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Our Corner

Meet a Mama Monday Colleen Hahn Rodriguez

Welcome back to the Meet a Mama Monday series! On periodic Mondays we’ll introduce you to a mama from our village. This week we’re featuring a local mom who's fast approaching her one year anniversary with us, Colleen Hahn Rodriguez.

Meet Colleen! Colleen is mom to 2.5 year old Charlie and baby numero dos due in June.

Colleen is a Downingtown native! She grew up here but moved to New York City after high school. During her fifteen years there she met her husband and they started their family. Nearly two years ago they moved back to Downingtown and we are so happy to have them here!

Along with being a mom Colleen is also a photographer. She and Charlie found FIT4MOM Downingtown nearly a year ago, she saw us working out in Kerr Park one day on a run and knew she wanted to join. Mom life and work life took over and it took her longer than she had planned before she joined but she jumped at the chance to attend the anniversary class last June. She joined on the spot and is so happy to have found the village! She’s gotten back into shape and she and her son have made a lot of good friends.

Make sure to say hi to Colleen next time you see her in class!

What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?

Seeing my child grow, learn, and turn into an amazing kid.

What's the hardest thing for you about being a mom?

Being stern or handling the temper tantrums.

What advice do you have for new moms?

Make friends with moms who have kids similar in age. It’s great to be able to share the milestones and bounce tips and tricks off of each other when things aren’t going perfectly (because let’s be honest - when do they ever).

What do you wish you would have known before your first child came to be?

Feeding a toddler is a lot harder than you think it is. After my son turned one he just stopped eating whatever I put in front of him.

What’s your best mom hack?

Put a little bag with diapers and wipes in each of your cars and stroller so you don’t have to carry around a huge diaper bag all the time.

Fun facts about you?

We are bilingual household. English and Spanish.

We are a running family.

Meet a Mama Monday Kelly Virgin

Welcome back to the Meet a Mama Monday series! On periodic Mondays we’ll introduce you to a mama from our village. This week we’re featuring another one of our teacher mamas, Kelly Virgin.

Meet Kelly! Kelly is mama to Harper and expecting her second baby girl this summer. She’s held the title of mom for two and a half years, has been a regular Strider with us at FIT4MOM Downingtown since July 2018 and is a high school English teacher.

Kelly is originally from Yardley, PA in Bucks County. Attending college at West Chester University brought her out this way, she loved it so much that she never went back!

Kelly had a really hard time getting back into a gym routine after Harper was born - the mom guilt over working all day and then leaving her for another hour to workout was strong. When summer rolled around she saw a group of women working out at the park with their strollers and practically ran home to Google it. The next week she joined in for her free introductory class and has been coming back every week since!

Make sure to say hi to Kelly next time you see her in class!

What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?

Getting to see this little person change and grow and develop everyday. Since I've been home with Harper for the past month, I feel like I've noticed all these nuances to her personality that I might have missed out on if I were still so busy going into work everyday. I love watching her learn and discover new things. She is constantly reminding me how important it is to slow down and enjoy experiencing the little moments.

What's the hardest thing for you about being a mom?

The self-doubt. Always wondering if you're doing enough, doing too much, doing it the right way.

What advice do you have for new moms?

Make friends with other new moms. They are the only people who will truly get what you are experiencing. They can lend you an empathetic ear, give you advice when you need it, commiserate and celebrate with you. They are the only ones who will take a genuine interest in looking at and discussing your pictures of baby poop. They are the only ones who will respond to your middle of the night messages when you're up cluster feeding. They are the only people who will be able to quiet that nagging voice of self-doubt and they will need you just as much for all the same reasons.

What do you wish you would have known before your first child came to be?

How fast it all really does go by. Everyone says it, but you don't actually get it until it's passing you by. While I love my toddler, there are times I just wish I could hold her as an infant again or watch her learn to crawl or start to wobble around on chubby legs. I miss the baby she used to be and I wish I had savored it just a little more while it was happening.

What’s your best mom hack?

When Harper was younger we could only get her to nap by taking her for a car ride. So, instead of driving her around in circles everyday, I would strap her into her infant car seat in her room and play wind noises to get her to sleep.

Fun facts about you?

We own a camper and in the summer we spend almost every weekend away enjoying the outdoors at different campgrounds.

