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”.
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!
Cassie joined us for classes last winter and is giving her thoughts on FIT4MOM! Thanks for joining us 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!
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.
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!
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!
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
Stretch and SMILE!
It's Christmas morning. You're busy opening presents and enjoying taking in all the Christmas morning moments. You realize you don't have anything to take to your family/friend gathering! No need to panic! Grab some pretzels and a handful of that Christmas candy and follow the below recipe to create a new favorite.
It’s a recipe that I found when needing something easy given my busy Mom life. My daughter Zoë likes to help and my husband LOVES them!
Rolo Pretzel Delights
1 bag Snyder’s Snaps Pretzels
1 bag Rolos
Pecans or M & M’s
1.) Preheat oven to 250 degrees
2.) Line cookie sheet with parchment
3.) Place rows of pretzels on the cookie sheet and top with an unwrapped Rolo
4.) Bake 3 to 5 minutes or until Rolo begins to soften (gets shiny)
5.) Remove from oven and immediately top with a Pecan, M&M or another Pretzel, pushing the Rolo down.
Let cool and enjoy
The Weber Family Cookie Traditions
I love to bake and love to eat what I bake. The holidays are a perfect time to do both, hopefully more baking and sharing than baking and eating, but we can’t all be perfect. The first recipe, Thumbprints, has been in my life since I can remember. I no longer need the cookbook to make them, and have found out that like everything, they taste way better with butter than the margarine and shortening my mom’s 1980’s cookbook calls for.
The second recipe is new to our family traditions since my mom brought pre-made cookies to decorate to our second holiday celebration with my oldest 3 years ago. I’m pretty sure I am still cleaning up sprinkles from that decorating party today.
Finally, no cookie is complete without even more added sugar. My grandma taught me this icing when I was little with no recipe. Just dump and see. I tried to approximate for you, but it may take some trial and error to get right.
I hope you enjoy baking and making messes with your little ones as much as I do with mine. Standing on a chair baking with my Grandma, Mom, and now my babies; teaching my husband these recipes our first Christmas together; and passing out homemade cookies to our neighbors are some of my favorite holiday memories.
Baking Notes: I’m allergic to diary and my sister is gluten free. The Thumbprint cookies work really well with Bob’s Red Mill 1to1 Gluten Free Flour, just let them cool on the cookie sheet before moving them. Both recipes work well with Earth’s Best Soy Free Butter-Like spread (no need to soften). The sugar cookies taste the same with dairy free cream cheese (or sour cream in a pinch). For the icing I prefer almond milk, but any non-dairy milk would work just fine. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a homemade gluten free sugar cookie recipe that doesn’t fall apart, but the box mixes have always worked well for us!
Betty Crocker Cookbook c. 1980, with modifications
¼ C. packed brown sugar
½ C. butter, softened
1 egg, separated
½ t vanilla
1 C flour
¼ t salt
1 C chopped walnuts
Heat oven to 350F. Mix brown sugar, butter, egg yolk and vanilla. Mix in flour and salt just until dough holds together. Shape dough into 1 inch balls.
In a small bowl, beat egg white slightly. Dip each ball into egg white the roll in chopped walnuts. Place 1 inch apart on cookie sheet and press thumb deeply in the center of each cookie, creating a bowl-like shape. Bake until light brown, 8 to 9 minutes.
Immediately remove from cookie sheet, pressing thumb into each cookie again as needed to keep shape. Cool. Fill thumbprints with topping of your choice. Jelly is traditional. Chocolate ganache is delicious. The quick icing recipe included is the Weber favorite.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies if you can actually keep the little ones to 1 inch cookies!
Glazed Butter Cookies
The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, with better icing ;)
2 ½ C flour
¾ C sugar
¼ t salt
1 C butter, softened
2 T cream cheese
2 t vanilla
Mix flour, sugar, and salt at a low speed until combined. Add butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue to mix until the mixture looks crubly and slightly wet, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Beat in cream cheese and vanilla until dough begins to form large clumps.
Knead dough into a large mass, about 1 to 3 turns. Divide into 2 pieces and shape into disks. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is firm, 30 - 60 minutes.
Heat oven to 375F. Work with one piece of dough at a time. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface to ⅛ inch thickness. Cut desired shapes with floured cookie cutters and place onto cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through.
Cool on the cookie sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature. Ice with favorite icing, like the easy one included!
Makes about 3 dozen cutouts depending on size.
Easy Cookie Icing
Thanks to my no nonsense Grandmas!
2 C powdered sugar
4 T milk
Put powdered sugar into a small bowl. Mix in milk 1 tablespoon at a time until mixture reaches desired consistency. Color with food coloring in small batches.
Icing should be runny but firm enough to say on the cookie. Will slowly drop off a spoon to fill the Thumbprint Cookies and pipe through a small hole cut in a zip top bag to ice the sugar cookies.
