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Motivational Mom of the Month - Natalie Russell

DECEMBER!? I know I say it every month but like really, how are we already here? 2020 has been a doozy for sure but we can't help but feel so grateful for our amazing Village who has supported us along the way! Without you Mamas, FIT4MOM Richmond wouldn't be the same.

And without one special lady, FIT4MOM RVA would be nothing! I introduce to you the ULTIMATE MOTIVATIONAL MOM OF THE MONTH. Our very own. The one and only. The head Mama. The HBIC. Natalie Russell!

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How did you find FIT4MOM Richmond and how long have you been a part of our village?

I have been part of Our Village since I bought the franchise in January 2016! A neighborhood friend of mine owned the business before me. She was actually the 2nd owner. At the time I was teaching dance classes and a few women's fitness classes. Charlie (our son) was getting ready to head into Kindergarten and I wanted a job that would give me the flexibility to create my own hours so that I could be home in the afternoons/evenings with him and work while he was in school. The owner of FIT4MOM Richmond was getting ready to move and needed to sell. I loved the idea but had no clue what FIT4MOM was about! So I attended a Halloween themed Stroller Strides class without a stroller (I didn't even own one anymore!) and Katie Painter, our Fit4Baby prenatal yoga instructor, was a Strides instructor then and was teaching. I fell in love with the program and everything FIT4MOM stands for and believes in. That was the beginning and here I am today!

What do you love most about being part of this community?

Oh geez, what's not to love?! :) I suppose it's the connections. Knowing that through our community, moms not only find friends for themselves and their children, but that they get recommendations for pediatricians, get answers and suggestions for sleep training/potty training/weaning, etc. That they get the emotional and mental support from one another just by showing up for a class. That there's always a mom in our village who understands and is ready to help, no matter what you're going through. And that our community provides ALL of this in the name of "fitness for moms". It's really pretty cool.

Who are you a mom to?

I am mom to Charlie. A 9 year boy who loves painting, Taekwondo, playing Zelda and has wanted to be a You-Tuber for the last 4 years! Ha! He has a heart of gold and makes me laugh every day.

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What is your favorite thing about being a mom?

Watching Charlie grow! While I sometimes wish for time to slow down (don't we all?!) it's also so beautiful and such an honor to watch him grow. To be a part of him learning all of life's lessons despite the (insanely large!) weight and responsibility of it all! Oh and the snuggles...I really love the snuggles.

Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or one hundred duck-sized horses?

One horse-sized duck thank you very much.

How do you stay fit when you're not working out with FIT4MOM?

Hahaha! Is this a trick question? I teach so much now that FIT4MOM is my lifelong fitness plan! Besides stretching on my own and walking the dog, oh and bike riding with Charlie, that's it.

How do you practice self-care?

I love to take epsom salt baths and take time to paint my nails. It forces me to slow down because it takes so long for my nails to dry! I also consider walking the aisles of Homegoods or Target by myself essential self care.

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Where did you grow up and how did you end up in Richmond?

I'm a bit of a gypsy really. Here's the cliff's notes version... I was born in Beckley, WV. When I was 9 my family moved to Va. Beach. When I was a Junior in high school I moved to Columbus, OH and lived with a host family to train with a professional ballet company. From there I moved to England and lived there for pretty much 12 years. In 2014 my husband (Phil) and I decided to pack things up, quit our jobs and move to Richmond sight unseen to start a new life closer to my family!

How did becoming a mother change you?

Becoming a mother opened my eyes and my heart to a whole new kind of love.

What is the last great book or television series you've read/watched?

Well, because it's fresh in my mind and I'm still mourning the end...Schitt's Creek. Phil and I adored this show. I think we need to rewatch it. I also really want that sweatshirt that keeps popping up in FB ads that says "Bebe it's cold outside". Classic!

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How did you meet your husband?

Phil likes to tell people we met in "rehab" and leave it at that. I quickly follow up with "physical"! We met at a gym in England. I was injured and instead of touring with the ballet company I worked for, I spent my days seeing a physical therapist at the gym and trying to get better. Phil had survived a horrific motorcycle accident years before and was still in the process of rehabbing in between surgeries (he had 12 all together!) He was seeing the same physical therapist at the same gym and he basically stalked me. Ask him about it next time you see him! ;)

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A ballet dancer

If your five-year-old self suddenly found themselves inhabiting your current body, what would she do first?

