Team Spotlight - February 2023

This month, the spotlight is on....

We have such a crazy amazing, dedicated and talented team of instructors and playgroup captains here at FIT4MOM | MOCO + FREDERICK. I love giving everyone the opportunity to get to know a little more about each one of them, and this month we're going to continue our instructor spotlight with.....Stephanie Schneider!

Stephanie has to be one of the most genuine humans I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. She is an incredible listener, she has such a kind spirit and caring heart, and she happens to have THE nicest handwriting of anyone out there (seriously, read her answers below, and you'll know what I'm talking about).

Stephanie is passionate about motherhood, and you can tell how much she loves the prenatal stage if and when you take her Fit4baby class. I love reading her story of how she found her way into the role she's in now, and I am just so thankful that she loved our Fit4baby Prenatal program so much that she begged me to bring it back. It's because of her persistence that we've had it available for so many of our mamas-to-be over these past few years.

Thank you, Stephanie, for letting me share your story. Thank you for being an incredibly valuable member of this #dreamteam, and thank you for being the wonderful person you are. I am so grateful for you and your role in this community!

xo, Heather

Who are the members of your family?

I’m Stephanie, and the members of my family are my husband, Chris, and our three boys, Joseph (9), Henry (almost 7), and Nicholas (5).


Where can people find you, i.e. what’s your role within FIT4MOM | MOCO + FREDERICK?

Right now, in Fit4Mom I instruct Fit4Baby classes. I teach F4B Express virtual class on Friday mornings. If you want to workout together, my favorite class to take is Ignite with Ewa at the Rio on Thursdays.


Tell us your {entire} FIT4MOM story!

I began my story with Fit4Mom back in the fall of 2015, when I was pregnant with my second guy, Henry. I had an almost 2yo at home, was working nursing shifts in the hospital and really wanted to build my strength in my pregnancy.

With my first, I had just found ways to adapt my normal workout routine, but despite my efforts, really felt like I lost a lot of muscle strength during that pregnancy. Part of it was not knowing what I was allowed and capable of during pregnancy. So, once I was expecting Henry, I began looking for workout classes specifically for pregnancy that would guide me and build strength…in came Fit4Baby.

Finding this class was an answer to needs I didn’t realize I had: not only did I have an instructed plan for how I could challenge an engage my body in a safe way during this precious time of pregnancy, but I met other women in this same stage of life and change; I soaked up the encouragement and knowledge of my instructor; and, I had my one hour of the week that I paused and had a private moment with my baby. The need to just get things done with a toddler and incredibly busy work day had me rushing around so much that being pregnant often became an afterthought. At class, though, the instructor would gently remind us to take this moment with our babies, to notice how we felt, to acknowledge the changes of our bodies…all of these things so fleeting, and so quickly missed when the to-do list of life takes over. I was grateful for those small moments with Henry, noticing him and appreciating what my body could do, before my little one arrived and everything changed again.

In postpartum with Henry, we had a bit of a tough adjustment. His first month and a half of life were filled with cholic and feeding difficulties, which also made a difficult transition for this now “new-mom-of-two.” Though I missed Fit4Baby and wanted to attend Fit4Mom class, it took me a full year of adjusting and gathering myself (mentally and physically), returning to work shifts, and the other to-dos of life before I was ready to get out and try. I only regret not doing it sooner. My first F4M class was an outdoor promotional class in Rockville Town Square to get the word out to new moms/kiddos. The joy I felt that day was so overdue and needed. My mom came along to help and be sure I would get to the class—I think she knew I needed it. I felt strong, happy, encouraged and so capable doing the class. I loved being around the other moms, and felt the connection to these other women in this phase of life, cleaning up the spills, rolling with the currents, and figuring it all out when little humans depend on you. One of the other moms in attendance happened to be a patient I had cared for in her postpartum time at the hospital—she remembered me and joyfully greeted me, and it felt so good to be in a space of camaraderie with her, as well as knowing that I had made a positive impact on her family in my nursing work. The final joy of that day was Ewa, who was instructing. She, as you all know, made me feel empowered and strong, gave me encouragement, and challenged me. She also came up afterwards to talk to me, knowing that I was new. I felt so SEEN and uplifted that day. I walked away knowing that I was signing up for a F4M membership.

In the year that followed, I often was pushing both boys in the stroller during my workouts, while my body grew through the changes of my 3rd pregnancy. Despite, at times, my physical exhaustion from the pregnancy and my nursing shifts, I always felt stronger and a boost in my mood from the stroller classes. I went every day that I wasn’t sleeping off a night shift or at the hospital working. Though the Fit4Baby classes were not available at that time, I was able to push my big boys in the stroller up through 38wks of pregnancy, and credit my strength and endurance for delivery to my time in F4M classes. When I had asked Heather about restarting F4B so I could attend, she patient fielded my requests (which I felt like I asked her EVERY week—ha!) with patience and told me she was working on it.

