I’m excited to introduce you to Susan Fishback, whom I met when we were on a Sweat Pink Ambassador panel together, talking all about being fit mamas! Apropos for a Fit Mama Friday story, no? Susan lives with her husband Brooke and their two boys, aged 7 and 9, in beautiful Cape Cod. As well as her mama duties, Susan teaches many different fitness classes to both adults and children, and writes a blog, Simply Modern Dance. While she holds a BFA in dance, Susan has just recently taken up running – to take herself out of her comfort zone.
Susan, you started running as a way of getting out of your comfort zone – do you feel comfortable, or enjoy it now? Would you describe yourself as a runner if someone asked?
When I began running, to get out of my comfort zone, I could not have imagined all that it has given me. Overall, I feel pretty comfortable now. A year ago, I was nervous about entering a race and thought I would feel bad about myself. I learned that it is an amazing experience and no one makes you feel bad about your time. I ran five more races and am looking forward to racing again soon. I won’t be winning, but that’s ok! I often joke that coming in towards the end gives me a bigger cheering section
A year ago, I would have laughed hysterically at being called a runner. Today, I still chuckle a little but am realizing that I am a runner. When people refer to me as a runner, I jump to tell them how slow I am and in many ways discount all of the work I’ve put in. I’m working on this and coming to terms with my new runner status. I get more comfortable with each step and hopefully I will become completely comfortable being called a runner.
Given that the name of your blog is Simply Modern Dance, dancing is obviously a big part of your life. Do you think everyone can dance, or do you think some people are just born with a natural talent?
I think dance is like everything else. Everyone can dance but only the truly talented will be paid for their ability. All small children bounce and dance before walking. It is only as we get older that it becomes a matter of being able to do it or not, being cool or uncool. I truly believe everyone enjoys moving to music, it might not be in a traditional or choreographed manner, but it’s still dancing.
Have you always been into dance and fitness?
Yes, I have been fit most of my life. I grew up dancing and eventually earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. After college, I began working an office job in Boston and joined a gym to stay in shape. I stopped working out just before getting pregnant, for no reason other than laziness. I was living in Watertown and commuting to Boston at the time. My husband and I walked everywhere. We moved to the Cape just before our son was born. At that point, I didn’t exercise and gained a lot of weight. Luckily, I lost the pregnancy weight and watched what I ate for my second pregnancy. I didn’t formally exercise, but I was chasing a one year old around.
I began working out again to get back in shape. Once I was cleared to exercise after my second c-section I took an adult ballet class. Let’s just say, I was no longer a star and really needed to get back in shape. I began taking yoga, then pilates and eventually weights classes. Over time, I built back to where I had been strength wise as a dancer.
And what’s your biggest motivation now to stay fit and work out?
Now, I work out to gain strength and tackle new challenges. I love seeing how far I can push myself and just how amazing the human body is. The sense of joy and accomplishment definitely keeps me going. I have the added bonus of not only seeing my own progress, but my students as well. I am lucky enough to see their growth!
You teach a lot of fitness classes, to both adults and kids – how different is your teaching style for kids and grown ups? What are the differences you see between the ways kids and adults approach exercise?
In all honesty, they aren’t that different. Obviously the level of exercises are different, but the overall style is similar. Both adults and kids want easy to follow instructions, humor, to keep moving and of course, encouragement. I love having the variety, I think it keeps me fresh as an instructor. There have been times I’ve used games from kids’ classes for the adults or a sequence from the adult class (modified) for the kids. To me, fitness is all about working hard and having fun!
Is it difficult to schedule your own workouts, on top of the fitness classes you teach?
Like all moms, my biggest challenge is finding the time. I’m fortunate to teach a lot of classes that are part of my schedule. If the kids are home, I’m guaranteed to get something in. My personal workout suffers when their schedule changes, but I’m getting more creative in finding ways to make it work. I had no idea how I would keep running last summer and ultimately used the high school track while my son was in an activity at the same time at the track. It worked perfectly!
What’s the best part of being a fit mama?
The biggest benefit of being fit as a mom is my sanity! Nobody wants to be around when mommy hasn’t had a chance to exercise. It has become my stress relief and helps with any anxiety I may have. Working out also clears my head and gives me a better perspective for the day/week/month.
Are your husband and boys fit and active, too?
Yes, my husband has been running for years and continues to be healthy. The boys have always been active and enjoy a variety of sports. They have really embraced the 5Ks my husband and I have run. They ran their first kids’ race in December. We talk openly about nutrition and physical activity. For the most part they make healthy choices and they certainly enjoy some screen time and junk food when it’s around.
You only learned to cook after you had kids, right? Your boys cook as well – are they better in the kitchen than you?
The boys are rapidly gaining on me! I’m still in charge of the stove and oven for the most part, but they are definitely more adventurous in their recipe selections. They aren’t scared of any ingredient. This doesn’t mean they wind up liking everything, but they want to try it. They have taught me a lot about being willing to try and to find new areas of the grocery store. I can’t imagine what the next step will be, but I’m sure it will be delicious
Does living on Cape Cod make you want to work out more? What are the winters like? Do you run outside in the winter as well?
The Cape is beautiful and provides a lot of outdoor activities throughout the year. Our winters are generally mild for New England. Of course, this winter was ridiculous. If we get snow, it is usually gone the next day (thanks to the warmer ocean) but this year, we had snow cover for months. This is the first full winter that I have run and I didn’t brave the snow. I did get outside on the warmer days.
Most Cape Codders will walk on the beach during all seasons. The parking lots are almost never empty. We truly appreciate what a special place the Cape is. Aside from the usual walking, running and biking there is paddle boarding, surfing, sailing, wind surfing, etc. I haven’t surfed or sailed in many years, but have found a new love for paddle boarding. It is such a great way to appreciate the water and surroundings and it is a killer workout!
The only way the Cape motivates me to stay in shape is that I don’t want to miss out on an adventure! As far as aesthetics go, we have so many tourists of all shapes and sizes nobody notices. We are truly a melting pot in the summer.
Susan, thank you so much for being interviewed for Fit Mama Friday! Your blog is great and it was a pleasure to feature you today.
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Fit Mama Friday – Fit Dad FridayEvery Friday on Fine Fit Day I feature a Fit Mama or a Fit Dad story of how and why a fit and healthy mama or dad ensures fitness is a priority in her or his life. You’ll read about all kinds of parents and their fitness stories. Some are stay-at-home parents, some are single parents, some juggle more than one job on top of parenthood, but they are all committed to a fit and healthy lifestyle. As you’re getting ready for your weekend, I hope you’re inspired to be active after reading about these kick-ass mamas and dads on Fit Mama Friday – Fit Dad Friday! Do you want to be featured on Fit Mama Friday? Or do you know someone you’d like to see featured? Please contact me for details!