a new Dad joins us for the weekend family class—the look on his face is priceless when he suddenly realizes we are not just strolling around the mall drinking lattes! It’s even better when Dad keeps coming back for more—what a beautiful thing to see a family getting healthier together.

7. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do? My why is simple. Noah. Isn’t it amazing how everything changes when our littles arrive on scene?

8. What is one of your current wellness goals? I had surgery in July, repairing a 15-year old labral tear. As a result, I was immobile for quite some time. Now it is time to get back to where I was pre-surgery, and maybe even pre-injury!

9. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you? I’ve lived overseas in England, Belgium, and Israel as a student; in Korea, Kuwait, and Iraq as a soldier; and in Australia as a rambler.

10. Anything else you'd like Our Village to know? Don’t ever let anyone convince you that motherhood is easy. It is hard. And it is exhausting. It is messy. And it is misunderstood by so many. But you are strong. And you are beautiful. You are not alone. And you’ve got this. ~Strength in Motherhood~

#fit4mom #weekendwarrior #workingmom #strollerstrides #strengthinmotherhood

Abbe Blog.png

I’m sure most parents would agree: you never forget the first couple days with your first baby. I’m no exception, and I remember that day like it was yesterday. My husband and I had spent so much time preparing to bring our baby home. We made sure the house was safe, made sure we had organic food and high end toys. We poured over lists of names to find the perfect one. When the big day arrived, we were thrilled and nervous. She looked up into our eyes, and we knew our family was complete. That first drive home was terrifying. Those first few nights were sleepless. We were so worried that we couldn’t get her to eat and she seemed lethargic…but then she chowed down on some Boar’s Head turkey and perked right up.

Our first baby was Zoe, a Maltese poodle mix. And, disclaimer, if you’re not someone who’s owned pets, you’ll probably think I’m crazy. In June of 2014, my husband, Kyle, and I had been married for a year and a half. We’d lived together for about two years. Shortly before that we adopted a couple cats together. We bought a house together in 2013. We were ready for the next step: a dog. The stars aligned and we found some puppies up for adoption at a wonderful rescue in my home state of New Jersey. When we went to meet the pups, one was still scared around people, one couldn’t stop humping everything in sight, and then there was Zoe. She looked at us, rolled onto her back, exposing a spotted belly, as if to say “Here I am! Take me! Make me part of your family!” And we did.

For the next few years, our worlds revolved around this 10 pound ball of fur. As with any first born, we wanted only the best for her. We fed her the best food, got her tons of toys for her first Christmas, and read books about behavior and training. We worked to find the best vet, best groomer, and best dog walker. Like many parents, we planned to have firm boundaries about her sleeping in her own space, but after about a month, she slept in bed with us. We Googled descriptions of her bowel movements late at night to determine whether or not we needed to go to the emergency veterinarian. We took her everywhere, including road trips to the beach and flights to Florida and California. When we went to Italy and left her with my mom for two weeks, we made my mom install Skype so we could see her while we were away. We bought her an Italian soccer jersey as a souvenir. (In both of these sentences, “her” refers to our dog, not my mom).

Three years after adopting Zoe, we couldn’t deny that it still felt like something, or rather, someone, was missing from our family. I got pregnant. I’ve heard a variety of perspectives on whether or not pets can sense a pregnancy. I don’t know if Zoe could tell what was up, but she definitely knew something was up. As my pregnancy progressed, she rarely left my side, often resting her head on my belly. I had fantasies about this little baby and Zoe being instant besties. She would be like Nana, the dog in Peter Pan. Maybe she could even babysit while I got extra sleep. Maybe she could pull the baby around in a sled in the winter. Ooo maybe I could hitch her to the stroller and they could walk each other!

On January 4th, 2017, Kyle and I were getting our stuff together to head to the hospital, because I was being induced. My family was coming into town and would watch Zoe at our house. As we were walking out the front door, a wave of fear and dread washed over me. I told my mom how terrified I was. “I know you are, sweetie. It is scary. Especially the first time. You have no idea what to expect.” “No, mom, I’m not talking about labor and delivery. I’m scared I won’t love this baby as much as I love Zoe.”

Yes, I said that. I honestly couldn’t fathom loving and caring for something as much as I did our sweet pup. I remembered my cousin telling me once that when I have a kid, our dog will just be something else that needs something from me. I could not even wrap my mind around feeling such a way about Zoe. The poor pup didn’t even have a say in the matter, and now there was no going back. It was baby time.

Fast forward a couple days, and we’re in the hospital with our sweet son, Owen. I send my parents home with one of his blankets for Zoe. When they gave it to her, she sniffed it, curled up on top of it, and fell asleep. When we arrived home, she was very excited to see us, but had no major reaction to the newborn we had with us. It was as if she was saying, “Yeah, so what? He’s been around for nine months.” Zoe LOVED Owen. If he was doing tummy time, so was she. She’d lay by him when he was lounging on his back. If our cats even looked at him, she’d chase them away. She was on guard when anyone other than me or Kyle held our newest family member. She was by my side for every late night nursing session, right there with me watching The Golden Girls at 3 in the morning. She was even welcoming when Owen joined us in bed to catch some extra Zs.

If Zoe could talk, she would probably tell you that one of the best decisions we’ve made regarding Owen was the introduction of solid foods. They were introduced to our growing infant, who often introduced them to the floor, where they were introduced to Zoe. She was quick, and, I admit, we were lazy. Why fight off the dog to clean the floor, when everyone can just be happy not doing any of those things? She got all sorts of goodies and would turn her nose up at kibble. As Owen grew and grew, Zoe packed on the pounds as well. She was fat and happy. But then something terrible happened. Owen started to walk.

What was once a cuddly, cooing, drooling eight pound cherub, was now a clumsy, unpredictable, overexcited twenty-five pound nightmare. And the worst part was, the nightmare LOVED Zoe. He was obsessed with her, stalked her, even. Playing with her, touching her, and chasing her was all he wanted. One of his first phrases was “pull tail”, as in “don’t pull tail”, but he obviously disregarded the “don’t”. Zoe got jealous. When I would sit down to nurse Owen, she would paw at me incessantly. When he would fall asleep in my arms, she would walk into the room with her metal food dish in her mouth and drop it on the hardwood floor right next to us with a loud CLANG! There was one day when I forgot to take her out for her walk before Owen’s nap. She walked into his nursery where he was just drifting off on my lap, stared me in the face, and peed all over the carpet. For the first time ever, I didn’t see my sweet baby girl when I looked at Zoe. I saw something else that needed something from me. I saw a “just a dog”, and it broke my heart.

But raising a child and parenthood is all about phases, right? Everything is constantly, slowly morphing into the new normal. Crying gives way to talking which gives way to tantrums. A held baby turns into a crawling infant. The crawling infant turns into a toddling, walking, running child. Money spent on diapers shifts to energy spent scrambling to the nearest toilet. Jars of baby food are replaced with our family needing to buy two pizzas on Friday nights. I had seen this countless times already since we brought Owen home, so I tried my best to have faith that this would just be a phase for me and Zoe. Another phase for our family. And it was!

Now, we have a two year old. He knows that when Zoe growls at him, she’s saying “Please, stop!”, and he does…usually. He tells me that she needs food and “dawa”, when I’m wondering out loud why she’s barking at me. He proudly holds her leash when we walk her (don’t worry, mom, I’m always right next to them!) He tells her “Down!” when she begs for food at the table. When we go on a trip, he asks “Zoe, too?” He has just as many nicknames for her as we do. They’re getting better at playing together. They know, and often respect, to whom each toy belongs. When I call Zoe in from the backyard, she’ll typically look at me and then continue to run around the yard. When Owen calls her, she comes running. One day, when Owen was having an awful, violent tantrum and I just could. not. deal, I set him gently on his bedroom floor to let it all out and left the room to compose myself. I called to Zoe. She looked between me and Owen a few times, and you know what? That dog would not leave his side when he was in distress. With Owen’s increasing maturity, has come Zoe’s increasing patience. Just the other day, I could have sworn she rolled her eyes as her back served as new fluffy terrain for a Hot Wheels car.

And my relationship with Zoe has entered a new phase as well. Having a child is pretty magical, but it’s also incredibly complex. It’s given me a newfound appreciation for the sweet simplicity of my relationship with our dog. For instance, she doesn’t snap back with “no!” when I ask her to do an-ny-thing! She doesn’t demand attention and entertainment like a toddler does, only my presence and some good belly rubs. I can purchase essentially everything she needs through Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program. She likes to sit still on the couch. She doesn’t try to climb on and jump off of furniture. She loves to sleep and respects that I, too, love to sleep. Is she the center of my universe like she was four years ago? No, but my family is. And she is most certainly a part of my family.

#dogmom #firstbaby #dogfamily #fit4mom

My Why.png

See those 2 kiddos in the picture above? They are my why. But you know who else is? The lady in the middle (ME!)

When you become a mom, your kids become your world. The life you previously knew that was me-centric is gone. Three and a half years in, I still have moments of mourning the loss of the freedom before kids. About 4 months after my daughter was born last fall, I felt like I needed to do something for myself. Being pulled in all directions by 2 kids was wearing on me and I never had 5 minutes alone. Body Back allowed me the time to myself and to push myself. It reminded me of a time pre-kids when I would go to the gym alone. I felt strong and I also felt unity with other moms. And finishing my work out by 6:15am meant I had it out of the way with no little ones getting in the way. The results from that Transformation session were awesome. I felt great, was eating better, and had new connections with moms I don’t normally see at Stroller Strides.

Since that first Transformation session last spring, I have taken time off and attend classes when I can, in addition to Strides/Barre and home workouts. But I am ready to recommit to myself this month. So what exactly can you gain for an 8-week Transformation session? For each mom it is different, but here is why I am doing this next round. For me, Body Back is not about weight loss, but so much more. I am fortunate to have the body shape I do and a decent metabolism. But I desperately need to get part of myself back. My brain is constantly going- scheduling, organizing, cleaning, making sure everyone is fed, planning activities, to-do lists….I could go on forever. And I work part-time outside the home. I am mentally exhausted the majority of the time. I adore my children, but I miss the freedom. Honestly, I miss myself as #1 sometimes too. For me, taking care of myself is the first step. I am also a better mom and wife when I am taking care of myself. I don’t want to be the last one on my list. I think it is important to make myself, and my health, a priority. And I need accountability. I need other moms!

Our next session starts January 13th and I can’t wait – although I may need to practice getting up for those 5:15am workouts 😊. I will be checking back in over the 8 week session and I am excited to share the journey with all of you!

#Bodyback #prioritizehealth #metime #strongmama

Jill MOM of the Month_December.png

We are so excited to announce our MOM (Motivating Mom of the Month) for December! Each month we take a moment to honor one of our local FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa Moms for her efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle and for her dedication to the program. This month we honor Jill Tamminga from our Burke village!

“Jill is an integral member of the Burke Early Birds (Body Back). She pushes herself hard every class and encourages those around her. I love having Jill in class because she is a true leader, willing to jump into the hardest of workouts with enthusiasm and takes on challenges to increase the intensity. Plus, she does it all with an incredible smile! She really is a motivating mom!”

~ Megan Schmid, Body Back Instructor

“I love working out with Jill! She is always encouraging and up for conversation, even at 5:15am. She challenges herself and others in class. Her determination is clear. We love having her and Jojo in our Stroller Strides village as well. She is always there to help when you need it and sets a great example as a mom of three kiddos!”

~Jenny Bezos, Burke Playgroup Captain

“Jill is a Wonder Woman! She always comes to her workouts with a smile and determination to reach her fitness goals! I am truly inspired by her and her passion for life! Way to go, my sweat sista, Jill! We love you!”

~Candice Agustin, Stroller Strides Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My husband is Pete and we have Max who is 8, Tess who is 6, and Josephine who is 17 months. My Dad was in the Navy when I was growing up, so I lived in many different places. My parents have retired in Southern Maryland, so that is now home.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first Fit4Mom class was back in June 2012 out in California. I actually remember the day before my first class more than the actual class. We had just moved to CA and it was my husband’s first day of work. I put 2-yr-old Max and 6-month-old Tess in the double stroller and walked across the street to the park. While there, I saw the class. I specifically remembered seeing one mom’s bright orange shoes. We ended up at the swings together and I’m so glad I asked the question! The next day was my first class and I was hooked! I went to three classes a week for the next two years, did a couple sessions of Body Back, and eventually became an instructor. I was so glad to find this Fit4Mom when we moved here in May 2018!

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I’m a Burke girl! I try to get to as many classes at Abiding Presence as I can and go to Springfield Town Center occasionally as well.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

My career was a Naval Flight Officer in the US Navy. An NFO is like Goose, expect my plane was the E-2C Hawkeye (not the much cooler F-14 Tomcat). It’s the Command and Control aircraft for the Carrier Air Group - all the planes that fly off aircraft carriers. I stayed in for 11 years before deciding that being home with Max was far more important. Then I was a Defense Contractor, a Stroller Strides instructor, and a Sales Rep for my brother’s company over the next 6 years (not at the same time!). Now, I am a stay at home mom!

What are 3 of your favorite things?

A good book, hugs from my little people, a good glass of wine

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Get a pedicure while reading outdated social magazines, go shopping for me, and eat sushi while reading a good book.

What has being a mom taught you?

Two big things: 1. Things are not necessarily on the timeline I think they should be on and that’s OK! It will happen eventually. 2. It’s OK to let go sometimes. The kitchen can wait!

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

At the acceptance interview for Max’s daycare when he was 10 weeks old, his diaper leaked all over my shirt just before I went in to meet with the director. Tess’ potty training did not go very well and anytime I left her with someone else, she pooped her pants! I left the basement door open here in this house and 11-month-old Jo tumbled down the 10 (thankfully carpeted) stairs. Yes, she was fine, but I did call the doctor to make sure.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

Have fun and give yourself a break - it’s not going to be perfect all the time.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

Of course, the workouts are amazing, but it is all about the village! Knowing there are moms that I trust in the same situations that I can complain to, commiserate with, and get advice from is such a relief! I would tell another mom that the workouts are bonus - it’s the other moms that make it amazing.

#MOMofthemonth #bodyback #strollerstrides #Fit4MomLSBWK #militarymama #momofthree

Megan Instructor Spotlight.png

Get to know one of our awesome Team Members, Megan Schmid! We have an amazing, dedicated and talented team of moms here at FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa, and we want you to get to know a little more about each one of them. So for December, we'll put the spotlight on Megan, Body Back Instructor!

“I love how Megan is able to challenge our physical abilities while reminding us that we are enough! Her down to earth personality allows us to give it our all during class and in motherhood.”

-Cynthia Cassic, Burke Body Back Mama

“I met Megan in a running group in 2016, when she was pregnant with her 4th; my son had just turned 1 and I was desperate to get back into a regular fitness routine. She gushed over Body back and how much she loved the program. I signed up shortly after that and fell in love with it! I was so excited when I came back from having my second son to see that she was now an instructor and I was able to take her classes! I don’t know how she manages to be so motivating at 5:15 am, but her classes are always not only a great workout, but she keeps things interesting!”

-Monica Lennon, Burke Body Back Mama

“I really enjoyed my Body Back transformation with Megan. She is always smiling and has great energy, which creates a great vibe for her classes, even at 5:15 in the morning! She is thoughtful and motivates us to do well, without being pushy – she really strikes the perfect balance. She also walks the walk – she is so fit and I love how she challenges herself right along with us.”

-Jen Conrad, Burke Body Back Mama

1. Who are the members of your family?

My husband of 13 years, Ryan, our four daughters Aubrielle (8), Cecily (6), Liliana (4), and Avalyn (1), and our new puppy Maisie.

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

I grew up in Nebraska, but haven’t lived there for over 14 years. We have lived in NoVa for 3 years.

3. Where do you typically teach?

I teach Body Back in Burke on Mondays/Thursdays at 5:15 am and every other Sunday in Woodbridge at 7 am.

4. Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom LSBW NoVa.

In 2016, I participated in a couple Body Back sessions which resulted in excellent physical conditioning, healthier eating and...pregnancy! When Ava was 9 months old, I returned to BB and 9 months later there was an instructor opening, so I jumped on it! Honestly, my plan was to occasionally sub, but when the team needed me in Burke, I happily took it on. It’s been an incredible experience leading moms through the BB transformation session.

5. What is your favorite thing to teach?

I love teaching workouts that use only body weight. How incredible is it when you finish a tough workout, dripping in well-earned sweat, and you didn’t need any equipment?! I’m all about helping moms learn ways to get moving no matter where they are — at home or traveling.

6. What is the BEST thing about being an instructor?

Getting to share my love of fitness, healthy eating, balanced living, mothering...do I need to pick just one thing?!

7. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

Helping other moms find their fitness groove and a renewed sense of self confidence! I feel a calling to help others with their well-being and BB gives me that opportunity each day.

8. What is one of your current wellness goals?

I’m a runner through and through, so I have a goal to continue running outside through the winter and prepping for my next race. I aim for 2 HIIT workouts a week because it is the best cross training for my running.

9. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you?

I grew up in a small town called Weeping Water where I fell in love with distance running. At a track meet in high school, I was the only girl entered in the 2 mile run, so I raced the boys! Everyone was excited to see me nearing the finish line with 3 boys desperately chasing me!

