Tuesday, May 3, 2016

#FitMom Talks: Julianna Curtis of The Energy Barre

New month, new FitMom! Get ready for this one - there's a lot of good info here... I've worked with Julianna Curtis a bunch of times now and loved each photo shoot we've done. From pre-baby, to "maternity fitness shoot," to post, this lady is killing it no matter what stage of life she's in. She's got a lot to say too so grab a cup of tea or a glass of wine, settle in, and read on!

Tell us a little about yourself and your business: My name is Julianna Curtis, I've got a lot of spunk, a big heart, a lot of dreams and a long to do list. I respond to a lot of names such as Wife, J, and Queen...but my favorite name is Mama. I became a mom on March 25, 2015 when my husband and I welcomed our son Lennon Patrick to this world!
photos courtesy of Julianna Curtis
To be entirely honest, I wasn't sure I was meant to be a mom. Before the baby there was never a moment when my husband and I felt incomplete as a party of two, we had each other and our love was BIG. In the months waiting for our baby we shared "fear of the unknown" feelings and wondered how our party of two would function as a party of three. EVERYBODY told us that once the baby arrived we would wonder how we ever lived without him. Well, in many ways they were right. Our baby boy was made for us. He is our greatest love, our greatest adventure and our greatest blessing. Watching my hubby become a father has made my heart grow to a size I did not know was possible and I thank God for those two boys everyday. Just looking at my son's face fills me with so much pride, I truly could not imagine our life without him. 

But becoming a mama sure does change EVERYTHING! I wouldn't wish it away, I wouldn't change it if I could...I would simply ask the universe for more time in each day, so that I could spend adequate time playing with my son and teaching him to love life and take risks, being a wife and showing my husband how grateful I am to have him for myself and as my partner in parenting, being a daughter, a sister, an aunt and a friend, following my professional dreams and taking care of myself. Since I am sure that women have been wishing for more hours in a day since the beginning of time, I will just focus on doing the best I can and giving my all to this very full life, especially to the boy who changed it all, Lennon.

Before I became a mom, my life was still incredibly full! If you had asked me about myself and my life, I would have divulged a little bit more about the individual "me" and boasted about my cute hubby before telling you all about my passion and my calling: I am the proud owner of The Energy Barre, a fitness and lifestyle studio specializing in barre and matte style classes that promise to tighten, tone and strengthen, while restoring balance to the body. That key word - balance - is what makes our technique so unique, effective and addicting. Not only do our workouts deliver aesthetic results, but they also encourage reengineering to the internal workings of the body. We develop incredible tension through our lives daily activity...it feels good to have that released! Our clients, or EB Babes, come to class and work incredibly hard, yet when they leave they feel refreshed rather than drained...they make our instructors feel like miracle workers, but it's just a smart workout with passionate delivery! It still blows my mind when I say that my team is made up of over 30 women. 

When I first opened The Energy Barre, with three girls by my side, it was my goal to create a place where any woman, any shape, any size, any fitness level could come and get a great workout, feel challenged yet supported and leave feeling good about themselves. I attribute the studios ability to stay true to this goal to The Energy Barre Girls. Our team is irreplaceable because each girl has made my mission their own. It's really rewarding and humbling to watch these girls in action. I can also thank these girls for my nickname, "the queen." Let the record show: I shamelessly dubbed myself The Queen of EB, but when you've got such a loyal group of girls working to build a dream that was once just your own, how could you not feel like a Queen?

Currently I own and operate three locations: EB Beverly, EB Medford and EB Stoneham. I have big goals to continue to grow! In The Energy Barre's three short years, I have learned that my passion for fitness falls within a greater passion: connecting with and supporting women. I am lucky to have found a career that supports my desire to love, that challenges me to be a better person and inspires me to do more. My professional life will be dedicated to encouraging women to admire their own greatness and to nurture the greatness of others. I want to see women love themselves so truly that any jealousy of another could be turned into true admiration: imagine how much more energy we would have to give to things that matter!? I am not quite sure where this road will take me, but I know it will be a trip worth taking. I can promise additional Energy Barre locations in the future....I also hope to build an online presence in some capacity, and to turn my newly launched, amateur blog "the diary of a queen" into a powerful resource for women. If you can dream it, you can do it...right?

How long of a maternity leave were you able to take before you started to work (and workout!) again?
Thanks to my team, I was able to pretty much unplug without concern for our entire hospital stay (Lennon spent some time in the special care unit). Once we were home, I was eager to reconnect with the behind the scenes work, and babies nap quite a bit... so I plugged back in and being involved made me feel human! Lennon's ten days in the hospital forced me to truly sit still, rest and recover. 

