Friend Feature Friday – Christine Laurenzi

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Christine presenting at TEDx Tampa Bay

Hello!  After a summer hiatus and a hurricane break, I am happy to be back to blogging in order to introduce you to a wonderful woman I am proud to call a friend.  Although, I have to say it is still a challenge to call her by her first name, as “Ms. Laurenzi” just rolls off the tongue.  I met Christine when she was Grace’s 4th grade teacher a few years back.  There was always something different about her approach to teaching, her ability to connect with students and her passion for education.  From community service projects to thoughtful holiday gifts – this teacher was different.  She aimed to truly individualize and personalize the teacher/student relationship and the education process – so much so that she now runs her own school aptly called Indi-ED.  I am so impressed with her rigor and passion, and love seeing that instilled in Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 1.19.59 PMher students – truly the next generation of great thinkers.   Grace was able to participate in a wonderful summer learning program after 4th grade with Ms. Laurenzi which encompassed choosing her own topic of study, researching, and presenting it in her chosen format.  She took a camping trip with my parents that summer and chose to learn more about some of the places they visited.  Grace wrote blog entries and painted pictures for her final presentation.  The methods utilized while teaching and learning in this individualized method are phenomenal, and Grace gained so much more than knowledge in her time spent with Christine.

In that spirit, I am honored to be able to be a small part of her wonderful school this year as a part time health and PE coach.  I have the pleasure of leading her charismatic group of students twice weekly, and bring to them my passion of pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

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Please read on to learn more about Christine, her life lessons, Indi-ED and plans for the future!

 

  1. Tell us about a time in your life when things were not easy for you.  How did this point in your life shape who you are today?

It’s interesting because I just taught a lesson to our students on grit where I outlined my life both personal and professional and the obstacles that I’ve faced so that they could see that with effort, you can overcome anything.

While I’ve always been very aware and obviously knew that there were many, it wasn’t until I outlined it for them that I realized how much all of the obstacles in my life have helped me become who I am today.

Since we don’t have 45mins. for the lesson, I’ll keep it short.

My mom left when I was 9. I pretty much had to raise myself. I worked to put myself through college…twice. Left a comfortable life to move across the country to follow my dream. And after struggling for 10 years to find any glimmer of hope in the profession that was supposed to be my calling, was able to not give up but rather come up with a solution to one of the biggest problems that we face today-our broken education system.

I started my own business (Indi-ED) and non-profit (The Indi-ED Foundation) that strives to keep what’s best for kids at the forefront so that they can become the best version of themselves with the support on all sides that I did not have.

Being able to act with integrity, empathy, honesty, and kindness coupled with the drive to do what’s right (even if it isn’t easy), I believe has led me to where I am today. Which not ironically, is the happiest and most fulfilled I’ve ever been.

 

  1. 19429726_949589378517074_8398122930299023908_n

    A silly moment with her students 

    What is one thing you would want others to know about why you persevered? What did you learn along the way?

I actually struggled to articulate why I persevered to my students but I think because of the amount of obstacles I’ve faced, it’s become almost natural.

I don’t settle.

I am always seeking to improve and so it’s always one foot in front of the other.

I’ve learned that my ability to balance realism with hopeful optimism has resulted in having a, “What’s next?” mentality and that means that nothing is off limits but that I know when to pivot.

Most importantly, what I’d want others to know is that I’m grateful for my life-challenges included.

Also that while Indi-ED is consistently improving, I can guarantee that we’re not done yet.

 

  1. What is one goal you have, either personal or business, for 2017?  What keeps you motivated to reach this goal?

I have many for both but I’ll share that my current business is to connect with inspired partners.

Changing the way we approach education is a hot button issue. People know it’s time.

I can prove how individualizing instruction, connecting to our kids’ interests and abilities, and helping them learn in the real world will help not only our students, their families, but also our community and our kids’ futures.

However, I’m not willing to align with people or businesses who compromise the integrity of what we stand for.

I am learning how supportive the St. Petersburg community is and will be spending this year (school & fiscal) seeking out those people and businesses who are ready to help improve the story of our city’s educational opportunities so that this type of education is accessible to all kids.

