Thursday, February 16, 2017

#FitMom Talks: Jennifer Phelan of @JPPilates

Need an insight into life as a popular fitness instructor and mom of two young kiddos? You're in luck because my latest Fit Mom Talk is with my old friend (and the first fitness model I ever photographed!) Jennifer Phelan. Jenn has learned a lot since becoming a mom and she is more than happy to share her experiences in hopes of helping other expecting and new moms. She's always impressed me as a fitness expert and now as a super mom too:


Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Jennifer Phelan and I am the founder of JPPilates, a brand that centers around training, motivating and influencing clients through my group Pilates classes in Boston, private instruction and social media. And I'm also a Mom to two little boys! I have a three-year-old named Grayson and a four-month-old named Max. Oh and I can't forget my 6 year old crazy Siberian Husky dog Noelle.
photo credit: April K Photography
How long of a maternity leave were you able to take before you started to work (and workout!) again?
With my first son Grayson I took a solid four months off from teaching and also from exercising. Grayson was a terrible sleeper. At night he work up every 1-2 hours. The sleep deprivation took a real toll on me and as much as I wanted to get back into the swing of teaching and working out, I simply couldn't. Caring for my child took every ounce of energy I had. I'd say around six months was when I really found my stride but it wasn't until he was one that I truly lost all of the baby weigh and had a full teaching schedule again.

The second time around has been much different. I think already having a toddler running around left me not much time to 'recover.' By the time Max was two months old I was itching to get back to teaching. Not that I don't love being home all the time with my boys but the escape from whining, crying, nagging and needing was much needed. My students and places of employment (North End Yoga and Equinox) looked like a shinning beacon of escape. In no way does teaching feel like work.

Even now people seem surprised that I returned back to teaching so soon after giving birth. I get a lot of questions asking why I didn't take a longer maternity leave and enjoy it. To set the record straight I'm not really teaching that much. Currently I only have 5 group classes on my schedule. The rest of time I'm home with my kids. I LOVE that I'm able to do both. Is it easy? No way! But I've learned to be flexible, go with the flow and keep myself open to what comes my way. I can't get too set in my ways about scheduling because things with kids are always changing!

My workouts this time around have been slow going. I'm being much kinder to myself as I strive to lose the last ten pounds and work to get fitter. I'm not as worried because I know that I did this once before and I know I can do it again. And even though I may not have my Nike Trainer, Fitness Instructor body back just yet, I try to remind myself that I am actually strong and my body is doing different yet amazing things. I breastfeed my baby. I carry around a 19lb infant every day. I wear him on my body in an Ergo carrier. I push a stroller up and down the hills of Charlestown with a 30lb toddler, baby, car seat and often groceries. That alone is an amazing yet non conventional workout. I know that in time I will have hours to myself to train and take classes but right now there's no place I'd rather be than with my family... well most days :)

How did your routine look different from before baby?
Before kids I taught 35+ hours a week between private clients and classes. I had tons of time to take group fitness classes all over Boston and I could be super relaxed about when I choose to workout. Often I'd make game day decisions on what time I wanted to exercise and what I was going to do.

Now my life is very scripted and planned. I have to coordinate with my husband if I want to take a week night class. He has to come home from work a little early in order for me to leave and make a 7:15pm class. That means that he walks in the door and I tag out- leaving him with dinner, bath time and bedtime duties for both kids. Plus he has to take the dog out and make dinner for us. That's a lot just so I can exercise. I often feel guilty when I choose to leave during the week. Luckily he's an amazing man and he reminds me that it's important I do these things for me. It's in the best interest of our entire family that I'm healthy and feel my best. I'm a much better wife and mom when I workout.

Right now with such a young baby I'm still trying to figure out my workout plan. I tend to do mat Pilates at home during the day whenever I can fit it in. I'm making it to classes probably twice a week and in classes I teach I'm down on the ground with my students working out with them. As my youngest gets older I know this will shift and I will be able to create a different routine with each month that passes.

