If you have ever been up for a 5:30am workout, or have strapped the kids in the stroller with snacks & toys for a workout, there is one Mom who comes to mind who is one of the many reasons you push yourself to make yourself a better Mom, both physically and mentally. She is a SUPERMom, and she is the Mom/Owner behind the Fit4Mom Southeast Fairfield County Team…her name is Courtney Cataldo. Both Jessica and myself have been members of this amazing group of Moms and have taken part in her Body Back and Stroller Strides classes. It is not just a workout class for Moms, it goes much deeper than that. They are a community of moms who support every stage of motherhood. From pregnancy through postpartum and beyond, their fitness and wellness programs help make moms strong in body, mind, and spirit. Courtney not only connects with you during class, but she pushes you in those early morning Body Back classes with inspiration from your child(ren), or helps feed a bottle to your hungry baby while you finish those last set of squats during Stroller Strides. She is the Strength in Motherhood, and we are so excited to feature her as our Meet a Mom this week!
Where are you originally from and how long have you been in the area?
I am originally from Yorktown, New York and we have lived in Fairfield for 6 and ½ years.
Children / Age(s)
Connor (7), Colton (5) and Chase (2).
One thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I think a fun fact about me is that I met my husband playing adult kickball in NYC. I was actually part of a competitive kickball team that would travel around the country to play in various kickball tournaments.
One thing you wish someone would have told you about motherhood?
I think the thing that I wish someone would have told me about motherhood was the havoc that those little humans would wreak on your body in the first couple months of their existence on the outside…I mean I wish someone would have told me how hard a jumping jack would be (without accidentally peeing a little), how difficult it is to find a sports bra where you could easily nurse a baby in, how you will wake up in the middle of the night soaked in sweat (thanks hormones), how your hair will just start falling out or your joints would throb, how hard and painful learning how to breastfeed can be, and how its ok to feel tired and overwhelmed and that it’s even ok to put that crying baby down for a moment so you can re-group and take a breath.
Favorite local things to do in Fairfield?
We LOVE Fairfield! Some of our favorite things to do as a family are head to Sasco Beach and collect rocks, shells and crabs. We love early mornings at the beach and also bringing pizza and wine for Sand Jam and Sasco sunsets. The Christmas tree lighting with Santa on the fire truck has always been a hit too.
What’s your favorite thing about raising a family in Fairfield?
We love the options of family friendly activities and outings that are right at our disposal, however, I think my favorite thing is just how raising a family has given us the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people…from other parents and kids, to our neighbors, to our kid’s teachers to the owners and workers at some of our favorite spots in town.
Do you have a favorite family friendly restaurant? Date night?
Little Pub and Colony are our go-to family friendly restaurants. Date night, my husband and I always find ourselves back at Molto or Bodega.
What is your go-to activity for your family? For yourself?
Our go-to family activity is anything that gets the boys outside and moving! Family bike rides, hikes at Lake Mohegan, and beach walks are some of our go-tos. Any chance I get to get away (or I happen to have a sleeping child or 2 in the car), I find myself driving to the beach (Sasco or Southport) with a cup of coffee and just taking a moment or two to press the reset button and taking in the calm and beauty of the water. I also love a good workout (surprise, surprise) so any chance I get to go for a run or try a new workout or class, I try to take advantage of it!
Funniest part that you’ve learned about parenthood?
I think the funniest part of parenting is that despite the best of intentions, all parents fail sometimes….and all you can do is laugh about it, learn from it and move on. Kids get squirmy, messes happen, disasters occur, parents forget stuff, kids will say the funniest things at the most inappropriate times and that’s just part of the parenting adventure.
Best mom hack that makes your life easier?
I think right now, my best mom hack is to order groceries. Right now, a big weekly trip to the grocery store can easily take at least two hours between driving there and shopping. For me, that is not a great return on my time or energy. By ordering online via Peapod, Instacart and Thrive Market, I can easily gain that time back and only have to run to the market for a quick trip for fresh essentials here and there! This also helps me with meal planning for the week, I make fewer impulse non-planned purchases and also cut down on the junk food that the kids see at the store that we just “have to have”.