10. Anything else you'd like Our Village to know?

If you’ve never tried a Body Back class or you haven’t tried an early morning BB class, you should! My days are crazy—2 kids at different schools and a 3rd grader homeschooling while my toddler teases the dog—but they’re more sane when I start my morning routine with a great BB workout.

#fit4mom #instructorspotlight #momof4 #motherrunner #bodyback

Carrie Farewell Blog.png

We have been so lucky to have Carrie on our team as a Stroller Strides instructor for the Springfield/Kingstowne Village this past year. She has been such a wonderful part of our village and we will truly miss her and Sam. Good luck with your move and next adventure!!

“Carrie has had quite the tumultuous year - yet she always made FIT4MOM work into her schedule as often as possible. Being a military spouse isn’t easy and I am so in awe of her strength and determination. I was lucky to have her on my team to love on our stroller strides mamas and babes. We here at FIT4MOM wish her and her family all the best on their next adventure! Thank you, Carrie, much love and positive vibes for a smooth transition.”

~Shannon Link, Fit4Mom LSBWK Franchise owner

“Carrie is always friendly and welcoming and leads a fun class! We will miss seeing her and Sam at Friday and Saturday Stroller Strides!”

~Dana Russo, Stroller Strides Mama

“Carrie- thank you for always being motivating! Your energy will be missed!”

-Brittnay Watson, Stroller Strides Mama

“Carrie, we are sad to see you go! You are always willing to cover classes when needed, a great instructor, and great mom to Sam! Thank you for the energy you bring to every class as an instructor. It was so great to work (and workout) with you!”

-Jenna Parkhurst, Stroller Strides/Barre Instructor

And here are a few thoughts about Fit4Mom from Carrie!

“Knowing that I had a village to turn to for exercise, friendship, and support was immensely helpful over this last year. I am eternally grateful to Shannon for giving me an opportunity to teach and help others. I am also grateful to all the moms who’ve always been so supportive! It’s been a great learning experience for Sam as well. She loves her nursery songs, manages to hang through class without too many complaints, and always enjoys playing/socializing afterward. As always, moving is bittersweet!”

-Carrie Church, Stroller Strides Instructor

#goodluck #farewell #militarylife #fit4mominstructor #fit4momlsbwk

Amy Rosner Blog.png

When my husband told me that we got orders for our upcoming transfer and that we were going to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, I was in shock and disbelief. I naively thought that we would never, ever, get orders to the very last place on our pick list, but we did! Once the shock wore off, I started doing some research by asking fellow Coast Guard spouses about their experience. I was told a few different things but mostly I was told to be prepared for an adventure. However, when I think about our time there, adventure doesn’t seem to cover the experiences we had.

Aguadilla is located on the northwest side of Puerto Rico and is the location of Coast Guard air station Borinquen. The beaches are gorgeous! The food and drinks are delicious! The sunsets are amazing and make the sky look like it is on fire. Something people don’t realize is how rural that area of Puerto Rico is. It's very common to see horses tied up in a vacant lot without any shelter or to see someone riding horseback down the side of the highway. It's also very common to see stray dogs, satos, as they are called in Puerto Rico, wandering up and down the streets and beaches. Something that surprised me about Puerto Rico was the lack of fresh produce. I remember one of our first trips to the grocery store, it was tiny. I was expecting to find fresh, local produce but instead I found produce from places like China and Chile. Even the local farmers market was lacking! Before Hurricane Maria, it was a regular occurrence that sections of our neighborhood would lose power without notice. Usually the power would come back on a few minutes later but mostly it would be a few hours before power would come back on. I got very good at starting our little camp generator.

After Hurricane Maria, our house and three other houses in our neighborhood were without power for 5 months! It was heartbreaking and infuriating listening to my husband talk about how his calls and emails to the electrical company went unanswered. I returned to Puerto Rico at the end of February, 5 months after Hurricane Maria, and it was shocking to see all the blue tarps roofs. Puerto Rico was an experience but will always hold a special place in my heart.

#militaryspouse #militarylife #PuertoRico #fit4mom #lifeisanadventure

December Blog.png

Raise your hand if you love the holidays!! The holiday movies, lights, holiday baking, music, festivities, Hanukah, Santa events, parties, the festive spirit...the list goes on and on! There is so much fun and excitement to cram into the 3-4 short weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And seeing it all through the eyes of your child is truly magical.

And in all honesty, it is truly exhausting. Things are hard with kids. Getting out the door is hard enough, but then trying to attend holiday events, go out in the cold to see lights, getting the perfect holiday photo, sending out your card, making cookies, and doing ALL the things that Instagram and Pinterest say you should do…exhausting. And hard. It is hard to do it all and it is easy to get wrapped into what you should do to ensure your kids and family have the best holiday season.

I am right there with all of you who try to cram it all in. Do you want to see my “holiday fun list” for my 3.5-year-old and 1-year-old to fully enjoy the holiday season? Here it goes: Zoo lights, Bull Run, attend a tree lighting, Meadowlark, build a gingerbread house, make ornaments, advent calendars (yes 2 – 1 with treats and 1 focusing on the story of Jesus’ birth), Santa train, see Santa, buy gifts for everyone, go to the holiday market down town, Boat light parade, watch ALL the holiday movies (did you know if I don’t watch the Santa Claus this year, it may never be on again?!), Botanical Gardens, White House tree…this isn’t even all of it. Who has time for all of that? What kind of expectation am I setting up for myself? And for 2 kids who are so young? This in addition to buying all the gifts.

I want to tell you (and myself) something. We don’t have to do ALL the holiday things to have a meaningful and memorable holiday season with our children. There is time to enjoy things. If every year you do the same things it will become less magical. Spread out the magic! Slow down. And give yourself grace. This season of life is hard enough before you add in the holiday season.

Kids have a meltdown during family photos? Give yourself grace and use a different picture for the Christmas card. And if the card stresses you out, send a Happy Holidays email!

Didn’t get to the gingerbread house this year? Draw one. Or don’t. And give yourself grace.

Forgot to watch The Grinch this year? Give yourself grace. It will be on next year. Or watch it December 26th, who cares!

No time to make homemade gifts for the grandparents? Give yourself grace and remind yourself that even though they smile and love those gifts on Christmas day, they probably don’t want them afterwards 😊

Enjoy your family and this embrace this season of life you are in. Instead of stressing yourself out, make things easier for yourself, your spouse, and your kids. Enjoy a Christmas movie at home in pjs instead of going out to look at lights. Buy Christmas cookies instead of making them. Stop scrolling Instagram and comparing what you do to what everyone else does.

Pick the traditions and events that will mean the most to you in this season and forget the rest. You can always add in things as the kids get older and life gets easier. Gift yourself grace and take time to enjoy where you are in life. The magic will still be there, and you will get to enjoy it even more.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

#fit4mom #merrychristmas #happyholidays #grace #motherhood #holiday traditions

Jessica Carrillo_MOM November.png

Motivating MOM of the Month Questions

We are so excited to announce our MOM (Motivating Mom of the Month) for November! Each month we take a moment to honor one of our local FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa Moms for her efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle and for her dedication to the program. This month we honor Jessica Carrillo from our Springfield/Kingstowne village!

“I am so fortunate to have met Jessica thru Stroller Strides! At first, I thought she was super quiet but then saw her competitive side come out whenever we would have a race or play a game! Watch out for her 😊 Then Jessica joined us for Body Back HIIT classes. It has been SO amazing to see through her hard work and persistence her confidence grow – in her form, strength, and overall well-being. Her smile lights up those early morning sessions! Jessica, you are an amazing example for our moms and we are so lucky to have Jessica and Crosby in Our Village!”

– Krista Long, Body Back and Stroller Strides Instructor

“Jessica is an awesome role model to have in class – she focuses on form and intentional movements. She is also very dedicated, often working out twice a day between Body Back and Stroller Strides. She is always ready to work hard!”

– Katie Taves, Stroller Strides Instructor

“I love having Jessica and Crosby in class! Jessica works hard and brings energy to every class – Body Back and Stroller Strides. She often attends both Body Back and Strides in the same day! Her motivation is contagious! Thank you for being such an awesome part of our village!”

-Jenna Parkhurst, Stroller Strides and Barre Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

I’m originally from California, but I grew up in Montgomery County MD. My husband, Clayton, and I have lived in NoVA for the past 6 years and our son, Crosby, was born in August 2017.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first Fit4Mom class was in February 2018. I remember everyone being so nice and welcoming to me! I also remember being really sore the next day, and I knew I had to keep coming back.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I love all the Fit4Mom classes! I mostly attend at STC/Kingstowne. This has been a crazy month of travel for us, but we’re looking forward to getting back to class after Thanksgiving.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I currently stay home with Crosby. Prior to being a stay at home mom, I worked in business development for a start-up.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Traveling, decorating my house, my family

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

I would work on/finish one of my DIY projects. I’m always working on a lot of projects, but can’t seem to get one completed these days.

What has being a mom taught you?

Being a mom has taught me to be more flexible.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

One of my most embarrassing moments was giving the pediatrician the wrong birth date of my son. Who does that?!? I blame sleep deprivation.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

The thing I frequently have to remind myself is that there is no “right” way to do this. I love hearing other moms’ experiences, but what works for one mama/baby may not work for you.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

I love being able to work out with my little sidekick! I love chatting with other moms. I love Friday playgroups. I love body back classes. I love everything about Fit4Mom!

For anyone thinking about joining, do it! My only regret is that I didn’t find Fit4Mom sooner!

#Fit4MomLSBWK #Strollerstrides #bodyback #SAHM #findyourvillage #momswhocraft

Word Art (1).png

The holiday season is here! Along with the joy and magic of the season, it also brings a lot of stress, busy schedules, and frustrating parenting moments. Sometimes in the middle of the cookie baking, present wrapping, and holiday prepping, our full of excitement kiddos can add to the craziness. Before the holidays get fully underway, we need to remind ourselves how lucky we are to have these wonderful kids to celebrate the holidays with! Even on those days when being a mom is challenging, there is always something about our children to be THANKFUL for.

On this Thanksgiving Eve, we dedicate this post to our kids. You can drive us crazy, but we are beyond Thankful to be parents because of you.

“I am most thankful to my children Aurora and Anila for loving me unconditionally even when I am a hot mess mom! I wouldn’t trade the tantrums, long days and nights, worry and stress, for anything. Without them, I couldn’t have the best job in the world So grateful they chose me!” - Candice Agustin, Stroller Strides Instructor

“I am so grateful and blessed to be Beckett’s mama. His huge smile melts my heart and I’ll never get enough baby snuggles. I’m thankful that he is healthy and learning more each day!” – Joy Robb, Stroller Barre Instructor

“I’m thankful that my children are learning to be independent (but also, for loving me when I ‘m a disaster). I’m grateful for being a mom because it has let me have so many more experiences that enrich my life. Somehow they give me the energy to get off the couch and do stuff that I wouldn’t have done solo!” – Jenny Bezos, Burke Playgroup Captain

“Watching Everett grow is literally the greatest gift this world could give me. As a mom (and a teacher), seeing the world through his eyes gives me a new appreciation for the little things. Being his mom has slowed me down and taught me how to stop and smell the roses!” – Sarah Wood, Fit4Baby Instructor

“I am thankful for Ronan and Isla for so many reasons! Here are a few…I know what unconditional love means. With them, I get to be a kid again. Being a mom has made me less selfish. I see life through their eyes and it is awesome! Being a mom has taught me to prioritize my time and focus on things that are truly important in life. Learning to pray differently and with intention for others. Unlimited hugs and kisses. An appreciation for my body and what it can do (like give birth!). I am so thankful to be a mom and all that goes along with it!” -Jenna Parkhurst, Stroller Strides/Barre/Fit4Baby Instructor

“I am so thankful my four daughters – Aubrielle, Cecily, Liliana, and Avalyn – are all unique! Parenting four different personalities has taught me how to let go of the need to control everything and to embrace their individuality. As a mom, I am grateful that I have the opportunity to help shape their values, faith, and character, and someday send them out into the world to bring light and love to others.” – Megan Schmid, Body Back Instructor

“I’m thankful for Grayson and our little family! Becoming a mom has changed me in so many ways, and I’m grateful to be on this journey as I learn more about myself every day. I’m very thankful for a flexible career that allows me to fulfill professional pursuits, but also allows me to share many milestones and experiences with Grayson.” – Katie Taves, Stroller Strides and Barre Instructor

“I am thankful for my health! A body that can move and keep up with my kiddos and smile and laugh with them. Arms that can hug both my girls, my husband and all my loved ones. So so grateful that I am able to experience all the joys of life with my family.” – Krista Long, Body Back and Stroller Strides Instructor

“I am thankful for Evan and Charlotte because they have taught me what unconditional love is like. I enjoy experiencing the world again through their eyes and am amazed at how they learn and grow! Motherhood makes life so much richer and fulfilling. It is the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done.” – Becky Krispin, Stroller Strides/Fit4Baby Instructor

“I am thankful for what Noah and Abby have taught me about love. When I look at their little faces, my heart is filled with so much love, I think it might explode. However, it continues to grow bigger and bigger!” -Robin Houlahan, Stroller Strides Instructor

“I’m grateful to see the world through my daughter Allie’s eyes! Everything is new, pure and perfect, for the first time. She keeps me humble and focused in the small moments. I am thankful for my precious daughter loving me unconditionally.” – Brooke Robinson, Body Back Instructor

“Being a mom is the most rewarding and most challenging job I’ve ever had. I am so grateful to have two beautiful daughters, Chelsea, 27, and Julia, almost 6. I’m glad that I am able to raise two strong and determined girls to live to their fullest potential. Seeing their own personalities develop has been so rewarding. I’m so lucky they chose me to be their mom!” -Shannon Link, Franchise Owner

Happy Thanksgiving!

#fit4mom #thanksgiving #thankful #motherhood #grateful

Missy.png

Get to know one of our awesome Team Members, Missy Greeley! We have an amazing, dedicated and talented team of moms here at FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa, and we want you to get to know a little more about each one of them. So for November, we'll put the spotlight on Missy, Stroller Strides Instructor for our Woodbridge Village.

“Missy is enthusiastic about Fit4Mom and she’s very welcoming. I love that we used to attend class together and now she is teaching them! She always has a smile for me and genuinely cares how I am, and that I am able to get a good workout.”

~Jennifer Ward, Woodbridge Stroller Strides Mama

1. Who are the members of your family?

My Husband Bobby and I have 2 boys, Andrew (7) and Brady (2). And we have 2 fur babies, Buddy who is a pit bull mix, and Bailey who is a German Shepherd.

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

I grew up in Charlotte, NC and moved when I was 16. I have been in the NoVa area since.

3. Where do you typically teach?

I teach Stroller Strides at Potomac Mills Mall.

4. Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom LSBW NoVa.

I was with Fit4mom for about a year. Shannon came up to me one day and asked if I wanted to be an instructor, and I said of course!! It has been such a fun experience teaching moms that they can work on themselves, and be a great mom while getting a work in!

5. What is your favorite thing to teach?

So far Stroller Strides, but who knows what might come next in my Fit4mom journey.

6. What is the BEST thing about being an instructor?

Showing moms that they are strong, beautiful mothers that can handle more than they think.

7. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

My why would be my family. I want to make sure that I’m taking the best care of myself so I can do the best for my family, and show them a healthy lifestyle.

8. What is one of your current wellness goals?

Right now my goal is to stick with my new healthy lifestyle and keep with it!!

9. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you?

I attended an art school in N.C and I was able to take dance classes for my extra classes. It was one of my favorite things about that school.

10. Anything else you'd like Our Village to know?

That being part of Fit4mom is one of the best parts of my life right now. I love everything about this group!!!!

#fit4momLSBWK #instructorspotlight #healthylifestyle #strollerstrides

Che_November Blog.png

Ok, so...this is the first blog I’ve ever written. I thought I should throw that out there right off the bat just in case I commit any blogging faux pas. My apologies. When trying to come up with an idea for something to write about, I decided, as with most things, the best place to start was the beginning - how I came to be a member of the Fit4Mom crew! When it came time to decide if I was willing to commit my time and money to this, I reached out to my best friend in California, who has done something like Stroller Strides in the past and asked her if it was worth it. Her response to me was “It is what you make of it”.

Honestly, I was kind of hoping for a clear yes or no and here’s why: my pros and cons list had gotten out of control! To join or not to join? See, while I’m generally outgoing (sometimes a little too much...), I’m not big on group activities. Especially not group exercise activities (I am definitely more of a gym rat, ear bud, no eye contact kind of a worker outer). Also, I needed to lose weight – would the workouts be enough to get me where I wanted to go? And then I remembered what my BFF said, “It is what YOU make of it”.

So, out of my comfort zone I went, signed up, and I can tell you with 100% honesty that I have NOT regretted that decision for even one second. Not even when the instructors try to get me to bear crawl! Fit4Mom does everything it needs to do – provides trained instructors, multiple locations/days/times, a good variety of classes – and then it takes it a step further by giving us all a ready-made group of people who understand the simultaneous highs and lows of motherhood. Score!

I’ll never take advantage of all of the playgroups or special outings but it’s nice to know they’re available if I change my ways. My focus is on the workouts and I have not been disappointed! The weight loss is coming along nicely and while it’s true I’ve modified my eating habits, I know Stroller Strides is playing a big part in all of this too.