Check out the then and now pictures!
The holidays are about balance. Check out the included bonus workout catered to holiday baking!
One of our favorite holiday traditions is our Christmas Countdown. I saved the girls’ baby socks and hung them on twine attached to a white canvas. Each sock contains a holiday-themed treat or activity. Treats are a piece of chocolate or little toy. Activities range from “make hot cocoa” to “visit zoo lights”. As the girls are getting older, we try to balance the amount of giving and receiving throughout the month. It’s a fun way to countdown to Christmas and the girls love peeking in the sock each morning! ️
One of my family’s favorite holiday traditions is to drive around looking at lights!! We celebrate Christmas in our home, and lights, both inside and out, are a huge part of the wonder and magic of our tradition. There are so many ways to experience bright, fun lights, and what I’ve discovered is that my kids are happy to see lights any time, any place. So our new tradition has become driving around our neighborhood almost every evening so see what festive decor our neighbors have come up with! This picture is their current favorite house.
Zoo lights are awesome, the Morton Arboretum’s Illuminations Show is incredible, but the simple wonder of neighborhood lights does the trick, and I’m so happy to see their faces light up with exclamations of excitement just as brightly as these twinklers here when they see them out the windows .
Name: Amanda Seibert
Child(ren) name and age: Elijah 2
Where are you from: I am a military brat that moved around a ton but I consider Pennsylvania home.
Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: This is the first workout I have ever stuck with for more than 1 week. I actually LIKE working out now!! I also love that my son learns songs from Strides and loves to go play with the other kids. I love seeing him get out my exercise band to do his own workouts at home. :)
Favorite Exercise: I love any type of core workout, especially V sits.
Favorite Mom-me time of the day: My morning tea, devotion and day planning before my son wakes up. (I also love my Saturday morning Body Back time!!)
What motivates you to exercise: Knowing how hard I worked to get to this point, I can't stop now!
How has FIT4MOM changed your life? It actually made me a better mom that doesn't stress as much. I use to stress over what my toddler ate and if he was eating the right foods- ALL THE TIME! Since Body Back I now only eat healthy options and only offer him healthy food. And to my surprise he is following my example, he actually loves some raw vegetables! I also love how being "healthy" spilled into other parts of my life, I now floss daily, have more energy and am okay with saying "no" to things that are draining.
Piece of advice for new moms: Kuddos to you for working out! I wish I would have started exercising right away and not waited 2 years to lose the weight. Some days are exhausting (okay most day are exhausting) but lean on your village for emotional, mental or physical support. Your problem and issues are never "too small" to share with another mom! And ALWAYS make time for self-care: devotions, quiet time, caffeine or working out - whatever makes you happy and gives you energy!
By now you know that FIT4MOM Chicago is so much more than an exercise class. In addition to the multiple classes we offer, Our Village Playgroups are an amazing group of supportive moms. Of course, all great groups must have a leader!
Our Playgroup Captains are an integral part of our village. They not only are a welcoming face to our classes, they also plan monthly crafts, stay and plays, outside of class play dates and some amazing Mom's Nights. The village wouldn't be the village without them! So, let’s get to know these amazing mamas a little better. Let us introduce to you Holly, Christine, Bailey, Sarah, Megan, Katy and Erin. Please take the time to read further about their experiences as Playgroup Captains and don’t forget to let them know you appreciate all they do! Thanks ladies!
Side Note! You do NOT have to be a member of FIT4MOM to join the FIT4MOM Our Village Weekly Playgroup. All moms are welcome! This is a FREE group!
Name: Holly VanDalsen
Kiddos: Maximus VanDalsen
Favorite thing about Playgroup: My favorite thing about playgroup captain is crafts. Seeing the older kids being creative and being able to include our youngest of village babies is the best.
Favorite Mom’s Night Out (MNO): so hard to pick just one because each one has some top-notch memories. If you have not ever made it to a mom’s night out yet do it! The paddle boarding and dock restaurant MNO was a blast. Paddle boarding since I had never done it before was a blast. There is also something to be said about being outside on the beach at night with music and other moms, it was a blast. Excited for it to continue to be an annual MNO.
Favorite FIT4MOM Memory: My favorite fit4mom memory once again so hard to pick just one! Overall, I just am so thankful for the kindness and community of this village. My husband and I moved here in May and I knew exactly one person in Chicago. We have no family here and all of you have quickly become great friends and some my new family. I was a FIT4MOM member in Michigan before we moved and was confident knowing I would meet moms at the Chicago franchise but it exceeded more than I could have ever dreamed of. From the bottom of my heart I am so thankful for everyone in this village you mommas help make memories on the daily and I’m so blessed to know you all.
