When Garden Oaks resident Morgan Shields had her two oldest children, she said she suffered from postpartum depression.
“I was struggling a lot,” she said.
Before and after she gave birth to daughter Rue, Shields was exercising regularly, and she said it made all the difference for her sense of well-being.
“It was a game changer,” she said. “I was addicted.”
Now, after being a fitness instructor at a number of places, Shields has opened her own – RISE Fitness – in the driveway and patio of her new home.
Shields describes the “perfect storm” of opportunity with a home that had enough space to accommodate outdoor classes and a desire to pare down her workload. After starting as an instructor at the Harriet and Joe Foster Family YMCA eight years ago, Shields also taught at Body Rock Pilates, The Studio Form Lagree and Crew Fitness. Last spring, she and a few other instructors created Warriors at Home, a series of online exercise classes.
“I’m still noticing that people are not ready to be indoors,” Shields said. “People want an outdoor workout.”
She held her first class on Oct. 19, the day that Houston ISD students were able to go back to campuses for in-person classes, and her classes were free for the first week. Now one RISE class is $10, five classes are $50, and a 10-pack is $75. There is also a monthly unlimited option for $100.
There are several different classes available. RISE Strong is a class to build muscle that uses weights and resistance bands. RISE Shred is a full-body intense workout with cardio and strength intervals. RISE Slow is yoga and Pilates and RISE Shake is a dance class.
An ivy wall provides privacy for participants, and Shields said she is adding a cover to provide more shade. Classes are capped at 12-15 people to provide opportunity for social distancing, and Shields asks clients to wear a mask except when exercising. All supplies are provided and there are even mint-infused towels for an after-workout pick me up.
Shields said she has been encouraged by the response.
“It is just such a boost to mental health, and it is great to see familiar faces and share a sense of community,” she said.
She also has high praise for those who she worked with previously and said all have offered support and advice. Shields singled out Marcia and Dan Strange of Crew Fitness on West 22nd Street for going above and beyond.
“Marcia told me where to go to buy equipment and showed up to my first class,” Shields said. “She and Dan have been so amazing.”
Even for someone who believes in the benefits of working out, Shields said she needs motivation, too.
“Every day I have to convince myself that I still want to work out,” she said.
Jennifer Perry said she is enjoying the classes because of the community that Shields creates.
“No matter your fitness level, she is encouraging and meets you where you are at,” Perry said. “Her classes are hard but fun and she always finds a way to push you a little further than you thought you could go.”
For information on RISE and class sign-up, see @RISEFitnessHTX on Instagram or Morgan Boisture Shields on Facebook.