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What is your name? Jessica Popovic

Who are you a mom to? Juliana 3 & Isabel 1

Where are you from? Grew up in Aurora, IL . . . live in Lincolnwood, IL

What is your favorite FIT4MOM memory? Miss Jamie's Farm Concert this summer

What is your favorite class? Right now... body back!

What is your favorite Mom-me time of the day? Wine time! Or coffee time. They're probably tied.

What motivates you to exercise? Modeling for my daughters what it is to be strong and take care of yourself!

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? It's given me a form of a social life during a global pandemic. For this, I am grateful!

Piece of advice for new moms: Try not to worry so much. I wish I could give new moms the second time mom confidence!

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We are so excited to bring back our Mom of the Month feature and we are kicking it off with Sarah!

What is your name? Sarah Hafner

Who are you a mom to? I have an 18 month old son, Henry.

Where are you from? I’m from a Chicago suburb- Inverness, and now I live in Arlington Heights.

What is your favorite memory of FIT4MOM? I think my favorite memory AND thing about Fit4mom is my very first class at Welles Park in the city. Nicole was the instructor, filling in for Holly, and I remember feeling like I found a group of people I could see myself being friends with, and I was so happy. It was my first real time doing something solo with my baby, and I felt like I could be me. Holly’s Tues/Thurs class became my weekly activity, and I loved getting to know so many moms.

What is your favorite exercise? Squats. Curtesy lunges. Inchworms. Anything to work the booty.

What is your favorite Mom-me time of the day? My favorite mom-me time is the 30ish minutes before my husband and son wake up. I can have some tea, do a workout (shout out to the HIIT Express class!), or just binge Instagram or a show by myself.

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? My classes at Welles Park before we moved made the biggest impact because I made sure I could join a Strides class when we moved to the burbs, so joining the Mt. Prospect class was such a perfect transition, and I’ve continued to meet people and make friends through Strides class. I actually feel like I have a village. The moms I’ve become close with in such a short time have just been such an amazing support system for me and I am so thankful for them.

Piece of advice for new moms? My advice for new moms is to join a class!! Any class, really (but I tell literally EVERYONE about Fit4mom). Just get out there and try to talk to other moms- you have an automatic icebreaker sitting in the stroller! It stifles the loneliness we can feel as moms, and you can build up an amazing village.

You can catch Sarah at our HIIT Express classes on the regular or at outdoor Stroller Strides!

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Name: Chelsea Kaskovich

Child(ren) name and age: William-14 months

Where are you from: Rock Falls, IL, but I’ve lived in Chicago for 16 years

Favorite Thing/Memory about FIT4MOM: Getting a workout in with a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline at Diversey Harbor, all while socializing with other moms/kiddos

Favorite Exercise: Any kind of squats!

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: Nap time for the win

What motivates you to exercise? I always feel way more accomplished after a workout and I like to be in shape so I can keep up with my son

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I’ve met some great mom friends and found a way to work out, socialize and get my son out to play all in one place

Piece of advice for new moms: Find your ‘village’ of other moms. It makes a really tough job much easier when you have other women behind you.

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Name: Katie Farella

Child(ren) name and age: Mackland 2.5y, Weston 13 mo, & baby #3 due May 2020

Where are you from: Prospect Heights, IL

Favorite Thing/Memory about FIT4MOM: My favorite thing about FIT4MOM is allowing me to workout and the boys get a chance to socialize and run around at the end of class- it’s a win win!

Favorite Exercise: Planking & abs

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: After I put the kids to bed

What motivates you to exercise: These kids keep popping out and I’ve gotta stay healthy, fit and strong to keep up with them :)

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I’ve been with FIT4MOM for 2 years it it has helped me lose weight & keep it off, it has helped me make such great friends, and my boys and I look forward to going to StrollerStrides every day!

Piece of advice for new moms: No one knows what they are doing when they first have a baby, ask the moms around you for advice, tips and tricks! Everyone is so willing to share what worked for them!

