The Career Refresh with Jill Griffin

From Educator to Fitness Entrepreneur with Rachel Goodale

October 03, 2023 Jill Griffin Season 5 Episode 137
The Career Refresh with Jill Griffin
From Educator to Fitness Entrepreneur with Rachel Goodale
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What unfolds when you step away from a career that no longer aligns with your aspirations? This is the journey that Rachel Goodale, the owner and founder of Stroller Strong Mamas, a Parent and Me fitness program, embarked upon nearly a decade ago. 

In this episode, we delve into the compelling reasons behind Rachel's departure from her career in education and the incredible story of how she forged a thriving fitness community for mothers. Join us in this episode as we explore:

  • How she created a vibrant, united community rooted in inspiration, connection, and active living. 
  • Her mission of leading by example inspires both children and adults. 
  • How she taps into her intuition and fosters genuine connections with her clients, ensuring an environment where everyone can thrive.
  • Rachel’s tips for workplaces seeking to create more inclusive virtual environments and practical strategies to boost collaboration and engagement in your remote teams.
  • Plus the unexpected strengths she discovered about herself along the way 

Show Guest
Rachel Goodale, the owner and founder of Stroller Strong Mamas, a Parent and Me fitness program, embarked on this transformative journey following the birth of her son in 2015. Formerly an elementary and special education teacher, Rachel's transition to entrepreneurship underscores her commitment to promoting a healthy way of life. Her dedication extends beyond words, as she actively sets a powerful example by working out with her kids, aligning seamlessly with the ethos of Stroller Strong Mamas: "Lead by Example." Rachel's extensive expertise as a Certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Trainer, Youth Exercise Specialist, Prenatal and Postpartum Fitness, Mobility and Movement, and Nutrition underscores her dedication to the fitness profession since 2012. You can follow her on Instagram or Facebook

Support the show

Jill Griffin is committed to making workplaces more successful for everyone through leadership training and development, team dynamics workshops, and employee well-being programs. Her executive coaching, workshop facilitation, and innovative thinking have driven multi-million-dollar revenues for top agencies, startups, and renowned brands. Collaborating with individuals, teams, and organizations, Jill fosters high-performance and inclusive cultures while facilitating organizational growth.

Visit JillGriffinCoaching.com for more details on:

  • Book a 1:1 Career Strategy and Executive Coaching HERE
  • Gallup CliftonStrengths Corporate Workshops to build a strengths-based culture
  • Team Dynamics training to increase retention, communication, goal setting, and effective decision-making
  • Keynote Speaking
  • Grab a personal Resume Refresh with Jill Griffin HERE

Follow @JillGriffinOffical on Instagram for daily inspiration
Connect with and follow Jill on LinkedIn

Speaker 1:

Hi, welcome to the Career Refresh podcast.

Speaker 1:

I'm your host, jill Griffin. I'm a former media and marketing executive, turned career strategist and executive coach. I spent my career working my way up and through the ranks of global organizations and startups, and today I show others how to be the same. Join me each week as we discuss the strategies and actionable steps to leverage your strengths, increase your confidence and develop your career. Well-being Ready, let's do it. Hi, welcome to the Career Refresh. I'm your host, jill Griffin.

Speaker 1:

This week, I'm introducing you to Rachel Goodell, the owner and founder of Stroller Strong Mommers, which is a parent and me fitness program. Eight years ago, after the birth of her son, she found that she was craving fitness and community and really wanted more connections with moms. So eventually, this craving drove her to leave her career as an elementary school and special education teacher. It also marked the start of her entrepreneurial journey, where she was able to tie her passion for fitness and it involved into a pretty successful business idea. I love Rachel's story and how she talks about back in the day, where she would wear her son in the early days and like a baby of yarn, and how working out with him while she was wearing him babies as accessories, how it was the inspiration for what she created today. In this episode, rachel discusses how she pursued her fitness goals, but also and created a vibrant and engaged community of individuals who share her enthusiasm for an active lifestyle. The whole community is underpinned with Rachel's concept of lead by example, where the values of motivation, kindness, creating an inclusive community and inspiring children to be active and also watch their moms and their parents have fun and be active too.

