116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MY BIZ: ‘Guilt-free’ exercise for new moms
Babies and kids come along to Fit4Mom workouts
By Steve Gravelle, - correspondent
Apr. 4, 2023 5:00 am
NORTH LIBERTY — On a quiet morning at the North Liberty Community Center, Rebecca Richeal leads about 10 women through stretching routines and a workout while their children wait, mostly patiently, in their strollers.
The class leader identifies with her students.
“I’m in the thick of it, just like they are,” Richeal said after class. “My kids are just a little older,” with a 5-year-old son and a daughter, 3.
Richeal, 34, discovered Fit4Mom shortly after her son’s birth in 2018, when she lived in the Quad Cities area.
The company, based in San Diego, offers fitness classes designed for new mothers who may bring their children to the sessions. Fit4Mom claims more than 250 franchises at 1,800 locations nationwide.
“I had postpartum depression really bad, so this helps me get through those first stages,” Richeal recalled. “Having that support and just moving your body every day just makes your mental health that much better.”
Bringing your kids to fitness classes is key to the Fit4Moms program.
“Your kids are with you, so you’re not paying for a full gym membership on top of day care,” she said. “You get connect with other moms, but you still get to connect with your child. That way you don’t have that mom guilt of, ‘I hired a babysitter to go work out for an hour.’ ”
Starting a franchise
Richeal tried to continue her workouts after her family moved to Solon in early 2021, joining a Fit4Moms Quad- Cities running club or exercise session when she could.
“I just knew I needed I had to have Fit4Mom in my life,” she said. “I knew that I couldn’t keep traveling the hour-plus drive every week. I asked my husband, and we decided to open our own here.”
Launching her own franchise meant “lots of training,” said Richeal, who’d worked in real estate and in the service industry “for many, many years.”
Fit4Moms franchisees are certified by the American Council on Exercise, which sets standards for trainers and sports conditioning and nutrition specialists.
“Every class that we offer I am certified in, even if I don’t teach it,” she said. “Fit4Mom does all the training, and each certification is a credit toward ACE certification.”
Richeal offered her first classes in December 2021. She now offers five classes weekly at rented gym spaces in Iowa City, Coralville, Solon and North Liberty, with an outdoor class to be added as the weather warms.
“We have a run club program we’re just starting,” she said “This Saturday is our first group run.”
Another trainer will lead the running programs. Richeal leads most classes herself, although she’s hired a second employee who’s undergoing training. Classes are tailored to members’ physical needs and abilities.
“We have Stroller Strides, which is a full-body workout,” she said. “We have Stroller Barre, which is a mix of Pilates, yoga and ballet movements. We also have Strides 360, which is a more cardio-based class for speed, agility and quickness.”
Women may choose a full membership for unlimited classes, or single-class packages with a drop-in option.
“We have a maternity-leave option as well, so they can exercise again before they go back to work,” Richeal said.
Most classes number about 10 moms and their children.
“I’m pretty fortunate,” Richeal said. “Most of my membership comes to every single class.”
‘Moms help a lot’
Richeal’s marketing amounts to social media and word-of-mouth.
“it’s pretty difficult for a small business to get the word out,” she said. “The moms have been very supportive. They love the classes, love the community and the village. My moms help a lot.”
In her second year of operation, Richeal plans some “mommy-only classes, an eight-week program that encompasses nutrition and fitness,” and one “for that prenatal mom, just to have her move the body and have a nice healthy pregnancy.”
Richeal said the Fit4Moms approach delivers the physical and mental benefits her new-mother clients want.
“Especially in the early days of motherhood, women need that community and they need that support,” Richeal said. “They just need to leave their house once a day and move their bodies.
“It’s self-care without the guilt because you have your kid with you, and you get to interact with them.”
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Fit4Mom Iowa City
Owner: Rebecca Richeal
Phone: (563) 343-1983