Katrina Scott, co-founder of the fitness empire Tone It Up, is a health inspiration to millions of women around the world. Since 2009 she has been teaching women how to get strong and feel their best through workout classes, videos, books, and social media posts to Tone It Up's +1 million followers. In October of 2018, Katrina gave birth to her first child, and it gave her a completely new perspective on what a strong body looks like.
Continuing to empower and inspire, Katrina talks to Liz in this episode about staying healthy throughout the motherhood journey and changing the way we talk about women's postpartum bodies.
LIZ: Katrina welcome to the Motherly podcast.
KATRINA: Yeah! Thanks for having me.
LIZ: Thanks for joining us as a new mama. Thanks for making time in a busy season in your life.
KATRINA: Oh my goodness, of course. I just left the house and I'm at the office now, and my husband Brian is now being next to the bassinet and the two of them, my two babies, are sleeping. Actually and the dog so. (Laughs)
LIZ: So something I like to ask all fellow mothers is what was your view of motherhood before you became a mother yourself?
KATRINA: I'd say the only thing that I would think of is my own mom. She was always, always so hands on. She ran her own business. She worked out of the house and she had a shop. As soon as she put us to bed she'd work until you know later hours in the night and then she'd wake up, feed us breakfast, drive us to school, everything. So motherhood for me was very much like whether my mom was taking a break from her business or even balancing both, being a mom is the hardest job in the world. So I always was just really inspired by her and then whenever I met any moms I felt even though I wasn't a mom, I felt connected to moms already. Before I moved to California I actually had a business where I only trained pre and post-natal women.
LIZ: Oh wow.
KATRINA: Yeah and so I'm excited to get back into that 'cause once I started Tone It Up it was kind of like we were the trainers to everyone. In Boston I was really focused on moms and then now I think I can kind of just do everything now that I am a mom. Not that it took being a mom but I think just the conversation is just more you know having conversations back and forth instead of me talking at an audience that is like, "Well you're not a mom yet."
LIZ: Your passion for fitness started at an early age. Can you describe what sparked your interest in fitness in even elementary school?
KATRINA: Yeah of course. So I think every child at some point gets bullied. I was the heaviest girl in my class in like fourth, fifth and sixth grade and so along with a lot of other kids for whatever reason I was being teased for being heavy. Like I would go on the bus and I had food thrown at me and told me to eat it because I was fat. So my parents never ever told me that I was fat. So they always said I was beautiful. My dad brought me to a car race and I actually won. I won like this pot of money. I think it was like three hundred dollars. My dad said, "What do you want?" Instead of saying you know I want to go to an amusement park or anything; I was then in fifth grade, I said I would love a treadmill 'cause I didn't want to run outside either. My dad was mortified that I had actually asked for a treadmill at that age. Then he went to my mom and was like, "Oh my goodness. Maybe she knows that she's heavier than the other kids." So then he turned. He converted our entire. He went like what all fathers would when he heard that. Oh my gosh. So then he converted our entire basement into a home gym. He went and put in like speakers, put in mirrors. He got a little stair stepper, a bench, dumbbells and books. Then my grandmother got me nutrition books. So I went all in and then I started running, lifting weights and then as soon as I got my license I joined a gym and then from then on I just fell in love with fitness. That's when I decided I wanted to go to college for health science and nutrition. Then the rest is history.
LIZ: Can you walk us through your career journey a bit? How did you actually go from working out in your parent's basement to where you are now teaching millions of Tone It Up followers around the world?
