Q & a with mary mcqueen, owner of momleta

Q & a with mary mcqueen, owner of momleta

At Kitchen Doula, we are passionate about the role of food in the healing journey, especially postpartum. But we also know that food is only one part of the picture. Movement, especially when we do it in a communal setting with others going through the same experience, can help us feel nourished inside and out. That’s why we love MOMLETA! We got to chat a bit with Mary McQueen, the owner of MOMLETA Oakland which meets at Lake Temescal on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays 9:30-10:30 and Wednesdays & Thursdays on Zoom. You can get 20% of your first MOMLETA package with the code KITCHENDOULA20. Visit www.momleta.com

Tell us a little about yourself and your postpartum journey

Hi Tali! My name is Mary McQueen, and I have three children - Liam (15), Sinead (12), and Jameson (10). I am from Oakland, and met my husband when we were attending Skyline High School in 10th grade (!). My oldest went to my elementary school (Montclair), middle school (Montera), and now is a sophomore at Skyline, which is kind of a trip. It has come full circle (though I don't think he has met his future life partner yet haha!). My postpartum journey is inextricably tied to me becoming a MOMLETA instructor, so I'll get to that in your next question ;)

When and how did you become a MOMLETA teacher?

I became a MOMLETA (formerly Baby Boot Camp) instructor in 2008. I was fairly young when I got pregnant with my first (24), and I had no friends having kids yet when I gave birth to Liam in 2007. I also was about 30 pounds overweight before I got pregnant and put on an additional 50 pounds with pregnancy. My father had pass away from a heart attack when I was just 20, so I knew that I needed to get more active so I could be around for my son. For the first 9 or so months after I had Liam, I tried to do it all on my own - losing the weight and mom-ing. I lived close to Lake Merritt and would walk the lake every day - sometimes twice! - but I was lonely. I did take off most of the weight, but I had no community. My sister had just become an instructor for MOMLETA and she sat me down one day and pretty much made me come to class with her - she said, "Mary, you seem depressed. You need friends. Come with me to class!" (nothing like the brutal honesty from a sister!). So I did. I was super nervous and didn't know what to expect; I also thought the workouts would be a piece of cake. I thought, 'How hard can a class with a bunch of moms pushing around strollers really be?!' Well, my ego had gotten the best of me, and I got my butt handed to me that day! The class was tough and I loved it (that being said, we, of course, offer modifications for all fitness levels!)! I also met an amazing group of women that I am best friends with to this day - we all just did a girls' getaway weekend to Bodega Bay, and our kids have grown up together! I loved taking class and went almost every day, and when the former owner asked me if I wanted to become an instructor, I jumped at the chance (after I had Liam, I decided not to go back to the job I held, basically pushing papers for a construction management company, so I went on maternity leave and never went back.)! The former owner then decided to sell the business in 2009, and I seized the opportunity. I have been teaching with MOMLETA and doing personal training ever since, and effective January 2022, I actually bought the entire franchise system. So now, I continue to teach my classes in Oakland, and also help other women around the country open their own MOMLETA franchises!

Why are MOMLETA classes different from a regular fitness class and what makes the community special?

At MOMLETA, all of our instructors hold national certifications in either Personal Training or Group Exercise, as well as extensive pre-natal and postpartum training. We make modifications for all fitness levels, as well as where you are postpartum-wise (as well as mods for pregnant women). We are SO much more than "just" fitness classes - we are truly a community of moms. If you're having a bad morning, I guarantee that if you come to class, you will feel 10 times better after than you did before - we get the endorphins from exercise, the fresh air and Vitamin D, but also the support from moms going through exactly the same thing as you. Outside of fitness classes, we hold monthly events such as talks with physical therapists that specialize in pelvic floor, Registered Dietitians, sleep consultants, as well as Mom's Night Out; and we also offer additional nutrition programming and an annual fitness/wellness challenge where moms buddy up into accountability teams to work on their fitness goals (this takes place February-March each year).

When do you recommend mamas start coming to your class postpartum?

I recommend moms come at 6 weeks postpartum for a vaginal birth and 8 weeks for a c-section. I do recommend low-impact modifications through at least 16 weeks.

Are there things mamas should be aware of as they start to get back to a fitness routine?

Yes! Please be careful with who you trust with your fitness journey. Make sure the workouts you are doing are led by someone with a certification from a nationally recognized organization, as well as additional pre- and postpartum certifications. Make sure to participate in a program that offers lots of modifications for wherever you are on your fitness journey. Be patient with yourself and know that this all takes time. I know there are so many mamas out there eager to lose the baby weight and get back into their pre-maternity clothes, but as trite as this sounds, this really is a marathon, not a sprint - your body has gone through a lot and now it is time to heal. You'll get there!

Anything else you want to share?

I can't stress enough the importance of movement postpartum. It is so important for combatting the baby blues and postpartum depression. And, going back to community: find those people that are going to help you through this - being able to commiserate with other moms and share tips and struggles makes it all do-able and a little bit easier.

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