Speaker 1:

Rachel's class is on the eastern end of Long Island, new York, on the North Fork, in the Riverhead area, and they are also virtual, so you can join online friends. Every class welcomes both children and moms and parents alike and provides a space where moms can work out but have the little ones nearby. Listen to this episode. It is really inspiring about how a passion can turn into a business idea. Dig in. All of her information is in the show notes and, as always, if you have questions, email me at hello at jillgriffincoachingcom, and friends, there's a possibility. Hey, good afternoon, rachel. I'm so glad that you are here with me today.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for having me.

Speaker 1:

All right, I ask everyone, as we start these interviews, to take us back and tell us what did you think you wanted to be when you grew up?

Speaker 2:

I started actually thinking I wanted to be a teacher when I was like six, seven years old. I used to. It was like a passion. That was what I was going to do. That was going to be. I was going to be in a classroom. I was going to teach kids. I went to school for an elementary ed teaching position math concentration. Then I went further and did special ed. I even got a classroom position for a few years, went back and forth between a couple of different districts, different positions, and I wanted to be a teacher. I thought I was going to be a teacher and then I walked away from it when I was, I believe, 20, oh gosh, 30. I was 30 years old and I walked away.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so tell us a little bit about that. What was the impetus from walking away from it?

Speaker 2:

It wasn't for me. I truly thought this was where I was going to be. After experiencing different positions, I went into different schools. It was all a lot of politics that I just didn't have the time or desire for, and then it just my heart wasn't into it anymore. I wanted to start a family and I knew if I was with kids all day, I wouldn't want to have my own children, and that became a big eye opener. At like 30 years old, I decided, okay, we're going to start trying for kids and I walked away and I found a group fitness studio in the area that I decided to start doing some personal training and more classes and I was like you know, I'm going to see where this goes and I had the opportunity to stay home to try to have my family and do that while I moved away from teaching. Wow.

Speaker 1:

So did you already have fitness in your background or, as you were making this decision, did you start to then get certified or trained, or how did that come together?

Speaker 2:

I've always loved fitness. I never was into group fitness. I always just went to the gym and did my own thing. However, right after we got married in 2011, I started with a friend at a local gym and fell in love with group fitness and they needed instructors. So I naturally just jumped in because why not take a leap? And I got my certification in TRX, personal training, group fitness. And then I started to go into spinning and a million other things because it was exciting and fun and I loved doing it and I was not great at it, maybe in the beginning, but I wanted to dive head in I had first and just get into it. So it wasn't necessarily. It was a kind of happen organically, where I was in this like little crossroads. I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do, but that felt right. So I just kind of followed my heart to keep, to keep the interest. Why not do something that I felt passionate about?

Speaker 1:

Okay, okay, and for our listeners, I met Rachel at a local fitness studio in which she was a trainer, and you know her energy, kindness. You know many of my listeners know that I suffer from a traumatic brain injury, so I have some limitations, and Rachel's just Absolute expertise and kindness of working you know marrying those both right, pushing me when I needed to be pushed, but also completely supporting me and understanding that there are some things I just can't do Was what really drew me to her and just her infectious positivity. All of that, but what I want you to tell. So that's the background for our listeners. What I want you to tell everybody about is then you went out and started something that was like, not really heard of before working with mothers and bringing your children to class, and you also welcomed me, who doesn't have children. So what was the thought process behind this is what I'm gonna build.

Speaker 2:

So as soon as I started trying to get pregnant, I got my prenatal and postpartum certifications and I knew immediately that as soon as I had my son, I knew I wanted to do things correctly, to get back into shape, to, you know, keep my fitness going. And as soon as I had my son, I started to crave being around other moms. I knew I wanted to get my workout in and actually helping, really naturally, where I was literally Wearing him on me when he was three months old and I started to do squats around the house to drive you get him. I think he was just trying to nap or he was fussy and I started to squat and I started to dance and I started to. Then I'm like, wait, I can do a little dance move. Oh wait, I can get an entire workout in wearing him. I was still working. It was like and he thought he fell asleep, I was sweating head to toe. Then I grabbed some weights and I was like, oh wait, my arms are free. Now I have a baby on me who cares? I'm getting my workout in. So it was like I bulb, I am gonna start a baby wearing class and you don't have to leave your child, you don't have to have daycare, you don't have to have this mom guilt that you're walking away from your child or they're sitting there While you're, you know, trying to get your workout in or trying to scramble to make it all work. You're getting out of the house, you're surrounding your mom with other in yourself, with other moms. Your child is Like part of you in this it's.

