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Upstarts! Parents Raising Children, Building Businesses: Zoe Levine

February 25, 2014


If you’ve had a kid in the last decade and you live somewhere in the vicinity of Prospect Park, you’ve probably heard of (if not met) Zoe Levine. Zoe is the queen of prenatal and postpartum fitness, running her own personal training and fitness program, The Thriving Body. You need your diastasis recti measured? You need to find your way back into your body? You need to find out where your butt went, (‘cause it’s gone, baby gone)? Then Zoe is your answer.

Zoe came to personal training by way of professional dance. And because her approach to fitness is actually simultaneously her approach to creativity and expression, Zoe has a unique understanding of the mind-body connection. And maybe it’s that awareness or maybe it’s because she’s smart and attentive, but Zoe has never been a push-through-the-pain sort of trainer. In fact, as she told me, her approach is “more therapeutic then you would expect from a traditional personal trainer. I’m not really a campy, whistle-blowing, fat-burning person . . . I’ve been down that road and I’ve see how it can often injure people . . . I really love helping people get out of that and get back into what they love to do . . . to get back into it in a more functional way, without pain.”

Zoe’s therapeutic approach and her love of kids naturally led her to prenatal and postpartum clients. In Chinese medicine they say that after childbirth a woman is reborn, her body new, and it is a chance to rebuild, as if the slate has been wiped clean. And it is from this perspective that Zoe approaches training postpartum women. During postpartum we have this strange opportunity to completely retrain the body, to liberate ourselves from bad habits and to embrace the abilities of our new bodies. Zoe sees “the imbalances that can happen with carrying a child and birth… [and the necessity of] rebuilding that foundation that is totally shot, giving your body a little attention when there [seems to be] no time to give it attention.”

I first met Zoe almost ten years ago when, in another life, I was a yoga teacher. I started taking classes with her, and during my long postpartum recovery she introduced me to the MELT method, which is a systematic rebalancing of the nervous system, fascia and muscles. Basically, you fall in love with a foam roller and have a meaningful 10-40 minute affair, after which you feel taller and better and generally wonder what you’ve been doing with your life. Here is what I love about Zoe: she is not a trainer, she is an expert. She imparts knowledge, she understands body mechanics and can, thanks to her dance training, verbalize them succinctly, so you truly understand and actually derive the benefits from whatever exercise you’re practicing.

During our talk over tea at The Cocoa Bar, I was lucky enough to hold Zoe’s two-month-old daughter, who Zoe brought into the world at home. Clara’s birth was Zoe’s second home-birth, so basically Zoe is a super bad ass. But with two kids under four, how does this super bad ass still run her own business? How can she possibly be sitting in a café looking gorgeous and about to teach a MELT class? Little by little, is the answer. Zoe seems to see with clarity that the whole business woman/family woman thing is not a do-it-all scenario, nor a balance (which implies doing it all equally, also not really possible), but a wonderful imbalance, a prioritizing of things in the moment. While her son and daughter are small she is shifting her schedule and very slowly making her way back to her clients and classes. And for every phase her children are in her priorities and commitments seem to recalibrate, she creates a studio at home so she can host more classes while staying close to the kids, she now brings her own bundle to the Mommy and Baby classes she’s been teaching for years. Who knows maybe in the spring, she will be back in the park with Clara being one of the babies parked in their strollers while the moms do lunges.

During our talk Zoe mentioned, that while she is a stay-at-home mom, she still wants to make an impact on the outside world. I’m pretty sure she’s got it covered.

Here’s all the info you need:

If you need to be rebuilt, get yourself to one of Zoe’s free workshops, check out her upcoming classes.

 FREE Workshop for New Moms 
with Zoe Levine. Reclaim Your Body After Baby: Timeless Tools For Healing And Feeling Strong 
As A New Mom, Saturday March 1st 3:15-4:30pm 
Third Root 
380 Marlborough Rd Ditmas Park

Or try a Work Out Baby class for only $10- see if it’s a good fit for you and your baby, learn a little something about your body, and start to feel like yourself again. At the Annex (463 4th Street, Park Slope).  Tuesdays 10:45-11:45am with Rachel Welch and Fridays 12-1 with Zoe. Reserve your spot for your trial class here.

And a new 8 week session of Work Out Baby also starts March 1st, and you lucky reader who got all the way to the end, get to use this special promotion code: mamatime31 for a discounted fee!