She'd grab her ballet shoes, dance around the house and never take them off. Supposedly, I slept in my first pair!

Natalie, I think it goes without saying how much you motivate this Village of women daily. I have always admired your love for life and your "glass-half-full" outlook. You are one of the most genuine people I know and your spirit and energy make FIT4MOM RVA what it is today! You have helped mom after mom after mom find her footing and tribe in this crazy journey called motherhood. Thank you for being such a bright light in my life and I hope you always know how much I value our friendship. I chose you for our December Motivational Mom of the Month not only because you deserve it, but also in honor of your 40TH BIRTHDAY! I hope you have the best birthday ever because you deserve it!

Love,

megan

P.S. Oh, and a few more people wanted to wish you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY, too!

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Happy 40th birthday, sweet Natalie! YOU are the reason you have such a successful business. Right away from the day I met you, I knew I wanted to be friends with you because you were so positive, welcoming, and energetic. You make everyone feel special! I hope you feel extra special on your big day. -Melissa Jenkins

Happy Birthday! Thank you for always being there for all of your moms at all the stages of our lives. Thank you for getting me to enjoy working out; your energy and vibrant personality made me want to continue to show up which is a rarity when it comes to breaking a sweat. You gave me a reason to make time for me and to not feel guilty for it. Take this month to celebrate you the way you celebrate all of us! - Lindsey Brown

Happy 40th Natalie! I’m so grateful for you and all you do for RVA mamas! I can’t imagine transitioning into motherhood without Fit4Mom! Looking back 4.5 years ago, when we moved back to Richmond, I was a brand new mama who had no idea what I was doing and didn’t know many people with children in Richmond. I was so thankful to find you and start a new routine with stroller strides. You always had a smile on your face and was willing to lend a helping hand and for that I’ll forever be grateful! Hope you have the happiest birthday and can’t wait to see what your 40’s bring to you! - Windsor Lineback

Happy Birthday Natalie! So thankful to have met you and been welcomed into the Fit4Mom community! Your energy is contagious and your workouts are kick ass! You deserve to have the best day, celebrating you! Happy Birthday! -Sam Simpson

Happy 40th Natalie! Thanks for being both our leader and a friend. You create a space that’s beyond a fitness program and we’re lucky to have YOU to bring us together as we wind our way through this crazy life. - Dori McGuire

Happy Birthday Natalie!! Thank you so much for the positivity and creativity. In this crazy, ever changing 2020 you have been one constant that has kept me sane. Enjoy your day. You deserve it all and more! - Kaitlin Ray

Happy Birthday Natalie! When thinking about your milestone Birthday, there was one thought I couldn't shake. I truly don't think a more perfect Fit4Mom owner could be found - you are an amazing mix of personality, perseverance, entrepreneurship, warmth, and support. I'm so glad you found your calling and I'm lucky to have you in my life. Happy 40th! - Beth Hinchcliffe

Happy 40th lady! 🎉 You have literally made my life so much better since I started coming to Fit4Mom classes a couple years ago! And there is no one I’d rather chat with before/after my 6am workout! I 💖 Natalie! I will be right there with ya by August 2021! Here’s to rocking our 40s! XOXOXO - Althea Egon

Natalie is an inspiration to all moms! Through Fit4mom she has found a way to provide such an amazing village for all stages of motherhood. She has such a kind, real, upbeat personality and spirit that is very inspiring to all of us! -Megan Servinsky

Thank you Natalie for having such a positive impact on my transition to motherhood! Your positivity is contagious! I can’t wait to join Fit4Mom classes again during my maternity leave #2 in a few months! - Krista Gigliotti

Natalie, I have always been so impressed by how welcome and encouraged you always makes me feel, even if it's been YEARS between classes. You lead an incredible community of moms! I hope you have a very happy birthday, and hope we can all celebrate together soon!! - Susan Bond

