Summer is here. You may be feeling a sense of relief from school activities and projects. Along with that relief, however, may come a sense of anxiety about how you will keep the children entertained so they don’t destroy your home or each other! 😉 Do not fret! We’ve asked our FIT4MOM Village for their top recommendations to keep the kiddos busy this summer and here is what we’ve come up with!
#1 - Splash pads - Sure to wear out the little ones! Kids love water and we’ve put together a list of our favorite splash pads!
Little Bear Park
Or check out this list of Chicago’s top Splash Pads! http://redtri.com/chicago/h2-oh-7-splash-pads-to-soak-up/
#2 - Stroller Strides – Well, of course! Get your workout in and bring your junior workout buddies along! First class is always free! See our full schedule and locations of FIT4MOM offerings here: https://chicago.fit4mom.com/
#3 – Zoo – From Lincoln Park to Brookfield, let’s just admit we enjoy the zoo as much as our kiddos! There are many places to check out animals in the Chicago area! See a list of some of the top recommendations here: https://www.mommynearest.com/edition/chicago/article/9-places-to-see-animals-in-the-chicago-area
Other animal loving suggestions:
Wildwood Nature Center – FREE! (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wildwoodnature-Center/110383722359221?fref=gc&dti=128426023975524&hc_location=ufi)
Wagner Farm (https://www.facebook.com/HistoricWF/ )
#4 - Lincoln Park petting zoo – Free!! Kids will really get a kick out of seeing and petting the farm animals! Check out more about Lincoln Park Farm in the Zoo here: https://www.lpzoo.org/exhibit/farm-zoo
And check out more petting zoos in the Chicago area here: http://redtri.com/chicago/barn-it-7-animal-farms-to-visit-now/
#5 - Botanic gardens – Beautiful! A neat experience for the kids all around! Admission is free (parking is not)!
Learn more about what’s in bloom at the Chicago Botanic Garden here: https://www.chicagobotanic.org/visit
#6 - Community pools – WATER! Again, nothing more fun in the summertime than swimming at the pool! Maybe you have a favorite local pool to visit. If not, check out this kid-friendly list of water-park style pools:
#7 - Picnic at your favorite playground – Pack the kids’ favorite sandwiches and snacks and head off to the park for a morning of fun and then back home for naptime!
#8 - Maggie Daley Park – Coolest. Place. Ever. Free admission! Some activities do have a fee. Learn more about this amazing park here: http://maggiedaleypark.com/
#9 - Morton Arboretum – So much going on! From music in the park to perfecting your gardening skills! There is an admission fee but so much to offer!
Learn more about the events and offerings at the Morton Arboretum here: http://www.mortonarb.org/
#10 - Adler Planetarium – The Planetarium is sure to wow the kids and be a seriously educational experience for all! A lot to offer for your curious astronomer!
Check out more about their programs and general information here: https://www.adlerplanetarium.org/#7pymLpUjxhKZlE3b.97
Some other suggestions from our Village mamas include:
Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview: http://www.kohlchildrensmuseum.org/
Exploratorium in Skokie: https://www.exploritorium.org/
Bison Bluff in Schaumburg: http://www.parkfun.com/facilities/spring-valley/bison's-bluff
Water taxi: https://www.chicagowatertaxi.com/
We hope you enjoy exploring these amazing Chicagoland experiences and hope they do the job of keeping the kids entertained this summer. Have a happy and safe summer from all of us at FIT4MOM Chicago!
Name: Shea Almendarez
Child(ren) name and age: Jackson, 10 1/2 months
Where are you from: I grew up in Park Ridge, IL
Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: Favorite memory of Fit4Mom is either working out along Lake Michigan on beautiful, sunny days at Diversey or the Play date at Scooter’s ice cream and the park.
Favorite Exercise: I love squats, wall sits and bicep curls.
Favorite Mom-me time of the day: My favorite Mom-me time of the day is when I teach yoga (twice/week) or take a class myself or when I get a pedicure!
What motivates you to exercise: I’ve always been active and have loved exercising. I was an Irish dancer for 10 years, was on the dance team in high school, and have run 11 half marathons. Exercise makes me feel good!
How has FIT4MOM changed your life? Fit4M has introduced me to a “village” of moms that are now my community. I look forward to going to class everyday!!
Piece of advice for new moms: My advice for new moms is to try to relax and have fun with your baby!! They can pick up on your mood and will be happier if you are. Take care of yourself!
May 28, 2018
Name: Cathy Skriba
Child(ren) name and age: Ian (4), Cora (4), Marie (1)
Where are you from: Ann Arbor, MI
Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: My favorite thing is how encouraging everyone is. Whether it's to keep going with an exercise, or giving advice about raising kids, or dealing with work, or where to go on vacation. Everyone is so supportive!