To the instructors and class members that I see on a regular basis, thank you for welcoming me! And for putting up with me! I know I can be a lot to handle, especially at 9:15 in the morning! Happy Thanksgiving month!

#fit4mom #findyourvillage #strollerstrides #comfortzone #steppingout #weightloss

Carrie_October.png

Get to know one of our awesome Team Members, Carrie Church! We have an amazing, dedicated and talented team of moms here at FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa, and we want you to get to know a little more about each one of them. So for October, we'll put the spotlight on Carrie Church, Stroller Strides Instructor for our Springfield/Kingstowne Village.

“Carrie is super encouraging during workouts, and always very inclusive to all of us – especially the new mamas. Thanks for making class fun – and for including “Baby Shark” as often as possible.”

~Kylie Powell, Springfield Stroller Strides Mama

“I appreciate Carrie’s willingness to accept you where you are regardless of what that means. I enjoy being reminded to work with what I brought that day.”

~Che’ Jones Morrell, Springfield Stroller Strides Mama

Read on to get to know more about Carrie and her time with FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa.

1. Who are the members of your family?

I have a family of four (me included) and one dog. My husband Nate and I have been married for almost 13 years (Nov). I have a 20-year-old son living out west and of course our daughter Samantha aka Sam. Our dog, Ellie, is a 12-year-old Border Collie.

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

I am originally from the Northwest. We moved here in Dec. 2005 and left for a brief time in Alabama and Mississippi before moving back.

3. Where do you typically teach?

I usually teach at the Springfield Town Center and at Hidden Pond Park. I also help out at other locations as needed.

4. Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom LSBW NoVa.

Exercising has always been something that I crave and appreciate. My mother always made it a point to go walking when I was younger. The need to move and stay active stuck with me. After having my daughter, I had a difficult time shedding my postpartum depression. I knew that exercise was a vital tool to help me overcome “the blues.” Once I started attending class, I knew that I had found what I needed. When the opportunity popped up, I jumped at the chance to take what I learned and start teaching others.

5. What is your favorite thing to teach?

One of my favorites is the squat shuffle around the babies singing BINGO. It a great cardio move and in between verses the mamas get a little extra in with added exercise: squats, lunges, push-ups, mountain climbers, etc.

6. What is the BEST thing about being an instructor?

I love when my mamas are getting a good workout in and having a good time!

7. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

Setting a positive example for my daughter as well as the support of others.

8. What is one of your current wellness goals?

Right now, I am trying to improve my overall health. Last winter was rough, so this year I am hoping to boost my immune system with lots of vitamins, a plant based diet and lots of exercise. Also, get back into running now that my toe is healed!

9. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you?

I love to drive fast. I cannot wait to get back on the Autobahn. Best organized driving/drivers. So amazing. Though, I managed to get a speeding ticket while in Germany…who knew!

#instructorspotlight #fit4momlsbwk #strollerstrides #strongmama

BBT Before and After Template Road Trip 218.jpg

Summary of My Body Back Transformation

I can’t believe it’s already over! We concluded our eight-week journey with a lovely and moving ceremony. Shannon and the team really went all out! There was a professional photographer there with a spot for lighting and a backdrop, and we all got to get our picture taken for free! The décor was so cute and festive with little butterflies and bottles of sparkling apple cider to celebrate. We had Body Back recipe snacks and got to view the slideshow of our before and after photos and stats. There was a lot of love in the room, some happy tears, and plenty of mutual support. It was so fun to see the changes we made and strength we gained! There were also awards/gifts for different categories. We were all gifted with pretty butterfly necklaces!

If you ever felt intimidated or uncomfortable going into an exercise class, or felt like it was only for the “elite”, that is not what you’ll find with Fit4Mom. You will only be met with support and positivity! It’s kind of neat that these workouts were designed, not only for women, but for women who’ve had babies. We focus on inner and outer strength. The benefits of exercise to me, go far beyond the physical.

As I wrap up Body Back I am also saying goodbye for now to being a Fit4Mom instructor with my last class on Thursday. I’m sad to be closing a chapter that was a big part of my life. But I’m excited for the future (even though change is scary)!

Special thanks to Megan for being such an awesome instructor! #BurkeEarlyBirds You rock! All of our instructors are so great. (Brooke, your football themed class with our halftime show made me like football!) And of course a big thank you to Shannon. I’m so grateful for all of the experiences you’ve allowed me. Much love to Fit4Mom!

#BodyBackTransformation #BodyBack #MomMeTime #TransformationTuesday #Butterfly #Fit4MomLSBWKNoVa #Fit4Mom #MakeChangeHappen #FitMoms #FitMomsRock

Michelle_MOMOctober.png

We are so excited to announce our MOM (Motivating Mom of the Month) for October! Each month we take a moment to honor one of our local FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa Moms for her efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle and for her dedication to the program. This month we honor Michelle Ruble from our Woodbridge village!

“Michelle comes to class every week with a positive attitude and such a great energy about her. She’s always excited when a new mama joins our class and asks about others who may not have been there for a few weeks. She works hard during class, loves to chat and swap mommy tales, which makes new moms feel more comfortable and makes our hour-long class fly by!”

~Sarah Wood, Fit4Baby Instructor

“I love having Michelle in class! She has been so motivated to stay fit and healthy through her pregnancy, all while working and taking care of Ella. She works so hard every class, brings positive energy and is always willing to offer some of her own words of wisdom to some of our first-time moms-to-be. I really enjoy seeing Michelle each week and it has been so much fun to see her from the beginning of her pregnancy journey with baby #2. Keep it up mama! You are amazing!”

~Jenna Parkhurst, Fit4Baby Instructor

“Michelle is a force to be reckoned with. I first met her at one of our Woodbridge Body Back Open House events. I could tell she was a bundle of nerves wondering if she would be able to do the workout and whether she’d fit in. In less than 10 minutes, I could see the fierceness in her eyes and the determination to push herself out of her comfort zone. Without much hesitation, she signed up for the following 8-week body back transformation session. Michelle worked so hard on making small changes and they sure did add up. Since then, she has become pregnant with baby #2 and is now going strong in our prenatal classes. I am honored to have her as a part of our village!”

~Shannon Link, LSBWK Nova Franchise Owner

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

My husband, Matt, our daughter, Ella who will be 2 on Halloween, baby # 2 due on New Year’s, and our 3 fur-babies, Marilyn, Manny, and Molly. I’m from Connecticut originally but moved to Dale City in the early 90’s when my dad was stationed at the Navy Yard. I met my husband in 1998, when we moved in across the street from him.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first class was a President’s Day Stroller Strides class in 2017 a friend found out about on Facebook. I had no idea what to expect, and my daughter was only a few months old, so it was the first “mom” type activity I’d done. A few months later I took a Body Back class and fell in love. The option of doing something just for me, with some “alone” time was fantastic.

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I go to Fit4Baby on Sundays in Woodbridge and Thursdays in Kingstowne and try to stop in for a stroller strides class when I can.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I’m the Director of Business Operations for Shearwater Systems, an Alaskan Native Corporation government contractor. I love my job, both for the work we do and contributions we make to the Alaskan people, and the flexibility my job offers.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Wine, The Washington Capitals, and sleep

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Dinner and movie with my husband. We used to go to movies ALL the time, which has now turned into a rare luxury since having kids.

What has being a mom taught you?

That nothing ever goes according to plan. I’m a very methodical person and have always been proud of being “on-top” of things - until I became a mom. I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to wing it and hope for the best. And if it all doesn’t work out, or you’re late, or miss an event that it’s not the end of the world.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

When Ella was about 3 or 4 months old, we went to Target. It was a quick trip, so we didn’t take the whole diaper bag with us, just the diapers/wipes. Well, she had a MASSIVE blow out, while I was wearing her in the carrier. It was everywhere. We went to the bathroom to clean everything up but didn’t have an extra change of clothes or anything. So, once we were both as clean as we could get in a public restroom, I threw everything in a bag, and just carried her back out to the car in a diaper. I’m sure we looked like “People of Walmart” with her mostly naked, me half put together and soaked from trying to clean my shirt whilst carrying this bag of disgusting clothes. I still shudder at the thought.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

I always tell new moms that you’ll figure it out eventually, and to take most advice with a grain of salt, but no matter what remember to always tie the bottom of the bag on the diaper genie.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

I love Fit4Mom, and the strength it’s given me. I was amazed at how much stronger I got throughout body back, and I can’t rave enough about how beneficial the Fit4Baby classes have been for me. But it’s also given me an unexpected support system. Everyone is so incredibly kind and supportive and having a village that can be there for questions or kind words when needed offers a type of strength I didn’t know I needed as a new mom. I’m an introverted person, so having this type of inclusion that helps force me outside of my comfort zone without feeling awkward has been simply wonder.

#fit4momlsbwk #prenatalfitness #allstagesofmotherhood #fit4baby

Picture1.png

Fit4Mom saved my life.

Ok, that’s probably slightly dramatic. Fit4Mom definitely saved my sanity. That’s not dramatic, it’s just true. Addy was born at the end of September. That gave us a few weeks of weather acceptable for a newborn, then that was it. Meanwhile, my lady parts were trying to heal and my hubby was back to his ridiculous work travel schedule after his 10 days of baby leave were over.

It got cold outside and Addy and I were cooped up in the house pretty much all the time. She did a lot of sleeping on me; I did a lot of TV watching, book reading, and not too much else. That was great...for a little while. I absolutely loved having that time with her. It gave me a chance to heal, and now that she doesn’t sit still for 4 seconds, I long for all those snuggles we had! But, after several weeks I was starting to go stir crazy. I was antsy being cooped up in the house. I was getting little to no physical exercise outside of townhouse steps and I had minimal adult conversation/interaction, especially when Chris was gone.

I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back now I definitely think I had some baby blues. Sure, there are hormones and exhaustion and everything else that comes with a newborn, but I was having a harder time than just that. And I’d felt guilty about it because all things considered, Addy has been an easy baby! She’s still a baby; don’t get me wrong, but definitely on the easier end of the spectrum. What did I have to be sad or upset or frustrated with? Why did I feel so yucky? I had a wonderful daughter and husband, a supportive family…who was I to feel anything less than fantabulous?

I was self-aware enough to know I needed to start getting some kind of exercise again at the very least to start trying to get things evened back out. I had a grand plan that involved me going to our neighborhood gym on a regular basis. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that plan did not survive first contact with the enemy. I was fortunate that I lost a good chunk of my baby weight pretty quickly but I still felt like garbage. I was tired and weak and very out of shape. Fitness has always been a huge part of my life; I’ve always been an athlete. Now I felt awful and wasn’t sure how to fix it. Our gym doesn’t have childcare after all.

When I met Shannon and got a little taste of what Stroller Strides was about I couldn’t give her my credit card fast enough. Finally I had found a solution to my work out (or lack thereof) problem. Addy and I would get out of the house, and I’d get at least a little bit of a workout every day. That’s what I thought I was getting and I was thrilled.

Little did I know I was in for so much more.

We do get out of the house and I do get a good workout almost every day now. But I also have mom friends who I can talk to about stuff. Kid stuff, husband stuff, who-knows-what-random-BS stuff. I have friends I can call if there’s some kind of emergency and Chris is out of town (he’s gone a lot and that’s always something I’ve worried about a little bit). I have people who expect me to show up to class and keep me accountable. Addy has other babies she can interact with and learn to share with and hopefully learn that other kids’ hair is not her toy to pull on J

This group of moms is so much more than a workout for me. Stroller Strides is the best thing I’ve done for myself not only physically, but also mentally, and emotionally, and all the corny warm fuzzies, in a really long time.

On top of all the new-mom stuff, I’m three years into an epic identity crisis. I left the active duty Navy to follow Chris when he moved from Hawaii to Quantico, a year earlier than expected, and it was only partially on my terms. I don’t regret it for one second, but I’m still trying to figure out what the heck I’m going to be when I grow up. I’m trying to find what, outside of my most amazing little peanut, gets me going in the morning.

I’ve got a few different irons in the fire trying to figure it all out and as a result, sometimes, more often than I’d care to admit, I feel like I’m half-assing too many things. Having this amazing group of women to help me work through stuff, and remind me that I’m not alone, and that my kid made it to her first birthday happy and healthy so I’ve got to be doing something right, is an absolute necessity.

There’s some serious mom-judging that goes on all over the interwebs. I underestimated how important having friends you can trust is when it comes to raising kids. Sometimes my husband asks me how do I know what to do and how do I know all this stuff? My answer to him is I talk to the moms I trust and make it up as I go. He and I are figuring all this out together, because neither of us has any idea what the heck we’re doing. We’re both so grateful to have other parents who don’t know what they’re doing either to compare notes with.

Becoming a mom is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done, and also probably the thing I was the most unprepared for. I did everything I could to prepare for when she popped out of me, and I still had no clue what I was in for. I just can’t say how much of a positive impact finding a village, and then realizing support is what I needed and that it’s ok to ask for help, has done for my family and I. Not to mention, I can carry the laundry from the basement up to the bedroom with out being totally out of breath when I get there again!

#fit4mom #fit4momlsbwk #ourvillageisyourvillage #findingyoursanity #postpartumfitness

Picture4.png

Sometimes, being a mom can be lonely. Being a young mom, that can be isolating. When you are in a different stage in life than your “peers,” it can be difficult to make true and real connections.

I have been a few stages ahead of most of my peers for a while. I got married at 21 to my high school sweetheart, Steven. At 22, I moved from Minnesota to Virginia with my husband who was stationed in D.C. I left all my friends and family in Minnesota, and it was just my husband, myself, and our cat, Gatsby. As I started my first teaching job, I made friends with people my age, but I was the only married one, which gave me “real-life responsibilities” that they didn’t have. When I got pregnant, I became even more of an outcast. Steven worked nights, and I had responsibilities, so the Happy Hours I could occasionally attend before I had SJ became even rarer. Eventually, I stopped getting invited. I felt like an outsider, and so my personal life consisted of cuddling with a baby at home with my husband. I was 24 and felt so isolated from my peers.

Meeting people in the real world is scary. My only friends came from work or Steven’s work. Nobody lived close, so any other moms at work always felt like quite a drive away from me. One of my teacher friends I met at a PWCS function also became pregnant around the same time as me. It was because of her that I found the INOVA New Moms Group. I LOVED going to those meetings, mostly because they normally ended with a mom’s lunch out. I thrived for Tuesdays when I could take my infant to a place that was filled with other moms and babies, and we could talk like real humans. I wasn’t a “young mom” there, I was just another mom.

Through that group, I saw an advertisement on Facebook for FIT4MOM- LSBWK. I gave that page a “like” because I heard other moms talking about Stroller Strides classes and I wanted to stalk the page a while before I saw anything. Since I was a working, mom, I couldn’t attend very many classes and I didn’t think it was for me. Then I saw an event for a Run Club Preview class on a Sunday. I hated running (yes, hated. I like it now) but thought it might be at least worth checking out. I went, and I signed up. When the school year was over, I decided to sign up with a membership for Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre. I attended every class I could with SJ this past summer.

It was through FIT4MOM that I met my mom friends. In these classes, we bond and make friendships, and so do our kids. These mamas ‘get’ me. We are all trying to prevent meltdowns so we can get in a good workout. Some days we go to class just to be around other mamas. I’ll still occasionally get “You’re only 25?” but my age doesn’t matter with these other mamas. Here, we are each other’s peers. We are all in this same stage of life at FIT4MOM, motherhood.

If I hadn’t found FIT4MOM, I don’t think I would be as happy as I am today. I have mom friends to drink wine with, to go to silly kid events with. I have mom friends I can text poop horror stories or milestone successes to. I have mom friends. Being a mother can be isolating, it doesn’t have to be. All you have to do is find your village.

#ourvillageisyourvillage #allthemoms #noagelimitonmomming #fit4mom #fit4momlsbwk #youngmom #findyourvillage

F01E02C4-6DF6-4528-90C7-583B156BB970.jpeg

​The weeks keep flying by! Week five of Body Back had us focusing on our connection to other humans. Interesting topic to write about as a somewhat shy, socially nervous introvert, but I’ll do my best! As you can tell by now, this program is not just about the physical exercise, however keep in mind that the intense workouts are still happening every week and that they are results based, full body training sessions, complete with cardio, strength, and core. Nutrition is still monitored, discussed, and guided every week as well. I just wanted to mention that so you keep in mind that while I write about different concurring topics, exercise and good nutrition continue to be priorities in our program.

​“We are not so different after all, we are all quite the same deep down.” That is the message that I’ve been receiving from so many sources lately that I have to pause and consider the synchronicity of it all. During class on Thursday, Megan had us write down some things our “inner mean girl” says to us. Mine tells me I’m too different, too unique, no one would understand, I’m inferior, blah blah blah. That belief has been one of my worst enemies in life, the number one isolator, the cause of much loneliness. And although I’m realizing this now, I still have a lot of work to do on it.

