Fit Like a CK Mother

It is undeniable that exercise makes us feel better, even when our stomach begins to shake as we hold longer in a pose. Working through the pain has a purpose: to get stronger, look better and release stress. For some, giving themselves permission to make time for exercise and engage in self-care becomes impossible.

"These are the people I train - moms of cancers' youngest warriors."

Portrait

I have been a Pilates based instructor for about 10 years. I found my way into teaching as a mom balancing life and fitness while being a full-time attorney. When I left law to focus on motherhood I opened a studio for moms and their children. Later, we relocated for my husband’s career and I continued training my clients virtually. Over this time, four friends from different parts of my life found themselves facing their child's cancer diagnosis. The physical and mental toll it took on my friends was heartbreaking. While out for a run one day an idea came to me that stopped me: I could gift fitness and wellness to my friends wherever they were to help them take care of themselves during this time. Fit Like A CK Mother was born, CK standing for Cancer Kid, a shorthand used by these moms. What I thought would just be for my friends and their support groups (about 30-35 moms) grew rapidly solely by word of mouth. As the first and only provider of virtual and on-demand wellness programming for moms of cancer kids, at just over a year old Fit Like A CK Mother is now comprised of close to 600 moms in 9 countries.

"Cancer does not discriminate."

Mother Hug

Accordingly, my moms come from diverse racial, social and economic backgrounds. Their children are in various stages of cancer - many are in treatment, some are cancer-free, and a few have tragically earned their wings. These moms share a universal theme: the physical toll of watching their child fight cancer. These deep emotions fully consume their bodies and minds, even years after treatment has ended. When you have a child with cancer, there is no time for fitness. If there is a break from care, there are other children, work, house responsibilities and, always, the guilt that interferes.The cancer child’s family support team is often led by the mother who is not provided a guide as to how to keep themselves well throughout their child’s treatment. Most moms of cancer children tell me they have gained 20-30 pounds and suffer from PTSD, depression and/or anxiety.

Fit Like A CK Mother looks to fill the fitness and wellness gap for these mothers who feel alone in their physical setbacks. We also look to give them a small break from the cancer world. As we tell them, “We focus on you, your wellness, your strength, and your self-care so you can wholeheartedly lead your family and care for your child endlessly during this difficult time.” What we provide is purposely not glossy, high-end studio videos. Deb Povinelli, my business partner and co-instructor, and I meet these moms in our collectively shared experience of juggling motherhood and life. Our live videos are a true reflection of that, filmed in my home studio or living room, sometimes my kids walking in during the middle of them or a puppy tackling Deb while she is filming.

Family

The programs are generated by years of teaching fitness and working with moms. Additionally, my background in teaching empowerment and self-esteem to young women helps support our moms. During the class we lead the moms through stretching, strengthening, toning and release poses. They are designed to be done in a hospital room or at home with limited resources. We post workouts, inspiration and wellness ideas to our community once a week or more. Over time, we have built a community that nourishes the physical, mental and emotional needs of these moms through fitness. Moms post pictures to the larger group of their workouts and share stories of doing the programs alongside their children in hospital beds or in Ronald McDonald houses. It can be difficult for them to experience how much cancer has taken away not only from their children’s bodies, but also their own. That knowledge seems only to push them forward to get healthier for themselves and their children.

Mother and Baby
Mother and Baby 2

As one mom shared, “Immediately following my first workout in the group, I broke down in tears. It was exactly what I had been needing and wanting. I didn't realize how much I needed it.”

As we do not walk in our moms’ shoes but besides them, we look to them for direction and input so that our community is truly one of moms linking arms with each other and us. Our moms know Fit Like A CK Mother is a safe place for them to be and to share. In an environment where donations can often covertly influence discussion and product placement, we pride ourselves in the pureness and authenticity of our community discussions and recommendations. There are no fees, no sponsored products, and no obligations for our moms and there never will be. Instead, we reach out personally to brands and companies that we feel have products and programs our moms could benefit from and invite them to donate in some way. Importantly, discussions are open and we invite the moms to share thoughts, like recipes, strategies for packing meals for a week in the hospital, and encouragement.

Mother & Child

The stories of weight loss, toning and looking better were to be expected. I did not anticipate, however, the greater impact on emotional and mental well being that has stemmed from our fitness community. “It’s honestly the one thing I look for everyday to get my mind right for the day” said one mom. To me, this is the most important aspect of our work. In doing this work, I have felt my feet firmly grounded in this world. I am deeply grateful for and humbled by the opportunity to make life just a little bit better for my moms, their little warriors, and their families.

If you are an instructor and would be interested in
donating a class or two, please contact Sarah at
[email protected]