The Washington, DC area is full of amazing moms. There are working moms, stay-at-home moms, single moms, moms of multiples, foster moms, adoptive moms, etc. We want to highlight some of those moms like Sophie Van Hees! Each month we will feature one special mom as the Mom of the Month. Know a fellow amazing local mom here? Nominate them here!
Meet our February Mom of the Month: Sophie Van Hees
Sophie grew up in a small town in the French-speaking part of Belgium, and never thought she would someday raise 5 kids in a DC suburb, teach fitness classes while singing Twinkle Twinkle during the day, and review the books of her newly acquired small business at night. But she’s a firm believer in seizing a great opportunity when she sees it.
Sophie took off to Brazil to teach French after college. It was there, on a boat down the Amazon River, that she met the Dutch guy who would later become her husband. He had two kids from a previous marriage, settled in Seattle after some more expat fun in South-East Asia, and had a wedding in Hong Kong.
After Saskia, her first child, was born, a few things became clear: they wanted to make their blended family work at all costs, they wanted to be closer to Europe, where both the extended families lived, and Sophie would need to get creative to balance her personal career aspirations and the needs of such a big family. Big drastic changes were needed to make it all happen.
The full family, including the step-kids’ mom, moved to Northern Virginia in the spring of 2020. Sophie was pregnant with her second child when the pandemic hit, and these transitions were made harder when George was born prematurely in May 2020, and six people were suddenly home all day. A few months later, looking for community and support and a place to take her “two children under two,” Sophie joined FIT4MOM. She soon became an instructor, and in November 2022 became the owner of the franchise Fit4Mom Falls Church Vienna Fairfax. Her third child, Anouk, was born in July 2022.
Here is our Q&A with Sophie Van Hees
1. How do you balance motherhood and serving as a first-time business owner?
There is no balance in motherhood. There is stamina and perspective. Kids have hard phases that come and go. There are weeks when you just survive and others that you don’t want to ever end. Being an entrepreneur is about the same. There will be awesomeness and there will be chaos… What do you need to keep going? In my case, it is the creative outlet I find in working after putting my kids to bed.
I don’t think I would have known how much I could really accomplish in a day before I had kids, or to prioritize what actually matters a few years ago. Owning a business is all about being scrappy, making do with little, finding solutions, having tough conversations, negotiating, doing everything at once… I find that motherhood is actually an entrepreneurship bootcamp.
2. Why Fit4Mom?
FIT4MOM is the reason I kept it together with four kids at home full-time during the pandemic; this is the reason I have a social life as an immigrant here. I believe the programs are empowering for all the moms, but also for the instructors and the moms involved in the staff. This group has taught me so much about motherhood. When I had my first child, the internet tricked me into thinking there was one good, one right way to birth, to feed, to raise your child. After joining FIT4MOM, I realized the possibilities were endless.
FIT4MOM supports women in all stages of motherhood: We have prenatal programming coming back on the schedule this spring, the stroller-based classes that you can bring your newborn to preschoolers and up with you (genius idea, if you ask me, so you don’t need childcare), and some moms-only evening and weekend classes where we offer HIIT and strength training. These various groups of moms are tight-knit and great fun. I love all these aspects because motherhood is a journey. I can say this because I have kids ranging from 6 months old to 15 years old!
3. What advice do you have for Moms that are looking to stay active and make connections?
Physical activity and social life might look and feel different now that children are around. Bodies have gone through a lot in the past months, or years for subsequent children. Priorities have shifted, “alone time” became a luxury. There is a season in life when you barely sleep, and have no time to even brush your teeth or go to the bathroom, but a few months later, you get to carve out a bit more time for yourself. There is no timeline: everybody, every story, every pregnancy, and every family is different.
My advice to moms that want to be active is to give themselves a lot of grace, be patient and creative. And also, to try FIT4MOM (your first class is free!), because FIT4MOM is more than just a workout! Our Villages are safe places where you can get a workout in with your kids in tow. A place you can refill your cup and focus on YOU. A place that builds community and friendships for you and your littles with after-class playgroups, coffee dates, Mom’s Night Out, and so much more!
Do you know an amazing mom? Nominate a mom of the month here!