​One of our challenges this week was to reach out to a person in your life who has helped you along on this journey and to thank them. The idea is to notice who is supporting you and to develop your gratitude muscle. Is there anyone who has helped you in any way? Has anyone given you words of encouragement or a listening ear? Help with the groceries, kids, or other logistical assistance? My husband came to mind because he’s been very understanding with all of the things I’ve been doing lately. He’s refrained from going to work early on Mondays and Thursdays which I know is a sacrifice for him, as going in early to get ahead of the day is something he values. I’ve also been gone 16 hours a week (not including driving time) doing yoga teacher training, leaving him to pick up the slack. None of this goes unnoticed. I’m so grateful!

​I’m off to start week six now! I’ll let you know how it goes!

#TransformationTuesday #Fit4MomLSBWKNoVa #BodyBack #SelfCare #TakeCareOfYou

Anna.png

We are so excited to announce our MOM (Motivating Mom of the Month) for September! Each month we take a moment to honor one of our local FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa Moms for her efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle and for her dedication to the program. This month we honor Anna Woodham from our Burke village!

“Anna and her boys are a joy to have in class! Her smile brightens up everyone around her and we’re so grateful to have her as part of our village.”

~Sheila McCracken, Stroller Strides/Barre Instructor

“I absolutely love working out with Anna and her two little men! She always brightens our mornings with the best smile and laugh ever! Anna has amazing energy and always gives 110% of herself to reach her fitness goals! You are amazing, Mama! Keep going strong!”

~Candice Agustin, Stroller Strides Instructor

Who are the members of your family and where are you originally from?

I live with is my husband of 15 years, our two kids-ages 5 and 1, and our poodle. I’m originally from what used to be a small town in SC, just south of Charlotte.

When was your first Fit4Mom class and what do you remember about it?

My first class was November 2017, when our youngest was 3 months old. I remember Candice taught the class and I thought, “she has way too much energy for my sleep deprived self.” Haha!

Where can we find you? What is your Fit4Mom routine these days?

I love going to Burke Lake for stroller strides and barre. My goal is 3 classes a week. Sometimes I make it ;-)

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I’m at home now, and still a licensed social worker though not currently paid for that. I love non-profits, whether I’m getting a pay check for being there or I’m volunteering.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

Reading a good book, with a cup of coffee, and a gorgeous view.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Read a good book, with a cup of coffee, and a gorgeous view.

What has being a mom taught you?

For most of my life, I’ve been an “in my head” person. Then came the boys. And they taught me that my body can be stronger than I knew.

What is your funniest or most embarrassing mommy moment so far?

I’m not sure about “most embarrassing,” but my almost-one-year-old pooped in the baby pool this summer, shutting it down on a Friday afternoon. I looked around us and wondered where all the brown leaves came from. Ewwww. Lucky for me a friend helped me clean up the baby while the pool employees cleaned up the pool.

Any words of wisdom for other moms?

I’ll pass on the wisdom a friend of with older kids gave me when my oldest was born, “You do you.”

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? What would you tell someone thinking about joining?

In the spirit of “you do you,” I’ll start by saying I’m an introvert who doesn’t generally like big group activities. I also needed out of the house and muscles to carry around my big chunk of a baby. Y’all, I didn’t have high hopes for going back for my second class. BUT, I loved it. My two favorite things are how much stronger I am now (thank you Candice and Sheila!) and how there’s room for everyone to come as they are.

#ourvillageisyourvillage #strongmama #MOMofthemonth #fit4mom

Andi.png

When I was in second grade at Farrar Elementary School in the small town of Tullahoma, TN, I was asked to dress up for career day. For most children that age, visualizing “what I want to be when I grow up,” is a daunting task. Heck, it was a daunting task for some of my friends to come up with an answer to that question when they were in college. I suppose I was lucky. For me, my answer was always the same. I was going to be a lawyer when I grew up. Plain and simple.

So that is what I did. I yearned to be a career woman the way that other women desired to be a mother. I rushed through undergraduate in 3.5 years so that I could move on to law school. I eventually settled into a career as a Commercial Litigator at a prestigious law firm in the Pan Handle of Florida, practicing in state and federal courts in both Florida and Alabama. My life consisted of court rooms, depositions, traveling, networking at cocktail events, board meetings for charity work and memberships in professional organizations. I was well on my way to making Partner at the firm in my early thirties when I met my soon-to-be husband. It was then that life threw me a few curveballs.

I had secretly vowed to never marry a military man, for the simple reason that I loved my job, and my town, and had no desire to move every 4 years. But at 32 I found myself marrying my now-husband, Darek, who was at the time a Major in the Air Force with orders to move to the Pentagon. Darek moved to Northern Virginia one day after we returned from our honeymoon. I stayed in Florida for 6 months trying to tie up matters at the law firm. When I went to the management board at the firm, in tears, to explain that I would be moving to the D.C. area in January of 2016, instead of accepting a partnership with them, it was bitter-sweet for all involved. Everyone was excited for Darek’s career opportunities but lamented my departure. The firm wanted to keep me on the letter head, for which I was so grateful, so I traveled back and forth between Florida and Northern Virginia for several months trying to be a good wife, while still holding on to my personal career goals. I worked remotely while in Northern Virginia and traveled monthly to Florida for court appearances and client meetings. It was the best of both worlds, and then I got pregnant with Ruby Laine.

Wanting to be a successful career woman did not mean I did not also want to be a mother. I did. The two are not mutually exclusive, as most moms know. However, wanting to over-achieve at both presented (and still does) numerous challenges . . . daily. After Ruby Laine was born, my life as a successful career woman/bad-ass lawyer changed indefinitely. To be honest, I was a bit sad, probably depressed about it. There was a true mourning period where I had to let go and say goodbye to this image I kept in my head of what my future as a successful lawyer/litigator looked like. With that said, my new life as a mom presented fulfillment I did not know that I needed. I sometimes dream of what it would be like to now be a Partner in my firm, running things, spending my days in court, winning big cases, and spending my evenings networking at cocktail events. I would be lying if I said that the mystery of “how it would be now” does not still intrigue me. But as soon as my mind wonders to the “what-if” of it all, I am reminded of my place when my precious, sweet, joyous Ruby Laine runs toward me with her arms wide open, huge smile on her face, whispering in her angelic voice, “I love you, Mommy.”

Currently, I still “play the game,” if you will, meaning I am a stay-at-home mom, while also working part-time, remotely, for my firm in Florida. I scurry to bill 4-5 hours a day, usually squeezing in my work hours during nap time and late at night after Ruby Laine goes to bed. I travel back to Florida for work related reasons about three times per year; however, now, I travel with Ruby Laine, who has become a familiar face around the office in Pensacola. It is hard. I am tired, and most days feel like I am less-than-adequate at one of the two jobs, and sometimes inadequate at both. I know a few moms out there can relate. With that said, for me, the attempt is worth it. I am blessed to be able to spend every day with my daughter, while holding on to the career world, albeit barely. Whether you are a full-time stay-at-home mom, a full-time career woman, or someone who splits your time doing both, hats off to you! I do not think that in second grade, any of us moms imagined what it would truly be like to be a mom, in whatever capacity that may currently be. One thing remains true - the thing that binds us moms is this completely pure love that we each have for these little human beings that we created.

#Fit4mom #workingmom #fit4momvillage #dcmoms #career #worklifebalance

8BC1DB77-D54E-4899-A52C-3CD29D77C2A1.jpeg

Wow, we’re already half way through this Body Back session! Our road trip related focus for week four was “map checking”. We took a look at where we were at, what we’ve been doing well, and what we could change.

I’ve been focusing on making my work my play. Life can be very challenging at times, but I don’t need to make it harder than it needs to be. My yoga teacher Dianne encouraged us to view class as an oasis and not a grind. This can apply to all areas of life. When heading to a Body Back class, I suggest shifting your perspective from “I’m going to punish myself with militant willpower and white-knuckle my way through this torture” to “Let’s meet up at 5:30am as a sort of play date. Let’s see what the instructor has in store for us today! Let’s delight in the music and the endorphin-releasing movement!”

​Switching topics, I’d like to briefly share an experience I had in class on Thursday. The exercise portion of the class had ended and I was lying on my back for meditation. I had been experiencing a lot of frustration with my children recently as my husband had been out of town the previous week and my patience was slowly being exhausted. Megan turned on a song and about ten seconds in I felt hot tears pouring down the sides on my face into my hair. There was a lyric about holding your child’s small hand in yours, and how very soon that tiny little hand will become a big adult hand. When I went home that morning I was extra sweet to my boys and cherished the fact that at least for that day, they were still my little babies. Don’t get me wrong, I think its great that they’re growing up and will someday become the beautiful men they were meant to be. But I also want to appreciate the here and now and not miss out on them being at this precious age.

​This program has already done wonders for my body. Clean eating has become second nature, which is so good for my physical health. I love the way my body is and looks so strong, although I was already happy with the way my body looked before I started. I personally chose to do this for the mental benefits, which have been so positive. So whether you call it Body Back or Mind Back there is a spot here for you if you’d ever like to try it!

Brooke.png

Get to know one of our awesome Team Members, Brooke Robinson. We have an amazing, dedicated and talented team of moms here at FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa, and we want you to get to know a little more about each one of them. So for September, we'll put the spotlight on Brooke Robinson, Body Back and Stroller Strides Instructor

“Brooke’s positive energy and passion for life make the decision to get to a 7am weekend class an easy one. She’s so sweet and makes everyone feel welcome and like they’re right where they need to be. Not to mention, her workouts are killer and I’m already drenched in sweat by the end of the warmups.”

~Jaime England, Body Back Member

“Brooke is an amazing Body Back instructor! I never sweat as much as I do in her classes! She is constantly coming up with fun, new ways to challenge us (last week we did the Cupid Shuffle, plank style!), and she motivates us with her humor and positivity as she is making us work our booties off (literally!). I love her classes for their variety and intensity and am always looking at the schedule to find her name!”

~Amy Vanden Boogart, Body Back Member

“Brooke’s classes really push me to my limits! She is so encouraging which makes me push myself further than I knew I could go! She is a loving and caring soul and I absolutely love taking her classes!”

~Katie Dodge, Body Back Member

1. Who are the members of your family

My husband Bart, is an Air Force Pilot and stationed at the Pentagon. Our daughter Alexandra (Allie) is 22 months old. Our fur baby Hercules, (Heky) is a five year old English Bulldog.

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

Home: What a loaded question for this military kid. I am a Texas born military dependent that lived in nine different places before graduating high school. My parents were born and raised in Alabama, so most summers and vacations as a kid were spent visiting my extended family there. I attended Auburn University (four years here was the longest I lived anywhere) and claim the south as home. So the short answer is I’m a southern gal that traveled the world thanks to an Air Force dad.

NoVa: I was assigned to the Pentagon in 2010 and shortly after met my husband, who was living in Baltimore. After our wedding, we moved into our first home in Arlington and plan to make Virginia home (for now).

3. Where do you typically teach?

I am a nomadic coach and teach at all our locations, however, you can find me most regularly on the weekends in Woodbridge and Lorton for both Stroller Strides and Body Back.

4. Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom LSBW NoVa.

While on maternity leave, I saw an ad for Fit4Mom on Facebook. I signed up and attended my first Stroller Strides class when Allie was 3 months old in Kingstown…I was hooked! Most of my mom friends lived all over the world (thanks military) so I desperately seeking out a mom network. Within one hour, I met other mamas going through the same struggles, asking the same questions and seeking the same purpose all while singing fun nursery rhymes and doing bicep curls. After my first class, I immediately contacted Shannon and inquired about coaching. In the military I had led physical fitness classes, but knew I wanted to be a part of the Fit4Mom mission that empowers mothers to be the best version of themselves!

5. What is your favorite thing to teach?

I love coaching Body Back HITT rounds classes. It is motivating to share simple body weight moves (while blasting fun music) that can change your whole body, mind and spirit! Sharing these tools with other moms, gets the whole family moving at home, on the road, on vacation and leads towards an overall lifestyle change. It gives me so much joy to see other moms smiling, while pushing their limits!

6. What is the BEST thing about being an instructor?

The best part about being a coach is working in a positive, uplifting environment, either outside in the fresh air and sunshine or in a colorful gym. I am honored to help mamas maximize their one hour of ‘me-time’, because the best version of YOU leads to being a better wife, mom, daughter, sister, employee, etc.

7. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

One hundred percent, my husband and daughter, are my why. I want to extend my life (God willing) as long as possible, to ensure I maximize my days of adventure, laughing and making memories together. Additionally, it is empowering to help others become fitter (physically, mentally and emotionally), healthier and happier. It is so inspiring to watch moms smiling through a tough workout. Positivity like this is contagious and it spreads to everyone in the room. So not only do you walk away feeling satisfied, but rewarded by your work and therefore happier. You only have one life. Why not make the most of it?

8. What is one of your current wellness goals?

Color and variety…I love trying out new recipes and using new foods with each trip to the grocery store. This keeps my family energetic about meal time and helps us get a variety of food groups, which improves dietary patterns. For example, some vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamin C or vitamin A, while others are high in folate, and others are good sources of calcium or iron. Choosing a variety of foods within each food group helps ensure healthy combinations of nutrients and other beneficial substances.

9. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you?

I served seven years on Active Duty in the United States Air Force before going in the Reserves. I have been stationed in Alabama, Arizona, D.C., Delaware and served two deployments in both Afghanistan and Qatar. I am third generation Air Force. My grandfather was Military Police and served during the Korean War, my father was a pilot for 33 years and continues to serve as a federal civilian in his retirement; he is my hero!

10. Anything else you'd like Our Village to know?

I am a college football fanatic (War Eagle), triathlon enthusiast and small business owner as an international protocol and etiquette consultant. I can’t wait to meet each of you and share many mom memories! Come jam with me at my next class!

#Fit4momlsbwknova #prenatalfitness s#postnatalfitness #bodybackinstructor #strollerstridesinstructor #military #AirForce

36641792_1985034991528206_3611736053309767680_o.jpg

Self-Care

This week has focused on self-care. Going with our road trip theme, the idea is to take time to “re-fuel”. This isn’t just about food and exercise, but you as a whole person with other interests and endeavors that make up the unique person you are. One of our challenges was to sign up for something you have wanted to do but haven’t got around to doing. One group member chose to sign up for piano lessons. I’m undergoing a rigorous yoga teacher training program. Whatever it is that you’d love to try, go for it!

Meal prepping is starting to become more of natural habit to me. I guess what they say about a habit taking three weeks to form is true! I’m finding my groove in what works for me. Trying to do all the cooking and meal prepping on one day of the weekend was too much for me, so instead I’m doing the majority of the work on the weekend and then whenever I have time during the week I’ll do a little more. My family has benefited from the healthier food options around the house too, which is extremely rewarding. Seeing all the positive changes keeps me going. All the extra water I’m drinking is doing good things for my skin and of course the increased strength is an empowering reward!

Class is such an oasis for me. It’s pretty amazing to be a part of this group of women. There’s a collective energy that comes from working out together, the positive encouragement from Megan, and the music on (all before the sun even comes up!). I’m so excited to be going into week four already!

#transformationtuesday #transformation #healthyhabits #healthyfamily #fitmom #fit4mom #bodybacktransformation #bodyback #strongmom #healthyeating #cleaneating #foodprep #selfcare

Ali Final.png

Bringing home a baby for the first time is a nerve-racking experience. When you’re pregnant with your first, everything is just that…a first time experience. You have the time and attention to devote to reading the books, prepping the nursery, researching the best products and generally feeling “prepared.” But nothing can prepare you for that moment when you come home from the hospital with that tiny bundle of joy.

But the second time around. Man. That one is a doozy. More than likely you’ve spent the last nine months not only growing a tiny human inside your body, but you’re managing to keep another small person alive, as well as you know, continue on with normal life. And coming home from the hospital with your second sweet babe…well that can feel like a hurricane. But even if you know what to expect the second time around, from pregnancy to delivery to bringing home baby…it can feel like nothing is the same.

Our first child was born while we were living overseas in Japan. Connor’s was born at 34 weeks and stayed in the NICU for another month(ish). His entry into the world was a bit dramatic but we adapted and overcame. Japanese NICU experiences are very different from the US – I was only allowed in hospital with him for about 3-4 hours a day. And while we had many friends who were appalled at that practice (did you just “gasp!” too?), it actually allowed us to finish preparing our home, hearts and for me to heal physically. When he finally came home, he wasn’t a fresh newborn, but rather, a one month old baby boy. And while we still had all the shocking “what do we do now” moments when we finally walked in the door, we’d had quite some time to prepare and bond with him before welcoming him into his new home. Plus, I had completely healed, which made things that much easier to adjust to.

Fast-forward about two years and we were preparing for the arrival of our daughter, Emma. We learned at the start of the pregnancy that my husband would more than likely be unable to attend her birth due to Navy commitments (i.e. the ship was out to sea). And so, in addition to the normal routine of being pregnant with #2, working full-time, keeping a toddler alive (sometimes easier said than done!) and having a husband on a ship that spent more time at sea than at home, I also prepared ourselves, mentally, emotionally and logistically for Emma’s arrival. But to be completely honest, pregnancy didn’t scare me and the upcoming solo birth didn’t scare me. The idea of bringing home a fresh newborn to an overly rambunctious and energetic big brother without my husband home SCARED the $#!& out of me! But in the way that motherhood has a way of always teaching us some pretty great lessons, I learned some valuable ones during those initial weeks that really helped make our transition from one kiddo to two a little bit easier on everyone.

