Meet Move It Mama Owner & Founder, Lisa Fong
We spoke to Lisa Fong, māmā of four beautiful boys and founder of Move It Mama, the online fitness community designed for women getting connected through exercise.
Kia ora Lisa. Can you start by introducing yourself? Tell us about your family, where you live, and what you do for work?
Hello! I’m Lisa Fong and I am a mother to four delicious boys. My babies are growing up fast with my little one, Teina just about to start school. Rico will be 11 at the end of November, Louis is 9 and Carlos is 7. They are all different but all so similar and often found together in a pack! They love everything to do with sport and the outdoors, and we immerse them in that as much as we can. My husband is Dan and he is a builder – according to his children, the best builder in the world! I am a primary school teacher by trade and loved my years of teaching. Before I had my own children, I treated my class of kids as my very own! I taught low-decile and I had a toaster and a fruit bowl in my classroom for the children that needed food. It was a huge passion of mine and I think back so fondly to those days. Now though, I am the proud owner and founder of Move it Mama – an online community that is connected through exercise (and SO much more)! We have over 5000 women subscribed to the group and it makes us proud every single day.
Can you give us an overview of your births with your babies?
I was lucky to have four vaginal births and to be honest, I love talking all things birth and babies. My first birth took many turns (we were living in Sydney at the time). It was quite chaotic and I demanded an epidural when I was 9cm dilated. They gave me a minor dose as I was so far along but it helped calm my unprepared mind. I pushed my first baby out in 20 minutes and needed three stitches. The labour was long. I was only 36 weeks pregnant and my mind was not in the game. The hospital was full so they put me in what looked like a cupboard for the majority of the labour! It was HARD.
My second birth was incredible. We were back home in Wellington and I decided to try my luck birthing at a birthing unit (so no access to epidurals etc). We had friends over that afternoon and at about 5 pm, I pretty much told them they had to go as I felt like I was definitely in labour. I was 38 weeks pregnant. We arrived at the hospital at 5:59 pm and my second son was born at 6:11 pm. I felt like a superwoman! My husband had to deliver him as the midwife had only just arrived and was trying to get things ready. I had one stitch from memory.
We had just moved to Christchurch eight weeks before the birth of my third child. Low and behold, the due date came and went! I was so confused as I just assumed he would be early as the first two were. The labour was longer with a few niggles. They found meconium in my waters so I had to get him out as quickly as possible. There were a lot of doctors called – once again though, I managed to get him within 20 minutes. Relief! No stitches!
My fourth birth was a different kind of hard as little man was posterior. I thought I was way further along than I was and that played with my mind. I knew this would be my last birth and I just found it so hard, so tough and so long (I wasn’t prepared for that). I really wanted a water birth or home birth but we had complications in my pregnancy which meant I would need to give birth at the hospital in case of problems afterwards. After what felt like a lonnnng few hours, our little ray of sunshine was born. No stitches either!
How was your physical recovery from birth and pregnancy? Did you have any complications and if so, how did you manage them?
I have been very lucky that after birth I have had no complications. I did get mastitis a lot because I had copious amounts of milk that never seemed to regulate but other than that, my body recovered so well. I remember after the fourth birth, the physio checked my stomach the day later and couldn’t believe how strong it was. It definitely made me proud that I exercised throughout my fourth pregnancy. I always made sure I didn’t exercise until at least six weeks after I had my babies and started off very slowly. I am proud of my body and how strong it is now – stronger than ever and I’ve had four children.
How did you find the adjustment to motherhood emotionally and mentally?
I found having my first baby the hardest transition of all. My friends kept telling me how I would be such a great mother, also because I was a teacher I sort of thought I would be too! But I found it so tough. My first baby was difficult and fussy, had reflux, and I didn’t really have any support. We were in Sydney and I didn’t have an antenatal group or any friends who were mothers. I felt really isolated, alone, and completely lost myself. Once my second son was born, I felt a lot better. I knew what was right and what wasn’t. He also had reflux but he was a lot more chilled out than my firstborn which helped me dramatically. I started to find my way a bit more and knew what I needed to do to create a happier me.
Being healthy and active is integral to your lifestyle. How has your relationship with exercise evolved throughout your motherhood journey?
Exercise is such a huge component in making me a happier person and mother. It is without a doubt the one thing that has helped me find my confidence again. I realised after I had my third son that I needed to exercise to help me feel good. I changed the way I looked at exercise – before then, it was more about exercising to look a certain way. But once I realised how much I needed it to reset myself, to feel good, to do something for just me, and how amazing I felt afterwards, it was life-changing. For the last seven years, my main reason for exercising is the way it makes me feel and I can’t tell you just how powerful that is.
