I suppose it’s the entrepreneur in me, or a hiding journalist within that I never knew existed, but when I encounter another small business that I really enjoy, I instantly become interested in the person/team running the show; especially businesses that are run by other women. And well, I REALLY love other female run businesses that also have a mission of empowering other women. So naturally, when I met Angela Bridgford and the FIT4MOM village, I wanted to know all about her.
I’ve talked before about my struggles with finding mom friends, and how hard it is to make new connections as an adult in this stage of life when you’re new to an area. Especially for an introverted homebody like myself. Approaching a stranger and making small talk is so hard for me, and I’m so uncomfortable at large parties/events. So when I finally drug my ass out to a Stroller Strides class almost a year ago, it changed my life. I didn’t just find an exercise class that’s helping me transform my body, I found my Village; and for a person who has no family nearby, that’s huge.
I didn’t take long to recognize that a huge part of what makes this specific Village so special, is Mrs. Angela Bridgford. Her kindness and smile can light up a room, and she has a way of making everyone feel so welcome and supported (and she’ll kick your booty with an awesome work-out). She’s pulled together a team of instructors and play group captains who also embody this spirit, and make this the BEST Village if you ask me. I had about a million questions I wanted to ask, but for now...we’ll start with this.
Tell us a bit about FIT4MOM, and what it is?
“FIT4MOM is a community that offers mothers support and strength for motherhood! We offer different fitness programs to fit your stage of motherhood. We are your one-stop shop for fitness as a mommy whether you have a newborn or have teenage kids. We have something for you! The best thing about our programs is that our certified instructors are also moms. We understand the “aches and pains” of motherhood, so we are right there with you!”
Tell us a bit about yourself, and your journey to becoming a franchise owner.
“Eleven years ago, I was a young mother to a one-year-old baby girl. It’s also important to note I was the first of my close friends to have a child. You can imagine the anxiety I had facing all of the firsts, not knowing what the heck I was doing. While my first year at home with Ellie was sweet and absolutely amazing, I hardly ever got out of the house! I was uncomfortable with my postpartum body. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I desperately needed to make other mom friends who could encourage and support me in my motherhood journey.
As a birthday gift for my one-year-old, my husband’s aunt bought me a 10- Class Pass to try a program called Stroller Strides. From the moment I tried my first class, I was hooked! Other moms and babies... exercising and engaging with my baby... playgroups... Mom’s Nights Out. The program wasn’t just a workout–it was a community of wonderful women! Just 6 short months later, I became an instructor. My mission was to help moms just like me to find their Village.
Five glorious years later, 1 more baby, and one in the belly, I had a chance to become an owner of the community where I found ME again, just 5 years earlier. It’s been close to 7 years since becoming an owner, and I can truly say, with a passion, that my mission is still the same. It’s to give mamas the strength for motherhood! Not just strength, but confidence in their postpartum body, a smile and encouragement for their day, and affirmation that they are doing a great job as “mom.” God has given me the sweetest opportunity with this community of women, and I couldn’t be prouder!”
What about your team - how do you choose them?
“My Team. These ladies are a special group of women who are Heaven sent! I mean it. I have been so fortunate to have met and work with each one of them. They make this Village the special community that it is!
I am always looking for additions to our Team. Life happens and things are always changing. Often times, our mamas move, they go back to work, their kids outgrow the stroller phase, they have another baby...So, our Team is always evolving. That’s probably the hardest part of being in my position. It’s always sad to see someone leave our Team. We are like a little family unit!
As far as the process of choosing a new team member...these women become a part of Our Village, we get to know them, they attend classes for a while. After a short time, we can usually see potential in this person right away. I reach out to them, and they usually jump on the opportunity! Once you’ve been a part of this Village for a time, you realize how special it is as a mama, and you want to give that back to someone else!”
How do you balance being a business owner and a mom?
“Working mamas are always trying to achieve that balance between family and work life. I am certainly no stranger to that! Anyone running a business will tell you, it’s a labor of love! When you own your own business, you think about it 24/7. It’s my baby (ha!)! I often have days where I am in front of my computer too much or have been gone several nights in a row at classes or for an outing, but that’s when I rely on my loving family to step in and help. This all could not happen without their support! I am surrounded and supported by first, my husband and business advisor (bless him!), 8 instructors who share the same passion and love for these women (and several past instructors whose impact is still felt by Our Village), and 4 playgroup captains who work hard to nurture the connection in Our Village and between mama and child. Last, but certainly not least, I cling to my faith always! I am truly thankful that God gave me this incredible opportunity. The scripture I hold close in my role as business owner is one found in 1 Corinthians 15:58. It says, “Be strong + immovable. Work enthusiastically. Nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
What do you like to do to focus on your OWN fitness and self care goals?
“ This past year came with a big shift as my youngest child began attending school Monday through Friday until 1pm. This freed up a bit of my time (when I am not teaching) to take care of me. I have gotten to take many “freedom runs”—that’s what us mamas call it when we run without the kiddos and a stroller! I also enjoy a couple of YouTube channels when I want a quick 30-minute strength training session. I don’t have a lot of extra time so these work so extremely well for me and my busy schedule.
Those who know me well know that I am actually an introvert at heart, so I absolutely have to have downtime. When I don’t get the downtime, I crash. I am very good at knowing when I need to disconnect. My husband is really good at knowing when I need to disconnect too. Stepping away to go and see a movie or getting to sleep in extra or getting to exercise alone...that is so key for me and my self-care.”
In the coming year, what do you hope to do more of within your business?
“I hope to offer more of a wide variety of classes to moms so FIT4MOM North OC is a one-stop shop! We are working on a Run Club, and a cardio- heavy class called “Strides 360.” One special need that I see is a challenging class that provides a low-impact workout. Many mamas come to us with new and old injuries that limit their ability to run or jump. Lucky for us, our Home Office just debuted a new program called, “Body Ignite.” Stay tuned for more info soon!”
What does female empowerment mean to you?
“The answer to this question can go in so many directions, but I believe I have one that speaks my personal truth. Female empowerment is seeing, believing, and living out our personal value. To be fully empowered as a woman, we have to live our best life. How do we do that? As women, we can wear many hats and do quite a bit because we are the ultimate multitaskers? With that said, after a while, we get run down and discouraged. We need our life lines...our spouse, family, girlfriends, mentors. For me, this means surrounding myself with people who truly believe in me as an individual. I am most empowered by recognizing my needs, accepting help, and surrounding myself with loving, supportive family and friends. They cheer me on along this journey and are the first to pick me up when I falter! Making the choice to take care of me...being in healthy relationships and surrounding myself with those who inspire me is female empowerment!”
Lastly, how can people find you?
If you’ve enjoyed reading about ‘Ang’, please be sure to leave us a little note in the comments! It’s much appreciated.
Do you know a lady in the SoCal area who is shining as an entrepreneur, and deserves a moment in the spotlight? Please nominate them via the form below, and perhaps I’ll choose to feature them in an upcoming Bossbabe Spotlight.
Or, are you ready to get in touch with me and talk about planning your own boudoir experience? I’m ready to get to know YOU!