Hi Colleen! First of all, tell me a little bit about yourself and your background, as well as your family?
Hi! I am a dream chasing, single mama to a wild 2.5 year old boy named Jay. I grew up in the tri-state Cincinnati area, graduated from Xavier with a Marketing degree and have been fortunate enough to find my dream job! My daily motto is to lead with love and enthusiasm.
I've had a crazy ride into motherhood and I believe that helps me relate to and empathize with a lot of new moms. I'm going to own my titles here – I'm a single mom, first time mom, boss mom, NICU mom, preemie mom, boy mom, postpartum anxiety mom, PTSD mom, bed rest mom, low milk supply mom, breastfeeding mom, pumping mom, bottle feeding mom, daycare mom, helicopter mom, full-time working mom. When I'm not consumed by toddlerhood and being a #bossmom, I love spending time with my family, dancing, traveling, following local sports teams and binge watching Shonda Rhimes shows.
What was your own pregnancy and birth experience like?
My pregnancy was a rollercoaster! I was living in San Diego and all of my family was here in the midwest. I had a challenging pregnancy, it was unexpected and not supported. I temporarily lost my vision at 28 weeks and was placed on strict hospital bed rest with pre-eclampsia. It was very isolating and traumatic.
I had a c-section at 32 weeks and my little 2lb 13 oz son was brought into the world fighting! The cord was wrapped around his neck twice, but he came out crying. He had an 18 day stay in the
NICU and I took him home at 3lbs 2oz (can you believe that!?) He weighed the same as a bag of sugar and I got to bring him home.
I was so excited when I got the call from the NICU physician that he could come home, I forgot to bring an outfit to bring him home in. I could write an entire blog post about my 5 week hospital stay and life as a preemie mom in the NICU! Because of my experiences, providing support and a village for mom's and mom's to be is truly my passion.
Were you always into fitness, or did that passion spark after the birth of your son? How did having your son change your life, both internally, and externally?
I've always been active. With over 20 years of dance experience, including 3 years on the Xavier University Dance Team, I have lead a high energy and active lifestyle When I was placed on strict bedrest, I was devastated. I lost most of my muscle tone, strength and energy during pregnancy and postpartum.
Bedrest was definitely a test of mental strength. I physically felt capable of being active and wanted to keep moving, but was only allowed to walk to the bathroom, and if I was lucky take a 15 min shower. I was wheel-chaired to every appointment or anytime I left my room.
We had a challenging first few months, and I was determined to start working out again after my doctor gave me clearance, but as a single mom with no family in town, childcare was an obstacle until I discovered FIT4MOM. I began taking Stroller Strides classes in January 2015 and was
able to regain my strength and health while bonding with my son and connecting with other moms.
Tell me about Fit4Mom. How did you find the program, and what speaks to you about it?
When I decided to move back to Cincinnati to be closer to family, I knew I had to continue Stroller Strides classes. There weren't any here, so I knew I had to start a location.
Coming from a career in the male-dominated automotive industry, I was looked down on and even bullied for being a new mom. I'll never forget the negative comments I heard during that stage. One co-worker literally said "can't you just give him a bottle!?" Someone has to fill that bottle lady! And I worked my butt off to fill those bottles, deliver them to NICU/daycare and wash/sterlize them all day everyday for 12 months.
I struggled with low milk supply, tongue tie, and a year of sleep deprivation. I skipped every lunch break to rush to daycare with liquid gold in hand to make sure my baby was nourished. I needed a Village that was accepting and nurturing of my new role as a mom, and FIT4MOM has filled that void for me.
FIT4MOM was the first place I felt accepted as a mom. That feeling of finding your Village of women who get you knew I made the right career change during my first F4M instructor training. Within minutes of nervously walking into a room of strangers it was buzzing with joyful chatter and instant connections. We were instructed to keep our phones on vibrate and to check them as often as needed, babies were welcome to stop in to nurse whenever they needed, mom's were welcome to pump DURING the training wherever they wanted. It was totally acceptable to cry when sharing your story and listening to others touching stories.