 

  1. What is your name and occupation?  Where can we find out more information about you? (Website, blog, social media)

Christine Laurenzi15232280_826491134160233_1078725885844488821_n

CEO & Founder of Indi-ED

Always a teacher at heart.

Check out our website: www.Indi-ED.com

Our Blog

Find us on Facebook

Or watch a TEDx talk that I gave that illustrates our philosophy.

Back to Basics… Just Let the Kids PLAY

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 4.05.18 PMPLAY. This topic has been bouncing around in my head since well before I started this blog.  I’ve just been trying to find the words to summarize what this seemingly innocent and simple word has meant to me in the past year or so.  Today – July 1, 2017 – the Recess Mandate becomes law in the state of Florida.  (20min/day unstructured free-play recess in addition to 150min/week structured physical education for Florida’s K-5 kids in traditional public schools.)  It seemed like a good day to reflect back on how and why this issue became very personal for me.

10622803_10157743748860323_177298526518624294_nI have been a “Recess Mom” in Florida since January 2016, the co-founder of Pinellas Parents for Healthy Schools since October 2015, PTA Wellness Chair since 2012, Personal Trainer/Fitness Instructor since 2006, and coach of multiple sports and teams at all levels for 15+ years.  I would like to say that I know a bit about health, wellness & fitness.  Yes, some knowledge is from books; but most is from my daily interaction with a wide variety of people & organizations.  I whole heartedly believe that the best way to ensure a healthy and thriving population is through a collaboration between home, school & community.  Just as learning to read, write and do math does not just happen in the classroom – learning healthy behaviors and actions does not solely happen at home.  Health is such a broad topic – mental health, sexual health, safety, nutrition, physical activity, dental health, etc… for the sake of this conversation, let’s stick with physical activity.

12742612_10156569569410323_7759286970653839048_nOur children in Pinellas County, Florida are *blessed* with the shortest school day in Florida, just six hours.  This is due to a variety of factors that I won’t get into here, but it is what it is for right now.  Some say that these six hours should be dedicated to learning: test prep, computer time, sample standardized tests, LONG uninterrupted reading blocks (think 90 minutes straight for 6 year olds)…  Of course we ALL want our children to learn and thrive in school – but when their physical, emotional, social and even cognitive development is compromised due to lack of a break in the day and minimal movement opportunities, something needs to be done.  Parents needed to step up, come together and fight the higher powers.  And that’s just what happened.  There was not just one source to place blame – teachers said their principals wouldn’t allow recess, principals said the administrators didn’t agree with it, administrators said their hands were tied due to state requirements in other subject areas.  Basically passing the buck.  Little did they all know that we would fact check what the actual state requirements were, what the mandates were, and who was in charge of what.  Nothing was PROHIBITING recess, but nothing at the state or local level was encouraging it either.

So, a bunch of “Recess Moms” who found each other through local television coverage 12744762_10156545045680323_6248246728201499406_nand social media outlets started talking to each other, making plans and headed up to Tallahassee without big time lobbyists or a Super PAC.  The main thing that we accomplished was raising awareness that lack of RECESS is even an problem.  Many legislators we talked to brushed it off as a non-issue.  They would ask, “But your kids have recess, right?”… um, no!  My then-fifth grade daughter had not played at recess since she was in Kindergarten!  She’ll now be a seventh grader next school year… so the ship has sailed for her, but not for my nine year old and three year old daughters and for millions of children across the state.  Awareness that children need to move daily, need a break in their day, and that these things are vital to the growth & development of our children.  What good are high test scores, if our children do not have the social & interpersonal skills to communicate with their peers or are overweight because of a lack of daily movement?  These daily habits that we help establish in our children when they are young are what they will repeat and continue throughout their lives.  I want my children to know something other than taking tests, practicing to take tests, and celebrating after taking tests.

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Thank you for the continued coverage on this issue, Good Living Tampa Bay!