Did your fitness outlook and goals change after becoming a mom? If so, how?
Prior to kids I cared about the number on the scale a lot. Now I don't even weigh myself. I honestly don't care. I'm sure it will be a different story once I'm done breastfeeding but for now the number isn't really a goal.

Before I used to compare myself to what other instructors were doing; how many classes they taught and what companies they worked with. I can honestly say that my love for teaching has actually grown since becoming a mom. It's taken on a whole new meaning to me. I adore the time I get to spend with my students and while I still stay on top of what other people are doing, I don't find the need to compare as much. My life is just different now.

Instead of only influencing young people to be fit and healthy I have a new crowd I've grown to love working with - New Moms! I want new moms to know that we are all in it together. That it's not easy but you can live a healthy active lifestyle. If I can do, so can you. I'm no different. And we can do it together. Prior to kids I wouldn't have had the first idea of how to connect with these women but I must say, it's been an honor getting to do so.

What is the biggest challenge you've found in working/running a business and being a mom?
Ah, there are just so many challenges. Lack of time and energy are a few to start. Some days it feels like I can do it all. Usually those are the days I drink two pots (yes, pots) of coffee. And other days I fall into bed with anxiety questioning why I'm even trying to work because motherhood is obviously a full time job and beyond. Overall my biggest challenge is remaining patient with the process. I have so many projects I want to jump up and do. So many ideas. But I have to accept that right now I can't do it all. Usually when I'm snuggling with my boys, in the quiet moments, are the times that I find peace with where I'm at. It's a work in progress, every single day.

What is your favorite fitness-related activity to do with your sons (either one-on-one or as a family)?Since we have a large, active dog we do lots of family walks around the city. Grayson is a toddler expert on his Micro Mini Scooter and often times it's a workout for us all to just keep up with him. I love practicing yoga and Pilates with Grayson. When he was two, we took about 10 months of toddler yoga together. It was hands down the best class I've ever taken him to. We take a lot of the techniques from classes (focusing on breathe, slowing down, mindfulness, and of course the poses) and apply them together at home. He's working on his Pilates Hundreds and Roll-Ups too but still needs some help on his core strength :) 

I also love adding Max into my workouts! We do everything from push ups, planks and ab work together. I get right down on the mat with him. Both boys when they were little are the inspiration for the Mom and Baby classes I teach. It's so fun to be able to create with them and share with other Boston and Charlestown Moms!

Thanks to Jenn for sharing her story! 
You will always inspire me and so many others as well :)

Instagram: @JPPilates1
Twitter: @JPPilates

To read more #FitMomTalks, click here!

Monday, February 13, 2017

New Yoga Studio Review: YogaWorks Chestnut Hill

I'm a big fan of yoga but I especially love it in the winter. Stretching in a warm studio, feeling that burn, and the strong sense of zen left after a quality class is especially appreciated this time of year. With a new YogaWorks location opening at Chestnut Hill, I was invited to their opening weekend to try out a class. I picked a Vinyasa Flow class taught by Alissa Portet.
The new space is located downstairs in a large building and it feels cozy and welcoming when you walk in. The class was packed for a cold Superbowl Sunday but I grabbed a spot and they didn't run out of mats or props. Alissa led a nice, energizing flow and I found her cues particularly specific and helpful. Muscles I didn't even realize I had were burning in no time.
After the class I checked out some awesome vendors they had in the lobby in celebration of opening weekend including a Juice Press, Dosha Bar, and Health Ade - the best kombucha I've ever tried. 

With the classes and workshops being offered in addition to the friendly staff and knowledgable teachers, I think this studio will be a welcome addition to the Chestnut Hill area. Check it out and let me know what you think!
Have you tried any cool new studios lately? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear about them!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

#BostonMarathon Runner Story: Colleen Courtney for the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation

It's back! I've started photographing runners once again for my Why I Run: Boston Marathon Photo Project and today I'm starting with Colleen. I met up with Colleen at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir on a very chilly day (Superbowl Sunday, how fitting!) to take some photos and talk about how she teamed up to run for the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation.

