The busy mom-of-four says prioritizing her health sets a good example for her daughters.
Life can be so chaotic and messy sometimes, taking time out of your day to work out can feel like a selfish endeavor. But for Kelly Stafford—podcast host, mom of four daughters aged five and under, and wife of Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford—exercise, especially strength training, is essential to being the best version of herself.
“One of the main things for me to be the best mom and the best wife is to take an hour out of my day to work on myself,” she said in an exclusive interview with Tonal. The 32-year-old is an active Tonal community member and regularly starts her day with live or on-demand classes. “The fact that it’s in my home, and I can knock out a workout in 30 or 45 minutes is ideal when you’re running around after the kids and managing a job like my husband’s,” she said.
With a schedule like hers, it’s easy to make excuses and quickly lose yourself in stress, she added. “But the endorphins that come from working out, the way that I feel afterward—it’s incredibly important to me,” said Stafford. “I think it makes my days go more smoothly and sets me up for success.”
There was a time when the former college cheerleader used to avoid strength training because she was afraid of bulking up. Now, she dismisses that kind of thinking. “Having this strength in my muscles makes me feel stronger as a person,” Stafford explained. “Whatever muscles you have and whatever strength people can see, you should be proud of that! Everyone comes in different shapes and sizes; everyone has different genetics. Embrace whatever you’re given. What’s important is that you feel good. And I know I feel stronger on the inside when I’m strong on the outside.”
That’s a philosophy Stafford leaned on through challenges. In 2019, she underwent 12 hours of surgery to remove a benign tumor from her brain after she started experiencing symptoms of vertigo—one of which occurred while holding her infant daughter. Afterward, she had to relearn how to walk as part of her recovery. No matter how many gains she makes working out these days, “the one thing that makes me feel strong is being able to hold all my girls at once,” Stafford said.
Overcoming brain surgery would be difficult enough on its own, but the Staffords’ have dealt with their fair share of obstacles in the past few years. After struggling to start a family, the couple underwent in vitro fertilization (IVF) to conceive their twins Sawyer and Chandler in 2016; Hunter was born in 2018 and Tyler in 2020.
Amidst rapidly growing their family, Matthew broke his back while playing for the Detroit Lions in 2019. “These past five years, we’ve really had to lean on each other,” Stafford said. “We really learned how strong we are not only as individuals but as a couple and a family. And we want to continue to have that strength.”
Since the surgery, Stafford said she’s really started to put her health and her family’s health above all else. And in prioritizing her own strength—physically, mentally, and emotionally—she also knows she’s setting an example for her daughters. It’s so easy to put yourself on the backburner once you have kids, because “you become a mom, and that’s the most important thing in your life, so you forget that you need to take care of yourself,” Stafford explained. But what’s even more important, she added, is that your kids get the best version of their mom (and dad).
“I do think it’s really important, especially for moms, to show their children that you have to find time to prioritize yourself,” she said. “Having the Tonal in our home, a lot of times my kids are running around the room while I’m working out. They’re asking ‘what are you doing?’ and I tell them ‘Mommy’s getting big and strong’ and physically show them how I stay healthy.”
In that sense, prioritizing a healthy habit like exercise can hardly be seen as selfish. Sure, her husband Matthew may have been the one to help win the big game this year, but it’s Kelly who shows her family what strength means on a daily basis. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt as strong as I do now,” says Stafford. “I think when the kind of things that have been thrown at us in the past five years are thrown at you, you have to be strong. And once you realize how strong you truly are, you don’t want to lose that.”