 

Lack of recess and lack of PLAY has always been a trickle down effect of over-testing.
Administrators are hyper focused on numbers and statistics to keep track of how students and schools are succeeding.  But, when you fail to actually see each student through the numbers – you don’t see the psychological and health detriments to our children.  Our school was very lucky to have a supportive principal during the first year that recess was brought to the state legislation.  She wanted to try recess after the testing cycle that year, saw the benefits and was an avid supporter of it the following school year.  She wouldn’t take no from a teacher who didn’t want to “have to” take the kids out to recess.  Our school actually had INCREASES in our test scores and DECREASES in our BMI (body mass index) numbers in just one year.  It’s true – there are actual hard facts and research that support the benefits of recess, and plenty of anecdotal evidence as well.

logoI am proud to be a Play Ambassador with US Play Coalition – a partnership to promote the value of play throughout life. They are an international network of individuals and organizations that recognize play as a valuable and necessary part of a healthy and productive life.  I am honored to work alongside other parents, educators, scientists, and researchers to ensure that our children and the entire next generation will not get lost in the shuffle – we need to get back to basics.  Let’s Play!!

 

Footnote… I would remiss if I did not mention HOW the recess mandate actually became law this year.  Unfortunately our legislative system (ahem, certain key legislators in leadership) chose to mash all K-12 education reform as well as the budget together in one massive bill, HB7069.  In total, there were ideas from at least 55 bills squished into one final vote in the very last hours of the session.  Basically legislators were forced to vote YEA or NEA on everything education related including a huge increase in funding to charter schools.  There was a large backlash from educators, administers and parents who were not supportive of the charter school elements of the bill (including me).  But now that the bill has passed, we do have to at least celebrate that our efforts were not in vain and thanks to the thousands of parents and community members from across state for calling and emailing – our children will have recess in the 2017-2018 school year.

Friend Feature Friday – Dr. Theresa Hartley

One of my very favorite parts of owning Baby Boot Camp in the awesome city of St 168772_199386913410436_3199576_nPetersburg was the level of partnership and collaboration among small businesses.  I met Dr. Theresa Hartley with Hartley Chiropractic Center in the early years of owning Baby Boot Camp.  She was new to the area and just getting her Chiropractic businesses started in this community.  I loved her passion for working with women and children, and this was before she was even a mom herself.  We put together several “Learn and Burn” educational events with my Baby Boot Camp moms, and I know that I learned something new each time she came out to our class.  I loved having these learning opportunities available for the moms in my classes – total body wellness is truly a lifestyle and not just a fitness class.

I was blessed with my first two pregnancies being very easy – although one was a “normal” (vaginal) birth and one was a C-section.  When I was pregnant with Audrey, I really wanted to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarian) – and had to change doctors in order to do so.  As the pregnancy progressed, it turned out that Audrey was transverse (turned sideways) and not a great candidate for a VBAC.  I turned to Dr. Hartley first, as she is a trained in the Webster Technique which helps with pelvic alignment and function.  She was wonderful to work with and I believe she helped me tremendously in reaching my goal of a VBAC – Audrey was born May 7, 2014 very healthy and without surgical intervention!

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I am so excited to partner with Dr. Hartley and a few other small business owners this Mother’s Day weekend for a Sips & Skirts event.  As a Skirt Sports Ambassador, I’m lucky enough to have the Skirt Sports trunk show this weekend!  It travels around the country to different ambassadors throughout the year.  We’re partnering with Janna and Cody Angell and I’ll be brining the skirts and gear to St Pete Running Company.  We will have one of each style and size in their Spring Collection – all at 30% off!  A chance to try on and purchase right then and there!  In addition to Dr. Hartley speaking about her background and tips for moms, Christina Noordstar will be speaking about being an elite athlete as well as a successful business owner and mom.  Christina is the Tampa Bay area developer for Tropical Smoothie.  I am honored to have all of these women come together as we work to build a network of wellness and health in our community.

Let’s learn a bit more about Dr. Theresa Hartley and how she has been focused on wellness to become a successful and passionate chiropractor and mother.

 

10982572_1105779416104510_5721011082370292497_o1. Tell us about a time in your life when things were not easy for you. How did this point in your life shape who you are today?

My father passed away when I was in college. This shaped me into the doctor I am today because I saw how much chiropractic care can help people.

 

2. What is one thing you would want others to know about why you persevered? What did you learn along the way?

Positive Mental Attitude or PMA as I like to call it is huge when it comes to persevering! Each morning growing up my Dad had us kids say motivational things like “school is fun! I love school!” And “work is fun! I love to work!” This molded me to always find the positive in any situation.

