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Motherhood: A Juggling Act

A Glenview mom inspires others, balancing two jobs, school and her family.

Every Sunday, the fitness studio at the starts to get really crowded around 10:00 a.m., 15 minutes before Box N Tone, a class that incorporates kickboxing, core work and strength training, begins. The reason it’s packed? The instructor, Kellie Kopach.

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“She’s motivating, she’s fun, and she never ever lacks energy,” said Sandy Sroubek, who does the class every week.

“In the middle of class she shouts, ‘You’re not tired!’ She has passion and she passes that along to everyone else,” said Debbie Silver, another regular.

Box N Tone is one of 18 fitness classes Kopach teaches per week. That’s right, 18 classes per week! But that’s not all she does. The forty-year-old Glenview mother--who’s been nicknamed by some of her students as Killer Kellie--also works as a middle school reading specialist. And there’s more. At night she’s a student, working toward her second Master’s degree.

“Sometimes I’m exhausted,” said Kopach with the huge grin that’s almost always on her face. “But my classes don’t care if I’m tired. They’ve paid money, so I have to pull myself together. They’re here for me to motivate them, so if my legs are tired, it’s not their problem.”

Dedicated to teaching

“I teach struggling readers,” said Kopach, who holds a Masters Degree in teaching. “When I see a child understand something that they’ve struggled with for so long and the look on their face, the smile, and the joy in their eyes, there’s nothing like it. Seeing the growth they make is inspiring.”

Cammy Spatzek works with Kopach at Deerpath Middle School. 

“They kids here love her because she’s so animated and creative,” said Spatzek, “She never gives up on them and that’s the key. She knows how to get to them and to find the right buttons to push to make them work.”

Time management is key

Listen to this schedule. Kopach teaches her fitness classes in the morning. She then has 15 minutes to shower and get ready to go to her reading specialist job. She then spends time with her daughter after school, then teaches fitness classes again in the evening, and then one night a week goes to night classes for four hours.

“The key to why I’m able to do this is because I’m doing a little bit of everything I love: exercise, working with children, being a wife and a mother. When you put it all together it sounds ridiculous, but the key to life is finding the things that make you happy and doing them all well.”

Kopach said it helps to write everything down so she always knows where she needs to be. She also said having a great support system is important and that she and her neighbors and friends often help each other out.

“I used to have a hard time asking people for help and then I realized I had to get over it,” she said.

Setting an example

“Going back to work is one of the hardest decisions to make, but I feel like I’m a better mother because I’m a happier person. I’m doing something I love and that I’m passionate about and that spills into everything else I do. That translates to my home life.”

Kopach, who has an 11 year-old daughter and two adult stepchildren said she’s constantly trying to set a good example.

“I want her to know she can be and do anything she wants in life,” says Kopach of her daughter. “Whether it’s a high power job or a mother and wife, whatever she loves she should go out and seek. There are no limits.”

Kopach, who is certified through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America in group exercise and kickboxing, as well as through Turbo Kick and Zumba said she finds motivation from those around her.

“Watching people transform their bodies and their lives, and knowing I get to be a small part of that is what motivates me. They’re not just people who take my classes, they’re my friends. They’ve been coming to class for 7 or 8 years and I don’t want to let them down.”

“She’s an amazing person,” said Sroubek, “A mom, a teacher, an instructor, a giver and most importantly, she’s genuine.”

“I love my life,” said Kopach, “I have good balance. My husband is the person I like to be with the most. We do a lot of family things and we have fun together. We genuinely enjoy being around each other.”

Not enough time in the day? Here’s Kellie’s advice:

  1. Be humble enough to ask for help if you need it.
  2. Plan your day the night before. If something interrupts your plan, stay focused on the big picture.
  3. There’s always enough time in the day to do the things you love and that make you happy.

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