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Name: Halley Winer

Child(ren) name and age: Liam (4 years) and Mason (16 months)

Where are you from: Chicago born & bred! But grew up in Northbrook (northern suburb).

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: Two favorites. 1. I love that when I’m at a Fit4Mom class, the kids can act like total cuckoo birds and no one bats an eye. Whether it’s needing a snack/toy/iPad adjustment every 30 seconds to just general screaming, it’s NBD and everyone just continues on with their workout or dealing with their own crazy child. 2. I exercise more now than I have my entire life. In fact, I went to a Stroller Strides class the morning before Mason was born! (Cardio, strength & contractions!) Fit4Mom classes get me out of the house, get me moving, and keep me sane and healthy all at the same time. Kind of the perfect situation, really!

Favorite Exercise: Burpees! KIDDING, literally hate those. Really anything that makes me feel strong. Core, biceps/triceps, squats... I love being sore the next day.

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: Obviously after the kids are in bed, I curl up on the couch in a blanket and enjoy some quality Bravo.

What motivates you to exercise: Being strong for my kids and showing them that exercise is important for mind and body... And also, if I’m being honest, my Apple Watch nagging me to get it together!

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I met two of my best mom friends from Stroller Strides, Lauren and Jeannie. Our firsts were all born within a couple months of each other and we were all pregnant with our seconds at the same time. (Lauren and I had ours only 4 days apart!) They’re also the worst, because they both left Chicago, but I don’t know what I would do without them and our daily texts about momming.

Piece of advice for new moms: The first four months are literally terrible. Sleep deprivation is torture. But after that (aka when you start getting more sleep for you and more interaction from them), it’s the best and keeps getting better everyday. Also... Easier said than done, but not everything is as big of a deal as you might think it is. So they have a late nap one day. Or they skip a meal. Or they have a 5th diaper explosion in one day... There’s always tomorrow.

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Name: Tiarnagh Costello

Child(ren) name and age: Andrea 2.5, Sophia 9 months, Do we include the partners as children?? He’s 39 going on 17..

Where are you from: Ireland, but most recently we moved from San Diego.

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: Being able to be outdoors getting fit and healthy with the children. If I didn’t have FIT4MOM I’d have to meet mom friends eating cake somewhere and that would not be good.

Favorite Exercise: There is a butt-kicker/knee-repeater exercise that I love as its really fast paced and you feel the burn straight away..

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: The early evening when the children are asleep and look like angels and I can drink all the hot tea I want.

What motivates you to exercise: At the moment I’m losing weight for my wedding in November, but I love the energy I get from exercising and being able to share a healthy lifestyle with my children.

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? Where do I start???? There are not enough hours...I’m astounded my gyno hasn’t heard of FIT4MOM..hello?! Firstly, stroller strides gives me structure to my day which sets us all up for a great day. With strides and the other classes I’ve been to (bodyback and bodyignite) I can connect so easily with the other mums compared to trying to make friends when you are new to a place, It takes forever! It’s a safe place where you can chat, laugh, moan and sympathize and it’s all while working out! It’s an incredible source of trustworthy baby/kid knowledge. Then the lovely instructors make it more than enjoyable, bringing their personalities to each class makes working out easier, less painful, and makes me keep wanting to come back. The support they offer is genuine and kind and so important. I’m totally addicted. I adore the question of the day! I’ve basically found my tribe. It was the first thing I checked up about Chicago when it came up as a potential place to live. It’s my safety net, my survival kit and I can’t imagine how lost I’ll be when the kids grow older and head off to school.

Piece of advice for new moms: It took me forever to get to my first stroller strides class when I was a new mom, I went twice without the baby! I found it so hard to get it all together by a certain time in the morning and I remember messaging the instructor saying “I’m never going to make it to a class” and she just messaged back “just get to class”....they would take care of all the rest, just to get there and it would be ok. I’ve said that to everyone I know who hasn’t gone to class. Oh and buy a dedicated bucket for soaking poop stained clothes .