 

3. What is one goal you have, either personal or business, for 2017? What keeps you motivated to reach this goal?13240153_10153545956816767_5721441260092068670_n.jpg

One goal I have for 2017 is to help our community become proactive with our healthcare instead of reactive. I believe we live in a sick care system only addressing our health when we are dealing with a crisis. I don’t believe making decisions about health during a crisis is optimal. Therefore my goal is to help families become proactive towards their health using nutrition, exercise, education and a healthy nervous system!
I stay motivated because I want to see our community become a strong and vibrant community known for the healthiest families.

 

4. What is your name and occupation? Where can we find out more information about you? (Website, blog, social media)12072589_1224541267561657_4602683511232999662_n

Dr. Theresa Hartley
Family Chiropractor
www.HartleyChiropracticCenter.com
727-623-0992

Friend Feature Friday – LeAnn Thongvanh

10628033_1036328106431596_2865436686909295708_nI’m excited to announce a very special friend this week – my sister, LeAnn Thongvanh!  She is my first friend and my very best friend.  This is a special week to introduce her as well, LeAnn and her daughters are visiting us in Florida on Spring Break.  We’ve been having a super fun week carting around five girls (three of mine, two of hers) to all of the tourist hotspots – and enjoying our share of girl drama as well!  Forgoing toddler naps, “mandating” the pre-teen to hang out with family instead of friends, lucky leprechaun scavenger hunts, picking up rental cars and borrowing strollers… all included in this week of craziness & fun.  I’m so proud of my sister and her accomplishments – all while being an awesome mom and thriving business owner.  Please read on to learn how LeAnn persevered to accomplish her goals as a new mom, and continues to be a good role model for her daughters.  I know you’ll love learning about her awesome business as well, and how to make meal time easier at your house.17264542_10211742489332872_443287839961997297_n

  1. Tell us about a time in your life when things were not easy for you.  How did this point in your life shape who you are today?

One of the biggest crossroads that I’ve had to deal with was shortly after my first baby, Elise, was born.  I had a great opportunity to go from a full time teacher to a co-teacher so that I would be able to work a flexible schedule- working 2 or 3 full days a week.  Sounds perfect, right?!?  Well it was an amazing get up but I soon found that working part time as a teacher was just as busy as teaching full time. Trying to fit a full time job into part time hours (and pay)and figuring out how to take care of a little one at home was quite the task. On top of that, I was still getting used to married life (Elise came just about 9 months later) AND I was getting my Masters in science education. Lots of new to juggle.  So when it came time to register for the spring semester, I was ready to throw in the towel. I was about half way done with my coursework but knowing how tough it was to juggle work, a baby, a house, and school it made my head spin.  My husband was supportive of whatever decision I wanted to make but encouraged me to think about the long term and how glad I would be when it was all over and I had the degree.  So I decided to keep going- just for another semester- and see how it went. And I made it through.  And again when the next semester rolled around I debated AGAIN.  And really all the way to the end of my degree I struggled to continue. I knew things would be so much easier I just stopped. But deep inside I knew that being able to complete my long term goals was more important than short term comfort. Having a full plate is something that I am used to-I’ve been busy with jobs, sports, and other commitments since early high school.  And there is usually always a make it or break it moment that I run into. The choice to continue AND FINISH my masters showed me that no matter how daunting the task and how new the challenges, I can make it through. I’ve found this very comforting in that I havent *yet* found myself as crazy busy as I was during those first few months of being a new mom (before I finished my degree I had my second girl, Maggie, oh and I started a new business as well!). Even when I think my life is too much to handle I think back to those grad school/baby years and know that this too shall pass and that I can make it work!

  1.  What is one thing you would want others to know about why you persevered? What did you learn along the way?148656_469246963388_3956254_n

One of the biggest reasons that I wanted to finish my degree is because I didnt want to tell Elise and Maggie that the reason I didnt finish my degree was because of them. I didnt want them to think that because I became a mom I had to give up the goals I had for myself. I wanted to show them that you can have it all if you are willing to put in the work.  I am a big proponent of life balance- there is time for everything that YOU make a priority.  I knew that I wanted to be a good mom, a good teacher, a good student, AND a sane person so I knew I needed the help of others to make that happen. When I knew I had to get work done I worked with my husband so that I could be unavailable. Whether it was a block of time late at night or in the middle of the weekend- I forgot everything else and just did the work that I needed to do.  I think that is key- you HAVE to schedule the time to work towards your goal. So now that my Masters is finished, I’m on to another venture as a business owner and I’m so proud to be showing my girls that, again, with hard work goals can be attained!