Have a plan in place.

Because my husband wasn’t able to be present at the birth, I had a three-page plan mapping out every possible scenario of when I would go into labor. No, seriously. I had a detailed plan for five scenarios, A-E. Everything was coordinated from daycare pickup for Connor, to someone coming to take care of our dog, to a ride to the hospital, photographer and doula. My mother-in-law came down the day I went into labor and stayed for a few days until my parents could come into town and then one of my best friends spent the remaining week with us until le hubs could make it home. Having that plan in place was a key part of setting my mind at ease and helped us manage those first few weeks at home. If you are fortunate enough to have family nearby or a spouse who can readily take parental leave for more than a few days, that’s great. But having a detailed plan in place to ensure your older child, the dog, the house, and above all else, YOU, are cared for. Setting the expectation for help, as well as boundaries is a big stress reliever during one of your family’s most stressful moments.

Post-partum healing is harder the second time around.

When Connor finally came home from the hospital we literally spent hours curled up on the sofa snuggling, napping, eating. I felt like such a queen despite the stress of navigating newborn sleep, breastfeeding, and this new life we were forging. However, once Emma and I were home, Connor wanted me to give him his bath and make his dinner and sit on the floor with him and drop him off at daycare, especially since daddy wasn’t home. The ease of Emma’s birth left me feeling like a mama goddess. I thought to myself, “I can do anything!” But after one too many walks up the stairs to put Connor to bed or too much activity in general just trying to keep my family together forced me to realize that even though our house had fallen into a haze of emotional newborn chaos, I needed to first and foremost, allow my body to heal. There’s a pull to return back to your role as wife and mother as if you didn’t just deliver a human being from your lady parts. Your body, your heart, your mind are raging with raw emotions. Give in to them, but know your top priority is to heal properly. It’s the total essence of the whole “you need to take care of yourself before you can care for anyone else” mantra.

Roll with it.

Trust me when I say we did #allthethings to prepare Connor for Emma’s arrival. We had him present her a gift and him receive one from her. We talked SO MUCH about the baby before she arrived. We asked his opinion on her name. He rubbed my belly several times a day. And to an extent, I feel like it might have made an impact on him. But the reality is, there’s only so much a two year old can conceptualize. He was super excited when he met her in the hospital and was genuinely interested in her for a hot minute. But after the newness wore off, he only wanted me, without his new baby sister. I know there are lots of books out there on how to transition kid #1 when baby #2 arrives. And I’m sure they offer much better, scientific advice. But you know what, we just took each day at a time and rolled with it. And we survived. Puzzles, favorite books and TV became a resource I relied on greatly to an extent, because we all needed to learn some patience during this transition.

Every baby is different and each family is different. I know my experiences are unique to our family. But I sincerely hope that if you’re expecting baby #2 and are stressing because you’re at 37 weeks and still don’t have a crib mattress or you’re newly pregnant and concerned as to how this new baby will fit into your family of three, I assure you that you will find a new corner in your heart to love this baby and older sibling will eventually see this new tiny human in your house as a new member of his or her team and you momma, you’ll be just fine. Perhaps a bit more tired, but you’ll survive too.

#fit4mom #fit4momvillage #momof2 #babynumbertwo #becomingmom #allthethings #siblings #militarymom #bringinghomebaby

7DB9B0C0-A6BA-4B75-89D1-F0CDAF08C071.jpeg

I am happy to report that week two was MUCH better nutrition-wise. I created a meal plan, made a grocery list, sent the husband shopping and cooked/meal prepped. I’ve already begun doing the same thing for week three as well.

This week’s theme was “roadblocks”. There are always going to be things that get in the way. Things that could stop you or slow your progress. Life isn’t always predictable and that’s ok! If you aim high, you’ll hit much higher than you would have otherwise, even if you fall short of perfection. Megan talked in class about situations in life that can present themselves as roadblocks to our goals. It could be that the scale isn’t moving or maybe your kids have unexpected schedule changes. Maybe you or a family member gets sick. We march on. We prioritize. And even if some things slide, it’s never too late to get back on the horse. Roadblocks can become excuses or simply challenges to overcome.

I had more varicose vein treatments on my leg recently and it’s been really hard to take it easy. It’s difficult for me to not have the freedom to “go hard” in class or exercise as much as I want to. However, I don’t want to injure my body because that will only further my recovery and ability to exercise at a higher intensity. Everything is healing nicely and every day I feel better and closer to being back to 100%.

I’m really enjoying this journey so far, my transformation group, and instructor. I love the positive encouraging atmosphere at class and it leaves me feeling like I’m doing some really great self-care.

Team Member Spotlight.png

Get to know one of our awesome Team Members, Mandy Welch! We have an amazing, dedicated and talented team of moms here at FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa, and we want you to get to know a little more about each one of them. So for August, we'll put the spotlight on Mandy Welch, Play Group Captain for our Springfield/Kingstowne Village.

“Mandy always has a variety of ways to entertain the kiddos during play group. She seems to really enjoy being Play Group Captain and is very inviting! Not to mention, she is an excellent baker!”

~Cassie Morrell, Springfield/Kingstowne/Lee District Stroller Strides Instructor

“I met Mandy at my first class at Springfield Town Center and now we are lucky enough to have her as our Play Group Captain! She is so genuinely kind, friendly, and welcoming to everyone. We love her organized and fun playgroups; there is always so much to do for everyone! It warms my heart to see how comfortable Mikey is with Mandy as well. He frequently crawls into her lap or pulls on her to say hello. Thank you for being so wonderful, Mandy!”

~Casey Applegate, Springfield Stroller Strides Mama

Read on to get to know more about Katie and her time with FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa.

1. Who are the members of your family?

Myself, Andrew, and Natalie

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

I have lived here 1 year.

3. What location is your Playgroup located?

Kingstowne and Springfield Mall

4. Tell us your story about how/why you became a Play Group Captain for Fit4Mom LSBW NoVa.

I became PGC because I wanted to help grow the tribe in which has helped me so much throughout this journey of motherhood.

5. What is your favorite class to take?

My favorite class to take is Stroller Strides!

6. What is the BEST thing about being a Play Group Captain?

My

favorite playgroup is when I get to provide snack. It gives me an excuse to bake and practice my decorating skills with a crowd who isn’t too harsh ;)

7. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

I always say fit4mom saved me. Being a new mom was really difficult and the adjustment was not easy. I stumbled across fit4mom and ever since then I have been a firm believer of their mission. The overwhelming support and kindness I have been shown amongst the group is why I keep doing what I do. If I can show one other new mom the same support I was shown and get her through those earliest months, I would consider being a PGC a success.

8. What is one of your current wellness goals?

My current wellness goal is to try and be able to run a mile. I don’t think I have ran one since middle school PE so I would like to be able to.

9. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you?

I would love to go cage diving with great white sharks.

E9144599-AA7F-4929-B392-8B0CF4F018A7.jpeg

Body Back Week One

The Road Trip Begins

I made the decision to do Body Back again because I wanted more of what I got last time! Two hours a week to spend fully engaged in my work out. There is nothing like it! When Shannon asked the team members to write about our experiences with it each week I was really excited. I love writing and I love writing about working out! I’ll be going over my successes, struggles, and solutions over the next eight weeks.

​I am doing the Burke 5:30am session (Mondays and Thursdays) with Megan, which she charmingly named the #BurkeEarlyBirds. I love early mornings because its when I have the most focus and energy. The workouts are something I delight in. My personal struggle is the nutrition aspect. I tend to eat out or eat processed foods rather than prepare fresh meals. I didn’t do as well as I could have for week one. Fortunately my coach keeps me accountable and it forces me to face the issue and find a solution. I love healthy food. I could eat healthy food all day long and be very happy! The problem is the planning, the grocery shopping, and the cooking/meal prep. If it’s done each weekend, then I’m successful. If I don’t make it a priority than I’m not. On Sunday I meal prepped while my husband was around to help with the kids because I’m determined for week 2 to go better nutrition-wise.

​I’m so grateful to be able to do this, for my coach, and for my fellow transformation members. Wish me luck as I head into the second week of this awesome journey!

MOM of the Month.png

Motivating MOM of the month August

We are so excited to announce our MOM (Motivating Mom of the Month) for August! Each month we take a moment to honor one of our local FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa Moms for her efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle and for her dedication to the program. This month we honor Octavia Cross from our Springfield/Kingstowne/Lee District village!

“I just love having Octavia and Clyde in class. She is always so happy and positive. She always pushes herself so hard during class. She runs to each station and pushes for each move. She’s just awesome! Plus, her whole family embraces fitness on the weekend. Her family goes for hikes all around DC together.”

~Robin Houlahan, Stroller Strides Instructor and Run Club Coach

“I always enjoy having Octavia in class! She works hard, is motivating, and her personality is friendly and welcoming. She’s always taking the option to run between stations and I can usually hear her counting down with me during the cardio burst, which I love!”

~Katie Taves, Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre Instructor

“Octavia has a wonderful presence, as a class participant and as a mother. She always participates in playgroup, connecting with other moms and giving Clyde time to make friends as well. She works so hard and always brings 110%, even when it is hot and sticky outside. I really enjoy having her in class and love her enthusiasm and energy!”

~Jenna Parkhurst, Stroller Strides, Stroller Barre, and Fit4Baby Instructor

Where are you originally from?

Atlanta, Georgia

When did you join FIT4MOM?

April 2018

What classes do you attend?

Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre (Springfield, Lee District, and Kingstowne). I love that there are so many options so close to me!!

Who is your workout buddy and their age?

Clyde III (C3 to some), he’s 21 months.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM?

I love that it checks so many of my boxes. I can get my workout done while still watching my son. He’s entertained and gets to play with friends and do fun crafts. And most importantly I get to interact with other adults. Sorry I can’t just pick one thing J .

How has FIT4MOM changed your lifestyle choices?

So I use to be really active then I got married, entered a demanding career and eventually had a baby. Somewhere along the way I lost myself and my will to move. Since joining Fit4Mom, I workout every day, I have fitness goals again, and most importantly I have energy and feel great!

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

So I’m currently a stay at home mom and recently signed up as an Usborne books and More consultant. Before all that, I worked in Acquisitions for the Federal Government.

Share your thoughts on the concept of “it takes a village” – is it important for moms to join a village?

Definitely, you can’t do this mom thing alone. It’s so hard and I’ve found that no one but other moms really understand just how hard it is. I’m so thankful for this village. I get to learn from other moms and they are also there to step in at the right moment, just before you’re about to lose it on your kiddo.

What is your favorite beverage?

Right now, sparkling water. It’s funny because I use to hate it but it’s grown on me since to get to have all the flavor without any sweeteners and calories.

What is your favorite dessert?

I love all things desserts so I don’t know if I could choose. Maybe a really good peach cobbler or apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Or banana pudding...ugh see what I mean lol.

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Have a date night with my husband. Maybe get a couples massage followed by dinner and a movie and of course dessert :-)

What is your ultimate child-free vacation destination?

We love the Sandals resorts and I can’t wait to be able to go back. We loved Jamaica so maybe go back there again and try one of their other resorts.

How has becoming a mother changed you?

It’s definitely given me more patience and flexibility. Before becoming a mom I was neither of those things.

I am happiest when...Seeing my son smile ;-)

Heather.png

Heather and family! We have been so lucky to have you on board as a Stroller Strides, Stroller Barre, and Body Back instructor over the past year. You have been such a wonderful part of our village and we will truly miss you, Matt, Wesley, and Brooklyn. We know you will continue your journey helping others! Enjoy your time in South Carolina!

“Heather leads challenging, motivational workouts that are fun for mamas and kids. We were acting like animals one day and bear hunting the next. I’ll miss her encouragement and support in getting healthier!”

~Joy Robb, Woodbridge Stroller Strides/Barre Mama and Stroller Barre Instructor

“Heather is an amazing instructor and person! She has made classes fun and also works our butts off! She brings a smile and cheers everyone on. She is like our personal cheerleader! She will be greatly missed by everyone!”

~Reba Poskey, Woodbridge Play Group Captain

“Heather has been an amazing instructor that sure made a mama feel good about themselves. As an instructor, she pushed me to do my best and concentrate on me for an hour and that made me feel so good, even though it was hard. At our field trips, she took the time to stay longer just so I wasn’t there alone (because I was always late). Heather is an incredible woman, a strong mama, a loving friend, and I will miss her dearly. Good luck and I hopt to visit you soon!”

~Samantha Williams, Woodbridge Stroller Strides/Barre Mama

“Heather’s ability to marry her vast fitness knowledge and keep babies entertained is second to none! Her workouts are creative and incorporate something for both mom and baby to enjoy! Her presence will be deeply missed!”

~Tory Caudill, Woodbridge Stroller Strides/Barre Mama

Lest but not least a note from Heather to Our Village

💛

“Fit4Mom has been everything in my life that I didn’t know I needed! As a military family, we move around quite a bit. It is difficult moving somewhere without any close relatives or family. I knew we would only be here for about a year so I wasn’t really expecting to find many friends in the area. Not only did I find friends…I found a village. My Village! During my time here, I not only grew as an instructor...I grew as a mother, a friend, a spouse, and I gained my sense of self back after having my second baby (Body Back for the win!). My children have also experience the amazingness that is Fit4Mom! This is their village too! Words cannot express how much you have all meant to me over the last year. I only hope I can find other women as amazing as you have been as we transition to our new home in South Carolina. Thank you all for your support, encouragement, and love over the past 12 months! I wish all of you, your children, and your families the very best now and in the future.”

~Heather Hamtak, Woodbridge Stroller Strides/Barre and Body Back Instructor

#strollerstrides #strollerbarre #bodyback #fit4mom #fitmom #fitmomsrock #militarylife #militaryspouse #militaryfamily #movingwiththemilitary #awesometeammember #youwillbemissed

Jerusha.png

How we become mothers looks different for everyone. I love to listen to women’s stories because each one is so unique to them. My husband and I were married over twelve years before we had our son. We were trying for nine and a half of those years, we did six years of infertility treatments and had even been approved to adopt. My husband is in the Navy and so it keeps us on the move a lot, especially lately.

After all of the ups and downs of infertility treatments, adoption paperwork, interviews and everything that goes with getting approved we received our letter to be listed as an adoptive family three days before we moved out of our house in Chesapeake, Virginia and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii. That meant that our home study approval was no longer valid.

While checking into the hospital in Hawaii the doctor told me that I should take a test during my next cycle and the test may show some other options while we wait the nine months to get into their IVF program. Well, my cycle never came because I was pregnant! I was stunned because of everything we had gone through to get be approved for IVF.

However, I would not let myself get excited just yet because I had been told in Virginia that I had a ninety percent chance of having an ectopic pregnancy. Let me tell you the day that I saw that baby where he needed to be, my heart soared and I was so grateful. I never thought the day would come. We waited to tell our family once we hit the second trimester, this was easy because we were at least three thousand miles out in the middle of The Pacific. It was fun to see everyone’s reactions after so long of waiting for us to have a kiddo.

Once I knew my due date and did the math it was just over a month after my husband was scheduled to leave for deployment. Our hearts sank, because my husband would not be there to experience the birth of his child. We continued to prepare for our little monkey’s arrival between my husband’s ship coming and going for sea trails. I kept telling myself that I was not the first woman to have to deal with this and I will not be the last. So, just like any momma about to give birth I made a plan and found people that I was comfortable with to have in the room with me.

Our little monkey, came February 2015 just over a month early. My husband was still out to sea doing more trails with the ship, but he arrived home the next day with just enough time before deployment to take his paternity leave. He deployed February 14th. This was not our first deployment, but it was definitely the hardest one for me to say goodbye to him. I was so scared, overwhelmed, exhausted, you name the emotion I was feeling it! Ok so maybe some of it was postpartum hormones, but hey what are you going to do.

Shortly after my husband left on deployment we received orders to Naples, Italy. So, while trying to figure out how to be a new mom I worked my way through the hoops that you have to jump through to move over seas. It was a crazy time to say the least. However, I learned to reach out and ask for help from people that I barely knew, but they offered and I needed it. It was hard, humbling and man what a blessing. I found strength that I never knew that I had. I learned that just because there are all these suggestions and “should do’s” that I know what works best for me and my kiddo and it is important for me to stand strong and confident in that. I am so grateful for that seven months of deployment but I am so glad that it is in the past.

Italy brought it’s own struggles, not having access to the same things that I had gotten used to as mommy comforts in the US. Having a ten month old and having no idea where to take him for activities. This was the first time that we had done a move with a kiddo. I ended up waving the white flag of surrender and hired a mommy’s helper, she was the best thing ever. She would come and love on my kiddo while I was able to put the house together, take a breath, read a book for a min or whatever. Ladies, the best thing ever, ever, ever, was when I finally broke down and hired a cleaning lady. Every two weeks she came with her helper, they spent three hours polishing the apartment from top to bottom while I sat and played with my kiddo. Mind you, I could not get the service here or at least for the same price versus value, but in that moment that is what I needed. To think I initially felt guilty for it, that is crazy. It gave me life when I really needed.

We have moved two more times since then. Before my son turned three he had five homes and moved four times. It was a crazy couple of years to say the least and I am grateful that things have calmed down, for now at least. Side note, this is not typically the rotation for most military, it is just happened for us that way because of where my husband was at in his career path and then he changed career paths.