Meet a Mama Monday Caitlin McFadden

Welcome back to the Meet a Mama Monday series! On periodic Mondays we’ll introduce you to a mama from our village. This week we’re featuring another long time member, Caitlin McFadden.

Meet Caitlin! Caitlin is mama to two sweet kids, nearly 3 year old Will and 2 month old Nora. In her three years as a mom she has brought two kids into this world while maintaining her position as a Reading Specialist at a West Chester high school.

Caitlin grew up in the town of Bernville, PA. You may have heard of this town as it is the home of the world famous Koziers Christmas Village. She moved to this area for graduate school at West Chester University and stayed in the area when she accepted a Reading Specialist position after graduation.

When her son was just two months old Caitlin found FIT4MOM Downingtown. She was looking for community and needed mom friends who weren’t hours or states away. A friend from high school had moved to Salt Lake City and started a family, and she frequently posted about FIT4MOM and how it was the best decision she ever made was to join. Before she became a mom Caitlin didn’t pay much mind to it but, once her son was in the picture, she took a second look. She watched a few videos and what stuck with her was the importance of community, “come for the work out, stay for the community”. She needed community, wasn’t from the area, and her girlfriends were all over the East Coast. Three years later she continues to stay for the community, friendship, and support, and the workouts are pretty good too.

Make sure to say hi to Caitlin next time you see her in class!

What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?

Watching my children learn and grow.

What's the hardest thing for you about being a mom?

Balancing it all.

What advice do you have for new moms?

When your in the thick of motherhood and it seems like teething or potty training will never end, know that everything is a phase and this too shall pass.

What’s your best mom hack?

A bath can cure anything. Fussy baby, cranky toddler, tired mama, a bath works wonders.

Meet a Mama Monday - Jen Schray

Welcome back to the Meet a Mama Monday series! On periodic Mondays we’ll introduce you to a mama from our village. This week we’re featuring a long time member, Jen Schray.

Meet Jen! Jen is mom to Charlotte and Cole and has been called Mom for four years. She is soon approaching her four year anniversary with FIT4MOM Downingtown! Jen is also a biology teacher - we love our teachers at Stroller Strides!

Jen joined FIT4MOM after a friend suggested it during her first summer at home with Charlotte. She and Charlotte are so thankful they joined. They’ve met so many great friends and have made lots of happy memories!

Make sure to say hi to Jen and her sweet kids next time you see them in class!

What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?

Watching them learn and grow. It happens so fast!

What's the hardest thing for you about being a mom?

Finding time to do the things I love outside of work and parenting.

What advice do you have for new moms?

The fourth trimester is hard! Give yourself grace. Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t feel like you have to accomplish anything except keeping the tiny humans alive!

What’s your best mom hack?

When all else fails, it’s bath time. In the summer, the baby pool counts as a bath.

Meet a Mama Monday - Casey Rhoads

Welcome back to the Meet a Mama Monday series! On periodic Mondays we’ll introduce you to a mama from our village. This week we’re featuring our newest instructor, Casey Rhoads.

Meet Casey! Casey is a long time Strider and brand new Stroller Strides instructor for FIT4MOM Downingtown! She earned the title of Mom in 2015 and is mom to three kids spanning from 4.5 years to 2 months old.

While she is a self proclaimed Jersey girl, Casey found her way here when she followed her college sweetheart back to his hometown after they got married. Before kids, Casey was a certified holistic nutritionist and jack-of-all-trades at an after school program for children with special needs.

Casey joined FIT4MOM Downingtown when her oldest was 16 months old. A former instructor approached her after a library class and told her all about this amazing group. She was apprehensive and dragged her feet to join, but after her first class she never looked back. She still remembers how much that instructor inspired her to be a confident mom, and now she is excited to be an instructor and help new moms on their journey too!

Check the schedule here and register for your next class with Casey!

What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?

Watching them grow and get older. Everyone always says "stay little", but I love watching them learn, explore and grow into who they are going to be.

What's the hardest thing for you about being a mom?

Remembering how I used to have SO much more patience

What advice do you have for new moms?

Trust your gut. And don't beat yourself up over the could-have, would-have, should-have. We are all figuring this out as we go. Remember that!

What do you wish you would have known before your first child came to be?

How inconsistent all children's clothing sizes are! Give a girl a break and let me easily shop for my kid!

