At just 5’3” and 110 pounds, Total Mommy Fitness owner Tatum Rebelle may be petite in size — but don’t let that fool you. This former Army Drill Sergeant turned personal trainer once made a grown man cry during basic training.
“It’s my claim to fame,” she laughs.
Today, Rebelle has gone from whipping men of all sizes into shape to offering personal training and nutrition services to the fairer sex — specifically moms and moms-to-be. Her down-to-earth and easily accessible approach has caught the attention of thousands of women worldwide, including a few celebrity moms, who rely on this tiny dynamo to keep them looking and feeling their best.
BORN OF EXPERIENCE
Raised by a single mother in Scottsdale, Arizona, Rebelle is the youngest of three children. Money was tight, so family time consisted of getting active, going to the park or riding bikes for entertainment.
A self-described tomboy, Rebelle played basketball in elementary school with dreams of one day joining the WNBA, but her height made that unlikely. Instead, she took up track in middle school, and added weight-lifting in high school to put some muscle on what she refers to as her “scrawny” frame.
“I knew then that I wanted to be a personal trainer,” she says.
She also wanted to “start her life and do something important,” so the little girl with the big personality joined the Army and left for basic training just a few weeks after graduation.
“When I decided to join the Army, people said, ‘Oh that’s cute,’” she laughs. “But I think that’s where being petite gave me an edge. People just naturally dismissed me — they didn’t expect me to be so tough.”
They certainly didn’t expect her to graduate from basic training and drill sergeant school at the top of her class in physical fitness, beating all the men.
The experience made Rebelle more determined than ever to pursue a career in personal training. While in the Army, she became certified through the American Council for Exercise (ACE), moved to Fort Worth, and enrolled at Texas Christian University where she earned a degree in Communications and Kinesiology.
During her freshman year, Rebelle experienced a personal tragedy when her mother was diagnosed with skin cancer and died just two short months later.
“That was such a jarring experience,” says Rebelle who had just started building her clientele. “But in hindsight, I now realize that it may have had something to do with helping me find my path as a trainer and why I chose to focus on helping moms take care of their health.”
BORN OF NECESSITY
Rebelle knew that she wanted to fill a specific need with her personal training services, and she found her niche when one of her clients became pregnant
“I realized I didn’t know how to train her — and I didn’t know anyone else that did either,” she admits.
Curious, Rebelle began doing research and found that, when it came to prenatal training, information was scarce and outdated. It wasn’t until she found a continuing education course through ACE that focused on pre- and postnatal exercise that Rebelle realized there was a real need for this type of service in the industry.
“What I discovered is that it is not only safe but beneficial for women to exercise throughout pregnancy,” she says. “Many studies show that a child is born with fitter genes and a faster metabolism when the mom stayed active. Plus it helps mom lose the baby weight more quickly if she’s fitter to begin with.”
Knowing she was onto something, Rebelle started Total Mommy Fitness in 2005 and, after graduating from TCU in 2006, she moved to Austin and watched her business boom. Her strategy is simple: help busy moms and moms-to-be overcome any obstacle to staying fit and healthy. The biggest challenge most of her clients face? Time! Rebelle deals with that by meeting her clients anywhere and everywhere, offering group, one-on-one, and even Skype training services.
“I do whatever it takes to help them fit it into their schedules,” she says. “I help them understand that exercise doesn’t have to mean putting your kid in childcare while you go to the gym for an hour. It can be letting your baby crawl on you while you do pushups in the park.”
BORN OF KNOWLEDGE
Since founding Total Mommy Fitness, Rebelle, who now resides in San Antonio, has increased her knowledge and serves as a resource for women everywhere who want to stay in shape. She holds numerous certifications, a master’s in business administration, and is currently working on her Ph.D. in performance psychology, while serving as the vice chair of the communications committee for the San Antonio Mayor’s fitness council.
She has developed her own accredited pre- and postnatal certification course for trainers with a goal of teaching other people what she has learned so she can focus on bigger things both professionally and in her personal life — namely, becoming a parent herself. She and her partner, an Army surgery resident at SAMC, were married earlier this year and they plan to start a family of their own in the near future.
In the meantime, she will continue her mission of keeping moms healthy, happy and fit.
“My goal is to make pre- and postnatal exercise the norm rather than the exception,” she explains. “There is no better gift you can give your kids than to be healthy yourself.”