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Pulling together a last-minute look

Being a mom has made me really good at being simultaneously pulled together and really gross. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out. There are days where, despite your best efforts, you just aren’t going to get in a shower, where you’re in your sweaty workout clothes all day, or you’re just too tired, or filled with that hopeless exhaustion that comes from being pulled in every direction by people whose needs always seem to come before your own.

But sometimes, we want to feel more like our real selves again. Maybe your girlfriend called and she wants to grab a drink. Maybe you just want to take off those stretch pants and take the whole family to Olive Garden so you don’t have to Do. One. More. Thing. Today. More likely, you pull a crumpled notice out of your kid’s backpack that says “Family Night is Tonight!” and you die a little inside.

All right, mama. Time to brush the baby snot out of your hair and get into the game. But what to wear?

For me, styling comes down to four things that I incorporate into almost every casual outfit.

1.) Killer denim. You have to have a good pair of jeans that fit and feel great to put on. Jeans shopping is a lot like swimsuit shopping, I’m not going to lie. You have to try on a bunch of different pairs, but it is so worth it. When you find that pair that looks good in the leg and makes your butt look great, it’s truly a life-changing moment. I’ve had women cry happy tears, we’ve hugged it out, they come back and visit me in their jeans. The jeans don’t have to be expensive. While it’s true that premium denim is often softer and better at retaining its shape, pay attention to the pocket placement (not too big, not too small, not too far apart) and the way they make you feel. A good pair of jeans always feels great to pull on and is the foundation of any outfit.

2.) A graphic tee. Find one that speaks to you (I have one that says, “Always late,” because, I mean.) Find one that speaks to your world (Another fave says, “Kindness is Magic,” because it is!) Don’t forget the side tuck! This shows off your shape and your jeans, and is universally flattering.

3.) Layer a jacket, kimono or sweater over the whole thing. This instantly takes your whole outfit to the next level.

4.) Statement earrings. Normally, this wouldn’t be the part I emphasized the most, but for a last minute zero-to-hero situation, it is impossible not to feel pulled together in earrings, even if your hair is in a messy bun and needed a wash three days ago. #nojudgements Try a pop of color or a fun new texture. This is not to say that you should do the earrings to the exclusion of steps 1-3, but goodness knows I’d rather be noticed for my beaded earrings than my greasy roots. Let’s hear it for a good distraction!

Come visit me at the Evereve at Northbrook beginning June 18! Feel free to bring the kids, don’t worry if you’re wearing sweats or even if you don’t feel like trying on clothes that day.

See you soon!

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Name: Rebecca Carver

Child(ren) name and age: Case 17, Kai 8 mos

Where are you from: Mount Prospect

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: My favorite memory about Fit4Mom is my first Body Back class. When I signed up I asked Lisa if I would get my money back if I died. Not only did I not die, I began to look forward to every workout! They were always challenging but increasingly they got easier for me to do. I saw the pounds and inches come off but more importantly I have way more energy and am now loving a good work out!

Favorite Exercise: Dead Bug! I always feel like I’m cheating! I’m getting a core work out, but I’m also resting from a hard minute of cardio (like burpees!)

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: can I have two favorites?

That time right after nap when he is not quite ready to be awake and he nuzzles his face deep into my neck and he just wants me to rock him and sing to him and rub his back. I could spend a whole lifetime in those five minutes.

I also love my time in the car with my older son. That has always been the place for our good talks. Something about being stuck in the car seems to be the secret formula for a boy opening up and sharing his thoughts with his mama.

What motivates you to exercise: At first I just wanted to lose weight. Now, I KNOW I need it for my sanity!!! Body, mind, and spirit!

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I have a mom tribe I look forward to seeing my mama friends in the mornings! And I know they ‘get’ me. I also am sooooo much stronger than I used to be and I have way more energy! Which is about to come in handy because Kai is just about to crawl any day now!

