Oh Baby! Fitness is a 10 year overnight success that launched with discussions around a dinner table. The company that started back in 2005 decided to break the mold of the traditional brick-and-mortar gym franchise model and go with a training, licensing and Internet support model.
Oh Baby! Fitness has quickly expanded into 15 states — which includes Texas — and has hopes of offering classes in all 50 states by the end of 2015.
Lake Travis Lifestyle had a chance to catch up with Karen Killough, a Lakeway instructor and owner of the Austin branch of Oh Baby! Fitness. We sat down to learn a few things about Karen and how Oh Baby! Fitness got started, what it’s like doing business in a community like Lake Travis, and what advice she has for others who have an idea they want to float into the entrepreneurial waters of our great town.
What’s your story? Have you always been involved with fitness?
Yes! I am a lifelong athlete. Growing up, I was a competitive swimmer from the age of 5 through college. I’ve been a runner and triathlete for 10 years now, at every distance from sprint through marathon & Ironman. Training is a bit more challenging now that I am pushing a jogging stroller and toddler, but Town Lake and the Bee Cave City Park both have great trails for strollers. I love exercising with friends and teammates, and believe that a group’s energy motivates everyone to achieve more than they would on their own. This belief is what led me to teaching group exercise classes (such as cycling and boot camp) and coaching triathlon when I moved to Austin 13 years ago.
What do you love best about doing business in the Lake Travis area?
I love the lake and the laid back atmosphere it inspires. Whether you are going out on a boat on the weekend, eating at the Oasis, or just driving home on 620: seeing the lake seems to put people in a good mood. Central Texans are the friendliest people — and that makes it great to do business here!
How did Oh Baby! Fitness get started?
Ten years ago, CEO Clare Schexnyder was a producer at CNN working for Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Pregnant with her first child, she was asked to produce a story focused on how to lose weight after pregnancy. All the experts told Clare the best way to lose weight was to work out with your baby.
Clare searched all over Atlanta, a metro area of over five million people and home of Northside Hospital, the largest “baby hospital” in the country. She couldn’t find a program that offered a variety of fitness classes geared towards moms and newborns, in Atlanta or in several other major cities she visited.
After the birth of her daughter, Clare experienced postpartum depression. She went to a new parents’ support group and met several new moms and their babies. They quickly became a close-knit group and daily walks became the norm. Through exercise and the support of other mothers, Clare was able to work through her depression.
Clare’s struggle helped convince her there was a real need in her community for a pre/postnatal fitness program where mothers can exercise with their babies in a safe, supportive and comfortable environment. The idea for Oh Baby! Fitness was born.
Oh Baby! Fitness has branches in 15 states, and turns 10 this year. I started teaching with Oh Baby at their headquarters in Atlanta after my son was born in 2013. Exercising throughout my pregnancy really helped me avoid some of the aches and pains, and recover more quickly from childbirth. I wanted to share this with other women! Our family recently moved back to Austin, Texas after spending six years in the United Kingdom and Atlanta. I am super excited to bring Oh Baby! Fitness home with me to Austin.
What kinds of clients do you work with? What problems do you help them solve?
Oh Baby works with all types of women! I like to describe our classes as personal training in a group atmosphere. Instructors are trained to adapt exercises to each individual woman’s stage of pregnancy or postpartum recovery and fitness level. We have women who have never exercised before join our classes because they want to be in their best shape ever for their baby. We also have marathon runners and triathletes who join our classes at 8 weeks postpartum. We have working moms, stay at home moms, work at home moms, and even dads who join mom & baby in class.
Oh Baby! Fitness is dedicated to providing safe, educational, and effective classes to expectant and new mothers, and their babies. We help women through all sorts of issues, both physical and emotional, from sciatica or gestational diabetes during pregnancy to healing diastasis recti (abdominal separation) or a sore back from feeding baby. Often the biggest benefit of our classes to the new mother is simply getting out of the house with their newborn and making new friends who are in the same stage of life.
What do you do differently than other fitness classes?
Oh Baby! Fitness is unique in several ways. Oh Baby classes are session-based, meaning mom will sign up for a 6 or 8 week session where she will meet the same instructor and same small group of women at the same time each week. We have found over the past 10 years that this encourages friendships to develop and the instructor can push women to do more challenging workouts as the session progresses. We believe this has far more lasting positive impact than drop-in style classes where you may not even speak to another participant, and the instructor may not know your name.
Oh Baby offers the widest variety of prenatal and postpartum classes in the USA under one umbrella: combo (cardio, strength and yoga), water aerobics, yoga, and Pilates. We also have an outdoor Stroller Workout option for moms with newborn through preschool age children.
We really emphasize that our classes are for health, and not just fitting in your pre-pregnancy jeans. Yes, you will get fit and lose weight, but you will also avoid any moves which are unsafe for pregnancy, and safely heal and gain functional strength for motherhood. Oh Baby works closely with doctors, midwives, nurses, lactation consultants and strives to forge partnerships with area hospitals.
What are the three things that stand out about living in Austin versus other cities you’ve lived?
I’ve lived in Raleigh, Atlanta and Oxford & London in the UK. I’ve taken a bit of each city with me, but after moving back to Austin after six years away, I have fallen in love with Central Texas all over again. I love the laid back vibe of the city, the support for local businesses, and especially the outdoorsy, fitness-minded culture.
What are your big goals for Oh Baby! Fitness in Austin?
In 2015, we hope to follow in the footsteps of other Oh Baby! Fitness locations across the USA and make Austin’s new mothers healthier and happier. We aim to be a key partner for local hospitals, birthing centers and women’s healthcare providers as a complement to their perinatal health services and education programs. As our class schedule and locations around Austin develop, we plan to tap into Austin’s fitness minded population and train additional instructors to grow with us.
What are some things Oh Baby! Fitness does to give back to the community?
Oh Baby classes naturally build a community amongst our own clients; time and again, long lasting friendships develop as a result of our classes. We love the Austin and Lake Travis community — and of course we love babies — so Oh Baby is planning an annual diaper drive to benefit the Austin Diaper Bank.
What do you like best about living in the Lake Travis area?
As a swimmer, the love of the water is in my blood. When I moved to Austin and discovered the city was surrounded by lakes, I just knew it was the place for me. I don’t get out on the lake as much as I used to, but being surrounded by water is definitely the best thing about living in the Lake Travis area.
If someone is new to Austin, what do you suggest they see or do?
Austin has so many unique hidden gems, it will take a new Austinite years to discover their favorites. I would suggest starting with a walk or run around Lady Bird Lake, swimming at Barton Springs, a visit to Amy’s Ice Cream or the Draught House Pub for some afternoon refreshment, a self-guided shopping tour of the Whole Foods Market HQ, and a dinner at Uchi. Of course, make friends with someone who owns a boat and enjoy a cruise on Lake Travis!
What is your favorite place to drink, relax and meet with friends in Austin?
We’ve come to love visiting Jester King Brewery on the weekend. It’s the perfect laid-back place to meet up with friends in southwest Austin. It is very family and dog friendly, with a huge open area full of picnic tables for the kids to run around. The pizza is fantastic, and you’ll always find a unique beer you’ve never tried before.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting their own business?
Do your research before you dive in … but then, dive in full force. Ask questions of smart people. Do something that takes you out of your comfort zone at least once a day.
Oh Baby! Fitness Prenatal Combo class begins Feb. 19, Thursday evenings at the Lakeway Activity Center. For additional class times/locations and registration visit www.ohbabyfitness.com.
Like the Oh Baby! Fitness Austin Facebook page for fitness tips and the most current updates on class schedules.
Contact Karen with any questions at [email protected].