Name one thing you regret when learning the ropes of parenthood and what you learned from it?
I love this question because I always say, with your first kid your learn more about what not to do than what to do! I’m not sure why I ever thought it was going to be easy or intuitive or not a struggle as I navigated a baby for the first time! So with that I’d say, it’s a toss up between:
- Thinking I had to DO IT ALL and not sharing the load of motherhood. I put so much pressure on myself to DO IT ALL and create this picture perfect world for a baby who wouldn’t remember any of it and or really care about most of it! The second and third time around I learned to embrace the chaos, roll with the punches and ask for and accept help.
- Not leaving my first pediatrician sooner when things weren’t working out! I’ve learned that finding a doctor that takes time to get to know your child (especially if they are struggling in any way) is so important and necessary.
- Not giving my first born an official bedtime when he was an infant. My husband worked in the city and wasn’t getting home until 7:30 at the earliest. At that time, I thought it was important for Connor to see his dad each day….it took us 4 and ½ years to get that kid to sleep! So needless to say, #2 and #3 had a very early bed time and they got to see dad on some mornings and on the weekends! I didn’t realize how important and necessary that time at night would be to decompress, rest and connect with my husband!
Tell us about your business, Fit4Mom, when & why you started, and the reason behind it?
I have owned FIT4MOM Southeast Fairfield County for almost 5 years! I purchased the franchise when I was 8 months pregnant with my second and held our grand opening when Colton was 11 weeks (and Connor was just over 2). I discovered FIT4MOM (previously known as just Stroller Strides) right after I had Connor in 2011 when we were living in Stamford and speaking honestly, it saved my life as a new mom! It was everything I needed as a new mom…a way to get out of the house every day, an immediate support system and community of moms to navigate this new adventure and a way to exercise and find time to take care of myself with a new baby. I immediately explored the opportunity to get certified to teach prenatal/postnatal fitness classes and when Connor was 6 months old, I began teaching Stroller Strides. Soon after, we decided to make the move to Fairfield. I continued to teach FIT4MOM classes in Greenwich, Stamford and Norwalk after we moved to Fairfield, but I was feeling a huge void in my day-to-day motherhood adventures without the option of Stroller Strides every day and without my village of moms to lean on. That’s when I knew it was time for me to explore the opportunity of starting FIT4MOM here in Fairfield! It’s been almost 5 years and I could not be more humbled by what FIT4MOM has done for me as a mom, my family and so many moms and families in our community.
FIT4MOM is dedicated to providing strength in motherhood by providing classes, resources and support for moms at all stages of motherhood! Through all of our fitness classes (Stroller Strides, Stroller Barre, Body Back, Run Club) and our amazing village of mamas, women have the opportunity to connect with other moms in an environment that encourages and support motherhood. I really believe that FIT4MOM is a game changer for any mom, no matter what stage of motherhood they are in! Motherhood is HARD! It can be lonely, overwhelming and even isolating. To be able to give moms a safe space to show up each day as they are (sleep deprived, scared and with an unfamiliar body that has not been their own) and give then they opportunity to take care of themselves, connect with other moms and bond with their babies and kids is truly magical. FIT4MOM has been the birthplace of lifelong friendships for moms and kiddos, it’s been the starting point for moms to take control of their happiness and fitness journeys and for sure a lifeline for me as a mom!
What types of classes does Fit4Mom provide for Moms?
We currently offer a variety of classes to support moms at all stages of motherhood!
- Our Stroller Strides classes are a functional, total body conditioning workout designed for moms with their kids in tow. Each workout is comprised of strength training, cardio and core restoration, all while entertaining little ones with songs and activities.
- Similarly, our Stroller Barre classes are designed for moms to bring their little ones and focus on posture, stability and mobility and strengthen a mom’s body from the inside out! It combines moves inspired by barre, ballet, Pilates, fitness and yoga and helps moms reconnect with their body, increase flexibility and develop the core strength needed for motherhood.
- Our Body Back classes are our results based, high-intensity workouts with a nutrition program designed for moms! Our Body Back classes are truly magical in which it gives our moms an opportunity to unlock their personal possibilities, reclaim time for themselves and truly take hold of their physical and emotional well being. It is really an inspiring and powerful environment and the small group nature of this class proves to make it a safe and special place for our moms to make tremendous gains both physically and emotionally!
