• Find Strength in Motherhood Blog Cover.png
Chicago Blog for Moms
Denise - MOM.jpeg

Name: Denise Schneider

Child(ren) name and age: Mom to Frankie (23 months) and stepmom to Nick (17) and Emma (9-1/2)

Where are you from? I grew up in South Holland, IL (south-suburban Chicago) and lived in Washington, D.C. for almost eight years before moving back to the area for my dream job, Communications Director at Goodman Theatre

What is your favorite thing/memory about FIT4MOM? I loved my early days with Stroller Strides, and how much my then-infant enjoyed being outdoors and seeing the other mamas and babies. Like many others, that was my “gateway drug” to Fit4Mom, and I have loved experiencing the other classes and programs.

Favorite Class? Strides 360

Favorite Mom-me time of the day? Sitting in the backyard and enjoying the sunset, ideally over a neat pour of decent bourbon.

What motivates you to exercise? Being an older mom, the extra energy I get from working out has become a must-have.

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? The awareness of the importance of physical fitness has been the greatest gift from Fit4Mom. It’s made me a stronger woman—physically and mentally.

Do you have a piece of advice for busy moms? Try to give yourself a little (or a lot of) grace. You’re not alone in your quest for the perfect life—but remember that nobody and nothing on this earth is perfect. There is always another day, another chance to put a balanced meal on the table.


Chinese Language Day was set by the United Nations Department of Public Relations in 2010. April 20th not only celebrates the Chinese Language but also Cangjie, "the ancestor of Chinese characters." Over the past 10 years, Chinese Language Day has become a celebration of Chinese culture and heritage. For more information on Chinese Language Day and how to celebrate visit https://www.un.org/zh/observances/chinese-language-day.


April is African American Women's Fitness Month. Encouraging a physically active lifestyle is imperative to fight leading causes of death among African American women in the United States including heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

This week we want to recognize just some of the African American female athletes who forever made history in their sport!

Serena Williams: @serenawilliams was named America’s Greatest Athlete by The New Yorker and media often refer to her as the “Queen of the Court.” Winner of 6 U.S. Opens and 5 Wimbledons. Ranked her World No. 1 in singles on six separate occasions by the Women's Tennis Association between 2002 and 2013. Most recently, she earned her 20th Grand Slam title at the French Open.

Laila Ali: @thereallailaali had an undefeated record of 24 of 24 matches won including 21 knockouts, Laila Ali has made the alleged insult “fight like a girl” into a bona fide badge of honor. She is committed to giving back to her community and wrote a motivational book called Reach! Finding Strength, Spirit, and Personal Power that encourages girls to pursue their goals.

Alice Coachman: First Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal. Specializing in the high jump, she certainly leaped over all the racism thrown her way. Each year between 1939 and 1948, she won a national championship award. In 1948, she was the only American woman to bring home an Olympic gold medal in athletics.

Sheryl Swoopes: @airswoopes22 is often called the “female Michael Jordan”, she was the first player signed to the WNBA and has won three Olympic gold medals. Swoopes is a three-time WNBA MVP, and remains on every top WNBA player list ever made. She scored 955 points in the 1992–93 season alone.

Dominique Dawes: @daweser is a phenomenal gymnast, Dawes was a 10-year member of the U.S. national gymnastics team and member of the gold-winning 1996 Olympic team in Atlanta. She’s also the first Black woman to win an individual Olympic medal in artistic gymnastics. Between 2004 and 2006, Dawes served as president of the Women’s Sports Federation and in 2010.

Celebrating these women in history can inspire other young, female athletes to pursue their passions and never let poor representation stop them. We need to remember to celebrate women of different backgrounds throughout the year every year, not just during a single month.

Source: http://theculture.forharriet.com/2015/06/the-10-greatest-black-women-athletes-of.html


Download these coloring sheets from FIT4MOM and share your designs tagging @fit4momchicago on Facebook or Instagram!

Screen Shot 2021-03-18 at 1.12.57 PM.png

This amazing seed packs plenty of good nutrients and deliciousness. Try it in your oats, a smoothie, sprinkled on yogurt, or in its own pudding! This recipe is straight from our Body Well guide. The next session starts April 12th and we would love to have you join us!

Hospital Bag Blog.png

We asked our mamas who recently had babies what they packed in their bags and what to leave at home!

What to pack:

Top 5!

  • Phone charger (extra long cord!)
  • Button down pajamas/robe
  • Non slip socks/slippers and shower shoes
  • Chapstick
  • Water Bottle

Other noteworthy items!

  • Battery operated candles
  • Shower toiletries, snacks
  • Pillow and blanket for mom,
  • Boppy
  • Pump
  • Going home outfit for baby
  • Hair ties
  • Fan to attach to bed while pushing
  • Speaker to play favorite music
  • Nursing bra
  • Hoodie
  • Snacks

What to leave at home:

Number 1 Response!

  • Extra clothes for mom (only needed 1 set of pajamas/robe/going home outfit)

Other noteworthy Items!

  • Extras for baby (hospital has diapers and postpartum products
  • Kindle/tablet
  • Make-up
  • Extra socks

We also asked our new mamas advice they have for other soon to be new mamas, this is what they said!

