Today, Oh Baby! Fitness co-owner Kathleen Donahoe is winging her way to the West Coast. She’s relocating to Seattle as her husband landed a great new job. My heart is heavy that she won’t be here in the ATL anymore, but I’m so excited for what’s to come.
I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since we first met. Kathleen was all of 22 years old and had just moved to Atlanta from New York. .. a fresh-faced college grad. She had an acting degree and was also a personal trainer. She answered an ad from a brand new company called “Oh Baby! Fitness.” We were looking for instructors with pre/postnatal training experience. Kathleen had trained several women in New York who had gained a lot of weight during pregnancy. Helping them get back in shape safely was really rewarding for Kathleen.. she found it was a clientele she loved working with… and she jumped at the chance to work with this new company in Atlanta.
Before long, Kathleen was teaching 15 classes with Oh Baby! Fitness. One of her classes was a Friday night pregnancy water aerobics class at DeKalb Medical. We never thought in a million years that a Friday night class would run, but it wound up being a HUGE success. The business continued to grow, thanks in large part to Kathleen teaching many of the classes. Kathleen has the unreal ability to be able to remember hundreds of clients names, whether they’re having a boy or a girl.. and what exercises would help them most at their specific place in pregnancy. Moms flocked to her pregnancy classes and returned as soon as they possibly could after having baby. Long-time friendships were made, and Kathleen did a wonderful job of fostering friendships between moms and going out for coffee or lunch or dinner with a group of moms after class. She’s an amazing baby-whisperer too. She’d pick up crying babies in class and comfort them and coo.. and continue to lead the class and call out the next exercise.
After training thousands of women in the first few years, we discussed writing our own instructor training in pre/postnatal fitness. Kathleen was instrumental in making that training happen and wrote a large portion of it. Her acting background came in handy for our many exercise videos we produced and released on our YouTube channel. It’s amazing how calm and cool Kathleen can be on camera… never missing a line.. or getting flustered. She also starred in our many exercise apps on iTunes.
After a few years with the company, Kathleen decided this was what she was meant to do with her life. She loved acting, but she loved training new Moms more… and she was really good at it! She asked to become a partner in the business. We discussed it and felt the best way for Kathleen to help the company would be for her to get an MBA. She applied to the Georgia State University J. Mack Robinson Business school. Her time in business school helped us devise a way to expand nationally. We delved into the idea of licensing our program to instructors across the country… instead of franchising. Kathleen has a brilliant mind for business. She quizzed lawyers, business leaders and colleagues.. she also did tons of research and at every opportunity made Oh Baby! Fitness the focus of any paper or research project she was working on for her MBA.
In 2012, she graduated and became a full partner in the business. She also had met a wonderful man and got married that year.. and not long after that.. announced she was expecting a baby at the end of 2013.
The single gal who had trained thousands of pregnant women and new moms was going to have a baby!! We were so excited to track her pregnancy and see if everything we were teaching in our classes was on target. Poor Kathleen had about the hardest pregnancy you can have. She barfed all the way through her nine months… never getting past the morning sickness.. and medications didn’t really provide her with any relief. The ONLY time she felt halfway decent was when she exercised. She kidded with me that if she ever had another baby, it would have to be by surrogate! I kept saying that would be REALLY bad for business. 🙂
Now, Oh Baby! Fitness is in 15 states.. and getting ready to launch a national website that will be able to handle thousands of licensees all over the USA. Licensees who join our program will have their own web page on our site and will be able to post their own classes, set prices and times and directly receive the revenue their classes generate.
In ten short years, we’ve created a national company that offers the widest variety of pregnancy and mom & baby exercise classes in the USA. We’ve authored our own instructor training. We’ve released videos and exercise apps. We’ve trained thousands of women in safe pre/postnatal exercise, educated and empowered them with information about the changes they’re experiencing in their bodies …. and MOST importantly, we’ve helped women form communities where they can find support and friendship.
All that has come from that one meeting 10 years ago. Two driven people with a mission to help others. Amazing!
I will miss seeing you every day, Kathleen.. but I am over-the-moon excited about what’s to come. Oh Baby! West will help scores of women on the West coast and will allow us to fully recognize our dream of being a national company. Our goal: all 50 states by the end of the year!
But first, get moved, settled in and have baby #2!! Sooooo glad this time round, you’re feeling great during pregnancy!! Yay! Can’t wait to buy an airplane ticket and meet your little girl!!!
With undying admiration,
P.S. I was going to try to say this in a toast at your going away party, but it was IMPOSSIBLE because there were so many Moms, Dads and BABIES there!!! A truly raucous bunch!! Wonderful evidence of all the connections and friends you’ve made in your time in Atlanta.