Des Moines Parent Spotlight: Mary McCarthy Resilience & Grace
Mary McCarthy is well-known around the metro for her work as a yoga and meditation teacher, wellness enthusiast, speaker, and coach.
She clearly wears many hats, and she shares her abundance of expertise through her business, Mary McCarthy Resilience & Grace. Through it, folks can take part in her Livestream yoga classes, listen to her podcast and so much more.
Des Moines Parent connected with Mary to learn more.
Give us a little background on yourself.
I’m a small-town girl raised in Onawa, Iowa, and moved to Des Moines after college. I have lived here for 20-plus years and love living in the Des Moines area. I’m married to Pete McCarthy, a Des Moines native, and we have three children, Jack (13), Henry (11), and Annie (8). We live in Windsor Heights and enjoy living in the heart of it all. We’re an active family and enjoy spending time in nature either on the water or hiking around exploring the bike trails and local parks.
Could you give us an overview of your business and why you started it?
I started teaching yoga as “Yoga by Mary” in 2000. It was always a side job because I worked in corporate wellness from 2000 until 2014. My home of teaching yoga was primarily at Plymouth Church. And then in 2014, when I had my third child, I decided to step away from corporate wellness and move more into being a solopreneur and owning my own business.
I took a couple of years to become a 500-hour yoga teacher and certified to be able to teach yoga teachers. All while doing that, I was raising my family and still teaching a Monday night class at Plymouth Church.
From 2016 to 2018, I was rebranding myself, doing a lot of focus groups and market research, and trying to understand what I wanted to offer. And it was in 2018 that I rebranded from Yoga by Mary to Resilience & Grace.
I hired someone who could really help me with branding and became more known as someone who led retreats and workshops, was a personal trainer, and did one-on-ones. I expanded how many classes I was teaching a week while still raising three kids. So, I’ve always kept my Monday night class, but because there was a gap in the community for accessible yoga – and I had worked with older adults at Wesley Acres for 10 years – I really started to find a niche working with [people] 50-plus. I offered gentle yoga and chair yoga and more meditation classes.
When the pandemic hit in 2020 and I had to flip online, the platform I had was not as robust as I needed it to be. I did another level of research to find a way to have an online studio because the world had really shifted and my word in my business is resilience. So, I thought, how can I be resilient in what I offer and how I show up for my clients? Because a lot of my friends who owned yoga studios were all close. I spent a lot of time helping these older adults navigate Zoom and figure out how to get into the online space.
That’s when in 2021, I hired Holly Norian of Fancy Fox Design. I met her through FemCity, and she helped me work with a WordPress website. Now people can find me to be a wellness coach, a speaker, and a yoga teacher with an online studio.
I just kept having to navigate during these different times, like, who am I and what do I want to offer, and what is my purpose? That’s where I am now eight years as an entrepreneur.
What’s your favorite part of being a small business owner?
I have enjoyed the ability to be home with my children and do work that I am passionate about. I have also enjoyed meeting other entrepreneurs in the community in networking groups like FemCity and NAWBO. One of my favorite experiences is helping coordinate the 2019 International Convention for P.E.O. here in Des Moines. I gave a breakout talk about purposeful resilience and led over 6,000 women in a stretch break at Wells Fargo Arena.
I have also enjoyed collaborating with the parks and rec departments around the Des Moines Area and teaching outdoor yoga classes. I enjoy teaching accessible and gentle yoga classes. I want to help bring yoga to everyone regardless of experience, ability, or age. Yoga is for everybody!
How do you juggle your parenting and work responsibilities?
It is not always easy. It is easier during the school year when all of my kiddos are out of the house. During the summer, I have to be really intentional with my time and prioritize what needs to be done for the day. I use a planner that helps me stay on track. In addition to taking care of my kids and my business, I make time to take care of myself. I practice what I teach, and I schedule time for movement, reflection, and rest. This keeps my energy up, helping me stay present.
What are some of your favorite things to do with your kiddos around the metro?
When my kids were younger, we loved exploring all the different parks around the metro. There are so many fun places to have fun. Now that my kids are older, we really enjoy Raccoon River Park. We kayak, swim, fish, and walk on the trail. We also enjoy the farmer’s markets around town, seeing a play at the playhouse, ice skating at RecPlex, rollerblading at the skatepark, and catching a hockey, basketball, baseball, or football game around town. There is so much to do!
What’s your ideal date night or day out?
My ideal date night with my husband is enjoying a meal together on one of the many patios around town. Our favorite places are Gilroy’s and Simon’s. These are the neighborhood restaurants we love. We also like finding where the Nadas are playing and listening to live music.
What’s your number one parenting tip?
Be curious about what your kids enjoy even if it is not your favorite thing to do. If they want to learn about something, I would encourage all parents to try to learn about it as well. This will give you something to talk about. Another tip is to get active in your kid’s school. Our schools need volunteers and parent involvement. My kids know that I will advocate for them, and it helps that I know the teachers, parents, and community my kids belong to.