Meet Anna Arsenault: Bowflex Ambassador
We are proud to introduce Anna Arsenault as one of our new Bowflex Ambassadors!
Known to most people as "MomStrong," Anna is a homeschooling mother of four, who started her business training and inspiring other women to get more active right from the comfort of her home. In addition to juggling family life and work, she also happens to be one of the best Obstacle Course Racers in the world. Anna will be a contributor to the Bowflex Insider as well as our other social communities.
To help you get to know Anna, we sat down with her to ask her some questions about her family, her passion for helping women live better lives through being healthy, and her role in the world of obstacle course racing:
Talk about the role that family plays in your life.
"I'm a homeschooling mother of four and fitness professional who has a deep passion for helping women to get moving, prioritize their health, and get strong. I want to empower women to show their families how to be a healthy example and how they can follow their dreams. My children are my life. They come before everything and everyone. I feel like that has to be the standard for mamas, so that if they love on their children and take care of their bodies, the rest comes easy.
Putting my children first reminds me that I am called to parent them in a way that I empower them to be successful adults - whether it be the career they wish to have or the family they want some day. I want to raise my daughters to feel like it's ok to follow their dreams and passions to be mothers, career women, and have it all. I want to be the person to set the example for them."
How did MomStrong start?
"I started MomStrong two years ago – I had four kids and went through the cycle of gaining and losing typical pregnancy weight. My youngest daughter Amelia was born with a rare adrenal deficiency, and I soon realized she needed a lot of extra care and a special diet. I started looking into healthy and clean eating, and found myself doing exercises in my kitchen when I had a moment here and there…laundry basket lunges…calf raises when I was boiling water…you name it, I was trying to do it.
I had all these fun tips and ideas and I started sharing things with other moms I knew. They were asking me questions about how to do this or that and wanted to come over and work out with me. My passion for helping women reached a peak and I needed to spread it. Thanks to the support of the people around me, I started sharing my at-home workouts on a new blog – these were small things I was doing in my kitchen with my kids, but the website took off. Women were interested in learning all of these time saving, around-the-house things they could be doing! I got my professional fitness licenses and started training women in my house – my kitchen, my backyard, anywhere we could be creative.
A 'strong mom' is not just someone who's physically strong, but also very mentally and spiritually strong. As mothers we're constantly holding ourselves to a high pedestal and fulfill lots of needs from many people (our kids, husbands, friends and family). To be 'MomStrong' not only means taking care of your own body physically to care for all of the people in your life, but also to have the mental strength to feel successful in your day when you go to bed at night."
Why is "getting women moving" such a passion for you?
"Most women start with the goal 'I want to lose weight.' I felt as soon as I made my own transformation that exercise was impacting so many aspects of my life. I was sleeping better. I was happier. I was more patient with my children and husband. I was more cheerful. I realized what exercise and eating healthy did for my own body and mental state, and wanted to share this with other women. So many women are struggling to get through their days - their backs are hurting, they have headaches, they are fighting depression – and don't know what to do about it. When I saw all these positive things in my life, it made me see the impact I could make on other women's lives."
Talk about balancing life and fitness.
"You need to know what your priorities are – pick your top three things most important to you in a day. For me, those three things are homeschooling, finding time to work out, and balancing healthy meals for my family. You need to figure out your top things and how you actually can get them done. Whether it means you get up early before the kids or go to bed when they do (like I do) you have to figure out what works for you and your family. Preparation is key. Planning ahead is necessary. If you really want to balance these things you will find a way. Of course having a good support system and the right people in your life is huge – there's no way I could do the things I do with the help of my family and friends."
Obstacle Course Racing! How did you get into it?
"I was getting the MomStrong program going and Spartan Race reached out to me – they took a video I made, posted it to their Facebook page, and it took off. I got lots of positive feedback and a ton of people started following me to see the fun videos I was making with my kids. Spartan Race offered me a free race for the help I provided and I loved it. It took the workout training I was already doing and tapped into the kid in me. I love playing with my kids on the playground and obstacle racing takes things like this and puts it into a competitive form for adults. Last year I raced all over the world and completed three Spartan Trifectas. I'm planning up to 19 different races this year and just achieved my first top 3 podium finish last weekend in Charlotte."
