This week’s Meet a Mom Interview is with Michelle O’Connor. The moms interviewed for this series are found in a few different ways. Some moms are local entrepreneurs who have stood out in the community, others I have met through our advertising partnerships, and the last group are moms who have been nominated. Michelle was one of the nominated moms. Instead of writing a normal introduction, I wanted to share a portion of the message I received from Katie Celli Smith about Michelle:
Katie said, “I would love to refer Michelle O’Connor, owner of Fit Revolution in North Reading and Lynnfield (Mom of 3!). I am the Social Media Coordinator for them and I love every second of my ‘side hustle.’ Also on a deeper note–when my daughter was born 15 months ago, she was not breathing and then immediately transferred to MGH for 72 hour cooling blanket therapy. Michelle (and Jenn Pagliuca, Fit Rev’s Marketing Director) raised money to book me a room at the Liberty Hotel so my husband and I were walking distance from the MGH NICU for the full week, until she was discharged. It was that moment I realized how truly amazing it is to join the Momma club.”
Keep reading to learn more about how Michelle started and grew her business, her favorite local vacation spot and how she carves out “me time,” each day.
Where are you from originally and what town do you live in now?
I’m originally from Arlington, Massachusetts and now live in North Reading with my family.
How many children do you have and what are their age(s)?
My husband and I have three children, two sons and a daughter: Casey (16), Brady (15) and Madelyn (13).
What’s your favorite family activity on the North Shore?
My family recently started to vacation in Rockport! It’s only a short drive away to the cutest coastal town where we love to relax on the beach.
Where’s your favorite place to eat and/or shop on the North Shore?
Even when I’m not teaching classes, I find myself running errands, grabbing a meal and shopping at MarketStreet Lynnfield. What can I say? It has everything!
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
My background is in accounting, and I hate public speaking…I can teach a class with no problem but get me up in front of people to talk about something. I start sweating and panicking…Crazy!
You’re the owner of Fit Revolution, with locations in North Reading and Lynnfield. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to start your fitness studios.
I graduated from Bentley College with a degree in Accounting and a Masters In Taxation. At the age of 33, I found myself trying to find a better balance with work and being with my family, so I traded my CPA job to pursue my passion as a group fitness instructor.
My daughter was only 1 at the time so I would teach classes at 5 am, so I could have the entire day with the kids. I got certified in Spin, Les Mills programs, and then as a Personal Trainer and taught at multiple gyms for years. In the Summer of 2012 I decided to take a chance and open my own fitness facility. I found a very small space where we built an indoor cycling studio, which also had access to a large turf field for all our other classes. With unlimited support from friends and people who had taken classes with me for years, Fit Revolution opened in September 2012! We quickly outgrew the space and continued to expand from 700 sq feet to 7,500 sq ft over a 5 year period. In August 2018, our North Reading studio moved down the street to a beautiful and expansive space that includes a large turf area, treadmill room, indoor cycling studio, strength/ barre studio, and an updated childcare room.
In November of 2016, I started negotiations with MarketStreet located in Lynnfield. After almost one year of going back and forth I decided to go for it and we opened our new studio located across from Nike and California Pizza Kitchen. Our MarketStreet studio is 3,000 sq ft including an indoor cycling studio, treadmill/bootcamp studio and has showers for our members who need to get their workouts in and then head off to the rest of their day. In the summer, we offer complimentary fitness classes on The Green and last year we hosted our first outdoor Spin-a-Thon for charity.
Between the two studios, we offer over 75 classes per week including: Fit Cross (our signature bootcamp class), two styles of Indoor Cycling (Fit Beat – to the beat of the music & Fit Ride – a more traditional-style athletic ride), Barre, Boxing, Yoga, Strength, Cardio Dance, Treadmill classes & more. Our goal is for our members to find a variety of classes where they can train their entire bodies while following the “YOU do YOU” principle. “YOU do YOU” is a huge part of who we are at Fit Revolution, and for us that means you work to the best of your own ability with encouragement always from the FitRev Squad & Community.