- And lastly, we offer a Run Club! This upcoming season we will have almost 40 moms join us in our 5K, 10K or ½ Marathon training! Whether a mom is looking to add extra cardio to their routine or they have their mind set on crossing the finish line of a local race (with or without their stroller) our Run Cub is certainly one of our programs that our moms look forward to in the spring and fall! I mean, I get chills thinking of race day watching our moms cross the finish line of a race pushing a single or double stroller! Talk about the strength in motherhood, right?!?!
You are such a motivating coach to work with (from experience!) – what keeps you going to push these Moms to be the best that they can be during their workouts?
First, thank you for the compliment! There are so many things that keep me going. I think seeing my boys grow up around fitness and in an active household and seeing mom pursue something she is passionate about certainly keeps me going. When my boys began to imitate a Stroller Strides classes before they could talk, or now seeing them want to work out alongside of me or proudly say that “my mom runs FIT4MOM”, that keeps me going too. What has become even more powerful for me is watching a mom gain more confidence both as a mom and in her body and watch them fall in love with taking care of themselves. Empowering moms to know they can take care of themselves and also take care of their families has truly been a driving force and motivation for me to keep going.
What advice do you give new Moms, or Moms wanting to start their workout journey, to be healthy for themselves and for their family?
I always say, moving is better than not moving. For brand new moms or even moms who have fallen out of an exercise routine or never had an exercise routine, just get out of the house and start moving each day. It is amazing what endorphins can do for your energy and patience levels! For our new mamas, it’s so important to allow your body to heal from the inside out and be mindful of all the changes your body just went through during pregnancy! Give yourself and your body some grace and time to recover. For moms who are looking for a way to get moving again, commit to small goals of exercise each day. Find a fitness routine that works for you and your family and commit to it. There are 24 hours in a day and as moms we give most of them to everyone else! Take one hour a day to take care of you.
If you hadn’t started this business, what do you think you would be doing today?
It’s so funny because sometimes it’s hard to remember life without FIT4MOM! I was a teacher and high school field hockey and lacrosse coach before I became a mom. Teaching and coaching was always a passion of mine, so I feel like I would have certainly stuck with it in some regard. I am certainly grateful that FIT4MOM still gives me this opportunity to teach and coach but also gives me to opportunity to be at home with my kids too.
Best advice for moms who experience the inevitable MOM GUILT handling a career and a family?
I think no matter what decision a mom makes when it comes to returning to work, staying at home or working part time they experience mom guilt. In a society that expects women to work like they don’t have children and raise children like they don’t work, moms all feel like they are being measured by impossible standards. Moms need to be reminded that no matter what decision they make, they are working hard to set great example for their kids and doing what is best for their family. One day when your kids are grown, they will want to go do something – something new, something to further their career, something they have been passionate about – you’re going to want them to go and do that. You have to model for them how to do it now.
Who has most influenced you to be the mother that you are today?
I feel so lucky to say that there are a lot of women who inspire and influence me daily to be the mother I am today, but my number one is definitely my mom. I am one of six kids and my youngest sister has down syndrome. She stayed at home with us and was a model of patience, grace, fairness and love. She poured her heart and soul into each of us, nurtured and supported our interests and passions and worked tirelessly to make sure each of us was successful, confident and got everything we needed (especially my youngest sister). Never once did she complain. She continues to be my go to for all my questions and concerns and just as she did for my brothers, sisters and I, she pours all of her love into my boys now!
What advice would you share with a new mom or other moms?
My advice would have to be you are going to get a lot of advice; so just listen, smile and then do what YOU think is best for you, your baby and your family. A mother’s love and instincts will always be one of your greatest assets. It’s also so important to be gentle with yourself. Being a mom is hard and motherhood should not be done alone! Find your village (or maybe just your person), lean on them and love them hard. And finally, take time to fill your cup. You can’t pour into others if your cup is empty.
For more information on Fit4Mom Southeast Fairfield County, contact Courtney!