Immediately upon settling into life at home with I baby I committed to moving my body every day. I did not dive into rigorous exercise by any means, but my body craved movement and I made that happen daily, while honoring my physical limitations. I returned to teaching on May 4th, about five weeks after giving birth. Taking an extended break from teaching was something that I COULD have done, because our team is so supportive, but it was not something that I wanted to do. I taught my last class on the day my water broke and once Lennon was home from the hospital and I looked forward to my body giving me the green light to get into the studio again. I remember hearing songs on the drive to and from the hospital and making notes because I could not wait to use them in classes. Many moms dread the return to work because it means five extended days away from their new baby. I cannot imagine how that must feel. I was fortunate to be able to look forward to my return to work, knowing that it only meant a couple of hours away from my son.

How did that schedule/routine look different from before baby? Oh gosh! It was different in so many ways! Different from what it was before, and different from what I planned for it to be!

Professionally: Pre-baby I was teaching 14-15 classes each week...when I made my return in May I took it slowly, starting with 3 classes per week and gradually building from there. I took it slow, worked my schedule to manage extra long summer weekends at the lake and I limited the amount of days I had to be anywhere before 11am. As I took on more I quickly developed a bottomless well of respect and admiration for the moms who do it all so gracefully, and then of course for those (like me) who make it all happen, just not so gracefully. Those early months of motherhood taught me how to be happy about showing up without looking perfect, because to get out of the house on time has always been hard for me, nevermind with a baby! I look back on those dark circle, breast milk stained, disheveled days with pride... I can say I've been there with a smile (and maybe a couple of tears). 

Now, almost a year into motherhood, I teach 10 classes per week and I don't really plan to commit to many more regularly scheduled classes. I add on special classes and pop up offerings to fill my desire to teach more, and that has been working great! This schedule allows me to feel balanced, like I am home with my family and at the studio with my favorite ladies JUST enough! I will always wish I had more time for both...but like I said I'm just going to focus on giving all that I can with what I've got!

Did your fitness outlook and goals change after becoming a mom? If so, how? 
Personally: My own fitness routine was DRASTICALLY different than I had anticipated! To be 100% honest, from the outset, pregnancy gave me a great amount of anxiety because I am a fitness professional. I use my body to do my job, and through years of work I had developed a body that I was comfortable in and proud of, and having that change was terrifying. I had strong expectations of myself and I was scared to meet my new mom body....but what I didn't know was what the expectations would be of my clients, and what they would think of my new mom body. I think that is a fear that everyone in this industry has at some point, and it can be hard to put to words. Once I had accepted that this change was going to happen, I coped by promising myself a celebrity-style comeback. I anticipated vigorous workouts, a clean diet and a daily commitment to studio time for ME! 

Well, Lennon had other plans, and thank God for that! Instead of focusing on my transformation, I committed to taking my time, being kind to myself, and moving my body everyday so that I could be the best mom, the best wife, the best boss babe, and the best me on any given day. This commitment in itself was enough of a challenge so again, thank goodness I was able to let go of that celebrity-style comeback! Still, I was constantly faced by challenges. Owning a fitness studio, I thought it would be easy to sneak a class in everyday, but there isn't always a sitter, there is always work to do, and some days I did not want to leave my son's side. So, in honoring the commitment that I had made to myself, I began to develop tricks and methods of motivation to achieve active movement everyday without seriously dropping the ball in the other aspects of my life. 

My favorite trick is the three or thirty commitment, which you can read about in my blog here. But what I would really like to say here is how much my view of fitness has changed. I believe that my relationship with my body and with exercise has been very healthy and balanced for a long time...I have always loved french fries and ice cream and I have always loved running and pushing my limits physically...so I struck a balance pretty naturally. But something has shifted in this year as a mom...I still make a daily commitment to move, I love to see my body change shape and develop strength, but I am kinder to myself and although my body is different than it used to be, I have never felt better.
What is the biggest challenge you've found in running a business and being a mom? The biggest challenge I have faced is striking a balance. On the weeks that I feel like I am crushing it professionally I usually miss a few more bed times, have piles of dirty laundry and a screen full of unopened text messages. On the weeks that I feel that I have given my family and home all of the attention that it deserves I've got unanswered emails and a lengthy boss babe to-do list. But it flows. I am at least getting better at acknowledging when one side is slipping and making an effort to tip the scale back before one has totally dropped. Knowing myself, I will never truly overcome this challenge...but I will become a master manager of my own life and find the best balance...maybe by the time Lennon is TWO!

What is your favorite fitness-related activity to do with your son? I just love to involve him! When it's just him and I, it's a thirty minute workout, and I feel like he enjoys it as much as I do: he cheers me on and I make him laugh! Some days he is in the high chair with some Cheerios while I run on the treadmill and sing to him. Some days he is my big 25 pound weight of resistance. Some days my movements are dictated by where he has crawled to and what toys he is playing with. We have fun. He smiles, I sweat, we're both better for it!


Thanks so much to Julianna for sharing her story! 

More info on Julianna and the Energy Barre:

locations: 5 Central Square, Stoneham, MA 02180
181 Elliott Street, Beverly, MA 01915
269 Middlesex Avenue, Medford, MA 02155

Twitter: @TheEnergyBarre
instagram: @the_energy_barre
Facebook: facebook.com/theenergybarre

To read more of my #FitMomTalks, click here!

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