When I found out I was pregnant, my first thought was, shit, I had so much sushi (and vodka, if I’m being honest) last weekend. My knowledge of wellness and pregnancy was limited beyond the warnings you’ve always heard, no alcohol, no smoking, no weird fish, etc. Giving up those things were fine, in fact, I was happy to do it. I would consider it a nine month cleanse. But what about working out? Call me crazy but I like high-intensity workouts. I ran a marathon the year we got pregnant, I like the near-death blackouts that accompany hot yoga and I even look forward to those barre shakes. I was nervous that I would have to give this up when I had my baby. Little did I know that yes, fitness would remain something I need in my life, but after baby, it was a community, a tribe, that I would really depend on. Lucky for me, Alex recognized this and set out to create a space that would accommodate all of our needs. Started by Alex Winkelman Zeplain, I stumbled across Tribe late one night and was ecstatic. I emailed her right away and got a response within minutes. This simple email exchange was the start of an immediate friendship that would grow to include a dozen other women I now consider my tribe.
Alex is a strong, inspiring, and compassionate woman. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind, whether that be about politics, philanthropy, or motherhood and has always been an open book about her struggles with Postpartum Depression, something we will touch on in this interview. We sat down with Alex to discuss the inspiration behind opening Tribe, her background in philanthropy and how she plans to instill the same values in her son, and of course, what’s next for Tribe.
What is the significance behind the name Tribe?
Women need a tribe. Mothers need a tribe. We are not meant to do life, let alone motherhood, on our own. At Tribe, we believe community is one of the most important components to living a healthy and happy life.
Tell us a little about the inspiration behind opening Tribe?
My son was born in September of 2014. Everything went the complete opposite of how I envisioned it to be. I suffered from Baby Blues, which turned into Postpartum Depression. I started finding experiences that helped me, yet they were all disconnected, didn’t provide enough options or flexibility, and lacked community. I wanted and needed a place I could go with my child that had a focus on health and wellness where I would feel safe and comfortable to be a mother.
How is it different from other gyms or studios?
Although fitness is a key component to Tribe, the community is really our bread and butter. Our class offerings and number of memberships are limited, which is intentional. Due to this, most of our members see each other on a daily basis. Naturally, friendships, support, and important conversations are happening. Our instructors and childcare providers are also part of the community. Another key component is our boutique style childcare, which includes children’s yoga, music, and art. Because of the community we are building, the children are 100% comfortable in childcare, which makes the experience that much more successful for our members.
You are a first time mom to Asher. How do you find the balance between running a business and family time? Do you have any special family traditions you stick to during the week?
Balance is something I am continuously working on. When possible, I really try to separate work and family time. When Asher turned two, we found the most amazing preschool for him to attend. Since then, balance between work and family time is much more attainable for me. I enjoy being able to focus 100% on work when he’s at school, and I am able to give him my undivided attention when he’s home with me. Whether it’s a babysitter, neighbor, family member, or school, I think it’s really important to ask for help.
You have been very open about struggling with Postpartum Depression after the birth of your son, thank you! It is both refreshing and encouraging to know this is a conversation that is happening. Can you share some of your experience?
I don’t think I even knew what Postpartum Depression was before having my son, let alone think it would affect me. Becoming a mother was a hard transition for me. I felt a loss of identity and a loss of community. I felt like I was doing motherhood alone and was not prepared for that. I also felt very uncomfortable in public settings with a fussy child, so I often chose to stay at home out of fear, which led to feeling even more isolated and depressed. Luckily, I have channeled all of these feelings into Tribe and created an environment and experience that gives mothers exactly what they need: health, wellness, community, support, flexibility, and opportunity.
Do you have any tips or resources for those that may be experiencing PPD or baby blues?
First, I would highly recommend talking to a professional, whether that be a doctor, doula, midwife, therapist so they can help you get on the right track depending on the severity of your own situation.
The self-care tips for Postpartum Depression that I turned to: Rest, quality time for yourself, healthy eating, being outdoors, exercise, staying connected with friends, sharing feelings, joining a group for mothers. Tribe is built on all of these tips and is a great resource.
And if you’re not in Austin, you can find similar businesses to Tribe that are built around mothers, wellness, and community: Kindred-Studios (New Orleans), Renew Mama Studio (Michigan), Modern Milk/Mamaste (Scottsdale)., Well Mama (Omaha).
Lastly, I found the Facebook group Ladies with Babies to be extremely helpful.
What does your wellness routine look like?
It is very important for my mental and physical wellbeing to have “me time” every single day. By doing this, my business and my family are better set up for success. My routine changes daily…welcome to motherhood! Some of my favorites: waking up before baby to be able to get ready for the day in peace and quiet, healthy eating, seeing a movie by myself, going to yoga or a barre class, taking a bath, getting a massage, getting a mani/pedi, or even getting my hair cut…the simple things!
What does a typical weekend look for your family?
Asher and I spend the weekend mornings together, usually going for a very long stroller walk and making a million stops on the way, usually for juice, a muffin, or a slow stroll in the park. My husband meets us for lunch, and then before we know it it’s nap time! While Asher naps, I usually do a million things: shower, answer emails, organize, cook, run errands. However, I’m trying to take a different approach these days and rest during these quiet moments. Afternoons/evenings are usually a swim date, going to the grand parents house, or a babysitter coming over so that my husband and I can spend some time together.
As the founder of Citizen Generation, you not only raised millions of dollars for charities but also inspired many young Austinites to give back. Are you currently involved with any charities? How do you plan on inspiring a philanthropic spirit in Asher?
Philanthropy and giving back to the community is part of my identity. I plan on continuing life as is, and involving Asher in all aspects of my life. That is exactly what my parents did. They brought my siblings and me with them to fundraisers, to political events, to volunteer. Children learn their behavior from their parents, therefore I am confident that Asher will also have a deep desire to support his community. I just wrapped up a volunteer position with Center for Child Protection, and am currently volunteering with Austin Pets Alive on a spring fundraiser.
What are some challenges you’ve had to face being a working mama?
Where do I begin? First off, mom-guilt is 100% real. And what about mom-anxiety? Also real. Luckily, these have subsided now that my son is two years old and at a preschool that we absolutely love. Now, let’s get back to the day to day. It is a huge challenge for me to just find enough time in the day to get everything done. I often feel like I have a never ending to do list. I am slowly on a path to accepting this as a fact, and not stressing about the little things.
Favorite kid activities to do with Asher in Austin?
- Toddler & Crawler Yoga at Yoga Yoga with DeLora Frederickson
- Classes at the Little Yoga House
- Story time at BookPeople
- Zilker Park
- Music classes at Armstrong Community Music School or Heartstrong
What is next for Tribe?
Our team is in the midst of launching a blog and online resource hub, which I am very excited about. We will also be launching an online store with some fun products.
And behind the scenes, we are working on our forever home, which I am calling a mixture between a mini-urban country club and a mommy mecca. This will be a place that the entire family can come to for hours every single day, to enjoy time together and to participate in health and wellness activities. It will be a pretty big slice of heaven.