Favorite Exercise: I like any standing core exercise. I always feel stronger after I'm done!
Favorite Mom-me time of the day: When I wake up before my kids. It's quiet and I'm not worried about my to-do list.
What motivates you to exercise: Getting stronger! But also knowing that I get to spend an hour with a great group of women.
How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I feel like FIT4MOM changed my life twice. When Stroller Strides classes started in Evanston, my twins were 2 and it was hard to do activities with them. But being able to take them to stroller strides, get a workout for myself, and then let them play at Little Beans was great for all of us! It was especially important for my mental well-being. And then when I started Body Back after my third child was born, I got to focus on myself for 2 hours a week. Being able to focus on my health and fitness, without having to chase after my children, has been so important to me for the past year.
Piece of advice for new moms: Every child is different and you have to find what works for your child and your family. Don't be afraid to do things in a different way than your friends/neighbors/other family members.
Teaches: Stroller Strides and Fit4Baby (Certified in all classes)
Hometown: Birmingham, MI
Mom to: Anil, 3 1/2 yrs and 32 weeks preggo with #2!
How did you first get introduced to FIT4MOM/Stroller Strides? I found SS on a Google search for things to do with your baby. I really wanted to get into shape and thought I'd try it out. Bought an unlimited membership but had a hard time getting there. After several emails from the instructor, I finally was convinced to get over my fear of meeting new people and loved it! And met a mom with a little boy 3 days younger than mine! It was meant to be!
What made you want to become an instructor? I wanted to become an instructor to share my love for this amazing community and what it had done for me as a new mom! I've met so many great women and made great friends!
What did you do before becoming an instructor? Before becoming an instructor (and a Mom) I worked in the corporate offices of a dental group in their accounting department.
What is your favorite part of instructing? Favorite song/exercise? My favorite part of instructing is seeing new Moms come in and make friends within the group! Its full circle of how this community has helped my son and I! I love to see the magic in action! A favorite song to do exercises to is Head Shoulders Knees and Toes! The kids love it and its great for a cardio burst! My personal favorite exercise is any kind of plank!
What is your favorite non-kid workout song that gets you moving? Hard to pick just one. Happy by Pharrel, Handclap by Fitz and the Tantrums, Can't Stop the Feeling by JT
Name: Jessica Gerig
Child(ren) name and age: Jack (3), Baby Gerig #2 due in July
Where are you from: Phoenix, AZ
Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: One of the last classes of the Body Back program is called the 100s class, which requires 100 reps of each exercise. It’s incredibly challenging, but all of the moms cheer for each other, finish the tough workout together and celebrate at the end! One of my favorite things about Fit4Mom is the way that moms encourage and inspire each other.
Favorite Exercise: Bicep curls and wall sits
Favorite Mom-me time of the day: After my son is asleep, I enjoy cozying up on the couch, sipping a cup of tea and watching Bravo.
What motivates you to exercise: I exercise to improve my physical and mental health and to model a healthy lifestyle for my family.
How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I found Fit4Mom shortly after I made the decision to leave the professional world and become a full-time mom. I was eager to find a community of other moms and Fit4Mom provided that (and so much more!) This community of moms is so welcoming and supportive. I’ve made wonderful friends, received great advice, and had a lot of fun sharing milestones with these women and their children.
Piece of advice for new moms: Make time for self care. With the help of Fit4Mom, I’ve made the commitment to take time for myself each week which has helped me be a better mother, wife and friend.
Child(ren) name and age: Nell (5), Ben (3)
Where are you from: My childhood was spent in a small town called Parker City, but Chicago has been home for the past 12 years.
Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: it’s hard to pick just one, but I think meeting all the moms at the 10th anniversary session last summer. Many of the moms from Chicago had moved to other locations so catching up with them. And knowing that everyone there would “get it” no matter what my kids were doing.
Favorite Exercise: I am a fan of squats and crunches. Upper abs and side obliques, but the lower abs we can leave lol.
Favorite Mom-me time of the day: my husband is very good about taking the kids at night if they wake up. Or even getting them to bed, so taking 30 minutes to watch a show and do my nails just makes me feel normal again.
What motivates you to exercise: My health, for a long time my joints have been bad. All of them. I have had multiple surgeries on wrists, knee X-rays, physical therapy for my back. The no judgement zone in all the classes brings me back, I can go as hard or as little as I need for that day. It has really taught me to self motivate, and I know modifications for almost every exercise. Just keep moving. :)
How has FIT4MOM changed your life?