Name: Christine Mishoulam
Kiddos: Two sons Senna age 3 and Lucca 11 months
Favorite thing about Playgroup: My favorite thing about playgroup is no matter how bad of a morning I've had at home trying to get out the door, my mom friends and their kiddos always make me feel normal and appreciated.
Favorite Mom’s Night Out (MNO): I have unfortunately not been to as nearly as many as I would have liked...but any time involving drinks and time with my girlfriends is priceless.
Favorite FIT4MOM memory: One of my favorite memories of FIT4MOM is how easy it was to fit in and how welcoming the moms were. I realized early on once I started attending that I had struck gold and that I was going to survive being a stay at home mom. ;)
Name: Bailey Pindral
Kiddos: Isabela 22 months, Mackenzie 8 weeks
Favorite thing about Playgroup: Bringing together moms and making friends and watching all the kids interact together!
Favorite Mom's night out: Board and Brush
Favorite FIT4MOM memory: watching my daughter run up to her friends at Stroller Strides and give them a hug after being gone on maternity leave!
Name: Sarah Ward
Kiddos: Jimmy (age 21 mos)
Favorite thing about Playgroup: I love staying after class watching the kids learn and interact with each other as they grow.
Favorite Mom’s Night Out (MNO): I love all Mom's nights out! We need them and I always leave feeling closer to other moms and looking forward to the next night out!
Favorite FIT4MOM memory: Just after starting with Fit4mom Jimmy was diagnosed with food allergies, all the instructors and other moms were so wonderful and supportive. I really felt like part of the village.
Name: Megan Roeseler
Kiddos: Lura- 13 months
Favorite thing about Playgroup: I like watching the kids interact with each other. It is fun for my daughter to interact with kids her age, but also learn skills from the kids a bit older than her. I like that usually my daughter is worn out by the end and will nap much better afterwards!!!!
Favorite Mom’s Night Out (MNO): I like the Tuscan Wine bar or Goat Yoga!
Favorite FIT4MOM memory: I think my favorite memory is when I first joined back in January 2018 when my daughter was 3 months. I really needed an outlet and I found other mom's groups I've tried to be really judgmental and not welcoming, so I was pleasantly surprised how warm and welcome I felt entering into the village. I work part time too, so I really love getting to be able to do something for myself without feeling like I'm not spending enough time with my kid.
Name: Katy Bode
Kiddos: Bec Bode
Favorite thing about Playgroup: I love seeing the kiddos (and moms) smile with new activities. This summer’s water fun water party stay n' play & craft was one of my favorites. I love coordinating with the Instructors specialty class so that the Mom's get a special class and the kiddos get a coordinating special play time after. Our water party and craft was after a fun water class with baby pools, water drippers and making boats with some fun music playing. The kiddos were running around giggling, happy and wet and moms were happily chatting away and getting in on the fun :) The fire house play group was pretty great too, so many moms, dads and kids came out for it.
Favorite Mom’s Night Out (MNO): I don't think I can pick a favorite I look forward to our monthly MMO (Mom's Morning Out) Brunch that has been a hit. It is
so great to take a little bit out of the weekend for ourselves and enjoy some kid free time to chat.
Favorite FIT4MOM memory: During a Stroller Strides class a few days before Thanksgiving 2017 while doing squats and tickle toes Bec said his first word "Momma" and kept repeating it the rest of class. A moment I will never forget.
Name: Erin Kolbe
Kiddos: Kyler (8) Kennedy (3)
Favorite thing about Playgroup: My fav thing about the playgroup is watching the kiddos interact and the moms bond over the interactions. The unity it brings is incredible.
Favorite Mom’s Night Out (MNO): My fav MNO has been our mani/pedi nights. We have always had an amazing turn out. It’s so fun to watch the moms connect as women along with being moms. That support is just so important for us all.
Favorite FIT4MOM memory: My fav Fit4Mom memory is hard to place. I love when I have watched other moms connect and form friendships outside of class :-)
Name: Ali Otte
Child(ren) name and age: Ryan 7.5 months
Where are you from: Skokie
Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: I love all things Fit4Mom from classes to after class play mini groups. But I think my favorite memory or thing about Fit4Mom would be MNO. I love getting together with all the moms. I loved going to the Warbler as well as the most recent night out at the Pump and Dump show and then going out afterwards. I also loved art and crafts for my first mothers day and Ryan made me a foot flower pot. It was her first art project so this will be saved for sure.
Favorite Exercise: Well anyone who knows me, knows push ups are my least favorite but when i'm with Nicole down by the lake of course doing bands and when I am with Amy I am always down for a dance moment.
Favorite Mom-me time of the day: After Ryan goes to bed, just laying in my bed watching my shows with some hot tea.
