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Blog

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"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.

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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

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"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

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“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.

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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).

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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

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"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.

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"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!

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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

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"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

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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

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"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

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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

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"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

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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

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"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.

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“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

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"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

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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

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“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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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​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

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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

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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 ;-)

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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

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“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

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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/

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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 ;-)

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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

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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, which was over 50% of my original body weight, and I gained 47 with my second pregnancy. Fitness was always a huge part of my life but due to bed rest with one pregnancy and a foot injury it was difficult for me. I finally got back into it and realized I needed more than just “basic” workouts to jump start my weight loss. Some friends got me started in the Body Back program and I never looked back. I did two sessions and lost almost all my weight, finally losing the last 5 lbs after I finished breastfeeding. When I had double foot surgery two years ago I realized how important exercise is to me and how much of an impact it makes in one’s health. As soon as I was able to walk again, I started instructing Body Back and it’s been one of the greatest experiences for me.

5. What is your favorite thing to teach?

I love teaching Body Back - seeing mamas push themselves is quite amazing!

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

The best thing about being an instructor is seeing how each person changes in their own way, whether it be physically or emotionally. Everyone has a different starting place and it’s awesome to see them progress. I’m a very positive person and love being motivating to others so instructing comes naturally to me.

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

My main WHY is because of health. To me, being healthy isn’t just about looking good, it’s about feeling good and being strong. When you feel good and are strong the looks come from within. I’ve had a lot of random health problems pop up in the past few years and Body Back helps keep me focused on overall health and to stay positive. I like to teach that to others as well.

8. What is one of your current wellness goals?

One of my wellness goals is to get back into running. My foot surgeries/plantar fasciitis have prevented me from running but I feel I’m up to it now. I’ve ran a few times the past month but since my work schedule has becoming crazy and my husband travels a lot it’s been difficult to get on a schedule. I think running is a nice addition to HIIT classes because it allows your mind to just roam and view the scenery. I’d also like to get my dog back in shape to run with me!

9. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you?

I’ve met the Dalai Lama before and had lunch with a group of his monks. They are a very relaxed and caring group of people. I started getting into Mindfulness and meditation after meeting them and that was one of the main aspects of Body Back that I fell in love with. I love that the class isn’t just about getting good exercise in; It also involves meditation at the end to slow the mind down and come back to the present.

10. Anything else you'd like Our Village to know?

I am SO excited for this next Body Back session that just started. I like the motivation that everyone shows during session and that sticks with me all week long.

Tracy, thank you so much for your dedication to our moms! Your amazing will to continue to work out and do Body Back while not being able to walk is truly inspiring!

Check back in May for our next team member spotlight.

#teammemberspotlight #April2018spotlight #ourinstructorsrock #themotherhoodisreal #parentingishard #motherhood #FIT4MOMfriends #strengthinmotherhood #ourvillageisyourvillage #Fit4MomLSBWKNoVa #FIT4MOM #postnatalfitness #postnatalcare #strollerstrides #strollerbarre #runclub #bodyback #feelinggood #beingstrong #meditation #slowthemind