by Heather Artushin • photography by Betsy Bee
As a young first-time mom, Amanda Holbert felt something was missing.
“I had a very supportive family,” Amanda shared, “but it was kind of lonely. I was always longing for friendship and community, and wanted other mothers to walk through life with. That’s when the initial idea for Renew Mama came to my mind.”
What started as a group of moms doing yoga together in Amanda’s basement four-and-a-half years ago quickly grew into the thriving, multifaceted studio in Northeast Grand Rapids where Renew Mama has been for almost two years. Not only can moms participate in baby-friendly fitness classes like Prenatal Yoga, Mom and Baby Yoga, and Baby-Wearing Barre, but they can also take advantage of onsite childcare to enjoy a much-appreciated massage or chiropractic visit. With a vision of being a “one-stop-shop” for moms, Holbert and her team intend to walk with women on their journey through motherhood.
“We really try to support our clients in all aspects of mothering, not just on a fitness level, but also on a wellness level, so we work really closely with all of our practitioners here to make sure they get the care that they need and deserve,” Holbert explained.
Self-care is a concept Holbert is passionate about and advocates for strongly. Elizabeth Van Vels, a longtime client at Renew Mama Studio, said, “Amanda talks a lot about self-care. It’s a good reminder to take care of yourself, and it doesn’t have to be just getting a workout. It could be taking a walk, or getting a massage, or going out with friends or taking time to read – whatever it is, it’s good to hear what other moms are doing to take care of themselves and it empowers me to do that as well.”
The community at Renew Mama grows closer through initiatives like their Facebook group, and weekly Mama Circle support groups.
“[The support groups are] a really nice way for moms to connect and find their community or just get the resources that they need in a very unintimidating, nonjudgmental space,” Holbert said.
With rotating leaders and a variety of topics, the Mama Circle is a no-cost gift to local moms to have a baby-friendly, honest space to ask questions, share stories and walk away feeling supported and inspired. Moms from all walks of life – working moms, stay-at-home moms, work-from-home moms, and everyone in between – encourage and affirm one another, providing an opportunity for real and honest mothering that resists the impossible Pinterest-perfect model that often leaves moms feeling powerless.
Becoming a mother is undeniably a transformative experience, and though the demands of motherhood are draining, with Renew Mama’s community of wellness and support, women continue to grow in confidence, strength and grace throughout their journey as a mom.
“My favorite part is seeing a mom walk in for the first time, and then a couple months go by and she’s a completely different person,” Holbert revealed. “Just like what I was like when I was a first-time mom, if I would have had something like this how much more confident and relaxed I could have been – seeing moms transform is my favorite part.”
Renew Mama continues to grow, with plans to expand to the space next door. The new space will offer opportunities for additional classes and innovative offerings, such as a work space where moms can bring their laptops and utilize childcare for an hour or two, family therapy services and even a dad’s group.
“Whenever I put something new out there, I like to ask a few of our moms who have been with us for a long time if they’d be interested in that type of service,” Holbert said. “I really try to stay in-the-know of what they want, because after all, we’re doing it for them.”
For more inspiration, visit RenewMamaStudio.com.
Heather Artushin is a local writer and social worker who loves inspiring and empowering women by telling their stories. She’d love to hear from you – firstname.lastname@example.org