Meet Karen Rilling! Mama of 4. 3 beautiful girls and 1 beautiful boy, the last two, of which are twins! Karen joined Mom Strong in the spring of 2018 and was and continues to be an inspiration to us all. She hauls two bucket seats around like like they’re a bottle of water. Karen is the epitome of strength and grace. She is currently in her last round of Mom Strong as she prepares for her return to work at a teacher. Karen kicks butt in the gym while managing her twins with ease. All participants will miss her and her adorable children dearly but we are so glad we had the opportunity to be in her presence. Karen, you do us all very proud!

We asked Karen a few questions to let you get to know her better.

1. If you could choose one song to play when you walked into a room what would it be? 

“The Growing Pains Theme Song...YouTube it.”

2. What has been the biggest struggle with being a Mama of 4?

 “Giving myself grace. I can't be everything to everyone. I missed Black Day at preschool last week (sending her is blue & silver); our dinners aren't spectacular (buying groceries with twins is hard), our house isn't as clean as it used to be. There have been many times this year where I had to be at home with the twins where I missed out of Ringette tournaments, baseball games, etc.

On my previous mat leaves, I felt like we easily slid into a nice routine, but with 4 kids, at least one of them had something going on that would throw a kink in our plans. Giving myself the grace, telling myself this is just a season has saved me on many a day!”

3. What is the sweetest thing any of your children have said or done for you?

 “I had been up all night with the babies and my four year old looked at me and said, "Mama, I love you!  You look so very beautiful right now!"

When our twins were brand new, our son was very colicky.  He cried all the time!  Our 7 year old would pick him up, grab a book and read to him.  He would snuggle in and fall asleep on her.  She would just sit their and snuggle him to give Mommy a break.”

4. Being a Mom is super hard and also rewarding. Can you share a moment that reminded you that all the hard stuff is worth it?

“In the early spring, our 4 & 7 year old wanted to ride their bikes to the park.  So we got all packed up with the double stroller, helmets and bikes and we set off, alone, just me and 4 kids!  It was slow going as our four year old was new at riding a big girl bike, we made a long convoy to the park.  When we were almost there, a lady stopped her vehicle in the middle of road, got out and said, "I just wanted to tell you, you are doing an amazing job!  I know this can't be easy." I laughed and thanked her, she got in her vehicle and drove off. We had so much fun at the park and our little trip was so worth it!”

5. What is your best advice for Mom's of multiples?

“Be kind to yourself and take pride in every little accomplishment.  Be proud you had a shower, you ate, or you were able to take two babies out in public!”

6. What exercise makes you feel most accomplished in Mom Strong?

“LUNGES...haha!  When I started Mom Strong, I was 7 weeks postpartum and my core was not strong from being stretched out so much.  I could not do one lunge, even with modifications.  Now I feel so proud that I can do them with ease!  This may seem so simple, but it makes me so proud!”

Cheers to you, Karen! You are strong, resilient, humble beyond belief, honest and encouraging. You are my inspiration in all things Mothering. THANK YOU! - Michelle


Meet: Ashley Hayward

An original Tough Mama before One Tough Mama even existed. Ashley has been training with Michelle in some capacity since 2009. She was one Michelle’s first client’s in her career years ago and was also in the first MOM STRONG after the birth of her daughter Noelle and recently just returned to work as a teacher after participating in MOM STRONG a second time after the birth of her son, Max.

Known For: Her badass deadlift in Mom Strong. Ashley hit a lifetime PR of 220# on her second last day of Mom Strong at 1 year postpartum. Go Ashley!!

What Ashley has to say about OTM programming: “I’ve participated in Mom Strong and have just started with group training. I LOVED Mom Strong. It was more than a workout, it was a place to go twice a week to be with other moms who were going through the same ‘mom’ things. The moms became a little community that I could rely on for encouragement and support. The workouts were just a great bonus. I always left feeling strong, even if I spent most of the class chasing Max around!”

“I’ve only done one group workout so far, but it was great. I like the small group size because it allows me to actually get to know the other women I am working out with! I’m looking forward to the next workout (as long as there are no squats!)” - HA! There’s always squats.