  1.  What is one goal you have, either personal or business, for 2017?  What keeps you motivated to reach this goal?

With lots of irons in the fire, I’ve found that the key for me to feeling successful is to start each day fresh.  I’ve read the book Miracle Mornings and have been motivated to implement this practice into my life. I ended 2016 on a high note- I was very successful at getting up and working out in the morning as well as implementing some reading, writing, and planning into my morning routine.  For 2017, I wanted to continue this practice to make it ‘just what I did’ instead of something that I had to work to do.  I’m not there yet. However, everyday that I do get up and feel that calm that starts my day, it gives me more motivation to continue the next day. I love being able to catch up on life, catch up with work, or just get some ME time during this morning session.  This calm start to the day helps to make the rest of my day more successful and I am pumped to continue.

  1.  What is your name and occupation?  Where can we find out more information about you? (Website, blog, social media)

16864284_1382626721801731_2885644658235581526_nLeAnn Thongvanh – Meal Planning Coach with Wildtree  

http://www.facebook.com/NaturalEasyEats16508000_1362564180474652_3726397933861405621_n

www.mywildtree.com/leann

Wildtree’s mission is to make a difference in our world-one
meal at a time. We offer meal solutions for even the busiest families with our Make Fresh, Make Fast, and Make Ahead options.  Our products are the cleanest around- we are certified organic, certified gluten-free, peanut free, GMO free, with no artificial colors, dyes, preservatives, additives or MSG. I am here to provide you with meals that your family will love that you can get on the table in minutes.  With sugar and sodium levels that are 2, 3, even 4x less than grocery store brands, you can make big improvements in your family’s health with simple pantry swaps. How can I help you answer the question “What’s for dinner?!?!”

 

Is meal planning a challenge for your family?  What have you tried that works for you?  Do you plan meals ahead or just wing it every night??

Princesses, Planks and 4am

Just as Princess Merida professes in Brave, I truly believe we all have to create our own destiny, not wait for it to knock on our door. I have had a string of awesome opportunities (some mentioned in my recent blog post) in the past few weeks… all centered around these same basic principles: fitness, friends, family, fun.  Although it sometimes seems that I am being pulled in a million different directions, it truly is just one direction.  Whether it is a single client or friend, a class full of people, a virtual group, or my family – helping people discover their drive, move their bodies, feel good and share that feeling is what I love to do and what I do best.

16998167_10211593332724050_8337108618579068431_nAbout a week ago I had a “magical” day at Disney with my oldest daughter, Grace.  No, it wasn’t in Cinderella’s castle sipping tea – it involved getting a 11 year old tween out of bed at 4am and waiting for the start of the Disney Princess 5K in EPCOT with 1000s of our closest friends.  This idea started last summer when Grace decided to make a Bucket List board – she cut out pictures from magazines and printed out things from online that she wanted to do by the end of the summer.  We did a few of her ideas, kept us busy in the summer, mostly involving getting ice cream and going to the park.  However, one thing she wanted to do was a Disney 5K.  It got me thinking if we were going to do a Disney race, we should make it a fundraising effort.  One organization that I am passionate about is the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.  I’ve gotten to know more about this organization over the past two years, as my efforts a “Recess Mom” have ramped up.  (More to come in future blogs about the lack of recess and our efforts to restore it for elementary students in Florida…)  The Alliance for a Healthier Generation aims to create healthy changes that build upon one another and create a system, a nation, that makes the healthy choice the easy choice.  They provide in-school and community programming, research and support to aid in creating healthy environments everywhere that children learn, live & play.  We were happy to raise over $1000 and awareness about this awesome organization.