What motivates you to exercise: I'm very into sports and grew up always being active. I want my daughter to be the same way and for her to hopefully get the same feeling I got when I played sports.
How has FIT4MOM changed your life? It has introduced me to the most amazing women who I am so proud to call friends and some of them even family.
Piece of advice for new moms: Don't worry about not being in the best shape, this village is so helpful and uplifting that even if you come by yourself for the first time.. Which I did.. it will be so easy to make at least 1 friend but trust me you will come out with so many more than that. This is truly one aspiring, helpful and caring village.
Name: Lauren Schlesselman
Child(ren) name and age: JB age 11 months
Where are you from: Born and Raised in Chicago!
Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: I love the beautiful setting of Evanston’s Lake Front! There is something so magical about bringing your baby to a gorgeous place! Add in new mom friends and a wonderful workout! Stroller Strides is the best!
Favorite Exercise: Tricep dips and pushups! They are hard and a total work in progress, but I always feel strong after!
Favorite Mom-me time of the day:
NAP time! I actually take a nap or rest when my baby naps! It’s been the best piece of advice that I have taken very seriously! We are down to one nap a day and on the go so much. So taking a moment every day to just take a deep breath or a snooze is amazing! Naps wont last forever! So I am taking advantage!!!
What motivates you to exercise: Keeping up with my baby and being a happier Mommy! Knowing my baby will benefit from socializing is the cherry on top!
How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I have lost almost 30lbs since starting Stroller Strides in May! I won a contest for a free Month and I have been hooked ever since! I had a hard time getting pregnant and staying pregnant so I was on partial bed rest for a long time! Going from resting and building a baby inside me to taking care of a newborn was a shock to my system! Add in baby health issues and it was a-lot of stress! Having a place to go every day where I could chat with other moms, get my health, strength and body back at my own pace has been the best!
Piece of advice for new moms: Less is more! If something doesn’t get done around the house its ok! If you can’t get out of the house that day- its ok! Your baby will never need you more than he or she does right now! Take advantage of every moment to bask in the beauty of what your love created! The laundry will wait (for a minute)!
(Before pics on the right... current pics on the left!!)
Name: Katy McCullough
Child(ren) name and age: Zoë, 9 months
Where are you from: Grand Rapids, MI
Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: French Fry Fridays!
Favorite Exercise: Any exercise that allows me to tickle my sweet babe’s toes. She LOVES it!
Favorite Mom-me time of the day: A glass of wine at the end of a long day.
What motivates you to exercise: I exercise to be an example of a healthy and strong woman for my daughter.
How has FIT4MOM changed your life? FIT4MOM has helped me to be healthy and make time for myself, but more importantly has provided me with a community, a village. I’ve met so many amazing mamas who inspire and support me in all things which I am beyond grateful for!
Piece of advice for new moms: Be kind to yourself!
Teaches: Body Back (Mount Prospect and Glenview) and will start Stroller Strides in Mount Prospect once we are indoors this fall!
Hometown: Arlington Heights, IL
Mom to: Emme, 3 years old
How did you first get introduced to FIT4MOM/Stroller Strides?
My best friend had been attending for about a year when I joined and she had always encouraged me to try it out
What made you want to become an instructor?
After I had my daughter I needed something to give structure to my day and provide some adult interaction along with something I felt was helping me.
I found all of this in Stroller Strides and then later in Body Back once she got older.
I became an instructor because I wanted to be able to help other moms be able to get out, socialize, and learn from eachother all while getting a great workout and taking care of themselves.
What did you do before becoming an instructor?
I worked as a nurse practitioner specializing in liver disease.
What is your favorite part of instructing? Favorite song/exercise?
Helping others leave all their stress, frustration and worry from the day behind and leave feeling better physically and mentally.
Song/exercise- Old McDonald when the kids get to pick an animal paired up with wall sits and bicep curls.
What is your favorite non-kid workout song that gets you moving?
Remind me to Forget by Kygo & Miguel
Name: Kirsten LoRusso
Child(ren) name and age: Nicholas, 2 1/2
Where are you from: Mount Prospect, IL
Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: When I work out with Fit4Mom, I get a great workout and my son gets to have fun at the park and play dates afterward. It’s a wonderful way to spend a morning!
Favorite Exercise: Squat/leg lift progression on the curb. Burns so good!
Favorite Mom-me time of the day: I joked with a friend once that I had to go back to work to have some time for myself - but it’s kind of true! I travel for work, and at some point during my trip I take the time to exercise, get a manicure, or simply enjoy not having dishes or laundry to do.
What motivates you to exercise: I want to be able to keep up with my son.
How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I met an amazing group of moms who I am inspired and supported by every time we work out. Going to Stroller Strides is always something I look forward to and, as busy as life can get, I never regret taking the time to go to class.
Piece of advice for new moms: Worry less, enjoy more.
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.