We had the good fortune of connecting with Nastaran Whitson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nastaran, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I started my business because there was a need, not necessarily because I woke up one day and was like, “I want to work with hormonal women…this is exactly what I want to do with my life!” Haha. If only it were that easy, right? No, it was because a good friend of mine, Jess, approached me and said, “hey, I’m pregnant, what do I do?!” I looked at her somewhat bewildered and really did not know what to say or what to do. As a gym owner and trainer, I owned that and felt it was my responsibility to learn how to safely, properly and effectively learn how to train moms and moms-to-be. At that time, I didn’t have many resources so I went to work in learning as much as I could, attending workshops, seminars and more! Because there were so few resources in the northeast for athletic women and pregnancy, I decided to start my own business. At that time i affiliated with BIRTHFIT and became BIRTHFIT New Jersey….which has now evolved to Birthing Strong!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art is movement! It always has been. I love all kinds of movement like dance, karate, yoga, softball, running and CrossFit and olympic lifting!
My main specialties are in running and CrossFit. I began running for sport in the 7th grade. Actually, that’s a lie. It began in the 3rd grade when I was stealing bases while playing softball. My coaches told me I was fast, so naturally, I gravitated towards running and stealing as many bases as I could muster every time I had the chance. I absolutely loved softball, but the opportunity to run in high school and then college became evident pretty early on, so I said goodbye to softball at the age of 16. I went onto compete as a heptathlete at a Division I school, earned my way to captainship, then competed for an Olympic Development team post college, and finally decided to coach at an amazing high school for 9 years after that – I always wanted to be a coach. I struggled a little bit as a coach because I myself had had SO many coaches. In 15 years of competing, I had 12 coaches! This was hard on me, but I was able to learn so many valuable techniques from every single coach.
Eight Years ago I came onto the CrossFit scene through my husband and then we partnered with our friend, Steve, to become co-owners of CrossFit SOAR, now called, SOAR Health and Performance. It was TOUGH learning how to own, run and operate a gym AND serve a growing community. In 2016 I left my full-time job at a school to help my husband run our gym because it grew so fast. This was no easy choice as I truly loved the people I worked with and was also leaving coaching the girls track team who had been conference and state sectional champs the year prior! I left them in great hands though.
But both of these careers set me up beautifully for the career that I now have as an educator, trainer and doula. I worked with high school track and field athletes, learned what movements worked best, how to best train growing athletes, and was able to apply similar concepts to grown women who came to our gym. But we also discussed the core and pelvic floor and breathing, which are huge concepts in the birthing world.
In 2015 as our gym started to grow, more and more women started to join our gym….and since we had many young couple join, many of those were women who became pregnant! I had to quickly learn how to serve my community and provide safe and effective classes and courses for them. At that time there were not many resources as fitness and pregnancy were still not as widely accepted as they are today. I learned of a doctor out in California who was applying safe movements at a gym in California, so I flew there to meet her and make sure it was legit. And it was! It’s what became BIRTHFIT. I had the opportunity to travel to gyms and studios across the nation and teach them best practices on how to properly and safely train pregnant women and moms to be with the help of evidence based information and some really brilliant friends. I also helped place BIRTHFIT on the map in the northeast and was an ambassador for years. I learned so much! Most recently, I wanted to serve women outside of New Jersey and decided to rebrand to what’s now Birthing Strong. I specialize in helping them with safe movement, providing the proper resources and helping them heal their core and pelvic floor.
I am so thankful for my past experiences and the women who have helped me discover that I have a love of teaching and sharing real information at seminars and workshops and online courses to not only help mamas and mamas-to-be move safely and feel included in the gym but also to help them prepare for the biggest fitness event of their life – birth – and healing postpartum! This is the story behind Birthing Strong!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh this is going to be so fun!
Monday & Tuesday: New York City – Little Italy, all the best food places – there’s a million, the Frick Museum or perhaps the MOMA, then a Broadway Show (hopefully those open up again soon). We would call up my girl Andrea and baby James to meet up with us in Astoria (for delicious Turkish and/or Greek food), and finish with a walk around Central Park. Honestly, we could spend an entire week just in NYC! Oh, and maybe a Yankees Game if they were playing. Gahhh, so much to do!
Wednesday: Sleep in/ Spa Day like get our nails done and visiting SoJo spa – needed after NYC lol
Thursday: New Jersey – Hiking at Ramapo Reservation then hit up a workout at my gym, SOAR
Friday – Monday (because you can’t leave on Sunday) – Hit up the Jersey Shore; Two days at Point Pleasant/Asbury Park – because they get to experience the board walk, delicious food and fun in the sun, I’d call up some friends to join us at Just Jake’s or for dinner by the beach. And then two days at LBI for more fun in the sun but the super chill kind! Lots of beach time, reading and sleeping in.
,,,,come visit me! 🙂
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh I love this! And for sure would love to give a shoutout to the following women who have greatly impacted me:
Lindsey Matthews, owner and creator of BIRTHFIT, Chiropractor, and doula.
Erica Boland, a mama of 4, a chiropractor, student midwife, and owner and creator of Coulee Health
& Melissa Hemphill, owner and creator of Sweet Mother’s Knot, mama of 4, incredible educator, and former Captain in the Air Force!
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the influence of these amazing women and the space to learn, create and grow!
Website: in the works! (it will be nastwhitson.com)
Instagram: @birthingstrong and @nast_whitson
Facebook: Birthing Strong & Nastaran Shams Whitson
Other: Email: email@example.com I just rebranded 2.5 weeks ago! lol, hence all the transitions.