It has been my pleasure working with Ashley. I especially loved the transformation in confidence when she switched from bootcamp-style training to partner strength training in 2012. Just last night in class she was overheard telling another participant “don’t tell Michelle you want to do something - because she will make sure that you do”. Then went on to share how she told me she wanted to do push-ups several years ago and be damned if she can’t crush out some badass push-ups today.

To help you get to know Ashley a bit better we asked her a few questions:

  1. Squats or Deadlifts? Definitely deadlifts! They make me feel strong. Squats get into my head too much and I get scared I’m going to get stuck at the bottom. (FYI Ash has a mean deadlift AND squat)

  2. If you didn’t have to sleep what would you do with that extra time? Wait. We are supposed to sleep? Someone needs to tell my kids that! But if I didn’t sleep I would read. I used to read a lot but now it seems the only things I read at The Lorax and Cat in the Hat! I want to read some adult books.

  3. What’s your favourite song to workout to? I don’t have a favourite song, but when I am in the gym alone I always pick the ‘00s Pop station from Apple Music. The songs usually have a good beat and are fun to sing along to.

  4. What have your kids taught you most? Patience! Turns out kids don’t always do things exactly when you want or expect them to. Who knew?! I’ve learned to be patient with my kiddos and not get upset or worried if they don’t do things on my time. They’ll get there eventually.

  5. Aside from training, what is your favourite pastime? I really enjoy playing beach volleyball in the summer. It’s so nice to get outside at the end of a day, even on the rainy, yucky days and play. Getting a kid-free evening once a week is also a bonus! I love spending time playing with my kids. Noelle and I have had a lots of tea parties lately, and Max loves to play hockey or catch,



Hey ya’ll - I want to start giving some of my amazing clients some spotlight here on most Friday’s because they deserve to shine!

First up: Meet Karen House!


Training with Michelle since: 2009

Current service she follows: Remote Fitness Programming

What she has to say about this program: “I love the personalized remote training that Michelle develops. The program makes me accountable to my training, which is the most important factor in my success. Michelle plans workouts that I have a comfort level with, but they also challenge me in ways I never could have imagined. I’m never bored of my workouts, and really love swearing at Michelle through my comments”

Karen is a total badass in the gym. She is the epitome of dedication. She consistently shows up, does the work and works hard to better herself inside and outside the gym. She has mastered the art of knowing that “good enough” can be great. She challenges her abilities and respects her body and unapologetically knows when to take an additional rest day.

We asked her a few fun questions, here are her answers:

  1. What’s your superpower? I am resilient AF. and 2 - I can bake a mean cake, and have been told that my buttercream icing is the best they’ve ever had.

  2. Where will we find you when you’re not training? Drinking coffee, brewing kombucha, crafting, sewing, baking and re-watching my favourite movies and TV shows (Love Actually, Step Mom, Parks and Recreation, Friends, New Girl, HIMYM)

  3. Favourite lift or movement in the gym? This changes as my routines change but I love deadlifts and split jerks. Currently I look forward to bench press and testing my supinated narrow pulldowns.

  4. Current fitness goal? My overall goals are to be active and healthy - but currently I’m making positive gains in my upper body and strength and LOVING IT! Not only can I see my arm and back muscles growing, I just feel f-ing strong!

  5. Who’s your biggest inspiration? Honestly, Michelle ( @onetoughmamafitness ) has been an inspiration to me for the past 13 years - I wouldn’t have made it through Anatomy and Physiology classes without her as a study buddy (ha!). Her knowledge, non-judgemental spirit, support and hunour make her a phenomenal trainer. Her desire to advocate for the health of others (especially Moms) is incredibly inspiring. Also, Michelle ( @michelleokere ) from @keyfitnessgroup motivates me each day. Her IG stories reflect her positive attitude and reiterate that everyone, no matter their size, strength or ability, can achieve success through fitness and health eating.

Karen, you inspire the hell out me. It is my pleasure to be on this fitness journey yelling “YASSSSSSSS! CRUSHED IT!” while simultaneously doing a happy dance, fist bumping and dropping some “Hell ya’s” along the way. Keep doing you, girl!