Meet a Mom
Nicole Schaller works as Fitness Coordinator for Mundelein Park & Recreation District’s NovaCare Fitness. She oversees group exercise classes, fitness programs and personal training. In 2017 Nicole and Tim married. In 2019 their family grew to include Buddy, a Pointer puppy, (now nine months old). Then on April 29, Tim and Nicole welcomed their first child, Mason to the family. We wanted to ask Nicole about her career, why she chose it and what impact becoming a mom has had on her life.
Tell us about yourself and how you became interested in fitness?
I grew up in Lake Zurich. I majored in elementary education with a focus in dance performance at Northern Illinois University. Dancing every day was about as much physical activity as I needed. The thought of going to a gym, before college, never crossed my mind. Then on a spring break trip to Cancun I was bored with the beach scene and decided to go to the resort gym. I instantly fell in love with fitness andpushing the limits on my abilities.
From there, I started body building and participated in my first body building competition in 2008. I competed in the fitness division at the Pensacola Showdown in 2010 and “retired” after that. I didn’t like the stress dieting put on my body and wanted to change my focus from being fit to being healthy.
What do you enjoy about working out?
For me it is about meeting a challenge and seeing improvements and growing stronger.
When did you decide to make a career in fitness and why?
I decided that I wanted to share my love of fitness. In 2011, I became certified by the American Council of Exercise and began teaching. I found my specialty with the Piloxing organization and attained my Elite Instructor status in SSP and Barre. I quickly realized that a Park District setting was my ideal teaching environment and began teaching at Vernon Hills Park District, McHenry and now Mundelein.
I love to teach dance as well, I teach ballet, tap, jazz and acrobatics at Bataille Academie of Danse in Barrington. I incorporate fitness into all of the dance classes.
What do you like best about your job?
I like to see participants get stronger as they conquer their fear and meet their goals. I also want to make fitness fun and accessible.
The Park District now offers exciting fitness events like Class in the Grass, Zombie Apocalypse, Turkey Burn, New Year, New You Dance-a-thon, as well as Yoga-themed events such as Wine and Wellness and Savasana and Sweets.
We’ve also introduced new group exercise classes like Barre, Piloxing, WerQ, Bare Bones Intervals and 31 and Done, (a 30-minute workout for people with a limited time). We try to offer something for everyone. In January we will launchTRX and Cycle and TRXprogram classes.
What would you want someone who is new to fitness to know about NovaCare Fitness Center?
I think sometimes people may feel intimidated when they look at our group exercise schedule. The more than 50 drop-in classes are for every fitness level. Our workout programs can be modified to fit individual fitness needs. In addition, we are always changing up the routines to keep it fresh and interesting.
Congratulations to you and Tim on the birth of your first child, Mason. How has becoming a mom impacted your fitness routine?
When I found out I was pregnant, I started reading articles and books about prenatal exercise. Every fitness and medical professional had different guidelines and restrictions. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women spend 30 minutes a day performing physical activity. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a similar amount. I had questions about how intense those 30 min. could be and which exercises could be incorporated. After finding an amazing midwife practice, I came to the understanding that every pregnancy is different.
While I was pregnant, I kept working out and teaching, modifying as needed. I also made sure to adhere to a healthy diet. Right after I got home from the hospital, Tim and I took Mason on a two mile walk. I quickly realized what it meant to listen to your body. It was a struggle to take a step back and let myself recover but it was what I needed. After my 6-week post-partum check-up, I received clearance to strength train. I would do walking lunges around the kitchen and squats in the sunroom with Mason in my arms. He was my weight as I performed shoulder presses, abdominal exercises and just about any movement I could dream up.
I was eager to get back to teaching. I started with Class in the Grass later that June, Mason and his Meemaw were right there with me.
I am fortunate to have a flexible schedule which really helps with work-life balance. If I am not home, Tim is typically with Mason. His fireman schedule and my teaching schedule mesh pretty well. The grandmas are always eager for a day of snuggles as well.
What is your advice to women who are pregnant or have just had a child about fitness?
With permission from their doctor, women can continue to safely workout while pregnant. My best advice is to listen to your body during and after pregnancy. It will tell you when you have done too much. I know most women have heard that a million times. You don’t quite understand it until you are in that moment. Your body knows best! Absolutely, tell the instructor/trainer that you are expecting. They have a variety of regressions they can give you.
Usually, I am one of the first people to know about a pregnancy because the participant wants to keep themselves and the little one safe. It is fun to know that little secret. Don’t be afraid to fill us (instructors) in before class.