Before Jennifer Pinder and Kyle Furlow were moms, they were friends and gym buddies, meeting early to work out before heading to the office.
Fast forward a few years and pregnancy got in the way. The two, who live in neighborhoods right next to each other in northwest Raleigh, got out of the exercise habit.
But once those babies came around, the two found their motivation again. Together, they committed to working out three times a week. Those first few exercise classes were "killer," Pinder tells me. In fact, they were so hard, they ran out before the classes even ended. Boot Camp Moms mark three years of whipping moms into shape
But, together, they stuck with it. After a year of hard work, the two had shaved off a total of 100 pounds and they have kept it off.
At the same time, their project to get themselves back in shape ended up becoming their career. They each worked for a bit at different diet programs where they learned more about nutrition and both earned certifications in group fitness. Furlow also is a certified personal trainer.
Three years ago this month, the two started Boot Camp Moms. With several classes each week, they offer a place where local moms can meet up with others, get back in shape and stay that way. There's no judgment here. The only expectation is that everybody does their best and supports each other.
In other words, Pinder and Furlow have worked to create for the women they teach the kind of relationship they had as they worked to burn those 100 pounds off.
"We wanted to be that for other people," Pinder said.
Added Furlow: "You push yourself harder when you're with a group."
The women who work out with Boot Camp Moms get to know each other while they're sweating through planks and countless high jumps. But the friendships go beyond those hour-long workouts.
Some have lost more than 50 pounds. Members have supported each other through the births of children, marriages and cancer. When one member was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the group rallied behind her, Pinder tells me, starting a care calendar, bringing her meals, keeping her company and planning a birthday party for her.
Furlow and Pinder lead all of the classes. No workout is ever the same. They are constantly adding new exercises and switching up the program. And they know when a participant has reached a milestone and deserves praise ... or maybe when they could use a bit more motivation. In that scenario, consider Furlow the "bad cop."
"Pain is weakness leaving your body!" she yelled at one point toward the end of a class that I took Saturday as we all slowed down a bit.
"Our balance allows us to get our girls past their comfort zone in a way that creates a relationship of trust and respect, not intimidation," Pinder tells me.
The class at Harrington Grove Park was a celebration of the group's three-year anniversary. About 40 women of all ages came out. Some were long-time members. Others were newer to the program. There were women in their 20s and another looking forward to retirement at the end of the month.
And it wasn't easy. Furlow and Pinder ran us through a series of exercises - high jumps, planks, jumping jacks, squats, abdominal work, push ups and more that apparently worked out plenty of muscles that I need to pay more attention to. Yep, I'm sore. (And Furlow shouting "pain is weakness leaving your body" has been on repeat in my head since I first heard it).
For the two, now best friends and business partners, Boot Camp Moms has turned into something bigger than they ever expected.
"As much as we've given them, they've given it back to us tenfold," Pinder said. "We just really love it. We want to keep this going."
Thanks so much to Kyle, Jen and everybody else for letting me join you on Saturday!
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.