KATRINA: Gosh there's so many. There's so many aha moments I had along the way. But I think the one that was the biggest for me was this is my calling and this is what I'm supposed to do. I was in college and I became group fitness certified and I asked my advisor if I could teach a core abs class on I think it was Wednesdays at six pm. I wasn't sure if anyone would come. In fact all my roommates, I had six roommates, and I was like, "Please, please come." I went in early and I was like shaking and then my girlfriends showed up and then there was I would say 60, 70 people that piled into the class. And then we just blasted music. We had so much fun and girls that wouldn't have normally talked to each other in the library or walking to class or passing each other in the dorms were talking to each other after class. And I felt like through fitness I was connecting a lot of girls that were on campus with each other and we became more of a community, and I just felt like this is just so cool that we're all coming together. And so I loved it and then I decided that group fitness is my passion as is personal training also. And then my first job out of college was Boston Sports Club as a master trainer. And I said I have to teach group fitness though. Energy. The one on one training is amazing but energy in a group class is incredible. And that was I said this is what I need to do and then YouTube became a thing and it was mostly workout videos and. Workout videos; it was mostly music videos. And then I decided to start doing fitness on YouTube for another channel.
KATRINA: And then from there I was like I love doing fitness videos and then instead of reaching out to 100 girls in a class I can reach out to thousands. So that was kind of my journey to really discovering that this was. This was my calling.
LIZ: So you became pregnant with your first child this past year. How did your pregnancy impact how you approached your business, and the workouts you were producing for your followers?
KATRINA: Yeah. it's ironic because I trained so many women for so long and said, "You know you can exercises and you know you can continue doing what you were doing before you got pregnant." And I walked around like I was walking on eggshells. As soon as I thought I was pregnant and as soon as I got that positive test I was so scared and I didn't know that I was going to feel that way because I spent so many years telling women that yeah you. You can do anything. And so until our first doctor appointment I really just like went on light walks and, I really, really took it easy.
I had a lot of scary moments and a lot of nights where I was oh my gosh, myself pregnant. I booked emergency doctor appointments. I was like thinking I wasn't pregnant anymore but as soon as I got past that first trimester and then I started really exercising. And second trimester was my jam. That's when I was I feel like the most active and that's where I filmed a lot of fitness videos. Third trimester was hysterical I mean I had to take pee breaks. I was laughing uncontrollably just like at the way your body just moves differently. And you know going from being able to balance very well and being a fitness instructor and then all of the sudden day to day your body changes so much. And saying, "Okay now we're going to do back lunges" and on camera doing a back lunge I'm like falling over. I'm like, "Oops let's try that one again." I just told the video team. I said, "Don't cut out any of the stuff. I want them to know that I'm experiencing all these things with them." So it was really, really funny because that was a feeling I just wasn't expecting. And I know a lot of people run all the way until the day they go into labor and they are working out or they are doing these crazy routines and that just wasn't me. So I think it was really cool being able to share my whole fitness journey with our community. I. I didn't feel alone and I know that a lot of women out there when they get pregnant, they may feel a little alone in that journey. And I feel so blessed that I didn't feel alone because I had the Tone It Up community. And I've been able to very candidly just share everything that I'm going through and you know hearing from other women that are like, "Oh my gosh. I had the same thing. I'm so glad to hear you went through it too." And I'm like, "Oh gosh. Me too."
LIZ: Yeah. I mean hearing that Katrina Scott went through periods where she couldn't work out or felt completely out of her own body or out of breath walking around the block. Like that's a relief to the rest of us who aren't professionals. Yeah but it also gives you permission I think to know that when your body is changing so much during pregnancy that it can be so unexpected and if it feels foreign you're not the only one.
LIZ: So a few days after your daughter was born you shared a really thoughtful Instagram post that many of us could really do as postpartum women. Do you mind describing the photo that you posted and reading that post for us?
KATRINA: Oh yeah, sure. So I planned on taking this picture the day that I got home from the hospital. And that's another thing that I wasn't expecting. It was crazy. It was like you know obviously when you have your parents there and you have a newborn and you just drove home from the hospital for the first time with a baby in a car seat and you're like, "What am I doing? Is a nurse going to come with us and help us?" So yeah a few days after I got home I posted a picture and the picture, my before picture, was where I felt like the strongest that I've ever been and I felt the most proud of my body. And I felt after I gave birth that I was literally super woman. And for the first time in my life I was like, "No, no, no. This is actually where I'm the strongest and this is where you know millions and millions of women, they need to know how cool they are and how remarkable their bodies are." So.