Piece of advice for new moms:

You are doing everything right!

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Name: Natallie White

Child(ren) name and age: Eden (3 years) & Alice (13 months)

Where are you from: Chicago (Eastern NC originally)

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: Heather Debby Legan shouting “You can do this! You can do ANYTHING for 30 seconds!”

Favorite Exercise: speed skaters and butterfly crunches

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: mornings - it’s when I have the most clarity and energy. It’s also nice to get up and enjoy my coffee and plan for my day before the girls start stirring.

What motivates you to exercise: Being an older Mom, health motivates me because I want to be able to keep up with my girls and be a good role model for making healthy choices as they are getting older and more active.

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? This is the happiest I have been in over 4 years. I started the program to get fit and quickly realized I was gaining so much more - energy, strength, confidence, friends, emotional support, and “me” time.

Piece of advice for new moms: The hardest part about trying something new or making a change is getting past putting it off and just doing it. You can do this and Fit4Mom has the most incredible tribe of moms I have ever met and they help support you taking care of the whole “you”.

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Name: Nydia

Child(ren) name and age: Liliana, 21 months

Where are you from: Chicago, IL

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: Looking at the (let's call them "eccentric") outfits in the windows of the shops at Lincolnwood Towncenter during indoor Stroller Strides.

Favorite Exercise: Glute bridges, I believe in building a booty!

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: If this is "me time": My husband watches our daughter eat her dinner while I work out in the evening. We still haven't mastered family dinners...one day!

If this is "mommy & me time": Lili learned to say "buenas noches/goodnight" when we put her down and it's so sweet!

What motivates you to exercise: I had gestational diabetes during pregnancy and I'm NOT getting Type II diabetes if I can help it! My daughter needs her Mama healthy!

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? It's helped me find time for exercise and include my daughter. I love that she watches me exercise once a week to set an example of being active and healthy. When I first heard of Fit4Mom I was nervous I would NOT fit in, but I found such a great group of moms who just want to live a healthy life!

Piece of advice for new moms: Don't put off exercising, it'll make you feel so great! I lived in fear of hurting my milk supply, spent a year sedentary, and gained weight - almost reaching my full term pregnant weight. Even just a walk around the block helped me feel great once I got motivated!

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Cassie joined us for classes last winter and is giving her thoughts on FIT4MOM! Thanks for joining us Cassie!

From Cassie:

Just before the holidays, Fit4Mom contacted Chicago Latina Moms about attending classes and being social media ambassadors.

I was torn. Pre-baby I loved going to the gym daily, but postpartum I haven’t been able to reach my fitness goals as easily.

I hadn’t been to a workout class since before my little one was born three years ago. Would I be able to keep up? Would I feel comfortable, especially because I’m still holding onto a few baby weight pounds? Would I be too self conscious to be really present?

My worries were quickly put at ease during a Body Back session when Carrie, my instructor, said, “Be where you are now, and work with what you have now. Don’t worry about what you could do in high school, or pre-baby. Be where you are today.” Carrie helped me realize that all the pressure I put on myself was truly about ME.

In a resistance interval where you find a partner in the class, I met another mom who was also nervous about keeping up with everyone else. After our conversation, I became more aware of the room and realized everyone was focused internally on what they were there for: “Me time.” I was able to bring more focus to myself and the work I knew I needed to do internally.

I was also able to catch a Stroller Strides class. This entailed jogging with my son in a stroller and similar workout intervals. My LO was definitely the oldest child in the class, and I was worried he wouldn’t want to sit in the stroller the entire time. Before class, I asked him to run a few laps around the gym, and along with a little screen time at the end, he did really well!

He even mentioned a few weeks later that his favorite thing to do with Mommy was to “exercise with her!”