I have learned you will be a happier momma if you find something that makes you happy. Lately for me it is sleeping in when my husband is home from work. You are the best momma for your kiddo, even on your worst days. When you feel refreshed you can be a better momma. Don’t be afraid to ask or accept help when you need it, it can truly be a blessing to you and the other person. Try and find other momma’s who have kiddos that are similar ages to your kiddos. I find that I feel a little less crazy when I see another momma of a three year old dealing with a similar issue that I am.

As much as I love to hear about how women became moms, I also love to hear things that work for them as mommas. I learn so much from each momma I talk to. I am always trying to find new ways to teach my kiddo. That is a huge reason why I love the Fit4Mom community because it is just that, a community of woman that are there with you and going through the same thing with you. I am so grateful to have found Fit4Mom so early in our tour here in the DC area you ladies rock my socks.

#IVFbaby #miraclebaby #militarymom #militarylife #fit4mom #fit4momvillage #dcmoms #fitmoms #militarymovesaroundtheworld #finallypregnant #thankyouforallyoudo #adoption #becomingmom

Katie.png

Get to know one of our awesome Team Members, Katie Taves! We have an amazing, dedicated and talented team of moms here at FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa, and we want you to get to know a little more about each one of them. So for July, we'll put the spotlight on Katie Taves, Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre Instructor for our Springfield/Kingstowne Village.

Katie was the first instructor I took a class from and she was welcoming and provided modifications for me when needed. Katie is encouraging and isn’t hesitant to try new things during a workout. Katie is very sweet and always asks questions about my child and how she is doing. I enjoy my work outs and feel as though she pushes me!

~Mandy Welch, Springfield Village

Katie was one of the first good friends I made at Stroller Strides nearly two years ago. When I’m running late (nearly every morning) I can always count on her friendly smile to brighten my morning. I love that Katie make us count out loud…and calls us out when we’re not loud enough! My 2 year old can now count to 20 and down from 10 because of it! Kati is an unbelievable mother, a motivation instructor, overall rockstar…and have you seen her biceps??

~Emily McCrory

Read on to get to know more about Katie and her time with FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa.

1. Who are the members of your family?

Myself, husband Kurt, and 2 year old Grayson

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

I’m originally from Virginia Beach and after we got married, we moved to NOVA. We’ve been in the area about 7 years now.

3. Where do you typically teach?

Kingstowne and Springfield Mall

4. Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom LSBW NoVa.

I joined Fit4Mom as a member when Grayson was 6 weeks old. About a year later, I became an instructor. A few close mom friends from the village moved away, and part of me felt like I might stop coming to classes even though I knew it was important for Grayson and I. I have a fitness instructing background, so I knew as an instructor it’d keep me coming and I’d have to show up for other moms!

5. What is your favorite thing to teach?

Stroller Strides. It’s fun for mamas and kiddos and at the same time a great workout.

6. What is the BEST thing about being an instructor?

The example we’re setting for the little ones. I love when the kids are old enough to say “Go, mama, go!”

7. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

Staying connected to other moms. Of course I’d heard it, but I didn’t actually realize how important having a “village” is in motherhood.

8. What is one of your current wellness goals?

I ran a lot before I had Grayson, and it’s something I’d really like to get back into. I’d like to be ready for a 10k by the fall.

9. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you?

I’ve always loved dance and used to teach Zumba!

Lisseth.png

I was hospitalized two months before my due date and my daughter was a preemie. My daughter spent two weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Even though I bonded with the NICU staff and I knew she was receiving top notch care, those two weeks were emotionally and physically draining. I'm a clinical psychologist, and I knew I had the baby blues. As a mental health professional, I knew how common baby blues were and I also knew I had to do something before it evolved into post-partum depression. I talked to the NICU social worker and we discussed my strengths and what I needed in order to feel better. I am an active person and I had a very active pregnancy. Sitting around and not exercising was stressful for me. I was itching to work out again, but I knew I had to wait for my body to heal from pushing out a little human. While I was in workout limbo, I made my behavioral activation plan and began researching workout options. I looked up several gym/workout options, and then I found Fit4Mom.

At first, I had very low expectations of a stroller workout program and thought it would just be a bunch of moms with strollers walking around the mall while sipping on lattes (not that there's anything wrong with that), but I didn't care, I thought I'd be out of the house and walking with my baby near me. Then I went to my first Stroller Strides session and it blew me away! I loved the circuit training, body weight/cardio mix with nursery rhymes and baby friendly songs. I definitely got my sweat on/heart rate up and it helped me feel better physically. The other aspect I didn't expect was how much it would help me emotionally. Fit4Mom provided a great sense of community with other moms. I learned so much about motherhood from talking to these moms and the community was so supportive. Sleep regression? No problem, here's what to do. Difficulty breast feeding? No problem, try this. The conversations ranged from baby specific issues like dealing with acid reflux to just chatting about our day, and yes, we often had lattes after the workout. I had a place to be every day at 0915. This program gave me structure and a reason to leave the house every day and interacting with other moms who understood or at least heard my struggles. Between my baby being home (out of the hospital) and making big preemie gains, and the physical exercise and social support of Fit4Mom, I was feeling like me again. I ended up loving my maternity leave time, largely because of the connections I made during this time. Fit4Mom became my village and these mommas were instrumental in getting me get back to good after a very difficult time. I encourage any new mommas who are willing to be active and who may find themselves feeling stressed out or isolated during maternity leave to give it a try. I promise you, it's more than walking around the mall drinking lattes! It's a workout community, it's a mom community, and it's a village.

#strollerstrides #fitmoms #maternityleave #workingmom #strongmom #navymom #activedutymom #nicu #preemie #babyblues #postpartumdepression #myvillage #mystrength #findingmeagain #meafterbaby #FIT4MOM #Fit4MomLSBWKNoVa

MOM of the month July.png

Motivating MOM of the month July

We are so excited to announce our MOM (Motivating Mom of the Month) for July! Each month we will take a moment to honor one of our local FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa Moms for her efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle and for her dedication to the program. This month we honor Kathy Murphy from our Woodbridge village!

Kathy just makes me happy! It has bene such a pleasure to watch her conquering her post-pregnancy fitness goals over the past year - with hubby and baby in tow! I’m so proud to count her among our weekend warrior women, and can’t wait to see what the next year brings for her and her beautiful family.

~Heather Hilton, River Mill Park Stroller Strides Instructor

Kathy always comes to class with a smile on her face and the cutest little guy (Jackson) in her stroller! I’m so happy I have been able to see her more often over her summer vacation. Her smile brightens my day! I had the pleasure of participating in the Run club with her in the spring as well. She amaze me with how hard she works…she just never stops. She is so strong and such a wonderful role model for her son. Keep going, Kathy, you are awesome!

~Heather Hamtak, Woodbridge Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre Instructor

Kathy truly understands balance. She teaches young children all week - a job that demands an incredible amount of patience and creativity, and can be very tiring. She does all of this while training with both her husband and son for Run Club races. Plus, she knows how to have fun! She always has a big smile on her face which make everyone happy around her. I just love being around Kathy and the whole Murphy clan!

~Robin Houlahan, Run Club Coach and Stroller Strides Instructor

Where are you originally from?

I am a born and raised Northern Virginian. I grew up in Springfield, VA.

When did you join FIT4MOM?

April 2017 with Fit4Baby

What classes do you attend?

During the school year, I am a weekend warrior at River Mill Park/Potomac Mills. During the summer, I can add Stroller Barre/Stroller Strides at Potomac Mills. I also have done the last two sessions of Run Club.

Who is your workout buddy and their age?

My workout buddy is my 13 month old son, Jackson. On the weekends, my husband, Ethan, joins me for the Saturday Family classes (when he can).

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM?

What isn't there to love about FIT4MOM?!? I get to work out with my child and have fun doing it. I get to meet other moms who are also going through very similar things. THe Mom's night outs that I have done have been a blast. Adding Run Club has allowed me to build up my stamina for running again.

How has FIT4MOM changed your lifestyle choices?

FIT4MOM has given me the chance to begin to instill a healthy lifestyle in my son. Even though he is only 13 months old, he is watching what we are doing. I want him to be healthy and active and the best way I can do that is be healthy and active myself.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

For the past nine years, I was a special education teacher in Fairfax County. Next school year, I will make the move closer to home (yay, shorter commutes!) and will be a special education teacher in Prince William County.

Share your thoughts on the concept of “it takes a village” – is it important for moms to join a village?

100% yes! It is very important to be a part of a village! Having a sounding board when your child is doing something and you need advice from others is vital. There's no right answers sometimes, but knowing that others have gone through these stages and say it's going to be okay is so helpful. It's getting to meet people, who just so happen to live in your neighborhood, and become friends with them. And then it's seeing your little one begin to develop a friendship and interact with others at playgroup or after class.

What is your favorite beverage?

Have to have my coffee every day.

What is your favorite dessert?

Cupcakes!

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Take my husband and hop on our bikes and go out for a nice, long bike ride on the W & OD trail. We did that all the time pre-Jackson and look forward to getting out there again when Jackson is just a tad bit older.

What is your ultimate child-free vacation destination?

Germany and Ireland.

How has becoming a mother changed you?

I've definitely learned to try my hardest to separate my home from my work life (which as a teacher is REALLY hard to do). Now, since Jackson is more aware of things, he's taught me to live in the moment and enjoy the small things.

I am happiest when...my family is happy.

#teacherlife #teachermom #motherhoodisreal #momofthemonth #supermom #fit4mom #fitmom #strollerstridesforthewin #ourvillageisyourvillage #findyourtribeandlovethemhard #lifelongfriendships #motherhoodsupport #weloveallmoms #allthemoms #runclub #bikingisawesome #welovefit4mom

Kellie.png

Aloha and laki maika’i Kellie and family! We have been so lucky to have Kellie on board as a Stroller Strides instructor over the past 6 months. She helped us to launch our Red Line/Hidden Pond locations and has been such a huge part of our village. We will truly miss her, Mika, and Bear. Enjoy your time in Hawaii!

“Kellie is always positive and kind. I love that she’s always flexible with her plans, and supportive of the mamas in class.”

~ Laura Wooley Davis, Burke/Hidden Pond Stroller Strides Mama

“From the first day I started class, Kellie made me feel at home. She was so kind and welcoming. It felt like she was a lifelong friend and not an instructor. I love how caring she is with each individual mama. Classes will definitely not be the same without her strength and motivation.”

~Miriam Hamilton, Hidden Pond Stroller Strides Mama

“Kellie always puts together a hard workout, but she did it with a smile on her face, so she’d trick you into enjoying it! She was always so wonderful with getting Henry to laugh and stay calm during class, so it was easier to have fun with the workout.”

~Leanor Cimino Alt, Hidden Pond/Burke Stroller Strides Mama

“Fit4mom has not only bene a wonderful experience, it has changed my life. When I first stumbled upon a stroller strides class, I had no idea what to expect. The workouts were intense and being able to bring my kids with me was a game changer. To this day my kids sing my favorite song from that very first class Shannon taught, and still continue to ask when we are going to the next! I never in a million years dreamed I would be an instructor, but with such a great group of women on my team, how could I not? I will dearly miss Fit4mom and all the friends I have made. I will miss my team even more as they have been a great group of women to be a part of. Thank you so much Shannon for everything, to my team of wonderful women, and all of my Fit4Mom friends! You truly are an inspiration and I’m so glad I go to be a part of this village!”

~Kelli Buck-Izquierdo, Stroller Strides Instructor

#wewillmissyoukellie #greatteam #dreamteam #farewellaufwiedersehengoodbye #seeyousoon #Fit4MomLSBWKNoVa #alohahawaii #thankyouforallyoudo

Sara.png

No matter what your background was before, being a mom is hard work. We all were busy and successful women before that little baby changed us into Mom. Little did I know, no matter how grand my plans and thoughts, that even something that I love, like exercise, would not be so easy to fit into my new life.

Finding Fit4Mom has been such a huge blessing in my life and I almost let my ego get the best of me and not join this amazing tribe. I am often coy about what my non mom job is- I am a personal trainer and a Captain in the Army Reserve. Fitness and exercise has always been a huge part of my life so the fact that I was struggling with it post baby really shocked me. I worked out though my entire pregnancy and just assumed I would jump back into my routine as soon as I was able. Well once Jack was here, I did want to workout, but I had a much harder time than I anticipated getting into a routine. And this is where Fit4Mom comes into my story.

I never thought I would need, let alone want to be part of a group like Fit4Mom. After the holidays, I realized I needed to change something because I wasn’t happy. I needed to exercise with more regularity and I needed more mom friends. I generally knew that Stroller Strides was a thing but that was the end of my knowledge. Thank goodness for Google and I was quickly connected with the Springfield franchise.

Signing up was most definitely a move outside my comfort zone- I had never been a fan of group exercise, I am not a joiner and am fairly shy socially, and I just wasn’t sure what I was going to think of the workout. I very quickly realized that this was an amazing group of women who are incredibly supportive of each other and the workout isn’t something to sneeze at. I was hooked after one workout and I have not looked back since. There are very few places were blowouts and burpees go side by side, and here it is a seamless union.

Finding your groove as a mom is no easy task. For me, there is no question, that Fit4Mom has not only moved me out of comfort zone, but into made me a better mom and happier person. And for that I am forever grateful.

#firsttimemom #welcometomotherhood #beingmomishard #findingyourgroove #postnatalfitness #mommyandme #exercisewithbaby #findyourtribe #ourvillage #strollerstrides #fitmoms #fitmom #fit4mom #fitmomsrock #allstagesofmotherhood #moveoutofyourcomfortzone

0E2432EE-638F-4178-AD8F-1BD0B6A5618A.png

Transitioning between pregnancy to post-partum takes a lot of adjusting! Not only mentally for the mother, but physically as well. Of course lack of sleep, restless nights, milk production, constantly carrying a newborn, and recovery from labor are all part of the physical, but there are also changes happening internally that we don't often address until symptoms arise. During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin is released throughout the body to affect ligaments and joints to help open the pelvis during labor and delivery. It is a common reason why women feel discomforts and pains through their pregnancy. After a baby is born, the hormone continues to circulate in smaller amounts, as the body returns to it's new "normal" state. This process can take months and can often times lead to other pains that a new mom may experience, especially when coupled with cradling a new born, breastfeeding, and sometimes less desirable sleeping positions. New moms may feel joint pains that they have not experienced before. Although it is common, it does not need to be normal. Your body is going through a lot of changes and addressing proper stability and mobility of your joints can be helped with chiropractic care and proper rehabilitation. Chiropractic care, through adjustments and manipulations, can help correct spinal restrictions and restore normal muscle balance.

Commonly, we see new moms in the office with lingering pelvic or low back pain or new onset of neck and shoulder pain. Radiating pain into the leg, such as sciatica, can also occur post-partum. These symptoms can be evaluated, addressed and treated by a chiropractor. Coupled with proper exercises, it can be an effective way to help with pain instead of medication. We take into consideration mode of delivery and symptoms during pregnancy during the initial evaluation for a more comprehensive exam that will help focus treatment and therapy for each new mom.

#fit4mom #prenatalfitness #postnatalfitness #themotherhoodisreal #fit4momlsbwknova #strollerstrides #strollerbarre #fit4baby #bodyback #takingcareofyou #exercise #chiropractor #post-partum

7194BCFD-EB0D-4C8F-85C0-976B458BCB00.png

We are so excited to announce our MOM (Motivating Mom of the Month) for June! Each month we will take a moment to honor one of our local FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa Moms for her efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle and for her dedication to the program. This month we honor Amy Gamulo from our Burke village!

I have made some great friends since joining Fit4Mom and Amy is definitely one of them! Pushing a stroller with 2, sometimes 3 kiddos, challenging herself physically during a workout, and making everyone she meets feel included and special…all with a big smile on her face! This lady has got it going on! I admire her on the daily for the kindness, humor, and strength she radiates! I always look forward to working out, chatting, and laughing with her almost every day during and after class. Thank you Amy for being YOU! Love ya!

~Candice Agustin, Burke Stroller Strides Instructor

Amy is our resident pun queen! We are so happy she decided to join us and share her killer humourand workout skills with us last year. Since then, she’s added to her crew by caring for her niece each day and we are so impressed that she is juggling three kids on a regular basis. Amy, thanks for keeping us laughing and thank your kiddo for keeping my kid entertained during class!

~Jenny Bezos, Burke Playgroup Captain

Where are you originally from?

I grew up near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and moved down here five years ago to be with my husband. I go home occasionally to stock up on maple syrup!

When did you join FIT4MOM?

I joined FIT4MOM in March 2017.

What classes do you attend?

I am almost always at the Burke Stroller Strides and Barre classes on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. My four-year-old, Teddy, gets so excited when I tell him it's an exercise class day: he loves seeing all his FIT4MOM friends!

Who is your workout buddy and their age?

My tagalongs are Teddy (4), Charlie (1.5), and my niece, Ellie (4 months), who I watch during the day while my sister is at work.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM?

Just one?! The people. The workouts. The motivation. The instructors. The bonds. The sharing. The baby holding. The Moms Nights Out. The inclusion. The squats. The squats. The squats. The bubbles! The field trips! The Village.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I was a teacher, a lifetime ago. Then I worked for the International Monetary Fund when I moved here.