One of FitRev’s missions is to give back to the community, and we pride ourselves and our members for helping us to do so. Over the years we have helped an Elementary school in our town build their playground, purchased basketball hoops for another school, and we have an annual 5k where the proceeds go back to the school’s gym funds. We created an event called the FitRev Games where we take 65-80 people through a 3-part workout and donate the proceeds and we have done that for MS, Brain Cancer, Sturge Weber Syndrome, and Brain Injuries. We also have a program called Fit Reach where members donate $5 a month and together we identify a family or organization in need and lend a helping hand.
Fit Revolution offers a variety of fitness classes. Do you have a favorite?
Can I have a favorite for each day of the week? This is such a hard question for me. I LOVE all my classes, I really do. It’s really because of the people that take my classes. You have to do this for the relationships you make with people; my members are such an amazing part of my life. I will only teach a class that I am passionate about and for me that can change for sure. I love teaching Strength classes because as I am getting a little bit older I am really focusing on staying strong and challenging my body more. That said, I personally enjoy running so I love Fit Tread! I will say Fit Beat is probably one of my favorite classes because of the way people connect in a spin class. I LOVE making playlists and finding ways to engage everyone in the class to feel the music & energy, to teach them the choreography. I always teach early in the morning and for my riders to walk out of the door at 6 am feeling like complete rockstars is everything to me!
What class would you recommend to a mom who is just starting (or re-starting) her fitness journey?
Find a class/activity you LOVE! If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you won’t look forward to it and/or make it a priority in your day. It’s also very helpful and motivating to find a fitness buddy!
Fit Walk is one of our newest classes that I absolutely love. It is the perfect balance and by no means is it “a walk in the park.” Every class we offer is as easy or hard as you make it because you always choose your speed and your weights and we give you time limits or reps when you are doing an exercise.
I always make myself available to take a class with anyone starting their journey to walk them through the class and support them. If someone is new I make sure to introduce them to others and put them in a group with people that will be helpful, so they don’t feel so intimidated taking the class. I always tell people to remember “Everyone started somewhere,” this is a journey and not a sprint! Health is for life and it’s very important as mom’s that we remember to take care of ourselves because we are Important!
Fit Revolution also offers programs for kids. Can you tell us a little bit more about these programs and who might benefit from them?
Our kids’ classes are designed to get kids moving! As a mom I know how kids can get absorbed by screens (TV, video games, cell phones) but it’s important for them to take a break and experience from a young age that fitness can be fun and rewarding!
Our Kids’ Spin classes are 45 minute dance parties on a bike. We have various themes to keep the classes exciting, and the kids have so much fun they *almost* forget they’re working out.
Last year we launched our Strength & Fitness program for students with Mark Cinelli who has an extensive background working with athletes all around the world. His team offers classes for youth (grades 3-5), middle school, and high school/college-age students. Regardless of the age group, these classes teach the correct weight-lifting form and exercise mechanics while focusing on improving speed, agility and coordination.
Any tips for balancing work & motherhood?
All I can say is it’s hard and every single day I get up and just try, try my best. I will say there are lots of times in my life that I put myself on the back burner, really far back and that always comes back to bite me. Every single day you need to do something for yourself. It could be as simple as getting yourself a coffee or taking 15 minutes to blow your hair out so you feel good about yourself. My kids are my life, and they come first, but I do try to work around what I need to do for them so I can have something for myself that is important and makes me a better mom to them.
What is the best piece of mom advice you ever received?
“Remember the oxygen mask goes on you first!” Someone said that to me once and it has stuck with me for times when I am exhausted and realizing I am on the back burner again.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you need some “me” time?
I love going for a run. I know that sounds crazy but I teach fitness as a job and as much as I like it, you are so ON when you are teaching. If your mind leaves what you are doing for a second you literally are standing in front of a room going, UUMMMMMM….. Going for a run I do some of my best thinking and just feel so good. I also love a good spa day 🙂
If you’re interested in trying some of the classes at Fit Revolution, Michelle is offering North Shore Moms a special deal. Purchase a 5 Class Card Package for just $25 with promo code NSMOM. Limit 1 Package per person, per studio location. Package expires 3 months from the date of purchase.