When my oldest daughter, Evey, was four months old I showed up to my first Stroller Strides class nervous as any new mom would be. I parked my car, pulled out my Chicco stroller, latched my car seat into place and headed inside. Ten minutes before class was set to start, I breastfeed Evey and waited for another mama to show up.
The first person to stroll in was the instructor, Amy. She made me feel welcomed within the first few minutes. As we went around to introduce ourselves and our babies I was amazed by the fact that Amy's son was actually one month younger than Evey and here she was teaching an exercise class and looking AMAZING in her workout gear. I thought-that will never be me!
From the day I found out I was pregnant, exercise ceased to be a priority. I literally stopped working out the day I took my pregnancy test. So for me Stroller Strides became my reintroduction to exercise. And from that first class, it became part of our routine. I scheduled all our appointments, classes, and play dates around Stroller Strides. I realized that this program was what I NEEDED for myself. It got us up and out of the house. It gave me my time for exercise without having to drop my baby in a gym daycare. It meant I could actually socialize and speak with adults during the day. And as Evey grew older, she also got to engage with the other kiddos in class.
Almost a year into my Stroller Strides journey, our then owner, Trisha, convinced me to try this new program she was bringing to SW Portland. It was called Body Back. At first I was hesitant. I thought-I'm not done having babies yet so I will just wait until we have another little one before I "get my body back." Trisha and another Stroller Strider changed my mind by saying how much quicker I would recover from my next pregnancy if I am in great shape before I get pregnant. So began my Body Back career!
Body Back rocked my entire world! It was a program about more than just weight loss. Body Back taught me so much about nutrition. It gave me a LOVE for fitness. And it helped me reflect on how I viewed my body and the importance of taking time for myself. As I changed my diet and my exercise routine, my body began to change and I couldn't get enough of it. My favorite quote on one of my inspiration boards (yes, I made a new inspiration board each session) was "Once you see results, it becomes an addiction." I couldn't believe how much stronger and healthier I felt as each week passed. I also loved the homework we were assigned because it made me really think about my behaviors and my journey to health. There were more than a few tears shed in my first few sessions and plenty of weight lost and strength gained.
Just over three years after my first FIT4MOM class and with a little coercing from Trisha, I finally decided to become an instructor. I was an elementary teacher before babies so I was used to teaching children but standing in front of my peers was a whole new animal. Luckily after all my years attending FIT4MOM classes I felt fairly confident in my new role. I started out teaching Stroller Strides just once a week. I loved writing my workouts and encouraging the mamas to give it their all. As an instructor I was still able to teach, express my creativity through my workout plans, and even use my old teaching supplies to entertain the little ones.
Then shortly after I began instructing, Trisha shared that she was ready to sell the Stroller Strides division of her franchise. I jumped at the opportunity! With the partial purchase, I was able to ease into being a business owner. I got the chance to take on small parts of the business-the newsletter, event planning, speaking to new moms groups at the hospitals. It was a perfect balance for me due to my lack of experience in the business world.
As 2015 came to a close, Trisha was getting ready to sell Body Back and knew I was ready to be full owner. Since I had been a regular figure in Body Back since it started in SW Portland it would be easy for me to take over that portion of the franchise with little disruption. In January 2016 I became the FULL owner of the FIT4MOM SW Portland franchise!
As I approach my first year of full ownership, I have to be so thankful for every person along my journey. From my very first class and my warm and welcoming instructor Amy, to my husband for encouraging me to continue Body Back as my body changed and then supporting me when I told him I wanted to purchase the franchise. I am also so thankful to my fellow FIT4MOM franchisees, old and new. To Trisha for believing in me as her successor. To Megan and Tiffany, my Portland franchisee team that keep me on track and help me in more ways than they know. I couldn't hold my classes or run my business as smoothly without my instructors, who continue to teach amazing and inspiring classes that keep the mamas coming back. And finally, I am ever so thankful to my members-past, present, and future. This business and what it represents would be nothing without your positivity, your hard work, and your most important stretch-YOUR SMILES!