Though F4B did not restart in time for my pregnancy with Nicholas, Heather did keep her promise, and brought it back in late 2018. At that time, Heather asked me if I would consider training for and becoming a Fit4Baby instructor to help relaunch the program. I was elated and honored at her request, and it came at a perfect time in my life, though I didn’t know it at first. I was worried about the juggle of the class with my ever-changing work shifts, and life with 3 little guys 4 and under. But the morning I spoke with Heather on the phone about this possible new role, I was traveling by train to Philadelphia to see a specialist for what turned out to be a melanoma (cancer) in my retina. That diagnosis led to some life changes and self-care that included stepping away from my nursing work. I began teaching our first Fit4Baby session the same week I took my last shifts at the hospital. It was a big change, after 15 years of nursing, to step away, and I didn’t realize how much my identity was tied into this calling of nursing. In what could have been a very hard change for me, instructing Fit4Baby helped to fill my cup, to give me a way to connect with new/expectant mothers, and gave me another source of purpose. I am forever grateful that this opportunity came into my life when it did. (Thank you, Heather!)

Virtual F4M helped to carry me through the craziness of the pandemic and gave me the outlet that we all SO desperately needed during that time. It also was a way to feel connected still, when we were all so separate and isolated. And, thank goodness, we are now on the tail-end of that crazy time and back with each other, both virtually and in-person, reconnecting!


What is your favorite exercise/activity to teach?

Fit4Baby has given me a real love of deep core/pelvic floor exercises. Prior to teaching this, I didn’t fully understand the engagement and strengthening of these muscles. It is something I now find myself focusing on outside of class, at times, adding it in throughout my day and adding it on those rare occasions I get to do calming intentional breathing.

What do you love about being part of the #dreamteam?

I love being a part of the #dreamteam, because these are women that I admire so much. I admired them as instructors for their expertise in their classes, and I admire them as people who are kind, engaged mothers, inspiring in their jobs/work/life…there is nothing more motivating that being in the company of women like our MoCo/Frederick #dreamteam!

prize wheel steph kim.jpeg

How has FIT4MOM or this village helped you during such unusual times or beyond?

Fit4Mom and our village has helped in so many ways, even outside of classes. Besides my extra long explanation of my story with F4M (which includes so many ways F4M has profoundly lifted me up), this village has brought such goodness to my life. When I was expecting my 3rd, Adrienne asked if I wanted a meal train. Though my first thought was to turn it down, “I don’t want to bother anyone” and “I’ve done this before, I can handle it” filled my head. Ultimately, that little voice inside that strives for independence and self-reliance was beat out by the voice of gratitude for what was being offered. I’m so thankful for the wonderful women who brought us meals—it made all the difference in those early weeks, to spend a few extra minutes being “present” to my family and not just tying myself up in the to-dos and chores of meals, shopping and clean up. There was plenty of time for that later. Now, I recommend Meal Trains to EVERYONE. The women I have met, both in class as a participant and as an instructor, have filled me up during stages of motherhood that can otherwise feel incredibly isolating and lonely. And this time to focus on health and family when I’ve been through multiple health challenges has given me strength and empowered me to do all I can for my body and mind, when I cannot control all that has happened with my body.


What’s your why? Why do you keep doing what you do?

My why is that I LOVE connecting with other women during all parts of motherhood. I used to practice in various areas of nursing, but my last role was as a postpartum and newborn nursery nurse. Though the hours, late/missed meals, and busy days could be wearing, I never got over the joy of helping these new families grow in comfort, experience, and empowering them with the tools they needed to “solve” parenting their new little one when they left the hospital. It was one of the things I loved most. When I stopped my role as a nurse, instructing F4Baby was a huge part of replenishing my soul. I’m so grateful every week to be able to connect with all of our moms. It refuels my body and spirit as much as, I hope, it does for all the moms in my class!

What is a fun fact that our village may not already know about you?/Is there anything else you’d like our village to know?

A fun fact about me is that I’m a bit of an old soul—I like puzzles, crosswords, hand-written letters, sewing, calligraphy—things my Grandma loved. I wish she was here to enjoy them with me now.


The only other thing to share with our Village: thank you for all you bring to this community! Fit4Mom is what it is because of every person’s part: Heather’s and the manager team’s guidance and leadership; the instructors’ sweat, tears, and their thoughtful instruction and planning; and all the moms—our Village is nothing without you! You bring so much just in your willing presence, even on the days where you didn’t feel like you could make it, and especially on the days where it was a fight to just get out the door and show up—THANK YOU!


February Extras!

Would you prefer to get away during the winter to go skiing or go to the beach?

This gal is a beach-lover all day long, just trapped inside a pale and freckled body. Nothing that a hat and SPF 70 can’t fix, though! I wouldn’t turn down a ski vacation, but I sure love warm sun.

Valentine’s Day: a lame Hallmark holiday or a great excuse to celebrate (and eat chocolate)?

I used to be better about Valentine’s Day, but I must say, I love an excuse to share love. Since I didn’t have many Valentine’s dates growing up (and through early adulthood) I turned it into a fun excuse to tell my girlfriends how amazing they were and send them funny or thoughtful cards. Now, I’ve got a permanent “Valentine”, so all is well!

Funniest pickup line you’ve ever heard?

Ooooh, goodness. It’s been awhile since I’ve heard a pickup line. I think the last time I heard one, I was so far out of the game that I was oblivious that it was even a pickup line…

Let’s talk s’mores preferences: Should the marshmallow be golden brown, slightly charred and gooey, or blackened?

As s’mores go: definitely slight char and gooey marshmallow. Only way to go.