Share your thoughts on the concept of “it takes a village” – is it important for moms to join a village?

I didn't want to like FIT4MOM. I didn't want to be part of a moms' club! But after my first class, I couldn't stop thinking about the group of moms who seemed so tight. I wanted (needed!) to be a part of that! And now I am (sorry, Candice, for being a part of such a close-knit village that I sometimes chat during class!).

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Ugh, declutter the house, without "helpers." Yes, I'm that kind of exciting.

I am happiest when...’

...the people around me are happy. And the house is clean.

#FIT4MOM #themotherhoodisreal #strengthinmotherhood#Fit4MomLSBWKNoVa #ourvillageisyourvillage#motivatingmomofthemonth

#May2018MOM #thanksforyourdedication #ourmomsrock#momfriends

#strollerstrides #strollerbarre #allthemoms

2GTQbgiNxerRr5gcRU7bXVEEsjR5Rq8hsW1xBNU-9.jpg

Your proud wives, daughters, granddaughters, sisters & friends!

It is time to celebrate all of the men in our lives! Whether it is a father, husband, uncle, family friend, grandfather, and more - many of us have men we look up to and want to celebrate this weekend. Here are a few words of thanks and appreciation from our Fit4Mom family!

My husband works so hard, and then comes home and is an amazing father and husband. One of my favorite parts of the day is watching the kids’ faces light up when he gets home. I couldn’t ask for a more loving and supportive partner. Love you to the moon and back! - Jenna

My husband is the most involved father. He is so busy with work, but always makes time to do special activities with the girls! - Victoria Redman

I appreciate that my husband goes above and beyond at night, even after a full day of work. - Jess Short

My dad would drop whatever he is doing to come fly down and help me if I ever needed his help.

Seeing the exchange of love in your eyes to hers as you walk through the door at the end of the day brightens my world. Thank you for being an amazing father to our two beautiful girls! - Emily

My husband was a man who didn’t necessarily want to have children- he didn’t care either way. Now that he is a Dad, he just loves it. He is fun, loving, caring, and the ultimate “Tickle Monster.”

My father taught me how to take care of my car, how to find treasures in the world around me, and how to take a spontaneous adventure. My husband shows me the value of patience, the importance of a good plan, and intense love for our sons every day. Both of these men are incredible examples of what it means to be a dad. Happy Father’s Day! - Laura Davis

My husband is my favorite “father figure.” He is a hard worker who puts his family first, and we are grateful. -Kate

I couldn’t be more grateful to have had the best dad in the world, who showed me what a true man and father is, and loved me into who I am today. I wish him a happy Father’s Day in heaven. I know he is proud of the amazing father my husband is becoming, and how he always puts us first. - Lauren Nguyen

My husband, Matt, deserves a huge shout out from me because there are no limits to his dedication and hard work for our family. Love you, husband! - Stephanie Curl

I am so grateful to my husband for his enduring patience and extreme love for our children. In particular, he patiently cuddles with our four year old until he falls asleep and if needed, crawls back into that toddler bed in the middle of the night.

To my Husband, Thank you for loving all the crazy! We appreciate you! - Candice and your girls

I’m so blessed to have a dad that has taught me the most important life lessons: live every moment to the fullest and don’t stress over things you can’t control. He’s the best! - Abbe Minor

I admire my husband’s dedication to our family. He works hard to support us and tries to do all he can to spend time with myself and the kids. Best Dad and Husband Ever! - Melissa D’Avilar

Nick is an amazing dad that gives everything to us! - Cassie Morrell

Jordan is the best best for Wyatt and keeps things fun and silly! - Jessica Bonds

Chris is always able to make the kids laugh, no matter their mood! - Kelly L.

Clayton never loses his cool- even when both kids are screaming!” - Laura D.

I appreciate that my husband gets home from work and goes straight into daddy time until our baby goes to bed. He also does all of the dishes so I can have “me” time at night”.

Andrew will always let me have “me time” every day by giving our baby a 30 minute bath while I relax.

I appreciate that my husband puts his family girls first at any expense. He supports me as a mom, especially while breastfeeding.

He helps me find the time to work out for my mental and physical well-being!

He always tries to make me smile, sings silly songs, and takes care of yard work.

My husband supports breastfeeding and pumping. He always makes sure the bottles and pump parts are clean. He helps with everything and all of the hard nights.

He is so loving and thoughtful with our son!

I appreciate that you let me sleep and feed me.

He is our rock! The best parent and role model we could ask for. We love you!

Dad, thank you for being my guiding star throughout my life and an amazing G-Pa to all of your grandchildren. We love you! - Love, Emily

I am grateful for my fahte’rs musical influence. I appreciate all the sacrifices.

Dear Hubby, Thank you for going above and beyond to take care of our babies. I appreciate the true partnership and how you never feel that parenting is a mommy-only job. Thank you for waking up in the middle of the night, outings, and everything else you do! - Dana

I’m grateful for Jamil coming to work out with me. I think we are setting a good example for our baby.

I appreciate when my husband washes the bottles.

Feliz Dia de Papi! Happy Father’s Day! Thank you for taking care of baby girl so I can go to sleep at 6pm J We love you with all our hearts!

Dear Dad, I am grateful for always being there me, for being a role model, and someone who my son can look up to.

My husband and my dad - Hardworking Handy men!

Thank you dad for teaching me so much and supporting me.

Mike (Dada), for being such a fun dad.

Dad - Mr. Mom for me and my sibilings - cooking, laundry, kids taxi service, wedding planning- EVERYTHING!

Supporting, loving, fun!

Always knows what to say to make me feel better.

Jordan - for teaching me how to have fun and be silly! - Jessica

My husband - he’s caring and fun.

He lets his wife sleep in on the weekends and cooks dinner!

Husband- Career goal setting

My dad gave me a love of science and math.

Jeff Summers (Dad)- Thanks for teaching me independence. - Cate Ware

The father figure in my life that I’d like to thank is my husband. He’s an amazing father to our baby daughter - he showers her with love, has spur of the moment dance parties with her to make her smile, writes her stories that he turns into books, and so much more. He is usch a great support to me- he has taken over a lot of the cooking to make sure I get fed while I focus on breastfeeding. He changes diapers in the middle of the night so I can get an extra r5 minutes of sleep before the next feeding and he tries to get me to nap (even when I fight it!). He encourages me to take time for myself and values fitness as a family. - Jen Ward

To my husband Jeff. You are truly a great role model for our little Julia. She is learning so many valuable lessons from you about trust, integrity, honesty, importance of family ties, and that a family's work together to overcome all the daily challenges of our hectic lifestyles. And most importantly she's learning that the NAP always comes first - otherwise it might not get done! Thank you for all your support on this crazy ride with me! ~Shannon

2GTQbgiNxerRr5gcRU7bXVEEsjR5Rq8hsW1xBNU-4.jpg

The official textbook answer:

Body Back® is a results-based workout designed for moms who are ready to take their fitness and vitality to the next level.

But here's a better {REAL} answer:

" The FIT4MOM Body Back Program provides accountability, guidance & support. It is exactly what I've been searching for. Strength, Energy, Self confidence. That's what I've found. YOU CAN TOO! I'm so excited to continue working it out with my sisters in Motherhood and I can't thank all the Body Back team members and fellow clients enough for pushing me past my comfort zone because that's where the good stuff is! The hardest part is taking that first step. ! ~Candice A.

2GTQbgiNxerRr5gcRU7bXVEEsjR5Rq8hsW1xBNU-11.png

Get to know one of our awesome Team Members, Sheila McCracken! We have an amazing, dedicated and talented team of moms here at FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa, and we want you to get to know a little more about each one of them. So for June, we'll put the spotlight on Sheila McCracken, Stroller Strides, Stroller Barre, and Fit4Baby Instructor for our Burke Village.

“I met Sheila at Stroller Strides in Burke prior to her becoming an instructor. I was immediately struck by her calm nature and warmth. When she told me at a Moms Night Out that she was starting the process to become an instructor, I knew she would be amazing. She had become such a genuine and encouraging friends, so it seemed natural that she would bring those qualities to her classes. Even when I’m having a hectic morning, Sheila and her Stroller Barre class always bring me a sense of calm and strength…2 things I can always use more of! Whether reading a story to the kiddos, telling us “you got this, mamas!”, or catching the core ball that my toddler inevitably throws, she always radiates grace and positivity. I feel lucky to call her my teacher, classmate, and friend!”

~Abbe Cohen Minor, Burke Stroller Strides/Stroller Barre Mama

“Sheila has such a calming voice and personality. She is always smiling. IF you’re having a bad morning and get a chance to talk to her, her positive energy can instantly make you feel better. She’s a great instructor and you can tell it’s something she enjoys doing. She always looks so graceful when demonstrating the moves for the workouts and you can tell she’s got some dance background. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Sheila and look forward to taking more classes with her!”

~Victoria Redman, Burke Stroller Strides/Stroller Barre Mama

Read on to get to know more about Sheila and her time with FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa.

1. Who are the members of your family?

Me, my husband John, and my two boys Jack (4) and Joseph (16 months).

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

I’m an army brat, growing up mostly overseas in Germany and Korea. I’ve

been living in NoVa for about 8 years now and it feels like home!

3. Where do you typically teach?

I teach Stroller Barre in Burke, Fit4Baby in Burke and Lorton, and sub Stroller Strides all around town!

4. Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom LSBW NoVa.

I was getting more involved with Fit4Mom because I knew it was helping me be a successful stay at home mom. It gave me structure to the day, socializing for me and the kids, and exercise for body and mind. I thought, I’m going to be here either way, I might as well be an instructor! When Shannon posted that she was looking for more instructors I applied and got certified!

5. What is your favorite thing to teach?

I love all the Fit4Mom programs but Stroller Barre is my baby. It’s a combination of ballet, yoga, and pilates- all of which I’m extra passionate about.

6. What is the BEST thing about being an instructor?

Just being a part of Fit4Mom, especially the built in social aspect of it. It helps because I have social anxiety which I had always been ashamed of until recently. I’ve since learned to be kinder to myself. Even if I’m “lacking” in that way, I know I still have so much to offer. I think we all just want to be loved and accepted for who we are. My favorite Fit4Mom hashtag is #AllTheMoms because we are here for all the moms! There’s no mold to fit. You come as you are.

7. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

My why is to maintain a healthy body and mind so that I can be of better service to my family.

8. What is one of your current wellness goals?

To be able to do the splits!

9. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you?

I joke with Shannon about this, but I actually have a motorcycle license!

10. Anything else you'd like Our Village to know?

Just that I hope you all feel the love I have for you. Moms are so strong because we have to be and that really inspires me to push through!

2GTQbgiNxerRr5gcRU7bXVEEsjR5Rq8hsW1xBNU-10.png

We are so excited to announce our MOM (Motivating Mom of the Month) for May! Each month we will take a moment to honor one of our local FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa Moms for her efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle and for her dedication to the program. This month we honor Dana Russo from our Springfield village!

Dana leads a busy life trying to pack so much into a day, but she is also making that crucial time to take care of herself with Stroller Strides & Body Back. Although I have only known her a few weeks, I love her focus, determination, and honesty. She is an inspiration!

~Barb Archambo, Body Back Instructor

Dana is such an inspiration! She works full time, takes care of her two girls, and takes care of herself each week at Body Back and Stroller Strides. I am always amazed watching her with Janie and Tessa at Friday playgroups. She is able to balance it with a smile.

~ Jenna Parkhurst, Springfield Stroller Strides/Barre Instructor

Talk about determination! This woman is unstoppable and admirable. I remember meeting Dana early last fall at one of our Body Back open house events and I will never forget our conversation that night. She felt defeated and overwhelmed by everything around her. I encouraged her to come to Stroller Strides first to connect with other moms that would be able to support her on this crazy ride of being mom to twins! She signed up on the spot and never looked back. Here we are 9 months later with her in Body Back as well and she is fully committed to both programs. She attends Stroller Strides if and when her schedule allows; she has a supportive hubby, Dan, who shows up with the gang at our family workouts. On top of Dana’s busy schedule she finds time to really listen to others around her and gives amazing support in just the right dose (That’s a big thank you from me Dana! 😉) YOU ARE TRULY AN INSPIRATION TO ALL OF US! Thank you for believing in us and our programs to give you strength and empowerment to be YOU!

~Shannon Link, Franchise owner

Where are you originally from?

New York City (Queens). I had a pretty thick accent up until college. It comes back when I talk to my mom and friends from the “neighborhood” or if I ever get angry or a bit tipsy.

When did you join FIT4MOM?

September 2017

What classes do you attend?

Stroller Strides in Springfield every Saturday and every other Friday when I’m off from work and Kingstowne Body Back (I’m doing an AM/PM combo).

Who is your workout buddy and their age?

Janie and Tessa who are about to turn one.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM?

Everything! Seriously, I love everything about it. I love the Stroller Strides classes where I can exercise, socialize, and entertain Janie and Tessa all at the same time. The other moms are super supportive, non-judgmental, and always have good advice. I love participating in the Friday playgroups and cherish the friends that we have made. Janie and Tessa LOVE the “smile song.” We sing it at home and they always laugh and smile, even when they’re in the midst of a minor meltdown.

I recently started Body Back classes and I love the more intense workouts, the “me time,” the meditations, and I especially love that I’m seeing results – I can now wear some of my pre-pregnancy clothes!

How has FIT4MOM changed your lifestyle choices?

The Stroller Strides and Body Back classes (even the ones at 5:15 AM) have made me WANT to exercise. And the nutritional component of Body Back has made me (and my husband) start eating healthier and controlling portion size.

What is your current job? Or what did you do before staying at home (if you don’t currently work outside the home)?

I’m a civil rights attorney with the U.S. Department of Education. I took about three months off last summer and then went back to work fulltime. The work is often rewarding and I love being able to help students, families, and schools. Luckily the agency offers flexible schedules – I work very long days, but I have every other Friday off, and I usually work from home two days a week, which is another nice perk.

Share your thoughts on the concept of “it takes a village” – is it important for moms to join a village?

Absolutely! I love this village and can’t imagine the past nine months without it. Some examples of how great this village is – the other day I packed food and bottles for the babies but left everything on the kitchen counter as I rushed out of the house to Stroller Strides. I felt so defeated, but Stephanie generously and without any judgment, gave me a cup of Cheerios and a sippy cup filled with water so that Janie and Tessa could remain content through the class and during playgroup afterwards. One day in the winter I had forgotten my regular stroller and couldn’t figure out how to use our new stroller that was in the car. I was just about to head home in defeat when I met Amy and her twins in the parking lot. She helped me setup the stroller and saved the day (literally!). Jen introduced me to Mum Mums, Bex shared advice on surviving toddlerhood with twins, Brittnay is great to swap stories with since our babies are around the same age, and Shannon and all of the other instructors provide amazing support and motivation during each and every class! These are just some of the examples, there are so many more. I hope to help other moms in our village as much as they are helping me!

What is your favorite beverage?

These days it’s definitely a Starbucks latte with soymilk (sometimes a grande will do, but many days call for a venti!)

What is your favorite dessert?

A warm chocolate chip cookie (or a cold chocolate chip cookie, or really any type of cookie!)

You are given 4 hours of FREE babysitting. What would you do?

Take a nap! And if my nap didn’t last the full 4 hours (which, likely it would), I’d take a relaxing bubble bath without the company of the baby monitor.

What is your ultimate child-free vacation destination?

An all-inclusive in Jamaica. We went there for our one-year anniversary and hope to go back one day.

How has becoming a mother changed you?

I’m definitely plumper and more sleep-deprived. But, also more fulfilled and happier than I ever thought imaginable.

I am happiest when...’

I come home from work and the babies clap and kick their feet in excitement. I pick each one up and give them a huge hug and tons of kisses. Also whenever we have a leisurely Sunday morning and my husband and I can have a cuddle fest with the babies, dog and cat.

Thank you DANA for being a part of OUR VILLAGE and for sharing some of your story with us! We are lucky to have you and your family as a part of this amazing support system

Check back in June for another MOM of the month announcement!

#FIT4MOM #themotherhoodisreal #strengthinmotherhood #Fit4MomLSBWKNoVa #ourvillageisyourvillage #motivatingmomofthemonth

#December2017MOM #thanksforyourdedication #ourmomsrock #momfriends

#beingthebestpossibleME #youarenotalone #SafeNonjudgementalZone

#regainingconfidence #bodybackHIIT #strollerstrides

#wearethegluethatholdsthefamilytogether

2GTQbgiNxerRr5gcRU7bXVEEsjR5Rq8hsW1xBNU-9.png

Get to know one of our awesome Team Members, Candice Agustin! We have an amazing, dedicated and talented team of moms here at FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa, and we want you to get to know a little more about each one of them. So for March, we'll put the spotlight on Candice Agustin, Stroller Strides Instructor for our Burke Village for FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa.

Candice and I met about two years ago when we both had infants and were new to Stroller Strides. I loved her energy and dedication. She attended class nearly every day and worked so hard to reach the goals she set for herself. Now as an instructor, her positivity is infectious and leaves me feeling strong and confident after each class. She is also a rockstar mom and it shows in how engaged she keeps the kids during class (and outside of class - she has a sizeable toddler fan club). We love you, Candice!