This blog is all about how “It’s Not Supposed to be Easy”.  The idea came from a combination of my experiences as a fitness trainer and my experiences as a mom.  16939418_10211550701378293_5881711709402689338_nEspecially now that I am the mom of two tweens, 9 and 11 year old girls, the drama has stepped up and EVERY task just seems impossible to them.  I feel it is my duty to instill in them the values that YES – tasks may seem hard, challenging, even impossible… but you must push through this uncomfortable period and figure out a way to the other side.  Homework may be hard, relationships with new friends may be challenging, waking up at 4am to do a 5K may seem impossible – but let’s put it in perspective.  We can do this, let’s put one foot in front of the other and get it done.  So, that’s what we did that fateful Friday morning of the Disney Princess 5K.  We got out the door and to the start line of the race.  Now, I loosely call this a race – it was an untimed 50 minute jaunt through EPCOT complete with plenty of picture stops along the way.  I was so glad that we could do this together, just the two of us.  Plus we knocked an item off her Bucket List, which she mentioned several times throughout the day 🙂  With three kiddos at three different developmental stages, it is tough to really tune into what they are saying and needing from me each day.  It was a great day to connect and enjoy time with each other.

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My first 13.1 – the Women’s Running Half in November 2010

The rest of the day after the 5K was also magical and fun – and included another amazing opportunity.  I found out in early February of this year that I was chosen to be a Skirt Sports Pro Ambassador, and was so excited!  Skirt Sports is an awesome company which introduced the running skirt to the market over 10 years ago.  The founder of Skirt Sports, Nicole DeBoom, is actually a childhood hero of mine – she grew up in the same town as I did, Downers Grove, IL.  She was a few years older than me, but I knew her from her name being up on the swimming record boards and her pictures and awards in the high school trophy cases.  In a town that did not necessarily have a swimming legacy, she was the local phenom.  Flash forward to 2010 when I became the local team leader for a running group in St Petersburg, FL called IRunMommies and I was able to meet Nicole.  Our IRunMommies uniforms were custom made for us by Skirt Sports, and this was my first “run in” with the brand.  Nicole was in town that year with the company for the Women’s Running Half Marathon Expo and I was excited just to say hi and that I was also from Downers Grove.  She was so genuine and kind, a true Midwestern gal 🙂  I couldn’t help but fall in love with Skirt Sports, and I recruited all my mommy runner friends to learn to love to run in SKIRT as well!

 

Another flash forward to 2017, a few years of running under my belt (in Skirt Sports, of 16939508_1895643830716558_5952122831447664567_ncourse!), added another baby to the mix, sold my fitness business after ten years – and what was next?  The opportunity came about to apply for the Ambassador program and I jumped on that chance.  After I made the cut, Skirt Sports announced a new #REALwomenmove Challenge launching this year.  It would include free training plans, exclusive product lines, video support, partner discounts, and a supportive Facebook group.  Sounds like it fits right in with my “fitness, friends, family, fun” mantra!  I reached out to Nicole, and she was looking for a fitness expert to submit weekly Facebook Live videos.  Done and done.

Grace was my (begrudged) videographer for a fun & fast five minute fit tip at noon on the day of that Disney Princess 5K.  We enjoyed the morning walking around Disney Springs, Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 12.49.43 PMhad a quick lunch at Planet Hollywood and grabbed a shady spot perfect for planks.  I wanted to share my video here, but since the #REALwomenmove Challenge is a private Facebook group, the gods of Facebook won’t let me share.  Here is a screenshot so you can see me in all my barefoot fitness glory, of course in Skirt Sports Lotta Breeze Capris!  The Challenge group is a FREE group, you just need to click HERE to go to the Skirt Sports website and a link will be emailed to you.  I hope you will join us and, of course, check out a quick workout with me each Friday – but also gain a supportive group of women from all over the country training for everything from a 5K to an Olympic distance triathlon.

This was a quick weekend full of challenges, not taking the easy way out, inspiring others and FUN.  I’m looking forward to my next Friday Five Minute Fit Tip, I hope you will join our group of 800+ women and give me suggestions for what exercises you would like me to incorporate.

Have you done a race or fitness inspired event with your family?  Was it something you wanted to do or something the kids wanted to do?  How do you make fitness a priority for your family?

 

Friend Feature Friday – Janna Angell

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Janna at the Disney Princess Half Marathon in 2/17 – she achieved a PR!