Speaker 2:

And then it evolved. It became bring your kid and let them play, let them watch, and then my son at I think he was only maybe 15 months old started doing burpees and squats and planks and push-ups and Was like wait a minute, bigger picture, there's even a bigger picture here where they're not just with us, they're taking it in, they see us working out, they see us taking care of ourselves. And it was like, oh, my god, there's something even more to this. Then we took it outside and strollers and we were outside and the kids are just naturally so happy outside or they're taking naps in the strollers. And then I had my daughter and again we went through the prenatal classes again, and then we went through the postpartum and I had this True, I mean, I had people following me and then I had to put a name to it and I lc'd myself and built a website and I became strollers, strong mamas, and it is Become bigger than me.

Speaker 2:

I have other instructors with me now and you bring your kids, no matter what the age six months, six weeks, do. I have kids that are 16 years old that do the workout with us, and I have Created virtual classes because we had that horrific pandemic that we all were stuck home and you brought your kids in front of the camera and they it was. It was an amazing community coming together. We worked out, the kids got to see each other and that kind of was the silver lining. We've created this virtual Class package where mom's now going back to work and they're not home with COVID Pandemic they can get their workout in. They can get a video from me, so they're still getting their workout in. They do it at home with their kids around and and and. Then we have all these in-person classes that are just it's an amazing Community and, like you said, you don't have to have kids. You have to be okay with kids running them up.

Speaker 1:

Makes me laugh so much and you don't have to bring. You could have children, but also maybe they're in daycare or maybe they're in school that day and you can come without right. So there's a mixture. I mean, I feel like most people though is probably 75% are bringing children.

Speaker 2:

Now that school's back, and then these are people that I have had their kids since they were in, you know, u-durill. So now here we are, nine years later, and some of them are in school, so they're still following me. Today we had a class and there were no children, so it's still this community. But, yes, a lot of people bring infants, toddlers, while the school-aged kids are in school. So it is still this mommy and me, vibe.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. No, it's such again. It's such a beautiful supportive community and again, that's a testament to you. When you were building this, it seems like a lot of it happened organically, versus like you sat down and wrote a business plan which I also want people to hear that sometimes we can have an idea and then it just starts building, like, as you said, it becomes bigger than you, but in such a beautiful way. Yes, what did you discover about your strengths that you didn't know before? Meaning you went from being a teacher, which requires one set of skills, to, all of a sudden, not only are you business owner, but now you're also physically using your body. So what did you discover in your strengths that you didn't know before?

Speaker 2:

I didn't realize how well I plan out things and yet still can roll with the punches. So, oh my God, this client, like I plan something, this client can't do it. All right, we're going to do this and I can really work on the fly still now, and I find that is a strength. Like I guess I have a plan but I can roll with it. I have learned a lot of technology. I have done my own marketing all of my social media advertisements website has I just asked somebody to help me out with that a little bit. Finally, branching out to delegate a little bit more. But I never knew that I was. I had this in me. I thought I was just going to be a teacher in a classroom, not just a teacher, but you know, I didn't think I was going to be building my own business and having to make larger decisions that you know really do impact my day to day.

Speaker 1:

And how has that difference changed then? Now, as your children are starting to get older, are there things that you do differently to manage your time? As you're balancing your business, your children are in activities, but they're also in schools.

Speaker 2:

I don't do any computer work while they're awake. So that has become because I just can't concentrate and I don't want my business to take me completely from them. So I have found this balance where I sit between six and seven am that is my time to every day to tackle just a few things on the to do list. You know website management, my email blasts, client lists, and then by seven am they're mine. You know I am there, as I should say, and I I try not to answer any emails or texts during that time. So it is this balance of trying to give them my full attention and not let the business take me from them at all. But then I built in my office hours to go while they're at school and I'm not going to lie in the summer. A lot of things just go to the waste. I'll deal with that in September. I'll deal with that in September.