Name: Colleen Courtney
Location: Melrose, MA
Occupation: Manager, Boston University Student Employment Services

Number of Marathons Run (including 2017): 2
Boston Marathons Run (including 2017): 1
Why I Run: I love the commitment it takes to train and the feeling of accomplishment afterwards. After my collegiate soccer career ended, I felt there was something missing in my routine which is when I discovered running. The void I felt was from a lack of being challenged both physically and mentally. Running feeds my competitive drive, keeps me goal oriented and helps me maintain motivation on a daily basis.

This year I am running the Boston Marathon on behalf of Gronk Nation Youth Foundation. This organization inspires students through sports, education and fitness. I'm passionate about this organization because of my own experiences playing youth sports. Athletic involvement since a young age taught me so many qualities that I apply in my everyday life- discipline, consistency, motivation, teamwork, effort, patience and many more.

I also run in memory of my Dad who was my biggest fan and taught me the meaning of discipline, strength and consistency in running and in life. 

Thanks to Colleen for sharing her story and good luck with training!
To learn more and help Colleen's fundraising effors, visit her page here:

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Free Fitness - #SharetheLove at @HealthworksFit

It's not just a New Year's resolution... it's just time. My baby is now 8 months old and I finally feel ready to commit to a serious fitness routine like I had before she was born. Luckily, I received an email from Healthworks about an event they're offering featuring a week of FREE fitness classes! How perfect is that?? They were kind enough to let me share the info here on the blog in case anyone reading would like to partake as well:

Starting on Feb 8th through the 14th, Healthworks is having its annual Share the Love event which includes a full week of special programming like themed classes and giveaways to share the love of fitness with the Boston community. Each Healthworks location has different offerings which you can learn more about through the Eventbrite links below:

Back Bay: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/share-the-love-of-healthworks-back-bay-tickets-31424830514

Coolidge Corner: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/share-the-love-of-healthworks-coolidge-corner-tickets-31422676070

Chestnut Hill: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/share-the-love-of-healthworks-chestnut-hill-tickets-31424335032

Cambridge: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/share-the-love-of-healthworks-cambridge-tickets-31423135444

Let me know if you plan on attending, maybe I will see you there!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Kick It By Eliza and the #KickItCrew


I met Eliza a few years ago when she was a recent college graduate with some big fitness dreams. Fast forward to today and she is one of Boston's biggest fitness entrepreneurs, founder of a "fempire," and her very own fitness brand. I've photographed her a few times since I first met her but last summer I had a chance to photograph one of her classes which consisted of the instructors certified to teach her signature class. 












We did the shoot at Zone 3 where they held pop-up classes and it was an awesome space to work in. Her crew was enthusiastic and full of life, it was a pleasure to work with them.

Thanks to Eliza and her crew for a great shoot! 

Are you a studio looking for photos of your classes? Let me know!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"Women in Fitness" Art Show at Be Well Studios

For the rest of January and the entire month of February this year, I have a photography show up at Be Well Studios in Scituate. Be Well is an awesome fitness and wellness space right on Scituate Harbor and they host local artists on a regular basis. I was thrilled when they asked me to be the first artist on display for 2017.

If you happen to be on the South Shore, swing by and check it out!
3 Mill Wharf Plaza
Scituate, MA 02066

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

#FitMomTalks: Tina Haupert of Carrots 'n' Cake

I recently did a shoot with my blogger buddy, Tina, and I wanted to post her awesome #FitMomTalk today! I paired up with Tina about a year ago to take photos (and now video) of her on a regular basis for her popular fitness/lifestyle blog, Carrots 'n' Cake, and also her latest business venture, Designed to Fit Nutrition which provides custom meal plans. Tina has a two-year-old son, Quinn, and is definitely a fit mom inspiration.  I am so happy to share what she had to say:
How long of a maternity leave were you able to take before you started to work (and workout!) again?
For work, maybe a day or two, which I totally regret. Looking back, I wish I had taken several weeks away from work. For working out, I was back at it just a few weeks later with walking and light workouts in my driveway. By 5 weeks, I was back at CrossFit and running just a short while later.