I’m so excited to feature a great friend and someone I admire as a mom, as an athlete and as a business owner – Janna Angell.  I first met Janna in 2014, when she an her husband, Cody, had recently moved to St Petersburg with their young daughter.  Janna came to a few of my Baby Boot Camp classes, just before I took a short break to have baby Audrey.  I was so impressed with Cody and Janna’s business concept and passion for their new store, St Pete Running Company.  In the past three years, we have partnered together on multiple events and training programs – from bra fitting events, to fitness challenges, to kids race_cupcake_circle_largetriathlon clinics.  Each and every time a friend comes back to me after visiting SPRC, they are so very impressed with the level of customer service and the friendliness of the employees.  They truly have a love for not only running, but also a love for sharing their passion & inviting others to join their community.  Saturday, March 4th is their featured
annual event, the Race for the Cupcake 5K.  This race is on Pass-A-Grille Beach and features a kids fun run as well.  This is just one of the many ways the Janna and her staff at SPRC foster relationships with customers and build a fun, active community of runners.

1. Tell us about a time in your life when things were not easy for you. How did this point in your life shape who you are today?  “I have always loved to travel. When my husband suggested moving to Australia, I thought this sounded like a wonderful idea. I was very excited about getting there. Packing up our house in America, leaving my family and pet cat – I was very excited during the whole process- until I was in Australia. Once there the reality of it all hit me – I was thousands of miles away from my family, friends and the life that I loved. Plus the culture shock of being in a new country. I had a hard time finding a job, making friends, and getting adjusted to the new country. Even though I was in a beautiful country, with some of the best beaches and parks I had ever seen – I sat in our apartment sad and crying. I cried a lot and wondered why I thought this was a good idea. I also became angry with my husband for making me move from my comfort zone. I felt lonely, angry and lost. My life was not what I thought it would be, and every day was hard for me. It took me several months to get out of my slump.

I started forcing myself to do something small every day that I liked – reading a book, cooking, baking cookies, riding my bike. We would even take late night walks to McDonald’s (yes, McDonald’s) to eat American food, we never ate at McDonald’s before we moved there and we don’t eat at McDonald’s since moving back – but while there it helped reminded me of home. I spent a lot of time by myself, as I didn’t have a job and my husband was at work all day. So I continued to do something every day for myself, something every day to put a smile on my face. Some days it would be something small like drinking a coke, walking to my husband’s work to join him for lunch, going to church on a Tuesday morning or it might have been going for a long bike ride. I had to mentally start being happy (again) before I could start to enjoy Australia or before I started to make friends – which both of these did happen.”

17094066_1202219343159987_949200844_n2. What is one thing you would want others to know about why you persevered? What did you learn along the way?  “I came to appreciate Australia, the beauty of the country and the time there and I did start to make friends. I started being a substitute teacher. I also got into triathlons while in Australia (as I had a lot of spare time), which helped give me a purpose. I completed my first half Ironman (70.3miles). I continued to set small running and biking goals – which gave me a mission and a purpose. We began to travel around Western Australia, we went swimming with Whale Sharks, watched Cricket games. Met friends who continue to be our best friends (and we miss every day). I feel like this time while was a hard time in my life, it really helped me to learn about what makes me happy, help me to be more thankful for small things in my life. And it helped my relationship with my husband to grow, as he was my only family and my only friend for many months.

We have since moved back from Australia, after the birth of our first daughter in 2012. I 17122102_1202219856493269_1157275446_owas so excited to move back! We now live in St Petersburg, Florida. Where we opened a running specialty store, St Pete Running Company. Where we have tried to build not just a running store, but a running community and our family. I get to work with my husband every day of my life which is a blessing, and also very hard some days. We now have our own family – with two beautiful kids.  I continue to do one thing a day to make myself happy (some days it might just be to take a shower without any interruptions).”

3. What is one goal you have, either personal or business, for 2017? What keeps you motivated to reach this goal?  “In 2017 I want to complain less. Lately I have found myself complaining about things a lot more. I am trying to take time to reflect upon the things that I am thankful for. I try once a day to make a mental list of ten things that day that I am thankful for, even if it is the same things everyday. I want to take the time and remind myself that I have great things in my life.

