Today marks the first day of my Feature Friday series on the blogarooni! Eke!! I am psyched!! Once a month I am going to feature a local business that I really connect with and that I think you will to! There are so many amazing small businesses and I am so excited to share them with you!
Today, I am starting off the series with the amazing Colleen Flaherty from CO/CREATE which is one of the most unique gym’s I have ever seen! And! They are completely family friendly! One thing that really set them a part for me was how different and Mom centered the exercises are! I saw her do an exercise where she had Momma carrying a car seat with a sand bag in it and I was sold! I have never seen this before and I thought it was an absolutely amazing and realistic way of preparing the new muscles a Momma is going to be using after that sweet baby comes into the world!
Alright enough talking for me! Enjoy this interview and learning about this amazing lady and her amazing gym!!
1.Tell us a little bit about yourself and your awesome business!
CO/CREATE was born from a need for more collective sharing, education, and gathering for humans on their adventure to parenthood that combines movement, body care, and mental health under one roof! This highly transformational time in a mom and dad’s life are not held as sacred as they should be in our culture, thus, we see high rates of physical complications (gestational diabetes, hypertension, pain), mental health disorders, unasked for births (forceps, vacuum, c-sections), and worse, death.
It’s a dark truth for us Americans, numerous studies predict our maternal mortality is around 17.4 per 100,000 births. That ranks the U.S. 55th in the world, last in the top 10 wealthiest countries. A country that spends the most on “health” care, has the highest rate of women dying in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, most of which, experts say are preventable.
Hypertension, obesity and diabetes can be supported, even alleviated, with purposeful exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Infection, postpartum hemorrhaging, and blood clots can be caught with more attentive hospital staff. C-sections put women at an 80% higher risk for complications. One third of complications happen within 1-6 days postpartum, calling for doctors, nurses, midwives, and doulas to make house calls in those first very important days.
I know this is a grim portrait of the health of parents, but it’s the foundational spark to my fire. We must know the dark to know the light. The health of our entire nation is in each community of professionals. Government, doctors, nor the internet, is going to do anything to help the individuals we call neighbors, it is up to individuals to be the change!
2. How did you get started?
This leads into why I began. I am a mother to a 9lb chihuahua named Whipper only. Yet, I have a company all about parents! I have always worked with children, and their families, in multiple communities. Kids and I just get each other, they’re incredible, innate, and view the world through the most beautiful lens. Parents work their butt off to do all they can and they are wildly unsupported. The team sport athlete in me, paired with my love of movement and fun, is what got me started in empowering this extremely valuable and suffering niche.
3. What is your favorite thing about what you do?
Walking alongside humans as they put what we work on together into their every-day life and succeed. When I help a woman out of pain, stop peeing when she coughs, or help partners have more laughs together, I am in my happy place.
4. I love that you are so family friendly! Can you tell us a little bit about this aspect of your gym?
It’s one thing I learned in my early days; parents can’t go to a lot of places with their kids that serve THEIR needs as adults. I never quite understand why more places aren’t more family friendly, it’s honestly not THAT hard. But, to each their own. If I want to work with parents, kids are a natural extension and I believe that kids need to be more involved in what we have to offer, like enjoyable movement, education, gathering, mindfulness, etc.
5. One of my favorite exercises I have heard you mention is carrying sand bags in baby carriers, I love your different approach to exercise for parents! Can you tell us a little bit about your approach to exercise for parents and how they will be able to benefit before and after having a little one?
I played soccer growing up. I also started coaching when I was 16 years old, over 17 years ago! The main point of practice is to prepare for the competition. And you never truly know what that competition is going to bring to the playing field, so you must also learn how to adapt to anything.
Like athletes preparing for the olympics, we must prepare for the battles in life! This means women need to prepare for the stressful physiological changes of rapid weight gain during pregnancy and the mental/emotional load of becoming a mother. We also prepare for postpartum life by talking about how to move, breathe, adapt, and like you mentioned, do things like carry a carseat and put that carseat in the car.
We are always moving in ways that challenge us in preparation for life. If we aren’t, we’re just wasting our time. Yes, some of the movements are directly related, like carrying a weighted carseat. Others prepare the mind and stress response for challenge through repetition or length.
An example of this could be squats and battling rope sets over the course of 10 minutes. By minute 5 you might be fatigued and want to give up because it’s hard. But what do you think birth is going to be like? Carrying around a crying infant for 30 minutes? How you respond to these stressors is what makes you more adaptable. Can you breathe, work, smile, pause, stay confident? Or are you going freak out, rage, hyperventilate?
This is what training is for, to give you a bigger cup when stress starts to pour in.
6. I also saw that you offer couples programs! What are some of your favorite couples exercises?
I absolutely love when partners experience what their pregnant or postpartum moms are capable of! It builds the mom up as more fierce, inspiring, and almost sheds a new light on how the partner views them. It’s beautiful. <3 Favorite exercise has to be relay races! They can work together to beat time or they can compete. Competing is what most choose! And it really allows them to “work things out” through physical representation. Exercise also produces endorphins and dopamine, meaning humans can better relate, on a deeper level. If both partners are in a more “open state”, it allows them to connect better, hopefully working out any “grudges”.
7. In addition to Fitness, you also offer Massage and Physical Therapy! That is amazing! Tell us a bit about these services!
Yes! The more we can bring multiple providers for parents under one roof, the better it is for them and the professionals alike!
Currently, in addition to my services that encompass natural movement, strength, and endurance, we offer:
Massage therapy with Ryan Neuwirt, LMT (instagram: @ryan_moves)
Physical therapy with Ivy Colbert, DPT (@empowerphysicaltherapy)
Postpartum Yoga and Support with Diana Bamford (@diana.curel.bamford)
Groovaroo Babywearing Dance with Maria Harris (@groovaroowithmaria)
Nutrition support with Diana Ravensbergen (@coachdianaleigh)
Essential oil education with Julie Mitchell (@blissfuldrops)
Pregnancy Yoga with Paula Mantilla (@conscious_candy)
Plus other workshops, trainings, and classes from our amazing community near and far!
8. Anything you’d like to add?!
If you’re wondering how to make the greatest impact on your present and future parent self, it can not be restated enough; invest in your body (which includes your mind!) and who is around you during those sessions (ie. the coach, the participants). I add in the second part, about the coach and participants, because it’s REALLY important to find a coach, a facility/gym, and other participants that fully comprehend the season of life you’re in. Do not join a gym when you’re pregnant that doesn’t cater to pregnant women. Do not hire a personal trainer that hasn’t put in the 100s of hours learning about the postpartum body. Do not attend classes where what you look like and the clothes you wear are more important than the actual class content.
This is not the time for cheap classes or continuing with an uneducated professional. You can go back to those eventually if you want you.
YOU NEED COMMUNITY where you can be your most vulnerable and you’re most bright. To hold you in those extremes, and everything in between, takes special types of providers, who whole-heartedly care about your depth of well-being. You’ll receive that with each of us at CO/CREATE and the network of providers we collaborate with.
It was so amazing getting to know Colleen, her gym, and our beautiful, strong model Momma, Shani! Shani owns Root and Soul in La Mesa and specializes in Acupuncture, Moxa, and Herbs!
I am so excited about this series! Each month I will highlight someone new! I can’t wait to share all of these amazing businesses with you!
Have someone you want to nominate? Please let me know!