The transition to motherhood is *not* easy. There were definitely days in the beginning where I truly don’t think I would have been able to function without having stroller strides in the mornings! The support I received from not only you personally but also the community YOU built is incomparable. I want you to know that you have made such a profound impact in my life; and I know I’m not the only one. You are such a good, kind person Natalie (which is so hard to find these days)! Enjoy your day- you truly deserve all the best. - Stacey Gray

Happy 40th Natalie! You and the Fit4mom community have made such an impact on my life. You have made such an incredible community for moms that cannot be replaced. The first months of motherhood were so hard and knowing I had stroller strides in the morning to get out and see friendly faces who were all going through the same thing was life changing. You are so kind, caring and hardworking. You are one of a kind. Thank you for all you do!! Happy Birthday Natalie! - Jessica Karpen

You have created such an amazing community that puts moms at the center throughout their journeys. I remember my days there fondly as the bright spot in those early challenging times. Thank you for your unceasing kindness and endless ability to welcome a stranger as an old friend. Happy Birthday! Cheers to many more! - Mellisa Gray

Sweet Natalie, Wishing you a very happy birthday. You deserve all the cakes, love, hugs and happiness not only today but every day! I will always be grateful for you and the village you created, I could never survive quarantine without you all! You are awesome! - Angie and Stella DeAngelo

Natalie is a fireball of positive energy who lights up even the groggiest of mornings. She is completely infectious in all the best ways. Happy birthday, Natalie!! - Sophie Mohrann

Happy birthday, Natalie! Ever since I began Stroller Strides, going on 4 years ago, you have been so kind and friendly. You're so supportive, especially to new moms, in so many additional ways beyond balancing exercise and "momming." I am so thankful to have found FIT4MOM! Wishing you the happiest of birthdays! - Sam Baker

Happy birthday Natalie! You are such a ray of sunshine and a great motivator! Thanks for helping me make fitness a priority and providing a space to bond with other like-minded moms! - Meghan Brodie

Happiest of birthdays Natalie! I’m so glad to have reconnected with this remarkable community you have built. Your steady optimism and dedication to us have been such a bright spot in these bizarre days! I hope you have a wonderful day! - Karen Kusterer

Happy Birthday Natalie! I certainly miss working with you and our many discussions about the weather....is it too cold for outdoors? Is it really going to rain? How about that wind at Libbie Mill? Love your amazing village of moms and how they cheer each other on and lift each other up- kudos to you! Hope you have an amazing birthday month! - Blair Lauver

Happy 40th!! You are the rock to so many moms - both emotionally & physically! Thank you for creating a place of comfort and peace for us along with kicking our butt into shape🍑 You are an inspiration and I admire so much about you!! Thanks for being a kicka$$ coach & friend! 💜 - Linds Vidler

Happiest of birthdays to you, Natalie! I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being such a positive, motivating force in my life. What you do is life changing and so many people are happier and healthier because of you. You’re gonna rock your 40’s!! - Morgan Nishimoto

Super pumped that it’s your 40th!!! You have taught the village how to be healthy in both mind and body. I hope you know how special you are at the core Wishing you a wonderful birthday!!!! - Jen Salang

Happy birthday, Natalie! You are a shining example of strength in motherhood not just in the way that you mother in your own family, but the way you support mothers all throughout RVA and beyond. I know I am a better mom thanks to the FIT4MOM community you helped to build and I feel sure there are others in the community who feel strengthened (both physically and emotionally) through your leadership. We love you! - Katie Painter

Natalie (the birthday girl!) has created a village that has made an irreplaceable impact on my life. Since meeting Natalie and joining her village, I have made lifelong friends, have finally found a fitness program that works for me, and have made a true friend in her. She is loving, supportive, reassuring, compassionate, and truly unlike any other woman I know. I am wishing her the happiest of birthdays and hope she knows how truly loved she is, and how the village she has created has changed the lives of so many. Love you birthday girl! - Kristan Cole

Happy Birthday Nat! You really are one-of-a-kind! This village you’ve created and continue to foster has truly changed my motherhood journey. I feel so blessed to have called you instructor, boss and most importantly, friend. Love you! - Jenna Miles

Natalie, You are such an amazing woman! You give strength to everyone around you, and are so inspiring. You came into my life while I was struggling with so many changes going on in my life, and you may not know this, but you helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am beyond grateful that you are a part of my life. Wishing you the happiest of birthdays. Lots of love! - Amanda Pando