How is an obstacle course like the challenges you face in life?
"I'm constantly facing daily obstacles whether it's spilled milk at the lunch table or teaching my children a new math problem – you're running throughout your day and constantly stopped by an obstacle in life. You just have to find a way through it – directly or via something creative. The same goes for a Spartan Race – you can't just walk around an obstacle you can't complete – you need to do burpees. I love the feeling of completing something. The feeling at a race is no different, but a whole different level. The emotion felt at a Spartan Race finish line is nothing you've felt before – 'I did this, I completed it.'"
Why are you excited about your new role with Spartan Race?
"As the Director of Women of Spartan Race my goal is to get more women empowered to feel like they can go out and complete a Spartan Obstacle Course. We're trying to show that it's not just a male-driven sport. Women can get groups of friends to get out there and prove to themselves that they can do this and it really will change their lives. I'm a strong believer that these races will do just that."
What do your kids think about your racing?
"The kids all have their own personalities and thoughts on the racing. Jack, my oldest, is ten – he thinks his mom is the strongest person on the planet – that I'm a super hero. He's motivated to be the best and thinks what I do is the coolest thing ever – he'll stand there and will tell me 'you better win' but no matter how I perform he'll be the first to say 'you did so awesome.' Josie is eight and she says that when I become a gramma she'll take over MomStrong. She loves the relationships with people in the sport. At the last race she really wanted me to run alongside her, which I thought was so sweet. Avery is six, my girly girl, and is a little less into the mud fun. However, she'll always go for a run and likes to do 'workouts with momma.' She loves the arts and has a huge playful personality. Amelia, my youngest, is four and a very active tomboy. She loves wearing basketball jerseys and shorts, and is always talking about the Spartan Race. I know she can't wait to do one when she gets older.”
You must have always been fit, right?
"As a young girl, I always looked-up to my Dad (who was in the Army). I thought he could do anything. I always wanted to spend time and bond with him and I thought the best way was to go running with him. He would take me in the morning to do PT and I always felt if I could keep my feet moving as much as everyone else I would keep up. It started my love for fitness. I was always a pretty good runner but I never had good hand-eye-coordination. I was never the best at sports but I really enjoyed them and enjoyed the team aspect.
I knew I didn't want to be overweight, but fitness wasn't a priority until I realized my body wasn't just about me anymore – I needed to keep my body healthy and strong so I could take care of my children. A lot of women go through 'seasons' of taking care of their bodies, but a dream of mine is to educate women on getting to the point of realizing it's a priority and a constant in their lives."
What would you say to moms who don't know how to start?
"One thing I say to women all the time is to set short term goals. Everyone wants to make huge changes and gets discouraged because they aren't reaching giant goals in the time they think they should. I set goals such as drinking more water by lunchtime – something that's attainable and measurable soon. It's so important for us to have that little boost of 'hey, I made it to this point' with goals that can be reached in a short amount of time. I get a boost of energy from an accomplishment I made in a short amount of hours. Just this week I'll try something, not this month. If you can do something to see results quickly it will get you excited and keep you motived."
Why are you excited about your role as a Bowflex Ambassador?
"When I first spoke with Bowflex, the thing that immediately clicked was the company's commitment to celebrating real people and real stories. I love living life and linking arms together with others as we walk through our days together. Bowflex represents and stands for just that – creating amazing solutions to help people achieve their goals in the comfort of their home. I'm excited to see how far we can take home fitness and empower real women to make changes in their lives. I love seeing all the stories of success that comes from Bowflex. These are all real people who've made the choice to make a change.
I'm at home most of my days – we don't have a mansion and not a lot of space. Having compact fitness equipment at home helps with my days and enables me to get a quick workout in whenever and however you can. This ties to the core values of why I created MomStrong two years ago. I love the idea of having a workout at my fingertips, and that I can do everything while my kids are right here next to me. I'm setting an example for my kids, and by working out at home they see the changes firsthand."