Kat Guessard is the owner of FIT4MOM Sherman Oaks/Studio City & a certified Stroller Strides fitness instructor. I first got to know Kat earlier this year when I attended one of her FIT4MOM classes at a park in Sherman Oaks. It’s a great way to get in shape, meet other moms and have fun with your baby.
Please meet the latest Real Mom of the SFV, Kat Guessard!
How/why did you begin your business?
Kat: I started attending Stroller Strides classes over 6 years ago, when my son was about 6 months old. I had been to Gymboree classes and some playgroups, but I wasn’t able to connect with anyone. The moms were a lot like me, very nervous and it was also hard to find people with similar interests. When I attended my first Stroller Strides class at Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Park, it was a revelation. I got in a killer workout, I had a lot of laughs with the moms and the endorphins put me in a very happy, chatty mood. It was easy to make friends there. I didn’t feel nervous and I quickly learned better parenting and coping mechanisms by being a part of a community. I didn’t have the same doubts and dilemmas because I could ask my new friends for solid advice and information. I also gained a lot of confidence in my post-baby body because I became stronger, leaner and faster.
When I got an email from the old owner that she was selling the franchise, it was a no-brainer. I had never been a fitness instructor before, but I have been a fitness enthusiast my entire life. I was excited to bring fresh ideas to the group and help moms find new friends after having a baby. Those early days of motherhood can be lonely and confusing. Every time a new mom comes to class, it’s a little victory and I am so thrilled that I get to welcome her and introduce to her an incredible and supportive community of women who are there to help her in her journey through motherhood. The other benefit, of course is helping her get her body confidence back. Every mom who sticks with the program sees incredible results. Often they become stronger than ever, because working out with your baby and friends becomes the highlight of your day instead of a chore.
As a working mother, what is one tip or piece of advice that you would give to other female entrepreneurs?
Kat: Don’t be afraid to get help when you need it. Hire a sitter or enlist a family member or friend if you are feeling overwhelmed. Although I like to think I can do it all, I’ve learned that even a supermom has her limits.
What do you like best about having a business in the San Fernando Valley?
Kat: I love my community! When I go to Trader Joe’s I know half the moms there. I also like to support our local businesses like Right Start, Pint Size Kids, Earth Baby, Lucy (and so many more). They are eager to support FIT4MOM too. We are all in the business of making motherhood fun, healthy and a little easier.
If there was one thing you wish you knew before you began your business, what would that be?
Kat: I wish that I had known just how many moms suffer from the baby blues and postpartum depression. I had a mild bout with the blues after both of my babies were born, but it wasn’t until after I had been teaching for a while that I heard so many more personal stories about individual struggles with depression. I feel like it’s still a taboo subject and there is a lot of guilt and blame that come with those emotions. It’s embarrassing for some moms and for others, it’s hard to identify why they are feeling “off.” I am proud to provide a supportive environment, where we work to lift each other up and provide a safe place to land. We often have no idea of the inner turmoil someone may be experiencing, so in our classes smiles, hugs and words of encouragement are the rule.
I completely agree with Kat’s advice about getting help when you need it. Too often moms think they have to be “supermom” & handle it all. Remember it “takes a village” to build your community, grow your business & raise your family! I also love Kat’s enthusiasm about her Valley community & that she champions local businesses.
Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. The image shown in this post is used with permission. As always, my opinions are 100% my own.