Happy Birthday, Natalie! You’re a kick ass mom, friend, business owner and instructor. You have created such an amazing, welcoming community. You care so much about everyone, are always there for anyone who needs you and you’re always so positive. Thank you for everything you do and everything you provide for the mamas of Richmond! - Sydney Hudson

Natalie has an infectious energy and positive attitude that draws people in. She always has a smile on her face. She is a caring and understanding boss and a good friend. Her spirit and dedication are what makes Fit4Mom Richmond the great community it is. Natalie, thank you for working tirelessly to build this business and village of moms for all of us, for your trust and support as a boss, and your friendship. Happy 40th birthday! - Kate Brady

Happy 40th to a truly phenomenal woman! I feel incredibly blessed to have met you almost 5 years ago when we were both doing our first Body Back session! Little did I know that you would be taking over Fit4Mom and turning it into an amazingly successful business and creating an incredibly supportive and thriving community of women. Your passion and enthusiasm are infectious (though I hesitate to use that word these days ) and you have a special way of making whomever you’re talking to feel like the most important person in the room. You are such a genuine, kind and thoughtful friend and you deserve all the joys of life. I can’t wait to celebrate all of these milestone 2020 birthdays properly sometime in the (hopefully) near future. Until then, I hope you have the most fabulous birthday that quarantine has to offer! Love, - Erin Sorkin

Happy 40TH Natalie!!!! I am so glad I met you a few years ago through Stroller Strides! Your positive energy, love and support are infectious and as a new mom (and repeat mom) I was so grateful for you!!! I hope you have the most wonderful birthday and holiday celebration with your sweet fam and I can't wait to see you again soon!! - Stephanie McVicar

Natalie, Happiest of birthdays! My hope for you is that your 40th year will bring joy and be your best yet. I can't thank you enough for putting a little faith into a short pump early morning body back class in 2019. Since then, you have pushed me mentally and physically in ways I never thought possible. I have made friendships and bonds with other moms that are like no other. I have been able to stay accountable and keep a routine that works for me and my family. You ask, You listen and do everything You can to support us throughout motherhood. Thank you for Fit4Mom and thank you for your friendship! Time to celebrate you! Cheers! - Meg Tunstall

Happy, happy 40th birthday Nat! I am SO grateful for finding you and Fit4Mom! Thank you for helping me find myself again, both physically and emotionally. I am so grateful for the community of mothers you have built here. I can’t believe I finally love a workout! I am excited to be with you and fit4mom for many years to come! Cheers to you, sister! - Allie Smith

Natalie you’re a rockstar! You’ve helped me through 2 pregnancies, one when I couldn’t even take the classes because of complications! You’re such a loyal friend and always there for us, not only Fit4mom stuff but also life in general! I’m always amazed by your motivation and energy for everything you do. It motivates me to be the best instructor, friend, and mom that I can because of the faith you seem to have in me (I honestly question this often. Haha!). I’m so grateful to have found such a great friend in you, along with the opportunity to be apart of such a wonderful community of mamas! Thank you so much for all you do and I hope you have the best 40th birthday!!!! - Erin Purdie

Happy, Happy Birthday Natalie! Your friendly spirit is contagious and such a gift to all who know you - you truly give moms so much each and every day through your motivation, humor, community and general kindness and supportive nature! Love you girlfriend, keep shining bright - hope it's the bestest birthday and your boys spoil you rotten! - Devin Pilson

Natalie: thank you for creating and nurturing a space where Motherhood is celebrated! It is about feeling good about oneself. This is such a great gift that you give us daily, three times a week, and sometimes, once a week :) you are amazing! Hoping for many more happy trips around the sun- success and happiness! - Nathalia Artus

Dear Natalie, I hope you have the most amazing birthday ever. You work tirelessly to make sure our entire tribe stays connected and you really care that each of us has the tools we need to become the best versions of ourselves that we can be. Your energy and dedication is noticed. We love you! - Grace Festa

Happy Birthday, Natalie! Thank you for always being so kind and patient! I hope you enjoy the upcoming adventures of your next decade! - Kori Johnston