How did that schedule/routine look different from before baby?

Before a baby, I felt like I had all the time in the world to work and exercise. Now, life is a lot more scheduled, which means I can't dillydally with my time anymore. If I have a free hour to work or workout, I am doing exactly that-- no watching TV or playing on Facebook!
Did your fitness outlook and goals change after becoming a mom? If so, how?
Absolutely! I used to want to hit certain numbers at the gym and look a certain way, which, of course, was directly tied to my fitness routine. Now, I just want to enjoy my workouts and have a good time. Exercise is so much more about being happy and healthy nowadays!

What is the biggest challenge you've found in working/running a business and being a mom?

Time. Balance. Mom guilt. Some days, I feel like I am top of the world doing it all, but a lot of the time (maybe too much of the time), I feel like I am failing at everything. Of course, I wouldn't give it up for the world-- working from home and spending time with my little guy is the absolute best-- but it's still tough sometimes. I feel like I am pulled in a million directions.
What is your favorite fitness-related activity to do with your son (either one-on-one or as a family)?We love being active as a family, especially when the weather is nice. Some of our favorite activities: Stroller running, family walks and hikes, and partner workouts in our basement.


Thanks Tina! 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Snow Baby: Photos from the First Boston Blizzard of 2017


Like much of the east coast, we got hit pretty hard this weekend with over a foot of snow, lots of winter, and some really cold temps. So what did we do? Stuff the baby in the snowsuit, grab the dog, and go outside! Luckily, she loved it (and we all knew the dog would too).



Monday, January 2, 2017

Update! New Year, New Goals

Jordan Wells, Kadeja Gaines, and Keely Witkowski/b.fetching
As one of my friend's would say, it's been a minute. Meaning, quite a long time (haha). Here we are in 2017 and frankly I couldn't think of a better time to hop back on the blog, I've missed it! A lot has been going on this fall and somehow the time to write has been hard to find...

One of the reasons for this is I've actually been writing on another blog! This fall I became the Events Editor for MommyPoppins, a website devoted to any and all awesome kid activities in the Boston area (they're also in a bunch of other cities across the country). It's been fun! It's helped me feel connected to what's going on in the city and also involved in the family-friendly events I'm now interested in since I actually have a kid!
I've also been working a lot! I've had an on-going collaboration with the fab fitness blogger Tina of Carrots n' Cake. We meet up every couple of weeks to take photos of workouts, cooking healthy recipes, and even shooting a few videos. Tina also started a nutrition consultation and meal planning business with Kerrie of KFit Body called Designed to Fit and I've helped them out with photos and videos as well.
I also got to work with some really fun clients this fall, companies like Puma and Linx Dance Studio, and also some impressive individual fitness gurus:
Around the holidays I even wound up doing a bunch of family shoots for friends and neighbors and I LOVED it! Kids are so funny to work with and with a little patience (ok - a lot of patience) and a good sense of humor, we were able get some memorable shots. Some even wound up on holiday cards:
2016 was a hard year for a lot of reasons. I am focusing on the many positive things that came out of it as well, and there were a good amount of those. 2017 is looking bright so far and I'm excited to share what's coming up- more FitMom interviews, fitness photos, studio work and reviews, and everything in between.

Happy New Year! What are you looking forward to in 2017?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

SmashGal Shoot Recap: Tennis Athletic Apparel

Tennis, anyone? This spring I had the pleasure of doing a shoot with women's tennis apparel company, SmashGal Activewear. SmashGal is known for cute print skorts, which can be worn for many different activities. They wanted the photos to be energetic and empower women to be active.

We had three awesome models and the shoot was produced by the team at patientMoon Wellness Marketing. The photos are now up on their website, what do you think??