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Team Spotlight - February 2020

We have an amazing, dedicated and talented team of instructors and playgroup captains here at FIT4MOM Montgomery County. I love giving everyone the opportunity to get to know a little more about each one of them, and I'm excited to continue our spotlight this month with....Stephanie Schneider!

Stephanie is quite possibly the kindest human I know. She's one of those people who you have a conversation with, and you leave the conversation feeling refreshed and heard. She's a great listener, has great perspective, and is incredibly supportive of those around her. She's a fantastic instructor, and she's passionate about health and wellness.

Getting to know Stephanie well in classes during her third pregnancy was so much fun, and she's a big part of why we brought Fit4baby back to fit4mommoco. I'm so thankful for her passion, insight & kindness, and if you live in the Olney area (and beyond) I encourage you to go try her class. Whether you're expecting or not, you won't regret it!

xo, Heather

Now read on, learn more about Stephanie and her family, and then go find her in a class!

1. Who are the members of your family?

Our family consists of me, my husband, Chris, and our 3 boys, Joseph (6), Henry (almost 4), and Nicholas (2). We have quite the loud and energetic household!

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2. Where can people find you? What is your role within FIT4MOMMOCO?

When I'm working out, I can usually be found at Strides/360 at Hardshells (Rio/Kentlands in summer), or getting myself incredibly sweaty in at Body Back with Ewa early mornings, or with Katie in Olney on Tuesday nights. When teaching, I am so grateful to be an instructor for Fit4Baby in Olney on Thursdays at the Olney School of Dance. These women inspire me every time we work out together. Come join us, or tell a friend!

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3. Tell us your {entire} FIT4MOM story!

I found Fit4Mom MoCo in an online search between my first and second sons. I had just begun my second pregnancy, and wanted to find something to help me maintain my strength this time around. I had stayed fit and exercised throughout my first pregnancy, but I think that worry and misinformation both had me thinking that I couldn't really challenge myself or my muscles during this time; and I found that I truly felt weak postpartum. Part of that was just allowing my body some grace and time to recover--pregnancy and delivery are no joke! But, part of it was that I had not allowed myself to do all I could do to maintain my best pregnant fitness. I have always been proud of my strength and wanted to feel it fully both in body and spirit with this pregnancy and recovery. And that is when I found (and LOVED) Fit4Baby with Fit4Mom MoCo! Truly, I went into the delivery room stronger and giving my body it's best preparation for whatever was to come in delivery and postpartum; and I truly did feel so much stronger in recovery.

Despite determination to start stroller classes once I was cleared for exercise, I found myself unable between a relentless run of cholic with my newborn, sleepless nights, adjustment to 2 kiddos, returning to shift work...but Fit4Mom, and my desire for the joy and strength it brought me, remained in the back of my mind. Finally, a year postpartum, I got myself out to a stroller event in Rockville. Ewa was teaching the class, and I still remember her coming up and welcoming me and engaging me in conversation after class. I also saw a woman who I had cared for (as a nurse) in postpartum at the hospital after the birth of her child and she remembered me and our time together during her hospitalization. These two experiences really helped to reinforce what I loved about Fit4Mom in the first place: the strength it gave me, and the community of women. It just immediately felt like such a warm and welcome space that I knew I was hooked. Even though I got pregnant with my 3rd son soon after, I was able to attend classes through 38 weeks of pregnancy, pushing the double stroller with my 2 bigger boys! I probably drove Heather crazy during that time, asking constantly if she was going to restart Fit4Baby, as I had so loved it and that hour to just enjoy my pregnancy. I wanted to have that again. She took my inquiries patiently, and then offered me the opportunity to teach it when the program was relaunched in late 2018--I was thrilled to become an instructor!

Psssst....just for the record, she did NOT drive me crazy! :)

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4. What is your favorite thing to teach in class?

I love teaching core work in Fit4Baby! When we think of "core" so often our mind goes to our abs and the traditional work that makes them "worthy" to flaunt. I love that with pregnancy, that is never the goal. Our core, during our pregnancy, is the framework that supports our ever growing abdomen and the supportive pelvic floor muscles that hold our babies. I like helping women to notice those deeper muscles that support this network through a focus on our full core (back, chest, hips, pelvis, glutes, and abdomen). The core work in Fit4Baby may not seem as intense as other abdominal work, but it brings us an awareness of those deeper muscles that do so much to support our bodies in pregnancy and help us to recover in postpartum.

5. What do you LOVE about being an instructor?

Being an instructor has given me another way to connect with women in the spectrum of motherhood. I have worked for the better part of my nursing career in postpartum/newborn nursery, and I feel deeply connected to women at this time of life. I truly feel that there is something amazing and miraculous about the process of how our bodies are capable of growth and change, as we create another living person. Witnessing this, and witnessing these women feeling strong and empowered by what their bodies can do for them and their babies is so beautiful!

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6. What is your WHY? Why do you keep doing what you do?

I love promoting health...it's part of why I chose nursing as a career. We only have our one body that is supposed to last our whole lives. What a responsibility it is to care for it in a way that does justice to that! I love bringing opportunities for better health to women at a time in their lives where things are the most busy and they are more likely to start putting other priorities ahead of their self care. I love helping them to know their bodies better and how to grow in strength. We cannot control everything about our bodies, as I have learned, but it is amazing to do everything that we can to give our bodies (and minds) the best path to lasting health.

I also love that my boys will know that their Mama is STRONG and trying to be the healthiest I can be! I want them to see what self care can do for your physical strength, but also for bringing joy and confidence in your capabilities. And I hope that they will then be inspired to be strong and care for themselves in healthy ways, too, as they grow. I see it already, as my oldest, Joseph, puts on "exercise class" for his brothers with mats and bands in our den. They even have deep breaths and quiet meditation to finish class! :)

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7. What is a fun fact that many may not know about you?

A fun fact is that I LOVE handwritten anything. I have always been a little obsessed with my handwriting, even as a small child learning my letters. I can remember repeating my practice letters over and over, until they were just right. Neatness is key...but because of that, it also takes me forever to write anything. Getting snail mail MAKES my day, but I also LOVE sending it. I love to offer a hand-written note, often "just because", as a fun surprise for something personal when so much of what we have now is accessible only by/through technology. I love giving calligraphy presents for baptisms, weddings, or anything of the sort. I just love creating items by hand. It's one of my love languages.

8. Anything else you'd like Our Village to know?

Motherhood, in all it's glory and amazing moments, can also be a time where you lose yourself a little as you focus so much energy on the care of your kids, your family, and all the other aspects of life. Having a village like Fit4Mom MoCo has been a game-changer for me. It has made me feel that I am not alone in the things I am experiencing, juggling, and learning to navigate day-by-day. We love bringing this same community to all the moms--so, please, keep giving us that opportunity to share community with you and bring a friend!

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Thank you, Steph, for all you do for us at fit4mommoco and for being our spotlight this month!

Check back next month to learn more about another member of our #dreamteam here at FIT4MOM Montgomery County!

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