Aileen Hunt from Fit 4 Two
Welcome to Shift's Career Wellness Champs interview series. I'm thrilled to have Aileen Hunt from Fit 4 Two Winnipeg West share how motherhood has played a pivotal role in her career development.
Aileen Hunt is a mom of twin boys and a daughter, living together with her spouse in Winnipeg, MB. She runs Fit 4 Two Winnipeg West, a franchise of the national Fit 4 Two pre/postnatal fitness company. Aileen has figured out a balance that's just right for her and shares with us how she's making career and motherhood work...
1. Tell us about your job in a nutshell.
I own Fit 4 Two Winnipeg West. I plan and teach all sorts of fitness classes tailored for prenatal and postnatal women, as well as run the business side of it with accounting, marketing, human resources and more.
2. Tell us about your family in a nutshell.
I am a married mom of 3 children, boys ages 8, 8, and a 4 year old girl. We have a dog Lucy and somehow the kids convinced me to get a guinea pig as well! We like to do active outdoorsy things like cross country skiing, downhill skiing, hikes, sailing and more.
3. Why Fit 4 Two? What was your inspiration for choosing this career path?
When I was pregnant with my twins, I started to think about options for spending more time with my family, reducing child care stress, and having more flexibility than my previous job. I heard about the Fit 4 Two franchise model in other Canadian communities and decided to take the plunge to start my own business teaching fitness as my “main gig”. Working with prenatal and postnatal women is a specialized niche that has been very rewarding and fun.
4. What career changes did you want to make after becoming a mom? How did starting your Fit 4 Two franchise help you make those changes?
Prior to becoming a mom, I was doing fundraising for a non-profit organization which was very satisfying, but required long hours and overtime in high season. I taught fitness on the side for fun. Anticipated high child care costs for twin babies was also a factor in pushing me to find a different option for our family. I didn’t feel I was cut out to be a full-time stay at home mom, so I made a pretty big switch after my maternity leave by purchasing a Fit 4 Two franchise and launching Fit 4 Two classes in Winnipeg. This path has allowed me to have much more control over my own schedule, and to get by with reduced child care needs.
5. In the early days of starting your business, what were your biggest challenges? How did you overcome those challenges to reach the success you’ve had today?
My early challenge was balancing the demands of 2 one year olds with the rigours of business start-up. It was quite intense getting started, but I drew upon family and community resources for child care and help, and used previously untapped windows of time, such as after tot bedtime, to do my admin work. I also built up the inventory of classes slowly based on what my schedule could allow. I brought on some fantastic instructors who want to add some Fit 4 Two teaching to their week which has helped me sustain and grow the class offerings. Strong fellow franchisees Cosette and now Natalie (of Fit 4 Two Winnipeg East) have helped share the workload of promoting classes in Winnipeg, which is a huge support. I also work with some very organized and prominent locations like the Rady JCC, Assiniboine Park, Fort Whyte, The Forks and Nest Family Centre.
6. What do you love most about your job?
I enjoy getting to know all the moms and babies, as well as the variety of activities and classes over the year. I plan my classes seasonally, so in spring and summer we have a lot of outdoor classes, in fall we transition to mostly indoor classes, and in winter we do more specialized classes like Barre or Aqua. I get to exercise my marketing brain on promotional efforts and my management brain mentoring and training new fitness instructors which also adds variety and interest.
7. What does your typical ‘day in the life’ as a Fit 4 Two Franchisee and busy mom look like?
In the morning all 3 kids get up (with varying degrees of enthusiasm) and eat at the breakfast bar in the kitchen while us parents buzz around making coffee and lunches. I take turns with our neighbour walking the older kids to school which is a huge help. My daughter and I usually have some time for her to play (third children do this!) and for me to respond to emails after that. She goes to half day nursery, so her bus comes at noon. On teaching days, I teach 1-3 classes midday. On non-teaching days I do my admin, then pick up all three kids at 3pm. I like to let them play outside for about 60 minutes in the school yard to get their “outdoor quota” and then we proceed home for snack, homework and play time. They have some screen time while I prep dinner. One or two nights a week I go back out and teach a prenatal class while my spouse tackles stories and bedtime.
8. How do you handle childcare?
I’m really lucky because both my parents and in-laws are retired and prepared to do some half day child care each week. But it can get complicated when they go on trips or have appointments or things like that. Then I ask friends and neighbours for play dates, or look for babysitters or mother’s helpers. I have to be really organized and keep double checking the calendar to make sure everything is covered because each day is a little different.
9. When and how do you typically spend time with your kids?
I have a lot of casual time with the kids after school and in the evenings. This is generally focused on routines like homework and bedtime reading. We also eat a family dinner together at home on weeknights and chat about the day. On the weekends we like to do outdoor family activities like cross country skiing club, bikes rides or cottage outings and make social plans with other families.
10. How do you and your partner fit your relationship into the mix?
We like to go on dates about once a month as well as catch up on various Netflix series together one evening a week. It’s a lot easier to actually hang out a bit as the kids are getting older.
11. When you’re not working or busy with your family, how do you spend your “me time”?
Getting out to attend Yin Yoga classes as a participant is a real treat for me. As well, hot baths with a good book are very relaxing.
12. What’s one strength motherhood has given you that has become a career asset?
I have learned to take a more mindful approach to how I spend my time since becoming a mom. I used to work long hours, say “yes” to everything, and not be able to “shut off”. Now I have a more purposeful schedule where there are certain times set aside for working and certain times for family and home stuff.
13. What career advice would you give other moms who are wondering how to combine career and motherhood?
I would say to really take stock of what you are trying to achieve both on the home front and at work and don’t be afraid to make changes to get there. The more parents are requesting and demanding flexibility with their careers, the more the work world will need to respond creatively.
14. What does career wellness mean to you?
I attended a great career wellness workshop recently with Meg of Shift Career Coaching. Her updated model of blending together career, family, and personal commitments in a way that reflects your core values and aspirations (rather than trying to simply “balance” work and life equally) really resonated with me. The idea is to identify values that are important to you and then adjust your home and work life to reach your goals.
I'd like to extend a big thank you to Aileen for sharing her Fit 4 Two career path. It was a real treat getting a glimpse into the life of a busy mom and pre/postnatal fitness entrepreneur!
Are you interested in franchise opportunities with Fit 4 Two? Find out more here. Are you curious about teaching fitness classes for Fit 4 Two Winnipeg? Email Aileen for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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