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Tell us about when you first dreamed up the idea of Move It Mama. What was your vision for the brand and how did it come to be?
I always knew I wanted to do something else in my life. I loved teaching but I had something else deep in my loins burning away! After having the boys, I was so passionate about motherhood, baby sleep stuff, routines, sorting the boys, relationships, exercise, and just so much more. I kept finding myself in conversations with women that felt low about themselves and a bit depressed so this ignited my passion to help them do some exercise. I saw this need. I saw it wherever I went. I was so passionate about helping them as I knew it would help the people around them too! And that is how Move it Mama was born – I opened up my life to share my highs and lows, and let people in. They came on my journey and watched me, felt motivated by me so they worked out with me. And the rest is history! I always wanted Move it Mama to be completely real, down to earth, natural, inclusive, bright, bubbly, and fun with everyone uplifting everyone. Four years later, I still feel exactly the same about it and I know it’s all of these things and so much more.
At what point did you decide to bring in your sisters and how has it been working together?
I knew from the beginning I wouldn’t be able to sustain the entire business on my own, especially being such a busy mum with four little children. My sisters and I have always been close and we live and breathe the same values. We all have a love for health and fitness and love feeling our best. I used to speak about my sisters all the time within the Move it Mama community and it was so nice sharing them with the women. It was only natural that I began to call on them when my body needed a break or I was too busy to take a workout. I remember so clearly when they first started helping me – they were nervous! I always remember being nervous at the start too so it was cool to empathise with them and share this together. The members loved my sisters and felt like they added in a little more magic so it was a no-brainer to then keep them on. I feel lucky every day to have my sisters and would be totally lost without them.
What can Move It Mama – and exercise in general – offer mums during pregnancy, postpartum and beyond?
Move it Mama was born to break down barriers and help people live happier lives. We believe that with regular exercise, you can be your best. If you’re pregnant, we have pregnancy workouts. If you’re postpartum, we have postpartum workouts. These workouts are all taken by Jess who is qualified in these areas. If you’re just coming in without having done a lot of exercise, we have Back to Basics – you will learn to modify and regress the moves to suit you. And then, once you’re ready, you can move on to some high-intensity or strength-based workouts. Jess, Char and I only do our workouts and we are the strongest we have ever been (mind and body). Four years on and I still believe wholeheartedly in Move it Mama and how it helps me.
What advice do you have for other māmā who want to get back into working out but are struggling to find the time or motivation?
If you’re feeling like you want to do some exercise but have no idea where to start, I think the first thing to do is set aside some time in your day. You need to change your mindset and say to yourself, “Right, this is my time.” Why do you want to exercise? Will it make you feel better? Will it give you some confidence? Always remember your WHY.
I want you to try and take away the ‘lose weight’ factor and turn it into ‘it’ll make me feel so much better.’ We often get caught up in just wanting a quick fix. This is a lifelong thing. The sooner we realise this, the better. It’s a non-negotiable – you want to feel your best so you can get the most out of life, out of your relationships, out of everything! Get up 30 minutes earlier. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In Move it Mama, there is no equipment. There are workouts for everyone. Yes, it might challenge you but you’re stronger than you think and everyone has to start somewhere. After your workout, think about how you feel and use that as your mojo to continue. You will get stronger and stronger, in the mind and the body.
What does self-care look like for you, Lisa?
Self-care is taking time for yourself. When I’m feeling good, life is so much better. It might be doing some exercise because I know it’ll help turn my mood around. It might be resting. It might be reading a book or going for a walk. I love to have a coffee. I love a nice glass of wine with delicious food. Think about what fills your cup and allow yourself that time. Having a great conversation with a friend always makes me feel good. Listening to a podcast that is relatable. Connecting with people! I know that when I’m feeling a bit over things, I always resort to something that will recenter me and also have faith to just ride the wave.
Tell us about a māmā who is your muse.
My māmā is my muse. I speak to her most days and she’s our biggest fan. She has strong morals and values, and lives and breathes them. She is my safe place and my warmth when I need it but also tells me when I’m being ridiculous (which can be quite often haha)! Growing up, Mum always said. “I’m your mother, not your friend.” And looking back, I love that. But now, at 39 – I can confidently say she is both. One of my best friends and my beautiful mother. Lucky me.
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