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Lakewood Ranch area offers support for new moms

The moms and babies have fun during Fit4Mom classes.
The moms and babies have fun during Fit4Mom classes.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer
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Having a baby is a joyous occasion, but raising a child comes with a myriad of challenges. 

“Being a mom, it’s isolating even when you have people around you,” Christina Picciotto said. 

Picciotto owns Fit4Mom Lakewood Ranch/Sarasota. She offers fitness classes to prenatal and postnatal moms at Summerfield Park, James L. Patton Park and The Green at University Town Center. 

She’s not the only outfit in town offering support to new moms in the area. Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and some local churches offer support groups and resources, as well. 

Fitness classes 

Picciotto opened Fit4Mom after moving from California to Lakewood Ranch two years ago when she found that a franchise didn’t exist in the area. Fit4Mom celebrated its first anniversary on April 12 at The Green. 

“We focus on the wellness of the mom, physically and spiritually,” Picciotto said. “We do workouts, but we’re also big on community because new moms are lacking that.” 

After the workout is finished, the kids come out of the strollers for a playdate. 

“It’s optional if you want to stay, but usually we all hang out after,” Brianna Maschmeyer said. “We get a mental break, and the babies get to play.”

Brianna Maschmeyer and Stephanie Soler workout and get some friend time in at a Fit4Mom class on April 12. Jack Maschmeyer and Clementine Soler wait in their strollers until its their turn to play.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer

Stephanie Soler described her now 18-month-old Clementine as a “little, round potato” when they first started classes a year ago. 

“It’s a great group,” Soler said. “Clementine’s really grown with everybody. We have lots of friends here.”

A Fit4Mom membership costs $79 a month, and it costs $25 to drop in for one class. Membership comes with events outside of exercising. Picciotto organizes special playdates for the babies and nights out for the moms. 

While it’s not as interactive, Barre3 on Lakewood Ranch Main Street offers a play lounge for kids, so moms can workout in peace. The play lounge costs $12 per class or $100 for 10 classes. 

Support groups 

Lakewood Ranch Medical Center offers a weekly support group for new moms called Little Nippers

The group meets on Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. There’s a facilitator but no end time. Moms can let out whatever is on their minds and get answers on subjects from breastfeeding to sleep training. 

“Our moms’ groups and the education provided have been enormously successful and helpful,” Director of Marketing Lori Boyd said. “Moms look to Lakewood Ranch Medical Center for evidence-based advice and counseling.”

The class is designed to cover the first year of motherhood. 

Another group that offers parenting information is the MomCo at Lakewood Ranch Baptist Church. 

The MomCo, formerly known as MOPS, meets on the first and third Wednesday of the month from September through May. 

The group brings in speakers on universal topics, such as women’s health and child development, but also presents topics like infancy loss. 

“We connect with each other in a special way that only another mom can understand,” Women's Ministry Coordinator Heather Bellaire said. 

Members of the MomCo do not have to be members of the church. The group is open to any mom in the area, including those with older children.

An annual membership costs $115, with an additional $150 per child. Childcare is offered for ages 6 months to 5 years old. 


The MomCo also offers a play aspect, but this playtime is for the moms. Moms are the ones making the crafts. They’ve done yoga and learned to line dance. They even participate in the Mom Olympics at the end of each season. 

Any mom can try out the last session on May 1 for free. Registration for next year will open thereafter. An open house for the upcoming year will be held on Aug. 28, and the first meeting is on Sept. 4.

MomCo members learn how to line dance this season.
Courtesy image

Risen Savior Lutheran Church at Lakewood Ranch offers Mornings with Mommy four times a month. 

The sessions have different themes but follow the same format. The morning starts with language and literacy activities, then the child and caretaker rotate through stations at their own pace. The stations include crafts and activities that promote fine and gross motor skills.   

While the class is called Mornings with Mommy, dads, grandparents and nannies are also welcome to attend. Sessions cost $5 per family and fill up quickly, so register ahead of time. The upcoming sessions are themed for Mother’s Day and will be held on May 7 and 8. 



Lesley Dwyer

Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.

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