How has it not? Becoming a mom with the first felt very lonely and isolated. About 9 months after my second is when I found Fit4mom. Suddenly it wasn’t so lonely. Exercise, Mom’s nights out, meet ups to play, as I have always said it is so much more than exercise. Body back was strangely addictive and the first time I have ever actively lost weight in my life. 25 lbs down and 10 more to my goal weight. It’s been amazing every step of the way.
Piece of advice for new moms: Don’t be afraid to ask. In every group someone had been through it. From the kid who never sleeps, to the one that won’t wake up, fits on outings, toddler tantrums, feeding issues. Your village is important. Some moms may judge but most will not and get it. Just don’t be afraid to ask. We are all here to lift up and support.
Teaches: Body Back in Vernon Hills
Hometown: Overland Park, Kansas
Mom to: Evelyn (4.5) and Thomas (almost 2.5)
How did you first get introduced to FIT4MOM/Stroller Strides? I came across a mention of Stroller Strides online in 2014 when Evelyn was about 11 months old, took a Stroller Barre class at Diversey Harbor, and signed up as a member that day!
What made you want to become an instructor? After a couple of Body Back sessions, I had to share it with other moms! I’m not exaggerating when I say FIT4MOM has changed my life, physically and mentally. I feel strong, confident, and energized. Body Back allowed me to take time for myself, focus on my health, and realize what I’m capable of, all within the supportive community of FIT4MOM. I want to help other moms experience that!
What did you do before becoming an instructor? I was and still am a stay-at-home mom and freelance writer. Through my business, Melrose Street Custom Content, I work with marketing agencies and small business owners to create written content.
What is your favorite part of instructing? Favorite song/exercise? I love seeing the moms in my classes celebrate their successes, connect with each other, and grow in strength and confidence. The best!!
What is your favorite non-kid workout song that gets you moving? Lately, I’ve been into Demi Lovato’s “Confident” and “Sorry Not Sorry,” but I like anything with a strong beat.
I can’t believe we have come to the end of this eight-week journey. While it is the end of my Body Back session, it is certainly not the end of a revitalized healthy lifestyle for me and my family.
Over 5 inches lost total.
1.5 inches off my waist
1 inch off my hips
1.75 inches off my thigh
7.8 pounds lost
Strength gains of over 21% in each category (Burpees, Squats, Push Ups and Bicep Curls)
Held Plank for 2 minutes (almost doubled)
Went from 2 – 10 push-ups (push-ups are admittedly my weakness)
Overall percentage change of 292%!
Carrie asked us today to tell her something we want to carry on from this session to the next session and beyond. My answer was meal planning. Meal planning has been such an important piece to keeping me on track the last eight weeks. When there isn’t a plan, I give in to the temptation to grab fast food or take out. It also helped me shop more efficiently and cut down on my visits to the grocery store. How often do you visit the grocery store when you don’t plan ahead?! I am so curious to know how much money I didn’t spend by not having alcohol, soda, take out 2-3 times a week and frequent trips to the grocery store. Whatever that cost is, it is certainly more than the cost of a Body Back session😊
Things I am proud of:
I am so proud of my results. I didn’t get the ten-pound weight loss I originally set as my goal, but I lost inches and I got STRONGER! I was in good shape when I started (except for those pesky push-ups), so to gain even more strength says a lot. I am also proud of the fact I only missed one class. There were some stressful weeks in there and it would have been so easy for me to take those two hours away from the “me” column and put them in the “everything else” column. The workouts not only helped alleviate some of that stress, but the meditations calmed my mind. Seeing my mom friends is always a bonus.
Things I would have done differently:
Hmm, this is difficult. I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself when the weight wasn’t coming off as fast as I wanted. I know the process. I knew as long as I put the work in that I would be happy at the end. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. You give 100%, you get 100%. I repeat this often to my clients and I need to remember that for myself!
Things I will keep doing:
Meal planning! I am going to keep meal planning, that has been the key to my success. I refuse to forget all my hard work and ease back into unhealthy eating habits. I will also focus on that one trip to the grocery store each week. I quit craving soda weeks ago, so it makes sense to just not buy soda anymore. I can’t say I won’t enjoy a coke zero at the movies, or a restaurant, but there is no reason for me to keep it in my house. Finally, I will keep working out. I was doing that before but will certainly continue. The next few weeks I will ramp up my running to get ready for Ragnar (hmm, another blog topic??:)), but will still exercise four-six days a week.
This has been an amazing journey. Writing this blog has helped me take things one week at a time. It has also helped me celebrate small victories and recognize my challenges. I have loved Body Back whole-heartedly for over five years and didn’t think I could appreciate it more than I already do. This experience has even further enhanced my love for Body Back. The fact that we can do this for so many moms in the Chicagoland area brings a lot of joy to my heart.