Speaker 1:

But I think mothers everywhere they don't have to own their own business. Mothers everywhere are sometimes struggling, sometimes thriving with the balance of up, where hybrid we're in the workplace. Up we're totally remote. When we were having the various COVID outbreaks, people were then thinking they were going to the office and back home. So I feel like there's a lot that you can share with people about how you navigated from a physical day to day for physical fitness and then, when COVID happened, you navigated to hybrid and leaders everywhere can learn from you about how to do that. What were some of the things that you noticed about moving and what you need to do differently for an online environment?

Speaker 2:

The online environment is tricky. You can't really see necessarily everybody that's on the screen. You have to make it so that it's accommodating all the equipment that they may or may not have at home. Also, they have kids at home. We had kids at home. If we had to stop for a second because my daughter was potty training and I had to run and take care, it was just kind of like a very open. We're going to roll with what happens today and we're going to make it work. But I also would always share all my tricks and trips.

Speaker 2:

As we went out for the time in the gym my kids would pack their own little bags with their toys and it would be like their time to kind of hang out and then it would surprise me, 90% of the time they'd jumped into the workout. But it was tricky and I had to make them shorter. So I would only make it 30 minutes quick, but it was daily, so shorter time. But it was very like we're going to roll with this. I would put on a timer and run out of the room with my daughter to the bathroom. You guys hold plank until I get back.

Speaker 2:

So, being virtual, there was also. We left like five minutes before and five minutes after, with the screen open, everybody not muted, so that there was just this community vibe too, because that connection you miss that connection in your virtual or online forums. And I do have to mute for most of my classes, just for the record and so that the screen is popping all over, but then it's like before and after. You want to see everyone, you want to say hi. So there was that personal connection still.

Speaker 1:

What I'm hearing you say. What I think is helpful for our listeners is the idea that, even if it's not a fitness class, the way to build community when we are in hybrid environments is can we start the meeting? The meeting could still start on time, but we don't actually start the content for five minutes because we're maybe networking or sharing some, you know, just community time and the same thing at the end, which also helps build community. I think that's great. I also wanted to talk to you about. You have this motto about lead by example, which is also what I think parents everywhere are, you know, looking for help with. So do you want to talk a little bit about that?

Speaker 2:

We don't necessarily want to force our children to do things. The more that we tell them to do something, the more they're going to rebel. So we just lead. We lead by example, by doing what we want them to see us do and we want them to do so even in our classes. The motivation and don't give up. There's so much more than just, oh, I'm going to show you how to do a bicycle curl. It's the motivation that we give each other, the kindness we give each other, the way that we take care of each other. It's that community, that feel of chit chatting, somebody who starts to get upset. We all kind of embrace each other and it is leading by example in all of that. So the group, it is a tribe, it is a really support group and we want our children to see how we interact and pray that they will also feel that feeling. But we also lead by example. I don't want our kids to ever be afraid of a gym. Fitness classes especially are overwhelming. They are sometimes intimidating.

Speaker 2:

When you come into a group fitness class and everybody knows each other, I was like, ooh, I feel a little nervous and that's why your approach was so important to me because I was like, uh-oh, and you were so welcoming, so that again, through what you do, yeah, we want our kids to be welcoming and embrace every single new person and, yeah, it is for everybody, and everybody has their own personal fitness journey and that's something, too, that we need to really instill in our children is, your fitness journey is going to look different from the person sitting next to you.

Speaker 2:

Your body is going to look different. Your motivation, the amount that you can give it, is going to look different, but you're still all there because you are working on self care. You're working on so many different reasons why people work out and everyone's there for different reasons. I mean, it could be for your mental health, it could be for more energy. You could, I honestly work out because I want to sleep better, like there's so many reasons to take care of yourself and not compare yourself to anybody else, and I think that's another huge point I want our kids to take away from everything we do.