I was finally in a safe, supportive, loving space again. It is my personal mission to spread that love and welcome, support and empower as many women as possible in Cincinnati. F4MBAM is a safe space for all mamas at any stage of motherhood to reclaim some time for her!
How did you become involved? Are you a franchise owner, or how does that affiliation work? Do you have any special certifications or education in fitness?
I became a certified FIT4MOM instructor before purchasing my local franchise. Yes, I am
a proud franchise owner and there are over 200 FIT4MOM franchises in the USA. All
FIT4MOM instructors are specially trained in prenatal fitness and postnatal fitness. We
are all CPR certified an well versed in ACOG guidelines and the postpartum body.
Tell me about the programs you offer, both prenatally and postpartum! I love that you have something for every stage, and am especially intrigued by the Stroller Strides program. How does that work for moms? How do babies typically do?
We currently offer classes 6 days a week, year round in Montgomery, including some evenings and weekend classes. Stroller Strides is our most popular program. Stroller Strides ® - A stroller-based fitness program designed for moms with little ones. Each 60-minute, total body workout incorporates power walking/jogging, strength, toning, & fun for kids. Mom can start this class 6-8 weeks postpartum and bring any stroller aged kiddo with her. So if she has more than one child, this is a great way to still get a workout while pushing a double or triple stroller.
We will be launching Stroller Barre® this fall. Stroller Barre® is a unique blend of ballet, Pilates, barre, yoga and stroller-based exercises incorporated with everything our moms love about Stroller Strides®. This workout is designed to help moms build strength and muscle tone and improve posture all while their little ones are in tow. Created by a mom who was formerly a professional ballerina, this class incorporates prenatal and postnatal training and yields amazing results in an exciting, fun format.
Postpartum women tend to have tight and weak pectoral (chest), abdominal and quadriceps muscles. In addition, the back and hamstrings muscles become stretched and weak. This occurs due to hunched posture from breast or bottle feeding, excessive spinal curves while carrying baby in utero and after birth, and repeatedly picking their new (and rapidly growing) baby up.
Stroller Barre® focuses on strengthening and creating an ideal length/tension relationship in all the postural muscles, creating a taller, leaner-looking mommy! Fit4Baby ® is our indoor prenatal class. It's designed to strengthen the body for all the changes it will experience during pregnancy. These classes exclusively focus on pregnant moms!
We are more than just a fitness class, we also offer a private online support group for our members, free weekly playgroups and monthly mom's night out.
What are some of the biggest challenges you see new moms facing who come to your programs? What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your job?
Motherhood is challenging and I see a lot of those challenges regularly. FIT4MOM is a safe place for every mom to just BE. It's a judgement free environment where mom can reclaim an hour a day to take care of her. Most mom's join our group because they are looking for new mom friends, they don't like the idea of putting their child in the gym daycare, or need a new fitness routine that's specific for prenatal or postpartum support.
I have the best job in the world. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is watching and listening to mom's connect! Motherhood can be so isolating, and hearing the buzz of women sharing, offering encouragement and empathy is truly magic. The second most rewarding part of my job is the babies and children. Seeing toddlers imitate what mom is doing is class is such a blessing. Watching them “play Stroller Strides” by doing exercises and singing along to songs we sing in class. What better reminder of what you do everyday is making a difference, than your children following in your healthy footsteps.
What kind of advice or encouragement would you give to a new mom who is maybe feeling self-conscious about her new “mom body,” or who wants to get fit, but doesn’t know where to start?
First, you are not alone! We remind our mom's in class to remember what your body just
accomplished. Give yourself grace and remember that you created a life and grew a little
human and are doing a great job at keeping that tiny human alive!
I always like to say that walking, especially if you have a newborn and getting outside is
a great place to start. A community such as ourselves is also a great place to start. We
are the experts in postnatal fitness and we can walk a new mom through modifications
as needed and provide an encouraging safe environment for her and baby. We grow tiny
beings, feed those beings, be everything for that being for a while (pillow, blanket, food
source, safe place, etc...) so its okay. We are all mamas and have all been there (or
currently still there). We understand exactly how you are feeling. I don't know of a more
supportive group to join!