  • Trust your gut if you have a concern
  • A frida squirt bottle for down under
  • Embrace the fact that no matter how much you plan things my not go as planned and do your best to accept it and embrace the change as much as possible.
  • Birth rarely follows a plan, be prepared to go with the flow, the end result is an incredible miracle
  • It is great to have a birth plan but know that a lot is out of your control (I.e water breaking or not) and to expect the unexpected.
  • Be informed of all options - highly recommend taking a birth class. Also plan for your postpartum care. You need to take care of yourself after the baby too! Daily baths were a lifesaver for me!
  • Go in open minded and ready for anything
  • Buy depends for the first few weeks vs the mesh underwear.
  • Consider packing a pair of shoes that can handle some serious feet swelling. Chances are they will give you IV fluids and it can be tough to get into your normal sneakers.
  • Let the nursery take your baby at night! Get some sleep. It's only a couple days and your baby will be well taken care of :-)
  • Nursing will be difficult at first and you may need to supplement with formula until your milk comes in, and that is ok!
  • This may not be the birth experience you planned and hoped for, but you are so much more capable than you'll ever know.
  • Join a new moms group (virtual or in person) to meet other new parents and lean on each other- my oldest is almost 3 and I still talk to everyone in my group regularly.
  • Make sure your partner takes lots of photos of you- even when you haven't slept or showered in days you'll look back at those first few photos and be so proud of the person you see in those pics.
  • Stay as long as you can in the hospital, enjoy the meals and extra set of hands - use the nursery (if available) for a few hours break at night It's a bit different with Covid, we were allowed one visitor (my mom) so i was fine just hanging out in my gown and robe.
  • Get to know your hospital and their process, many have videos/online sessions now. But it helped knowing the procedure for when/why we were changing rooms.
  • Ask for the lactation consult and ask their birth weight at the moment you leave
  • Listen to your body and mind and get help of something doesn't feel right both physically and mentally. Always ask for help you don't have to be super mom

Thank you to all the mamas who participated in our survey! You have helped another mama plan her hospital stay!

Klauck Fam MOM Resized.png

What is your name? Sarah Klauck

Who are you a mom to? Reese- 16 months and Baby K #2 who will be joining our crew in late May!

Where are you from? Mt. Prospect

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? I love the ladies-obviously! It truly takes a village to be a mama and I have found some wonderful moms though Fiit4Mom. I’ve really enjoyed Fit4Baby the last few months and seeing the same friendly faces every Tuesday Night & Saturday Morning- and of course the 5 minutes I get to lay on my yoga mat, by myself, in silence during the meditation is AMAZING!

What is your favorite exercise? Run Club- I LOVE running and welcomed the opportunity to get back into it after my first pregnancy. I needed to be motivated and held accountable and Run Club provided just that. That’s when I really started to feel part of the Fit4Mom Village.

What is your favorite Mom-me time of the day? Storytime before bed with Reese- it’s the best part of my day for sure! Even if I’ve had a stressful day at work, I love winding down with her at the end of the night.

What motivates you to exercise? My health, my family and my sanity! Life is hectic and crazy and a good workout lets me take some time to myself and clear my head.

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I definitely underestimated the challenge and mental toll of being pregnant in the middle of a global pandemic. It’s been such a stressful and self-doubting but also exciting time—all the emotions for sure! FIT4MOM has been a HUGE support system for me over these past few months. It’s been both helpful and comforting to relate and talk to other women going through the same thing. It always helps to know you aren’t alone.

What is a piece of advice for busy moms? Put on your oxygen mask first. You need to be OK for your kiddos to be OK. Make time for yourself, even when it’s hard. YOU deserve it!

Kristin MOM resized.png

What is your name?: Kristin Boszhardt

Who are you are a mom to? Danny (8) and Maxwell (5)

Where are you from? I am from the Southwest Suburbs.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? I really love the community of wonderful women that I have met through Fit4Mom.

What is your favorite exercise? I actually enjoy burpees! I always feel really good when I am done doing them!

What is your favorite Mom-me time of the day? I am an early riser, so I try to get up before everyone and get some time to myself.

What motivates you to exercise? My boys motivate me to exercise. I know I am a better person when I get some movement in, which makes me a better mom! I want to set a good example of a healthy lifestyle for my boys.

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I have learned a lot from being a part of FIT4MOM, but what stands out most to me is how I look at food. I am much more aware of how I am fueling my body now than I have ever been. Through the various Body Back and Body Well sessions, I have learned what I need to fuel my body as well as how to notice and manage my habits and cravings.

Piece of advice for busy moms: A little movement every day is so worth it! I always tried to find ways to get long workouts many days a week, but now if I just move everyday in an intentional way, I am happy! Sometimes less really is more for me!

Jessica MOM.jpg

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!

Sarah H - MOM - resized.png

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!

Chelsea - Oct mom.png

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.

Katie - Sept resize.jpg

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!

Halley - Aug 19.jpeg

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.

Tiarnagh - June.jpg

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 .

Evereve logo.png


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!

Rebecca - May 2019.jpg

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!

Natallie - April 2.jpeg

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”.

image1 (3).jpeg

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!

BB for flyer.jpg

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

Chantel - Feb.jpeg

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.

Yoon-Jin - Jan mom.jpg

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!

Blake - Dec mom.jpg

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!

family with Santa.jpg

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!

Nicole Christmas.jpg

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

Jessica cookies.jpg

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!

Thumbprint Cookies

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!

Caroline countdown.jpg

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! ️

Sarah Christmas lights.jpg

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 .

Amanda - Nov mom.JPG

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!

PG water play.jpg

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 :-)

Ali - Oct mom.jpg

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.

Lauren - Sept.jpeg

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!!)

Katy - August mom.jpg

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!

Lindsay - August.jpg

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

Kirsten - July Mom.jpeg

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

  • Park ridge

  • Rosemont

  • Lincoln Square

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:

#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:

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!

Shea - June mom resized.jpg

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.


Name: Katrina

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.

Final Results:

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.

Closing thoughts:

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.

Success Strategies:

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!

Success Strategies:

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.