Get To Know Your Village : Erin & Fit4Mom of Bellevue Story

Join us in reading this blog every week where you will discover, learn and love more and more about the Fit4Mom of Bellevue team, your fellow fit moms attending classes and meetups, as well as subjects of interest and value to your every day life as a woman and mother. Our hope here is to truly expand and deepen the connections in this Village of ours by sharing our stories, experiences, knowledge, professional insights and more and provide everyone with a learning opportunity or even just an emotional "Hey, someone has been there too, you are not alone".

To begin this journey, we head off this week with an interview with our fun and fearless leader Erin Houg and her background on the start of Fit4Mom of Bellevue and related thoughts. But this is not all she has to say, so we will have future posts I think you will enjoy and benefit from as well. Happy Reading!

What was your first experience with the original Stroller Strides movement (when you were a member and not an owner), and what made you decide to become an owner?

This always strikes me as a funny story. I was working full time up until Roman (now three) was born. I was one of those younger people would have kids and like magic eight weeks later, head back to working full time. I have mostly had jobs that I loved. So not going back to work wasn't even a thought in my head. I started working full time when I was 15. There was nothing that could stop me now. Then enters Roman Arnold Houg (Arnold being a family name ;)). After taking my planned eight weeks off work, there was no way on God's green earth I was going to leave him with someone else. Now Brian (my hubby) had always been supportive of me working and wanting to head back to work. I came to him and told him that I wasn't going to be able to leave Roman and go back to work. I will never forget his response. "Ok. I have wanted you to stay home since the beginning." Ha! Well why didn't you say that?! Men! So that was that. We changed up our budget a bit and I stayed home... For about four months. To be a hundred percent honest, I thought I would have lasted longer and I remember Brian telling me that I was shocked that I lasted that long!

In that four months off work, when Roman was eight weeks old, a friend (thank you Karissa Brown) posted that she was heading to Stroller Strides. So I was thinking that Stroller Strides was for ladies who liked to walk and drink coffee. Well I don't drink coffee but I thought I would give it a try anyways. BOY, WAS I WRONG! I came home completely sore. I had my booty handed to me by Hilary Storey. I didn't know it then but she was the owner of the Fit4Mom franchise. I came home BEGGING my husband to find the membership fee in our newly delegated budget. He did and I went EVERY day! I figured if I was going to stay home, I mind as well workout! It was in the next four months Stroller Strides would be my social circle, sounding board for all things poop, teething and baby related and my shoulder to cry on as Roman and I battled endless nursing issues. At the time Brian was working the night shift. So he slept during the day and worked at night. He was beyond helpful but not a huge conversationalist while sleeping. Stroller Strides quickly became my village, my social circle and Roman's as well. I thought it was CRAZY for a workout class to provide that. But Stroller Strides was more than a workout. It truly is a village. And it was my NEW village.

Brian and I were married in the summer of 2005. We moved to Washington, DC just eight months later. We lived in DC for five years and planned to return when we felt it was time to have kids. That day came and we sold our house, packed our trailer and moved back to Seattle. The transition back to Seattle was much harder than I thought. Being in DC and working full time (and I went back to school full time), I lost touch with a lot of my friends back in Seattle. The era before Facebook! Oh the good ole days. I moved back to Seattle to find myself slightly displaced from my home and friends. A lot happens in five years and people had moved on. I wasn't sure where I fit when we moved back. It was only four months later that Roman would arrive and so would Stroller Strides. I couldn't have been more thrilled to find a new, and awesome, group of mom friends. All that to say that if YOU are looking for a village; look no further. We are here.

The owner of the Fit4Mom franchise that I attended mentioned one day that I should look into starting a Fit4Mom. The inside of my head looked and sounded like a fire station! Lights and sirens everywhere! Of course that is what I would do! First time, new mom with nothing better to do than start her own business! Ha! My goal was to create a village for moms. Something that would build the community and build themselves and families at the same time. I knew the impact that Stroller Strides had on my family and myself. I wanted that for other moms. I knew that I could start it, but would people join in with me? That was the question. I put forward the money, applied for everything needed, spoke with the City of Bellevue about classes, permits and what not and I planned my grand opening. I was a ball of stress. Roman was seven months old. We opened in October of 2011. Now for those of you not familiar with Seattle, IT RAINS! And of course it rains on the day of my grand opening. That week before I started researching indoor locations to change my grand opening too, only to be offered the Bellevue Square parking lot for $1,000. What they didn't know is that price is ludicrous! Or maybe they knew and wanted to see what my reaction was. I politely declined and keep my grand opening at the park. I arrived nervous, wondering if people would even show up. And I will tell you; the first 10 people that showed were from MY VILLAGE. They drove an extra 20-30 minutes to come and support me. That is when I realized this was what I was supposed to do. Recreate the village that I was a part of. A total of 32 people showed up that day. In the rain. In October. It was amazing. And it still makes me cry to this day. Thinking back, I didn't embark on this adventure alone, but with my whole village behind me. That was the start of Fit4Mom of Bellevue. And it has been a privilege and an honor to take it where it is today.

