Mom.Wife.Fitness.LIFE-Friday Feature


My name is Heather Ernsberger.

I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan on the Westside near Richmond Park.

I’ve been married to Nate for almost 15 years.
We have three awesome kids—a ten year old son and five year old boy/girl twins.
(They will all argue that they are older—they were all born in the month of September, so they are nearing their half-birthdays. ) 🙂

I have been an active person as long as I can remember.

I participated in a few sports in middle & high school.

My earliest memories of being active as an intentional, personal practice come from my mother. My mom used to set her alarm to rise early, and nudged me on her way past my bedroom. We’d go together, during the early hours of the day, to walk the track at my school. Even when I was sleepy, 45 minutes of mother-daughter movement & conversation was a great way to start a busy day. I continued this habit as I entered college and moved away from home. Twenty years later, I still prefer pre-dawn workouts!

In college, exercise was usually about maintaining a modest weight & relieving stress. I discovered step aerobics and began running with friends as ways to keep things fresh & fun. This was probably when I fell in love with running.

My priorities while I was pregnant were to stay [reasonably] fit and secure the best jogging stroller available ASAP.

Since having kids, my focus has become living a sane, healthy & active lifestyle so that I will be a nice mommy. 🙂


I was fortunate to have healthy full-term babies and remained active with running and walking through both pregnancies.  With my firstborn, I enjoyed long walks along Lake Superior with my baby tucked into a front carrier. When my twins were a few months old, I began to experience post-partum depression. Getting ALL of us to the gym was a workout in itself—so it honestly didn’t happen much. I allowed myself some time to resettle into a new groove with three kids.

Running has been my go-to form of exercise since college. It was my “first love” and still my favorite way to crank out a quick sweat and burn off some steam or energy.

That said, motherhood forced me to search for more ways to cultivate a sense of calm & relaxation. I had dabbled a bit with pilates & yoga videos before, but when my twins were little, I discovered yoga as a practice. I remember getting up early to sneak to the Y for the early morning yoga class. It was a precious hour of quiet, just for me. On my mat, I had a guaranteed hour of respite from the craziness of the day. No one would be pulling on my leg, or asking for anything, or crying…well, no one except maybe me. 🙂
Seriously, though – I really appreciate and enjoy yoga. I glean physical, mental, spiritual & social benefits from yoga. It will be a life-long practice, for sure.

With my children in mind, I try to demonstrate and cultivate exercise as a normal, healthy, high-priority, non-negotiable part of life. I teach my kids that it is a PRIVILEGE that we have access to great amenities such as the Y, and activities through their school. I also remind them that we can be active anywhere, anytime—regardless of these amenities. We run and hike and rent bikes when we travel. We participate in fun runs and 5Ks together. Grand Rapids has a kids marathon that my kids are thrilled to be a part of! My daughter loves to dance, and I will turn on the music for her anytime she asks. My sons love to go sledding. [I take pride when I go for a run and include Richmond Hill in my workout.] My boys—even the five year old—will climb Richmond Hill over and over and over and over… dragging their sleds behind them. Now that’s a workout!

Having a wide network of friends who are active creates a healthy amount of accountability and motivation. I’m fairly self-critical & constantly trying to improve my various skills, but I’m not necessarily a competitive person. Being part of a running group, attending group fitness classes, and entering a couple of races each year has been a fun way to challenge myself.

I think another key to staying active & self-motivated is trying new things. My husband has always enjoyed biking, and several years ago I was delighted to learn that I like it, too! In my effort to keep trying new things, I discovered spinning a couple years ago. Spin is by far my favorite cardio exercise class to attend at my YMCA. If you’re looking to torch calories & aren’t afraid to sweat—I dare you to check out a spin class.

Last year I decided I wanted to try to learn to swim. Actually put my face in the water, breathe to the side between strokes, SWIM, not just stay afloat and get from one end of the pool to the other haphazardly. In order to accomplish this, I enlisted the help of a close friend who happens to be a fabulous swimmer. I took every piece of advice she gave me. And watched every YouTube video she recommended. AND swallowed a lot of pool water. Now I can swim a full mile! It might take me twice as long as her, but I can do it!

My most practical piece of fitness-related advice to a new mom is to choose your stroller wisely. Make sure you have a stroller that folds/stows & opens/rolls easily. This one thing will make it easier to get moving with your kid(s) right from the start.

My other advice to moms would be to discover what activity YOU love and then welcome your kids into that world.
Introduce your kids to baby-joggers and bicycles before video games and movies. Turn a walk or run for yourself into a play date. Baby joggers make for excellent transportation to the library or coffee shop!

Kids doing yoga is great fun—stretch & bend & do crunches together.

As often possible, let your family outings be active!

Other info:
I’m a registered nurse.
I enjoy knitting and pie-baking.
I love dark chocolate & good coffee.
This summer I plan to host a pie-athlon: swim, bike, run, eat pie.

*Thanks Heather!!!!  I met Heather at the gym ( where else?!?! )  As you can see she is very  inspiring and a wonderful person.  I hope you enjoyed reading her story.

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