LIZ: So you posted that other photo of your postpartum body holding your daughter.
KATRINA: Yeah so I'm holding her and I'll read it right now. "I've been waiting to share this and I finally have my hands free. Baby girl is all fed, diaper is changes and she's fast asleep and my diaper is changed too. Yup, oh well. So here it is. This is me just before I got pregnant and six days after giving birth. On the left I felt like I was the strongest and most in shape I'd ever been but wow was I wrong. I had no idea what I was capable of. I'm so much more proud of my body on the right. I fought harder for it, sacrificed so much more, embraced every day as it came, surrendered to all the change, pushed through the hard days and challenges with a smile on my face and kept a positive perspective when things got tough, worked harder than I ever had at work and home and on my mind body, and soul, listened to my intuition and what was best for the little miracle growing inside me. And most of all, I showed myself how truly amazing the female body is. I appreciate and love my body in all that it has done more than I ever had before. I wanted to film this and share exactly where I'm at with you because I don't want anyone to ever think that things are perfect. I weighed myself. I wouldn't have done this but I wanted to share in case any of you have ever felt discouraged leaving the hospital after birth. I went in weighing 175 pounds, up 40 pounds, and left with a seven pound baby in my arms weighing 165. I don't recommend weighing yourself but I want you to know that this is completely normal. We don't leave all the baby weight at the hospital. We have a new journey ahead of us and it's going to take self-love, patience and kindness. I kept hearing from moms that when you get home you don't recognize yourself or your body anymore and I'm going to make that okay. Let's not be the same. Let's be different. Let's be stronger. Do I want the body on the left? No. I'm not the same girl. I'm capable of so much more and I'm excited for my new body and what the future holds. Tiger stripes, dimples and all." So that's what I posted and I felt really, really, really good sharing that because I had heard from so many women that told me, "You know you're not going to recognize your body when you get home. You're not even. You're going to look in the mirror and it's going to be so scary" and this and that. And it's like oh my goodness all these things are pretty negative that I'm hearing. And I was like we need to change this conversation that we're having with ourselves and I don't feel like I lost a ton of weight from breastfeeding. I've really taken it easy. I'm eating so much that I can keep up with my milk supply and my calories because you burn five to six hundred calories by breastfeeding so you don't want to use breastfeeding to lose weight. You want to be able to keep up with your calories so you can feed your baby. So I really have been really relaxed at home, spending time with Bella. I'm sitting here right now actually wearing my maternity jeans still so.
LIZ: Rockin them with pride. I love that. And as you're aware so many people in our culture think that women are supposed to bounce back or get their bodies back after having a baby which is really a permanent transformation for many of our bodies. What do you think we can do to change these expectations around what is normal postpartum for women?
KATRINA: I heard from so many women you know, "Oh your belly button might look different." I'm like, "Screw the belly button. You know we made a miracle. We made this baby and your belly button probably shouldn't look the same." We don't want to be that girl before we were able to create life. We need to. We need to change the conversation with everyone and with ourselves and realize how cool it is that our bodies are different.
LIZ: So as a fitness expert and a mom you talked about how sometimes when you're pregnant working out is really, really hard. So what recommendations do you have for women who are really struggling to stay active while they're pregnant?