If you are interested in going on your own eight-week journey, please reach out to me😊
I can’t believe we are in Week seven and assessments are at the end of the week! Now that I’ve stopped dwelling on the scale (it took me long enough!), I’m celebrating all of the progress I’ve made. I had to order a piece to attach to my wedding ring to keep it from falling off! If that isn’t a sign of my progress, I don’t know what is! I’m excited for my measurements and strength assessments on Friday. It has been incredible being on this side of the process. Assessment day is always my favorite as an instructor and it will surely be even more fulfilling as a client.
I’ve mastered planning and am extremely motivated to keep my meal planning up after the session ends. This is the major key for me to keep from derailing during the week. I shop after I teach class every Saturday and make my oatmeal energy bites every Sunday. I’m confident we have saved a lot of money on take out the last seven weeks. In the past, I would order dinner in whenever I didn’t know what to cook. By planning ahead, I don’t have to think about it at all during my very busy weeks.
Last week was a challenge to attend every class. I’ve had a lot going on and was tempted to skip class in order to get some work done. I overcame temptation and didn’t skip and was so happy I went. I promised myself at the beginning of the session I would give myself two hours a week and not feel guilty about it. I have only missed one class (because of a previously planned commitment) and couldn’t feel prouder about that. That one-hour workout with a group of supportive women and an amazing coach is just what the doctor ordered. It is comforting to have those two hours to look forward to. I get to relieve some stress (where normally I might do that with junk food) and calm my mind during our end of class meditations. I’m already sad about the session ending next week!
Coming up next week – my results!
Still holding strong on the no alcohol or soda front! I gave up alcohol for Lent one year, which is roughly six weeks. That is the longest I have ever gone without (since being of legal age 😊) except of course for the nine months of pregnancy. I have not seen big movements on the scale, but my clothes are fitting better and I feel so STRONG when I work out. That is huge in itself! I feel like we often get caught up on that number on the scale. I am guilty of this. I keep reminding myself that success in Body Back can be measured in so many other ways than weight!
In case you haven’t read my previous blogs -there is a theme here -, plan, plan, plan! Just tonight, I went to make dinner and realized I was out of eggs. I am literally never out of eggs, I don’t even know how that happened. It is early in the week and I have a meal plan written and shopped for. This made it extremely easy to substitute a different healthy meal for tonight. Two months ago, that would have been a wonderful reason to order completely unhealthy take-out. I love that my new habits are setting me up for success each week!
GIRL. SCOUT. COOKIES. The struggle is real. I avoided them this week like the plague. They are still in my house and it’s very hard to forget that, but I am😊! I’m skipping a social event this week that is centered around wine and cheese. This is so difficult for me, but I know there will be similar events after Body Back is over. I didn’t come this far to only come this far!
Less than 2 weeks to go! I got this!
Child(ren) name and age: Nicholas(8), Alisa(6) and baby Brandon who just turned 1!
Where are you from: I am originally from Belarus, but have lived in the Chicago area for the past 17 years
Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: Brandon’s first army crawl happened on the floor of the gym after the Stroller Strides class and he learned to clap during the “Hello” song!
Favorite Exercise: I have a love-hate relationship with wall-sits. I hate the burn, but love how strong my legs feel afterwards.
Favorite Mom-me time of the day: When everyone is tucked in their beds at night and my washing machine’s complete cycle signal hasn’t gone off yet, I love to sit down on the couch, put my feet up and watch my favorite Masterpiece show on PBS.
What motivates you to exercise: Stroller Strides Glenview has an awesome group of moms. Seeing them in class every time, makes me want to come too. Also, watching my kids mimic my every move when I work out reminds me that I am someone’s role model every minute of every day. If my kids grow up wanting to be healthy and exercise regularly just because they saw me sweat in Stroller Strides, I say half of my job as a mom is done!
How has FIT4MOM changed your life?
I feel so much stronger now and it definitely boosts my self confidence!
Piece of advice for new moms: I would say follow your gut. You and your husband know your children best. And try to enjoy your baby as much as you can. Even though the days may seem to go slowly now, the years will fly by before you know it!
It’s the middle of week five and I have still not had any alcohol or soda. I had a couple moments of weakness in the form of a piece of candy last week and a Girl Scout Cookie over the weekend. It made me feel crappy, but I’m over it now. Onward and upward! 😊 I’ve been great about getting my workouts in and sticking to my planned meals and snacks. I even had a trip to my home town for a “Bubbly Brunch” and turned down a donut cake (yes, there is such a thing as a donut cake!) andsaid no to the bubbly. It feels good to have self-control most of the time, even if I have a few minor slip ups.