Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms Meet a Mom series where we feature our local mamas – what they’re up to personally and professionally. To date, we’ve feature just under 100 women, woah mama! This week’s Meet a Mom feature is Glenview mama of 3 teens, soon-to-be Doctorate of Occupational Therapy by day and Zumba Instructor by night, Kate Wettergren! Kate’s dancing her way through COVID 19 to provide strength, endurance and cheer to herself and everyone who takes her Zoom Zumba classes (schedule below!). You can feel great taking her class for two reasons: Exercise and FUNdraising! Kate explains, ” We [Kate and Zumba partner Melissa Kerpel] are not accepting money for our fitness classes, but instead are asking for those who have the economic means to donate money for the Moraine Township Food Pantry and to Feeding America.” More details below and please help us welcome Kate!
Hi Kate! Please introduce yourself. Where are you from originally? What city do you live in now? What brought you here?
Hi! I am Kate Wettergren. I grew up in Bourbonnais, IL, and I currently live in east Glenview, IL. When I was 25 years old, I started teaching adult boot camp fitness classes at the Northfield Park District. I fell in love with the people and the community, and moved to this area because I felt it would be a positive place to raise my children. I have been teaching fitness in Chicagoland and a brief bout in Europe for over 20 years.
You’re a mama! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they?
I have 3 children. One son who just turned 16, and 2 daughters (identical twins) that are 14-years-old.
What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?
My favorite part about being a mother is the unconditional love I feel for each of these unique human beings with different personalities and needs.
Please share your favorite mom tips that make COVID 19 Phase 3 life a little easier…
Whether I like it or not, technology is here to stay. Phones, computers, and other devices are an everyday part of our children’s lives. Instead of continuously pleading with my children to put their devices away, I have encouraged them to use their devices as research tools for expanding their exploration into other areas of interest, and then using their devices to document their participation in that interest in a creative way. For example, I asked my daughters to use their ipads to research an art project using only materials found around the house, and that they could teach to their younger cousins in a virtual manner. Online, they discovered a puffy paint project. First, they did the paint project on their own. Then they used their phones to make a “how to” video requiring them to record, edit, and voice over the video. They sent the video to their cousins, and finally they set up a Zoom call to see the art that their cousins made following their video. Thus, my tip is to use technology to aid in keeping social connections but also to aid exploration in other interests that don’t include technology.
If you have any podcasts or apps that help inspire you, calm you, help you run your business or organize your life, what are they?
I am a student, so I don’t have much time to listen to things other than my class lectures. However, when I am walking my dog, I will listen to Brené Brown’s podcast “Unlocking Us” or the Jillian Michaels podcast to hear fitness tips given in a straight, but entertaining manner. I am on my phone and computer so much that I prefer to not use apps when I don’t have to. Instead I prefer to use visuals, such as the chalk wall in my living room to inspire myself. I write goals, inspirational messages and positive affirmations for myself and my family as reminders to live life to the fullest each day and to keep working towards goals and overcoming challenges.
What are your favorite local takeout restaurants or if you’re venturing into the outdoor dining scene, which ones are you looking forward to going to?
I don’t eat out much, but I am looking forward to sitting in the outdoor patio at Tapas Gitana in Northfield and having a red sangria or venturing across the street to have tacos at Taco Nano.
Are you involved in an endeavor? Please share!
Currently, I am a student finishing the last year of my Doctorate of Occupational Therapy Degree. In occupational therapy school we talk a lot about roles and occupations (or activities) that have meaning and importance in one’s life. My role as a Zumba Instructor on the North Shore has had great importance in my life and has helped me maintain routine during my education and in times of transition. It has helped me connect with people from diverse backgrounds, build relationships, and participate in a fitness activity that brings me and others joy.
How did you become involved in being a Zumba teacher?
Ten years ago, another Zumba Instructor, Melissa Kerpel, and I started team teaching a Saturday morning Zumba class in Highland Park at the JCYS Lutz Family Center on Clavey Road. A few years into teaching the class, another instructor/percussionist by the name of Ruben Zapata joined us. We all teach fitness classes individually at other locations, but on Saturday mornings at 8:30 am we all come together to move, smile and dance. Up until the pandemic the Saturday morning Zumba class has been a weekly staple in our lives.
Did you find a way to continue to teach Zumba during quarantine?
When the pandemic hit, Melissa and I asked ourselves how we could do something positive for our participants and make a difference in the community? In an effort to add routine to our clients’ days and improve mental health through social connection and physical movement, we moved our Zumba Fitness Classes online. Now 6 days a week we teach fitness classes online from our homes. Our participants can log on and take the class live or can upload the classes to do at their homes later. We are not accepting money for our fitness classes, but instead are asking for those who have the economic means to donate money for the Moraine Township Food Pantry and to Feeding America. The Moraine Township Food Pantry provides responsive, efficient and compassionate services and support for residents in need, and Feeding America is a hunger relief organization with a nationwide network of food banks feeding the hungry.
What a wonderful service to our residents! How are your fundraising efforts coming along?
To date our Zumba participants have donated almost $2,000 to these organizations. We know that we are not the only fitness instructors in the area that are doing this. We are just 2 of the many fitness instructors who are doing our little part to give back in any way that they can during this time of so many needs. We believe that all these small acts of kindness combined together can make a difference.
What is your Zumba schedule so our readers can join in on the FUNdraising effort?
Great! Yes, please dance with us. The class schedule started June 1st and all classes are 8am CST unless indicated. The schedule is as follows:
* MON Zumba – Kate
* TUE Strength + Cardio – Kate
* WED Zumba PEACE and LOVE THEME!! – Melissa & Julia
* THU Zumba – Kate
* FRI Zumba Toning + Floor work *bring a mat (weights optional) – Melissa
* SAT* * 8:30 Zumba – ZOOM ONLY! Kate, Melissa & Ruben
* SAT* *10am Zumba Kids – Julia
* SUN Zumba Toning – Melissa
Who are your influencers and/or mentors that have helped you get to where you are today and/or continue to inspire you (please feel free to give shoutouts).
I have mentors for different aspects of my life, but when it comes to inspiring me in regard to kindness and compassion, my Zumba partner, Melissa Kerpel (Highland Park mom) and Melissa’s mother, “Mama Inez” as we all call her, have influenced me immensely. They are always finding ways to give back to the community and inspire me to do better and give more.
Tell us more about your full-time endeavor of earning a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy Degree. What advice can you give other mamas out there who are looking to re-enter the workforce or who are looking to reinvent themselves?
Going back to school in my late 40’s has not been easy, and reinventing yourself or re-entering the workforce is challenging no doubt. My advice is to look at the journey into the workforce as a way to perpetuate a new avenue for your happiness. First, think what you are passionate about and what would be fulfilling and gratifying. Keep your needs in mind (flexible hours, salary, insurance, distance), and create a plan for moving into that career direction. It may take you time to get there (again, I’m reinventing myself at age 48), but the journey is the reward.
What’s on the horizon for your business? Future aspirations, plans….
Melissa Kerpel and I plan on continuing teaching our fitness classes online to meet the needs of our participants who are not able to return to the gym or who are fearful about returning in-person at this point in time. We plan to continue to forward our participants’ donations to these deserving organizations indefinitely. If you would like to join our virtual fitness group, we welcome all ages, all genders, all races, all fitness levels and all abilities. Please contact us directly for more information. Kate Wettergren, [email protected] or Melissa Kerpel at [email protected]