KATRINA: I would say more than you've ever, ever done before and you've heard of before but truly, truly do this. Listen to your body and listen to your baby. So if you wake up that day and you do not feel like doing anything, sit in bed and eat a bowl of ice cream. Like if that's what you need to do, that's what you need to do and I had many, many days like that. You have to get to a point where you say what do I need right now and what does my baby need. If you feel like you can do some strength training which I did a lot of strength training and yoga my second and third trimester. Then do those things. Booty. Working your booty during pregnancy is amazing 'cause it does make you feel so powerful and it's one of those things where you are carrying around a lot more weight and so you want your booty to be strong. And then I loved working out my arms even if it was just ten minutes. So that's actually biceps and your upper back so working your posture muscles, preparing yourself to hold your baby which by the way I cannot believe how heavy a seven pound baby feels like right now so. Actually she's probably a little heavier now and then working out your legs and everything. It just feels really, really nice. I loved strength training during pregnancy.
LIZ: So for many women it feels like you're starting over completely when you're postpartum. What recommendations do you have for someone who's really not sure where to even begin in her postpartum recovery?
KATRINA: I. First I would say it's just start with the mindset that it's totally okay and just know that it's going to be patient with yourself and be kind to your body and. I. I'm so out of breath even from the shortest walk and I'm sore and my hips are sore from going on a walk this past weekend. I would say that focusing on nutrition, staying hydrated, incorporating healthy recipes that will also help with milk supply if you're breastfeeding, Anything that you can do to feel healthy so that way when you take a day off of working out and you're too tired from the night before or you were up all night, if you can't exercise then you can at least fuel your body with healthy food which will end up energizing you. So depending on how your night shifts go with your baby, then I would form your workouts around that. It's how you feel.
LIZ: What's your plan to get in shape after you're finally cleared medically? What are you planning to do?
KATRINA: I'm just definitely going to take one day at a time. That's what I'm going to be sharing a lot on my Instagram is what I'm personally going through and kind of like my first trimester. I was like, "I'm going to work out every day when I'm pregnant" and then it just wasn't like that for me. So I might feel like I can get right back into it and I might be like okay you guys one workout and I've been sore for five days. So we'll see but I'll be sharing everything very. Very open, mommy realness to the max.
LIZ: One of the things that we talk a lot about at Motherly is how motherhood helps us discover our superpowers and discover things about ourselves that were there but we didn't know until we had children. What do you think your super power is?
KATRINA: It is so funny that you said that I peeled and ate a banana with one hand.
LIZ: I didn't know that was possible.
KATRINA: I didn't know either. So many little funny super [powers where you're like I was able to make a coffee and open a thing of almond milk and put a little creamer in with one hand. I mean that's incredible.
KATRINA: The biggest superpower I. I do feel pretty, pretty cool that I can just sit there with my daughter and raise her and help her grow and feed her. And you know a lot of my friends are doing bottle feeding and formula feeding and breastfeeding. You know what? No matter how you're feeding your daughter or your son, the fact that you're feeding them [0:50:05.0] and providing them life and helping them grow is just. It's. I think that that is really the cool part and just looking at them and seeing. A little something that changes and she's already you know. Like you said, she's smiling and she's starting to discover her hands and her feet and I. I think that's cool that I'm able to be there and witness it and I made that. But then all the other superpowers are really super funny too.
LIZ: Absolutely. So Katrina is there anything that we didn't talk about that you think you want our listeners to know?
KATRINA: No matter what you're going through whether you're pregnant with your first, if you have one, two, three or more kids. No matter what you're feeling just know that all of what you're going through is valid and you're allowed to feel everything that you do. You're not alone. I guess that's. That's the biggest part and that's the biggest thing that I felt through this pregnancy is that I felt like I had a sounding board and that I wasn't alone and I want all women that are listening right now to feel that way too.
LIZ: Katrina thank you so much and thank you for helping women feel not so alone in their journey through pregnancy and postpartum.KATRINA: Of course. Thank you so much for having me.
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Liz is an award-winning journalist and editor, and the co-founder of Motherly. A former Washington Post editor, she thrives on all things digital community + social media strategy. She's passionate about helping to provide women with more support, (and way less judgment), on the journey through motherhood. This podcast is an extension of her commitment to hosting honest conversations about modern motherhood. Liz resides outside NYC with her husband, two sons, one daughter and one amazing au pair.