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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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