What ideas did you have about yourself becoming a mom before it happened, and then when you were officially a mom, what surprised you about your updated mom-self?

I was a silent, judgmental single woman and non-mom. I would often think about how my kids aren't going to watch TV, have public tantrums, or eat SUGAR! Heaven forbid! Roman doesn't eat much sugar but that is a whole other blog post. But the rest of it, MY KIDS DO! And does that make me a bad mom? Nope! The TV is on when I am desperate to get work done and the tantrums... While they don't happen often, we have had two really good ones. Embarrassing? Yes. My fault? Nope. Just a toddler being a toddler.

I also had a pretty serious boyfriend when I was younger. I thought I would have all my kids by the time I was 25. Well I started when I was 30 and my husband was 25! Ha! It was just one of those things that I thought I had figured out but that wasn't how it all worked out. And for the better. Love you Brian Houg!

What I was most surprised about was my drive. Like most moms know, after baby arrives, your body deals with the aftermath. The loose skin, the not sleeping, the loose skin... Oh wait, I said that. It is just crazy what the human body goes through during pregnancy, labor and recovery. I was determined. I didn't know how I was going to get back to my pre pregnancy weight, clothes or feelings. But I was going to get there gosh darn it! And I did! Sooner than I thought I would! Body Back was a game changer for me. It gave me the tools I needed to change. And find myself again. Only to get comfortable and then be surprised with an unexpected pregnancy!

What is some of the best advice you could give moms from your experiences, regardless of the age of their child/children?

Grace. You have to give yourself grace. Guaranteed you will lose your cool, wear mis matched something, forget something super important. It happens. It is just easiest to let it go. And no. That wasn't a Frozen reference. You just have to have grace for you. You can't do it all. And I try! Really hard. And there are some days/weeks when I nail it. Other times I fail and I work on getting done what I can. But you, and I, have to have grace for yourself. Motherhood is all about learning! It is a learning journey. So let yourself learn.

What is your best fitness advice for women (at any stage of motherhood- recently gave birth, mom of 2yr old, older mom with teenagers looking to get back into it)?

I say this a lot in my classes and in life. Find time for yourself. I like to say that my kids/your kids deserve a happy mom. If you aren't a happy mom, FIND OUT WHY! I find that when I don't get my workouts in, my attitude is different and my family suffers. So yes, I might mean getting up at 5am EVERY MORNING, but do it. Find time for you. You are worth the time, the effort and you are worthy of being/feeling happy. You deserve it. Your kids deserve it. And your husband deserves it. You wouldn't sign your kids up for a new venture without prepping them, getting them all the right equipment and knowledge. Don't do that to yourself. Find the time. Make it a priority.

What is your favorite fitness practice or move?

Currently I am training for a half marathon. I trained for a half marathon back in the summer of 2012 only to be benched three weeks before. Half way through training I found out I was pregnant. Unexpected and not planned. After the shock of my well-planned life being turned upside down wore off, I hunkered down and kept moving. My training schedule stayed in tact despite having horrible morning sickness and being beyond tired. Side note: If you are pregnant for the first time, for the love of everything holy, SLEEP WHEN YOU CAN! You don't have that luxury when you are chasing around a toddler and pregnant. It doesn't happen. So sleep now.

Anyways, I continued training and 11.5 weeks in we lost Baby Blueberry. I spent the last 17 weeks running miles and miles. I was training for a half marathon and also Ragnar. If you don't know what Ragnar is, look it up. I will train for it again next summer, in 2015. We miscarried two weeks before my half and I was benched. No working out, no running. I was ticked. Yes we lost a baby but I lost everything I had spent months training for. That was all I could think about. It was where my head was at. It wasn't till two years later that I was ready mentally to run again. So right now I would say that my favorite fitness practice is running. Just me, my thoughts, the pavement and Roman and Crew (heavyweight champs) in our Duallie BOB, running down street. I am blessed in that both of my boys grew up in Stroller Strides. So they don't fight the stroller. I strap them in and head out and they are quiet and just watch the scenery pass by. All they know is that they glide, while mommy pushes almost 100 pounds down the running trail.

If I could have a favorite practice that I have yet to try, it would SUP Yoga. Yes. Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga. I recently met an amazing girl that teaches it locally and I am trying it this Wednesday. I cannot wait. I have vision of myself in a perfect head stand moving to a solid warrior pose. No ripples in the water from my shaky paddleboard. No shrieking as I fall into the cold waters of Lake Washington. Just myself, my board and the water. I should add that I have yet to perfect these moves on LAND, so my vision might be slightly "off".

Stay tuned next week for more insights and experiences from the Fit4Mom team!

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