~Kelly Lynn, Burke Village

I first met Candice this January. She was so positive and upbeat about the program. I was at the crossroads with both my fitness and parenthood. My little one was finally ready to get out more and I was ready to get off the couch and get moving again. I’ve never been the kind of person that’s been into group fitness but I was immediately put at ease by Candice during my first class. Candice is upbeat, hilarious, supportive, encouraging, and relatable. She strikes the perfect balance between getting me to work hard in class and being understanding when it’s not my morning. She’s just thrilled to see me! I can’t thank Candice enough for being there to help cheer me on. She’s helped me achieve fitness goals that I’ve never thought possible. Fit4Mom has changed my life in such a positive way and I have Candice to thank for bringing me into the fold. She’s the best!

~Alix Freeze, Burke Village

Read on to get to know more about Candice and her time with FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa.

1. Who are the members of your family?

The Agustin family consists of two beautiful girls names Aurora (age 9), Anila (age 2) my handsome hubby Pete and ME!

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

I am originally from Raleigh, NC but have lived in Fairfax, Va for almost 7 years!

3. Where do you typically teach?

You can find me teaching and participating at our lovely Burke locations! Abiding Presence Church and Burke Lake Park.

4. Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom LSBWK NoVa.

I decided to take the plunge and become a Stroller Strides/ Stroller Barre instructor, August 2017 after almost a year and a half after joining FIT4MOM classes! I was nervous but excited to take my passion for fitness up a notch and I am so glad I did! You Mamas and Babes are my EVERYTHING!

5. What is your favorite thing to teach?

My favorite class to teach would be Stroller Strides! I absolutely love creating fun but challenging workout routines to suit every stage of Motherhood.

6. What is the BEST thing about being an instructor?

It is my passion to lead and watch women come together and take care of themselves both mentally and physically. They are my daily inspiration!

7. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

I can't thank my FIT4MOM family enough for giving me the resources and opportunity to keep doing what I love to do.

8. What is one of your current wellness goals?

Balancing a healthy nutritional lifestyle. Big shout out to the Body Back team and program for guiding me! LIFE CHANGING!

9. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you?

I've shared this fact with some but I am pretty proud of losing almost 80lbs since having my second daughter in Jan. 2016. Thank goodness for one little Facebook Ad about FIT4MOM LSBKW group fitness. I fit in one hour for myself every morning, 5 days a week and two years and many new best friends later, I have the body I have worked so hard to achieve!

10. Anything else you'd like Our Village to know?

I appreciate every single team mate, mama friend and baby friend. I just really want to say THANK YOU again. The acceptance and love that my children and myself receive since day one brings me to tears. I am who I am because of this Village. #squadgoals! Love you all!

Candice, thank you so much for your dedication to our moms! Your energy and enthusiasm keeps us coming back for more!

Check back in June for our next team member spotlight.

#teammemberspotlight #May2018spotlight #ourinstructorsrock #weightloss #hiitworks #highenergy #ilovestrollerstrides #themotherhoodisreal#parentingishard #motherhood #FIT4MOMfriends #strengthinmotherhood #ourvillageisyourvillage#Fit4MomLSBWKNoVa #FIT4MOM #postnatalfitness #postnatalcare #strollerstrides#strollerbarre #runclub #bodyback #feelinggood#beingstrong

2GTQbgiNxerRr5gcRU7bXVEEsjR5Rq8hsW1xBNU-8.png

As a mother of 6 months old twin boys, the answer is YES……my hands are completely full. However, I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. These two baby boys are the “life” sized lemonade I made with the big fat lemon life threw me. In 1997 I met, and married, my life time mate. Or so I thought. After 14 years of marriage and 3 amazing kids, my husband Capt. Nathan Nylander was killed in action while deployed to Afghanistan. My whole world, as I knew it, came crashing down around me. All the plans we had, gone. All the time we expected, gone. I was left with nothing but my thoughts and memories along with all the goodbyes and “I love you” I took for granted. At that moment I knew my life was going to be different, but I never imagined it for what it is now. The lemon in our lives seemed too mighty to squeeze. Everyday I lived on and made it through for my children. My pain and agony had no place on my face. I could only force myself to smile, and show my children that life must go on. It had to or what was the point of living.

Soon after Nathan’s death, I found myself in a relationship that in a million years I would never have thought I’d be in. This guy was too young, too soon, too close. Everything you can convince yourself was wrong with the relationship I tried on myself. Blake knew and worked with Nathan, and to him, it was a sense of obligation that brought him to us, but a blessing from God that he stayed. My children and I were in a dark world, but Blake’s persistent presence every day kept us going. My eldest at the time was only 12. As you can imagine, losing your dad at that age was devastating. My son sank into a deep and dangerous depression. My daughter, 9 at the time, cried herself to sleep every night clinging to anything that was her dads to get that last scent, that last feeling of closeness. As for my youngest, he resorted to self-blame. How do you tell a 7-year-old, his daddy’s death is not his fault without breaking down? My heart hurt for my children. As moms you all know that feeling. Your newly walking baby falls and hurts himself and you run in to swoop him up and comfort him. Your heart breaks to see them cry in pain. Or your 5 year comes in with a bad scrape from falling on the swings and mom comes to the rescue with a kiss and band aid. For my kids, at that moment, their biggest “band aid” was Blake. He comforted them and lifted their spirits in a way that only someone with a truly huge heart could. How could I not fall for the man who saved my children? That’s when I began I peel that sour fruit that was a nuisance in our lives.

After 4 years of marriage, Blake got the baby bug. Why wouldn’t he? He was 13 years younger than I and at a stage in life where most of his peers and men around him were becoming new dads. Only problem was, I physically could not have anymore kids. In 2007, I had to endure a full hysterectomy. Adopting was an option, but I really wanted my husband to experience the feeling of having his own, biological children. That’s when the idea of surrogacy came into our lives. Although, our babies would not be biological to me, I had no objections to raising his kids, seeing how for all this time he was helping me raise mine as his own. In 2016 we began our journey using an agency in Canada, but the whole process was abroad in Ukraine. In October 2017, our boys, Russell and Connor were born at 37 weeks via c-section. Completely perfect, healthy and loved. At 44, I was a mom again to not just one, but two babies. Not what I thought I’d be doing at my age, but this time it was different for me. This time I was going to be present all the way. By then my older 3 were, 18, 15 and 13 and I already knew how quickly time will pass.

After our loss, my perspective in life is completely different and my everyday ways of life are not so much focused on the motions we all go through. Now I focus on the bigger picture, the what ifs, the would haves, and should haves. I no longer allow them to haunt me. Whatever my kids or husband want to do or share in, at the moment, becomes my top priority. For years, I spent too much time worrying about petty things - was the house picked up, were dishes all done, was the laundry basket empty. Time I took away from precious little moments I should have been paying more attention to. No more. The time to be a mom is now. The time to be involved and focused is now. Believe me in 18 years, and I promise they will come fast, you will have all the time you will want or need to keep house or run errands, etc. When my boys fuss because they want to roll around a while or take a stroll around, I stop everything and do it. When my daughter says, “Hey mom, lets go to mall,” just because, or my 14-year-old wants a new game at Game Stop, I am ready and out the door. The times my eldest takes the time to call his mommy from college (usually because he needs money, but who cares), I am completely his for that moment. There is no chore, no meal, no dirty clothes, or unmade bed that will take me away from these moments. I know this will sound very cliché, but take it from someone who has squeezed that lemon juice and sweetened it up, “tomorrow can not guarantee what you have today”. Live every minute. Kiss those babies whenever you can or want, whether they are 6 months or 19 years old. Tell them you love them. But most importantly of all, don’t miss a single minute of it. Live every day as if it was your last, so that in the end you can look back without regret and without remorse for what passed you by. Every day, I drink my lemonade with joy and happiness enjoying every sip.

#inthelineofduty #lifethrowsyoulemons #thankyouforyourservice #theultimatesacrifice #mommingsohard #strongmom #determinedmom #bestfriends #whatwedoforourchildren #bestmomaward #hardtimes #support #drinkthelemonade #choosetobehappy

2GTQbgiNxerRr5gcRU7bXVEEsjR5Rq8hsW1xBNU-7.png

It’s the most wonderful time of year! This month is all about YOU mama! We are kicking it off with a few Mother’s Day craft ideas from our wonderful Playgroup Captains! We also have 2 new Playgroup Captains to introduce to you!

Introducing Mandy Welch, Springfield Playgroup Captain

Let’s meet Mandy!

Mandy is mom to 6 month old Natalie.

“I have been a member since November 2017. I love fit4mom because it makes you feel not so alone in the journey of motherhood. You realize you’re not the first person to go through it and definitely not the last. The other moms come along side you and help in every situation. I am so excited to be PGC to share my creativity with others and celebrate life’s special moments such as birthdays and baby showers. I want to help create special memories for mothers and their children.”

Mother’s Day Craft Idea - Hand and Foot Print Sign - http://www.inspirationalmomma.com/diy-love-hand-foot-print-sign/

Introducing Brittany Meyers, Lee District Park Playgroup Captain

Let’s Meet Brittany!

Brittany is mom to Tyler (9 years old) and Makenzie (2 years old).

“I have been a part of Fit4Mom since November 2017. I love that it is so much more than a workout class. It’s like a family. I am excited to help children have fun while learning new things.”

Mother’s Day Craft Idea - Shrink a Dink Handprints - https://www.thebestideasforkids.com/shrinky-dink-footprint-keychain/

Reba Poskey, Woodbridge Playgroup Captain

Reba is mom to Anastasia (1.5 years old).

Mother’s Day Craft Idea - Handprint Sun Catcher - https://www.thebestideasforkids.com/handprint-suncatcher/

Jenny Bezos, Burke Playgroup Captain

Jenny is mom to Arwen (5 years old) and Lorelai (2.5 years old).

Mother’s Day Craft Idea - Clay Jewelry Holder - https://mycreativedays.porch.com/homemade-mothers-day-gift/

2GTQbgiNxerRr5gcRU7bXVEEsjR5Rq8hsW1xBNU-3.jpg

Week 2: Be Fearless

Hey mommas! Whew – week 2, am I right? Let me tell you that it was tough…a busy week at work, a weekend out of town, a wedding and much too much champagne. My food journal this week had lots of red on it this morning once Coach Becky took her pen to it. I did a particularly poor job at journaling my snacks and I was up two pounds at weigh-ins last week. I always think, “I’ll jot this down later” and lo and behold…later never happens. But, despite falling off the bandwagon slightly, I will give myself a pat on the back for 1. Making it to two BB workouts and 2. Getting in a family workout on an off day. And when I say family, I mean the whole family. It was a sight. My husband hopped onboard the afternoon workout train, which he never does, my toddler was attempting to do lunges and pushups while hanging on my back and the baby was toddling around wanting me to pick her up in between movements. It was a raucous sight for about 28 minutes, but you know what? We got it in. And it was actually kind of fun and I wish I had taken a selfie. J

So, this week’s theme was: Be Fearless. And as we pushed through workouts and as I {not so frequently} journaled my food and thoughts, the act of being fearless was constantly on my mind. When I was much younger, I ran marathons, drove billion dollar warships, and gallivanted through foreign countries without a care in the world. And I’m sure you’ve been fearless in different ways in your pre-mama life too. I’ve always thought these things and this type of lifestyle were benchmark aspects of be young and fearless. And I remember, after I had my son, thinking I wanted to get back to that fearlessness and being a bad ass because in a way, I felt like motherhood made me more cautious and reserved. And in some instances, it has. But in fact, the reality is that moms are some of the most fearless women I know.

Because, as women and mothers, there are so, so many ways we are fearless without even knowing it. Fearless in the fact that we get up and face the day with our babies {no matter their age} and take what comes at us. Ear infection? We’ve got this. Taking two kids under the age of two to the grocery store? It’s handled. Managing getting to work on time, working a full day, only to get home and get kids to soccer, piano and gymnastics? Done, done and done.

Fearlessness isn’t necessarily about what we’re doing, but rather the fire driving us to go a little bit further, to put aside a fear and embrace an element of the unknown. Sure, diving off a cliff or jumping out of an airplane require certain amounts of fearlessness. But being fearless also means that we take on challenges and do what needs to get done for our kids, our families and ourselves. And YOU momma! You are fearless because you’re getting your workouts in, tracking your nutrition and taking this time for yourself. So keep rockin’ on momma and let’s all roll to week 3! Here’s hoping I can channel some fearlessness and get back on the nutrition train ;-)

2GTQbgiNxerRr5gcRU7bXVEEsjR5Rq8hsW1xBNU-6.png

How Lucky We Are to Have Someone that Makes Saying Goodbye So Hard

"Today we bid our Springfield/Kingsotwne Playgroup Captain Miss Jen Gerlach farewell from the team and from the NoVa area. She and her family are headed to PAX River MD to their new duty station. Thank you for all you have done for our village of moms and babes. It has been an absolute pleasure having you on our team - best wishes on your new adventures. Friends for life!"

~Shannon Link, Franchise owner

“Jen Gerlach will forever be at the top of the amazing moms that first come to mind when thinking of our life-changing Fit4Mom village in NoVa. When I initially began the Stroller Strides workouts, I was shy and questioning if I could physically even complete the exercises. Then Jen gave me a supportive cheer and high-five after a particularly challenging exercise and made an effort to chat with me after the class. Those chats have now evolved into playdates and a lifelong friendship. Jen will forever hold a special place in my heart for showing me what amazing Mamas there are that make up Our Village!”

-Stephanie Hoff Curl, Springfield Village Stroller Strides Mama

“Jen ahs been a great support, especially for someone like me who is a new instructor. She’s always enthusiastic and willing to help, whether it’s to entertain the kiddos or reach out to a new mama that’s passing by. Playgroups were always well-planned and geared for all ages. She will be greatly missed!”

-Katie Taves, Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre Instructor

“Where do I even begin?! Jen, you are going to be missed by everyone in our community. Your willingness to help every mom in our village is going to be hard to replace. You have become such a friend and we will miss you, John, and Clara. We wish you well on your next adventure!”

-Sarah Recker, Springfield Village Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre Mama

“Jen was one of many mamas I met on my first day at Stroller Strides. I’ll never forget how kind and welcoming she was. At a time where I felt very alone, she made the feeling go away in just the few minutes I was able to talk to her. She has a kind soul, can talk to everyone and can make anyone feel welcomed! She also implemented that welcoming feeling when she was our Playgroup Captain by having creative crafts and treats that included all the littles - yes, even those babies! Thank you Jen for helping our community in making all the moms feel welcomed. I know I am going to miss seeing you, John, and Clara every week!”

-Brittnay Watson, Springfield Village Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre Mama

A Message from Jen to Our Village

“When I had my first class with Fit4Mom, I had no idea that a village was what I was missing. I had bee to other groups and met other moms, but nothing was clicking. Either I felt judged, out of place, or our kiddos didn’t get along. But then I had my first class and that was it. My husband even mentioned seeing a difference in my demeanor when I joined. I instantly found support, friendship, and felt like I could connect and be myself. The workouts keep me feeling strong, get us out of the house, and I’m constantly connecting with a new mom. We have a move coming up and it’s going to be a tough one for us all…we have made some amazing friends. Luckliy, we won’t be too far so we can get some visits in here and there. I will never forget this amazing village of momma’s and I am so thankful for you all! Off to another adventure, see you lovelies later! Keep in touch! XO”

~Jen Gerlach, Playgroup Captain in Springfield and Kingstowne

#FIT4MOM #themotherhoodisreal #strengthinmotherhood #Fit4MomLSBWKNoVa #ourvillageisyourvillage #strollerstrides #strollerbarre #farewell #goodluck #seeyoulater #thankyou #playgroupcaptains #playgroups #freeplaygroup #communitybuilder #community #moms #momsoftoddlers #toddlercrafts #keepingkidsentertained #springfieldmoms #kingstownmoms #ourteamisamazing

2GTQbgiNxerRr5gcRU7bXVEEsjR5Rq8hsW1xBNU-5.png

Get to know one of our awesome Team Members, Tracy McClure! We have an amazing, dedicated and talented team of moms here at FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa, and we want you to get to know a little more about each one of them. So for April, we'll put the spotlight on Tracy McClure, Body Back Instructor for our Kingstowne Village for FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa.

“Tracy is such a great source of positive energy. We met over three years – she was a client in our Body Back program. Tracy never gave anything less than 100%. She had great success with getting herself back and two years later I asked her to be on my team! I always say that there’s a reason for everything – she has found her niche and I’m glad she’s on my team! Thank you Tracy for believing in our programs so much so , that you are now a part of this awesomeness”

~Shannon L., Franchisee FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa

Read on to get to know more about Tracy and her time with FIT4MOM LSBWK NoVa.

1. Who are the members of your family?

Me, Wade (husband), Sydney (5), Liam (3)

2. Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in NoVa?

I am originally from Franklin Lakes, NJ, which are suburbs right outside NYC. We came to NoVa for my husband’s military job about 6 years ago but are now hopefully staying put for a while.

3. Where do you typically teach?

I normally teach Body Back on Wednesday evenings in Kingstowne.

4. Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for Fit4Mom LSBWK NoVa.

When I was pregnant with my first child I gained 65 lbs,