My running goal in 2017/maybe even 2018 – is to run a 5k in the low 23 minute range or to break 23 minutes (which is a big goal as I have never broke 24 minutes). I have been a runner since high school, but it has always been a bit of a love/hate relationship. For the first time in my life I am loving to run! Maybe because it is time to myself away from family, business, social media. It is just time to myself. I know this goal will not be an easy one but it’s not supposed to be easy.”1501753_278869818931121_1459646453_n.jpg

4. What is your name and occupation? Where can we find out more information about you? (Website, blog, social media)  Janna Angell- Mother, Wife and owner of St Pete Running Company – www.stpeterunningco.com

 

Have you ever moved to a new location without any friends or family nearby?  How did you cope?  Did you learn a new skill or pick up a new passion from this experience?

Back to Boot Camp

 

It’s been close to a year (!!) since I sold my Baby Boot Camp franchise in St Petersburg, and I’ve been dabbling in fitness here and there in these past few months.  It was so hard to pass my Baby Boot Camp franchise on to another owner, and basically start a new era in my life as a mom.  I was 25 years old when I had my first daughter, Grace, and new to the St Petersburg, FL area.  I had a degree in Exercise Science, and a background in competitive swimming through the collegiate level.  What I did not have was any experience teaching fitness classes, building supportive communities or motivating others.  I just knew that I enjoyed being a part of inspirational groups and working out with others.

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One of my first StrollerFit classes in Tampa with two month old Gracie, when I was training to be an instructor

So I purchased the franchise, learned how to teach a class from my mentor Kristen Prentice who operated her StrollerFit (later bought by Baby Boot Camp) classes in Tampa, and jumped in.  It was NOT easy.  It was a challenge for me to step outside my comfort zone and “perform” in front of people who I didn’t know and lead them in a workout.  I didn’t know many people in the area, especially any new moms, so it was a new experience for me to talk to everyone I met and invite them to try a class.  These things seem so second nature now because I’ve been doing them every day for 10+ years, but everything we do in life is new & challenging at some point in time.  For some reason, I knew this would be a good thing for me & my baby and for the community as well – so I wanted to continue to try new things and push myself.  It was repeated process of new opportunities and new ways to engage with the community, not to mention new stages in our family life with baby Grace & two years later baby Jocelyn.

For 10 years I had many challenges, successes and failures along the way as both a business owner and a mom.  When I came to the point in early 2016 of realizing that I would soon have a middle schooler, an elementary student and a toddler… it seemed like Baby Boot Camp was not the best fit for our family.  After all, teaching stroller fitness was always meant to be an opportunity for me to work outside the home a bit, meet friends & have a supporting community, but most importantly have quality time with my family.  Since I sold the business, I have been keeping busy with a variety of other smaller projects capitalizing on many of the skills I was able to hone as the owner of my own small business.  Just in the past year I have worn and continue to wear all of these hats: Area Developer for Fresh Meal Plan, private swim instructor & coach, Heart Healthy Presenter with American Heart Association, Lagree trainer at Studio Physique, kids running & triathlon coach, volunteer lobbyist & wellness advocate for the Public School Recess Bill.

Two opportunities I had in the last month really got me back to my BOOT CAMP roots and got me to thinking… what is next?  What should I pursue in the future to make the best use of my time and help the most people?  Should I take the easy way out or try something new?  The first super amazing opportunity was to lead a beach boot camp for my friend, Matt Maddix‘s Family Retreat on Clearwater Beach.  Matt and his son, Caleb, are motivational speakers, authors, life coaches – you name it.  They host a retreat for families from across the country a few times a year and it was an honor to be included.  I was awesome to see families, kids, moms & dads come together for partner activities and exercises.  They were cheering each other on, trying new things, and congratulating each other for doing a great job.  This boot camp was one of the first events of the family retreat weekend and one of the first opportunities for the families to test themselves both physically and mentally.  If you are interested in more information about the Matt & Caleb’s next retreat, please join their Facebook Group: Five Star Parents.  Check out a quick video from our workout and follow along at home!


I’ll be sharing more about the other opportunity I had recently to bring back my boot camp background and share fitness & fun with others in my next blog.  But here’s a teaser – it had to do with one of my newest endeavors as a Pro Ambassador with Skirt Sports!

Is your career path constantly changing as your family and life goals change?  Are you following your passion or stuck in your job?  Was it easy for you to find your path or were there some bumps along the road?