One of the primary goals of Mugwamps Fitness is to provide a place where women feel comfortable, loved, and supported as they work on their health and fitness goals. Each instructor knows firsthand how intimidating it can be to walk into a gym, fitness studio, or group exercise class for the first time --or the second time, or the third time. We have all been there. We all have unique stories about the difficulties we faced and overcame in our own continuing journeys to health and fitness. We want you to know that you are not alone, so over the next several weeks, we will be spotlighting our instructors and share with you their stories.
First up is Meagan Early, the original Mugwamp herself and owner of Mugwamps Fitness. Meagan does not have a huge weight loss transformation story, which is often what we expect to see. Nor does she have the story of the always-fit personal trainer who managed to prioritize health and fitness while juggling family responsibilities, multiple moves, her daughter's medical needs, and her husband's work travel schedule. Like many of us, Meagan found it difficult to take care of herself. Like so many moms, she put herself on the back burner while she took care of everyone else, and depression, anxiety, and exhaustion took their toll.
Here is Meagan's story in her own words:
I am a Jill of all trades. I am the family "Uber" driver, events planner, chef, janitor, and counselor. In other words, I’m a MOM. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for almost 16 years. He is an amazing provider who allows me to chase my dreams. My oldest child, Blake, recently graduated from high school. Eli, the middle kid, is 15. Kenlee, the baby of the family, is 11.
At birth, Kenlee was diagnosed with bilateral club feet, and she still has complications to this day. She handles it like a champ, but she has overcome many obstacles and more surgeries in her decade on this planet than most of us will have in a lifetime. And while Kenlee handles her multiple surgeries and recoveries with determination and grace, it can be a struggle for me to take care of myself when I just want to take care of my baby.
I completely put myself on the back burner. When my baby girl would have yet another surgery, I would spend my time and energy thinking about her, worrying about her, taking care of her, which didn't leave time to take care of myself.
When my hardworking hubby's job moved us to Durango, Colorado, I was at my heaviest. However, it was in Durango that I rediscovered my love for fitness. In the past, I had always been into fitness, but I just didn't quite get it. I would load up the kids, hit the gym, and then grab a Rt. 66 Vanilla Coke on the way home because I had earned it. Right?
But in Durango, I started making my health a priority. Once again, I loaded up the kids and hit the gym, this time trying group fitness classes.
I was Back-Row Betty. I wore my best sweats and enjoyed an hour-and-a-half of free child care. During this time, I fell in love with a class and a group of ladies working out there. I loved the way those ladies made me feel about myself, and this is what would eventually inspire me to become a personal trainer.
Durango is also where my love of running was born. I saw a lot of Durango on foot, walking a song and running a song, until I ultimately ran my first race--a 10K.
But once again, it was time for another move. By this time, all the kids were in school, and I was looking for a job that would travel well. Remembering the love and support of those ladies in Durango, I decided to pass it on by becoming an ACE-certified personal trainer. I trained and taught while we lived in North Dakota. Personal training was a great learning experience, but I really found my niche in women's group fitness.
And then, as a family, we decided to move back to our home state of Oklahoma, settling in Piedmont. For a season, I was content to be a stay-at-home mom. I found a group fitness dance class at a local studio, and I fell in love with the women and the classes. The studio was close to home, chill, and so much fun.
Eventually, the owner realized that I was a certified personal trainer and asked if I would like to help teach classes. Her co-owner had just moved away and she needed help. I was terrified, but I loved the vibe of the studio and what she believed in--supporting women and helping them to be their best.
In October 2016, the owner of that studio decided to close the doors on her business and approached me about putting Mugwamps Fitness in the space. Again, I was filled with fear. I had no experience running a business, and I wasn't sure I could do it. However, my grandmother and mother run a successful upholstery shop, and while that isn't the same thing as a fitness studio, they provided me with great examples of how to run a business.
I sat down and talked to my husband, who is my biggest supporter and number one fan. He always encourages me to chase my dreams, and after his pep talk, I decided to take a leap of faith and open a group fitness studio.
Despite my fears and some bumps in the road, Mugwamps Fitness is thriving after a year and a half in business. The business name comes from my grandfather's nickname for me: "Mugwamp." My grandfather has been a huge influence in my life. He is kind, humble, and encouraging. This is what I want the women to feel from me every time they leave my studio. We have fun; we laugh at ourselves; we fart in yoga. While we never take ourselves too seriously, we take each other's hearts very seriously. I have a heart for women. I want my daughter to see that strong is the new skinny.
I don’t have an amazing weight loss story, but I do know what it’s like not to put myself on the list of priorities. I have struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life. . When I was at my heaviest, my anxiety and depression were at their heaviest as well. Fitness has been my saving grace. Taking care of myself makes me a better wife, mother, and friend.
Finding the right group of people taught me that I am important. We are not meant to be alone. Isolation can take a good woman down. I know! My accountability buddies and workout partners have turned into lifelong friends. Each of my instructors has an incredible story. I could not do it without my team.
Watching friendships grow in a safe environment is priceless to us at Mugwamps. Having this space
gives other women the opportunity to be their best selves. We love each and every one of you. Your victories are our victories. Your struggles are our struggles. Let’s do this together!