Speaker 1:

I mean, all of this is such beautiful lessons of again leading by example of what you're doing, and then, of course, they're watching. They're watching. How do you tap into your gut instinct to know whether it's something in your business, whether it's something to change when you're actually doing the class or leading the class? How do you tap into your gut? It's really a connection to all your clients.

Speaker 2:

So even if it's a class that has four people in it, I personally can tell as I get to no clients whether they're absolutely hating something. They're really quiet. I know when to back off, like oh, this was. You know it's too hot out to side today for too much of this cardio. Let's back off. It's really reading your clients. I mean I think that's a great thing to do. I mean I think that's a great thing to do. Let's back off. It's really reading your clients. It has everything to do with that. I don't necessarily work out with every class, so I'm a lot of times like watching every single person. I'm, my eyes are on them, even in virtuals. I can kind of see when people are starting to fade out. So that has become like it has become an instinct. It's my gut instinct to really read the, read the audience.

Speaker 1:

So, rachel, you've accomplished so much in a really short period of time. I mean your business has flourished over the last eight years. I know you've now hired staff. It's very different Again, working for yourself versus working for it was a school, not a company. But do anything about your previous life as a elementary and special ed teacher that you miss.

Speaker 2:

I don't necessarily miss it because in some way I'm still teaching. I feel like I still have like a classroom that I'm teaching. But it was hard to walk away from teaching because I did have that mindset that was what I was going to do for my career. And to leave it at 30 when I didn't know where my life was going to take me. And here I am, 10 years later. God, that means me 40.

Speaker 2:

Yes, it's like there was this uncomfortable feeling, not knowing where I was going to be, like if I, if you told me 10 years, you know, oh, don't worry about it, you're going to be fine in 10 years. No, at 30, leaving my job not knowing what I was going to do but knowing that I was willing to kind of put myself out there. It was this balance of like this uncomfortable, I'm going to leave this career but I want to follow my passion and I want to put myself out there and I want to take this risk, because it comes from my heart and it was a desire. It was like I had it in me. I knew there was more for me, but it was this uncomfortable feeling that I had to sit with. It was hard, but it's worth it. Yeah, that was clear.

Speaker 2:

Clearly it's all I miss working with kids in a classroom. I love working with the kids in fitness because I do get to teach them a little bit. I have my youth exercise specialized certification, so I am working with kids once in a while I do kids fitness and I'm using all of those skill sets. Maybe with some of the management classroom management, some of those things kind of working on the fly. It led me to where I am now and it's helped me, I think, possibly in my career now. So yeah, it's been a wild ride, but I'm happy to be where I am, love it.

Speaker 1:

Rachel, tell everyone where they can find you, follow you. Of course I will put everything in the show notes, but tell them.

Speaker 2:

So everything is Stroller Strong Mamas, M-A-M-A-S, and that's either Instagram or Facebook. I also have my own website, StrollerStrongMamascom, and I am available at StrollerStrongMamascom. I have virtual, so if anybody is not local to the Riverhead North Fork area on Long Island, I have virtual classes. So you do reach, I do reach a lot of people and it doesn't have to be at live at 5.15 in the morning. You can get the video and I have a whole library of videos.

Speaker 1:

Rachel, thank you so much for being here. I love that you shared a journey of you know starting out with something that you wanted to do and then finding out that there were parts of it that were you like but ultimately it wasn't for you, and how you reinvented and kept your career fresh by then rolling into something that really was your passion and then continuing to weave in all of those pieces of teaching kids and just bringing this. You know beautiful, infectious personality that you have to all of us and you're just a gift and I thank you for being here.

Speaker 2:

Thank you so much, I appreciate you.

Speaker 1:

Hey, thanks for listening to the Career Refresh podcast. If you're enjoying this and want more information, go to my website, jillgriffincoachingcom. There you can find information on how to work with you one-on-one or my group programs, or even bring me into your workplace. I'll put the link to my website in the show notes. But, hey, listen before you go. Do me a favor, rate and review this podcast, because it definitely helps me get the word out to people everywhere so that they can also thrive in the workplace. Alright, friends, I appreciate you. I'll see you soon.

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