Overall, here's what I'll remember most from that introductory experience with Fit4Mom:

The day after my first class, I was chatting with a co-worker about my experience. I told her I was a bit sore but I loved the pace, the adjustments my teacher was able to give me, and the lack of judgment from other moms in the class. I was especially proud of myself for keeping up. My friend pointed out, "Even though you're sore, you’ve got a big smile on your face!"

Thank you Fit4Mom for sponsoring my time as a social media ambassador and helping me get back into working out in a way that supports me and my son! I’ll see you in class soon!

Find Chicago Latina Moms at instagram.com/chicagolatinamoms and facebook.com/chicagolatinamoms

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Name: Chantel Ghosh

Child(ren) name and age: Navendu (Nevin) 10 months

Where are you from: East Lansing MI

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: I miss our outdoor classes so much, but my first MNO at Montrose Beach was the first time I went to a baby free event and I was so nervous but had such a great time with the ladies!

Favorite Exercise: I’m a sucker for a good sing a long exercise- jumping jumping or the apple tree

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: after everyone goes to bed- I can enjoy a glass of wine and clean the kitchen.

What motivates you to exercise: setting a good example for Nevin to make exercise an enjoyable part of the day. That endorphin rush post work out isn’t bad either

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I have met some of the most wonderful women who have become close friends in the 8 short months since I’ve joined. The motto strength in motherhood rings very true at Fit4mom Chicago!

Piece of advice for new Moms- Take advantage of all of the outlets Fit4mom offers (fb groups, meet up, MNO, playgroup etc) It has saved my sanity as I have transitioned into being a stay at home mom and Nevin has some great new buddies too.

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Name: Yoon-Jin Han

Child(ren) name and age: Evelyn (20 months on the 31st)

Where are you from: Southwest Suburbs of Chicago, currently in Edgebrook

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: I love the accountability and the Mom socialization with kids/babies!

Favorite Exercise: sit ups and any kind of sit ups combo

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: after I put Evelyn down for nap, I can do whatever I need to do even if it’s work or house cleaning...

What motivates you to exercise: it shows good habits for my daughter. It helps me fit into my my pre-baby clothes better. I don’t feel as bad when I eat certain things when I get a good workout in.

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? It’s so nice to have new friends! I feel more outgoing and always can depend on the FIT4MOM village if I need help or have questions! Usually someone already asked so I don’t even have to most of the time!

Piece of advice for new moms: take it one day at time, don’t over stress about things and enjoy the moment because it (time) DOES go by so fast!

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Name: Blake Cotton

Child(ren) name and age: Ellis (3) Stella (1)

Where are you from: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: Joining back in January of 2016! Ellis was about 8 months old and there were a few other moms there with their little ones the exact same age as Ellis. We are all still Fit4Mommers and we are all still friends and so are our little ones. It was meant to be!

Favorite Exercise: Squats and cool down ;)

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: I love reading books with my little ones. I will never get sick of them bringing me books and climbing into my lap to read to them. Readers are Leaders!

What motivates you to exercise: My kids and the strong, encouraging women around me.

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I have met some of the most amazing women that have become my momma tribe here in the city! Women that I can count on to support and encourage me. I love our growing tribe and how we always rally around each other. These are the days!

Piece of advice for new moms: Join FitforMom - do it! Stick with it! Give yourself grace at every workout because the fact that you showed up is a WIN! and lets face it- you can do anything for 30 more seconds because you are a mom!

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The holidays are busy and it is sometimes hard to fit in a workout! Here are some of my favorite moves to get in a full body workout in under 30 minutes!

3 minute warm up

High Knees – 1 minute

Squats – 20 reps ( Add on alternating rear leg lifts the 2nd time through)

Plank – 1 minute

Speed Skaters – 1 minute

Bicep curls – 2o reps – all the way up, all the way down

Bicycles – 1 minute

Jumping Jacks – 1 minute

Seated row – 2o single reps, 20 pulsing reps

Bird Dogs – 1 minute

Repeat series

Stretch and SMILE!