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Who would have thought that just 2 years ago, this March, I would have attended my first Stroller Strides class. Before class I remember feeling unsure about attending, not really understanding what class entailed but oh so desperate for some exercise and socialization; when I left I felt excited, slightly sore (in a great way), and inspired about the awesome new class I couldn't wait to throw myself into! Had I just joined a group of mom mall walkers? OH-NO-ITS-NOT! This class was HARD (mostly because I was like-whoa out of shape), it was FUN, and I could bring my son. Easy choice. Hands down.

When I learned that the owner was selling, I was SO disappointed. It had been the first time since the birth of my son that I had finally felt "myself." I had recently left my job and was (poorly) adjusting to the whole stay-at-home thing and so I jumped at the chance to run the program. To be honest, I had an amateur knowledge of fitness at best, but figured with my teaching/business background, I could figure it out. I passed all my tests, filed all my paperwork and in June of 2012 I took over the reins to Stroller Strides Ann Arbor.

The first summer I taught classes, it was quiet, to put it nicely. A number of mamas had recently moved, some might have just stopped coming due to the ownership transition, but a few lovely ladies came diligently through the summer and they INSPIRED me. Seeing these mamas each Mon/Wed/Fri motivated me to keep trying to teach the best possible classes I could, to try new programs, exercises, songs, themes, and schedules. They were so patient with me as I learned the ropes and I am so grateful for their dedication and inspiration, because without them we would truly not be where we are today. Their continued attendance, unknowingly, sparked my vision for what I wanted FIT4MOM Ann Arbor to become: a supportive community of families who embrace each other in these early stages of motherhood and a place where women could just come (no matter what) to meet their social, emotional, and of course fitness needs.

Dare I say it, but we are on our way! From that first summer we've more than tripled in size and our community of mamas inspires me that much more! We've accomplished fantastic things these past months: we've added several new classes, instructors, running, and a moms club. We've got three amazing partner locations: Briarwood Mall, Wide World Sports Center, and the Lamaze Family Center. Last year, our mamas fundraised over $1400 for the 2013 March of Dimes Walk and we've donated over $1100 to local Ann Arbor charities. We've had some AWESOME theme classes, challenges, and events: 80s class, wine tasting at Vinology, Halloween class, karaoke, Can class (33lbs of food donated to Food Gatherers!), I Heart Water Challenge and more.

FIT4MOM Ann Arbor inspires me. You inspire me: when your little ones join in on the "cuckoos" in class, when you cross the finish line of you first post-baby 5k or push baby in theirs, when that first person of the morning shows up to class and I'm like "whew, I'm not alone here", when you've returned to class after having a new baby, or when you give me some reassuring words that I'll be able to hold it together after I have mine - YOU. INSPIRE. ME.

But enough about me, more importantly, you inspire each other: when you challenge another mama to more steps in class, when you share snacks and toys with a little one having a fussy day, when you share motherhood tips and recipes, when you hold another mamas baby while she runs to the restroom, when you encourage each other’s fitness goals and cheer each other on as you cross the finish line, and when you show up with a smile. You've made FIT4MOM Ann Arbor inspirational. You are FIT4MOM Ann Arbor.

FIT4MOM Ann Arbor is bigger than just one person, one owner and one instructor. We have GROWN in these past years. We're a community that needs a team and we have an AMAZING bunch of mamas who are SO ready to INSPIRE you! We now have THREE amazing instructors: Elise, Courtney, Becky, (and another on the way!) We've got a wonderful FIT4MOM Moms Club coordinator: Mandy; (and a NEW super awesome local community sponsor: Joanne.) Last but certainly not least, we've got a wonderful and incredibly visionary new chief of operations, Carol.

Last month I announced to our team that after my maternity leave this spring my family would be relocating this summer, and luckily a very inspired mama expressed some interest. When Carol and I sat down in early February to chat and she told me all the amazing things that she thought that FIT4MOM Ann Arbor was capable, I could see that this was right for our community. Easy choice. Hands down.

Carol has been a FIT4MOM Ann Arbor member for well over a year, has been an active participant in ALL of our activities, and has enhanced our community as one of our Moms Club Coordinators. Most importantly, she gets FIT4MOM's passion for fitness and motherhood and she gets Ann Arbor. (She's raised three wonderful children in this community and knows it inside and out!) She has a fantastic vision for FIT4MOM Ann Arbor and I'm so excited for all of the new things she is planning on accomplishing in the next few years! Listening to her, she INSPIRES me and I know she's got big inspirations planned for you.

FIT4MOM Ann Arbor, these past two years have been nothing short of a highlight of my life. You've made me such a better mother and person than I could have ever foreseen. While I'll be taking a brief maternity leave this spring, I'll be back this summer to teach and take a few more classes with you; maybe another session of Body Back? Plus, I will need your inspiration more than ever as I attempt to wrangle more than one child (and since so many of you successful do it each day, I know I'm in good hands!)

In Stride,