January 2013

Get Fit 2013: Fit Chics

Author: Rebecca Edwards

New to Hilton Head and motherhood, Laura Fromdahl was in the mommy doldrums waiting in the carpool line at Sea Pines Montessori when another mom approached the driver’s side of her grocery getter car and asked, “Do you want to join a group of us training for a half marathon?”

“I remember thinking, ‘Well if I have to run 13 miles to make friends, I’m going to freakin’ do it,’” Fromdahl said.

That half marathon turned Fromdahl into a full on athlete.

“After that race, I was hooked,” she said, “mainly because I really enjoyed the women I was training with. We talked about our children, our husbands, our careers. It was female bonding at its best.”

Ten years and nearly 100 races later, Fromdahl is setting the pace for other women to win physically and emotionally with Fit Chics—a kick butt, fully inclusive female group that empowers all fitness levels to move and feel good.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ll Facebook someone and they’ll say, ‘Why is she friending me; I’m not fit?’ But they follow us online and think to themselves, ‘Maybe I’ll try walking, then maybe I’ll try this or that,’ until they are trying all sorts of sports,” Fromdahl said. “We’ve helped a few women lose over 50 pounds. They have new bodies and new outlooks on life.”

Throughout the interview, Fromdahl—who, like a Patagonia model, is fit, attractive and natural in disposition, apparel and makeup—repeats the word “intimidating” saying, “Picking out bike can be intimidating,” or “Getting your swim stroke down can be intimidating,” or “Knowing what is the best gear can be intimidating.”

But with Fit Chics, Fromdahl aims to take the intimidation factor out of sports for women. She will meet you at RoadFish and help you get fitted for a bike. She will connect you with a swim coach who will perfect your stroke. She is an expert on gear and even certified to sell high end products like Garmin watches and Fuel belts.

And she is all about raising female morale. The 42-year-old, Jujitsu blue belt, surfer, mother of two speaks from the heart when she speaks about women and movement.

“At every Chic-a-thon, we have a no chic left behind policy. We wait for each other after each leg of the race and give words of encouragement. We believe every Fit Chic is a winner,” Fromdahl said.

The Chic-a-thons are one of the many ways Fromdahl organizes women to exercise their inner beauty and strength. She also coordinates weekly bike rides, teaches core classes at Drayer Physical Therapy (where she also works as a therapist) and provides easy to follow training schedules for women on her Facebook page (facebook.com/laurafromdahl).

Fromdahl’s Facebook page not only serves as a forum for fitness, it also fosters sisterhood. Women post inspirational quotes or photos of themselves crossing the finish line. Women coordinate group training times or rides to out of town races. And women discuss anything from equipment, to sports bras, to smoothies.

“Fit Chic’s started out simple. I would call a few people to train with me. But it got to the point where there were so many people I wanted to include that I started a Facebook page,” Fromdahl said. “From there it just grew.”

Fit Chics now has 426 (and counting) Facebook friends. Fit Chics groups are organizing in Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, Washington DC and Florida. And Fromdahl is preparing to launch her own official Fit Chic website complete with merchandise.

Remembering that day in the carpool line 10 years ago, Fromdahl smiles. “When you become a mom, you lose your ID a little bit,” she said. “Exercise is a way to get your mind and body back. It’s like when you’re on a plane and they ask you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first—it’s because you’ve got to get yourself in good shape before you can help your family.”

Fit Chic Tips:
• Strengthen your core. A strong core helps support your back, tones your midsection, and helps prevent injuries.
• Don’t over-do it. Oftentimes people get off the couch and hit the ground literally running and end up with overuse injuries. Ease into an exercise program.
• Don’t work out for workout’s sake. Work out with an event or race in mind. This helps build confidence and goal-setting skills.
• Schedule your workouts. Plug in your exercise plan into your smart phone or calendar six weeks in advance, and be flexible if the plan needs to change due to fatigue or scheduling issues.
• Eat clean. It’s not necessarily about eating specific foods, but people should avoid processed products. Don’t tell yourself “no,” but know what makes you feel clean.
• Increase your water intake. Water is the easiest way to flush out fat and toxins and keep your skin looking young.

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