What’s your best mom hack?

An onion! When ever my kiddos are getting snotty, I cut an onion in half, peel it and leave it in their room. Their room smells like a chicken parm, but the onion sucks all the germs out of the air and makes them less snotty!

Oh, and always have chocolate in the house.

Fun facts about you?

I don't drink coffee

My birthday is Valentine's Day

I have a 60 acre beet farm

"You are a *bad* cook, but a great baker.” - My Husband

I will do anything for ice cream

Meet a Mama Monday - Valerie Frank

Welcome to the Meet a Mama Monday series! On periodic Mondays we’ll introduce you to a mama from our village.

Hi! I’m Valerie, mom to a nearly 4 year old boy and nearly 2 year old girl, wife to Jason and dog mom to Tucker. I’m the new owner of FIT4MOM Downingtown!

I’ve been with FIT4MOM for nearly 4 years. I had my son and became a mom in February 2016. I intended to go back to work in Business Intelligence at George Mason University in Virginia after maternity leave but instead made the choice to become a stay-at-home-mom. A friend of mine saw a Facebook ad for this thing called Stroller Strides. We both needed to get out of the house with our new babies (born on the same day!) and decided to give it a try! We had no idea what it would be like. I assumed it would be an hour of walking and talking with other moms and told myself that if it ended up not being for me then at least I got an outing with my friend and there was a coffee shop in the shopping center! Can’t lose, right?

Boy oh boy, were my expectations exceeded. I felt immediately welcomed by the community and signed up for an unlimited membership on the spot. I jumped into a Stroller Strides routine, going to at least three classes a week and on weekends when my husband was in class working towards his MBA. The village was exactly what I didn’t know I needed.

When the fall came around I started thinking about what it would be like to teach these classes. The instructors I had were wonderful and they started out as moms, just like me. I chatted with a few instructors and decided to apply. I got the job, trained to be a Stroller Strides instructor and started teaching in January 2017.

I relocated to the Northern Virginia area after college (PSU 2009!) where I started dating my now husband. We knew we didn’t want to stay there forever and decided we’d move closer to family when we expanded our family. When we found out in mid 2017 that we were expecting our daughter we started the process of moving to Pennsylvania. It was a difficult decision to leave the village I came to love and rely on in Virginia, but ultimately I knew that being close to family was a high priority and that I’d work hard to keep the friendships I made there.

In November 2017 we made the move to PA! We’re now happily settled in Downingtown, close to family and loving the village we found with FIT4MOM Downingtown. The mamas of this village have been incredibly welcoming and I know that the friendships that my kids and I have built are strong. I’ve been teaching with FIT4MOM Downingtown ever since (aside from a hiatus for maternity leave in early 2018). I’m so excited to continue growing and strengthening the village here as the new franchise owner!

I can't wait to meet you in class! You can find our schedule and enroll for class here.

Each mama interviewed for the Meet a Mama Monday posts will answer these questions. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?

Seeing the joy in my children’s eyes when they figure out something new. The world is completely new to them and I love watching them discover it.

What's the hardest thing for you about being a mom?

The 24/7 “on” requirement. There are days I long for no responsibilities, but I have an incredible support system including my husband, family, and FIT4MOM village that jump in when I need a break.

What advice do you have for new moms?

Trust your gut (your instincts are usually right) and don’t be afraid to ask for (and accept) help!! No one can do it alone. No one should.

What do you wish you would have known before your first child came to be?

How hard those first few days/weeks/months really would be. The lack of sleep, struggles to breastfeed, questioning of every decision, the daunting responsibility of caring for a tiny human... I was overwhelmed and had no idea how hard it would be.

What’s your best mom hack?

Bib over the buckles!! As a mom to two frequent car pukers, I’ve learned that putting a bib on after buckling them in can catch the mess and make clean up easier when they spit up/puke in the car. Both of my kids were happy spitters that spit up round the clock when they were babies. This kept me from having to scrub down the buckles every day!

Fun facts about you?

  • You can almost always find me with coffee in hand.
  • I tap danced growing up and miss it dearly.
  • My favorite subjects in school were math and computer classes.
  • I met my husband in 2008 through THON at Penn State. He doesn’t remember it, but our first encounter went something like this:
  • Me: Hi! I’m Valerie.
  • Jason: I know who you are.