Mr. Potato’s Posers {Sponsored}


FWMB was first introduced to PoserKids Yoga when we saw their involvement at so many events (Susan G. Komen Walk, First Tee of Fort Worth, Girls Inc of Tarrant County, schools and preschools around town and more). We are happy to have a parent of one of PoserKids Yoga’s students share her take on this awesome program and the Fort Worth Dad behind it.

photo 1When I first met Mateo Marquez, I was at my younger daughter’s preschool helping my older daughter sell Girl Scout cookies. Mateo was in the lobby handing out PoserKids Yoga brochures to parents and meeting folks, working the room as part chiseled sales rep, part big daddy, but even that façade was given its own special twist: instead of the traditional suit and tie, the man these kids know only as “Mr. Potato” was wearing a Gumby t-shirt underneath his blazer, a pair of jeans and some boots. He ended up buying several boxes of cookies from us while completely captivating my preschooler. This is the child who, so far, has never been particularly interested in any extra classes: dance, soccer, gymnastics, not even drumming. But then Mr. Potato came along with yoga, and my girl was on it.

yoga posers 1Was it the promise of her very own mat, their kiddie-sized PoserPads, as a gift at the end of the semester? Well, that didn’t hurt. But more than anything, she was caught in Mateo’s spell. Enthralled more succinctly. He is part businessman, part Pied Piper, a CEO with the heart and spirit of a child. Kids all over town, including my own, are enchanted by his big, playful personality, charisma and charm. But as much fun as he seems to have in just about everything he does, not just teaching kids yoga poses, it’s clear that he also brings focused attention to kids’ learning and fitness, that he cares immensely for what he does and the children, parents and educators his growing organization serves.

One might be naturally inclined to scratch their head a little, as on the surface, this guy is not your typical profile for youth wellness guru, educator or perhaps anything involving children. How does a guy like this end up in yoga for the preschool set? His successful run in the corporate world would not usually point toward helping 4-year-old’s work on downward facing dog. This is, perhaps, what has empowered Mr. Potato to be so successful at his craft and so influential among kids and families throughout Fort Worth and beyond: that he’s so outside the norm, so different, so passionate and refreshing in a space that desperately needs it. As I continue to get to know him better on a personal level (we have lunch together every other week) I’m coming to find that’s just how Mateo is, in everything he does. He lives the exact same way he teaches these kids to live, a mantra embodied in the little pledge they do before class that my youngest has now committed to heart: listen, be respectful, do your best and have fun.

yoga poser 3One big factor in Mateo’s life and career is his boundless love for his daughter, Gracyn. Looking at his life through a lens of love and devotion to her, the health and welfare of all kids became a priority for him. Also, becoming a father while going through a divorce simultaneously put a lot of stuff into perspective for Mateo, even prompting him to write a book about the experience. Big changes made sense, changes that have altered the course not just of his life, but so many others, including my family and I. One big change was the idea of having fun while making a living, doing what you love and loving what you do. Mateo will tell you that he wasn’t any rarified yoga star, far from it.

“I’m probably the last person on the planet you would ever expect to set foot inside a yoga class,” he often jokes. “I think that has always been my place in the massive and saturated yoga landscape, even before I focused on kids and families. I’ve always wanted to make this accessible and enjoyable for anyone and everyone. Acceptance is the cornerstone of this program, helping our children find their place and feel good about it, rather than telling them where it is and what to do with it.”

What started as a practice that he enjoyed and found really beneficial has grown into something pretty remarkable. It occurred to Mateo through the corporate part of his brain that there was a niche available for teaching yoga to kids. That notion appealed to the part of him wanting to play and make a positive contribution to the lives of children. That’s how PoserKids Yoga started. Today, Mateo and his team are offering their dynamic program in key markets throughout the region including Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Waco, Albuquerque, El Paso, Oklahoma City and beyond as his idea takes off and this movement spreads like wildfire.

yoga posers 2As a mom, I really appreciate that my daughter has a blast in a class that gives her a good workout and shows her how cool yoga can be, and how cool life can be. The way Mr. Potato presents yoga via themed interactive storytelling to my daughter is as literal of an interpretation as it gets: we’re all navigating through our lives in a series of poses all day every day. We’re all Posers. Sometimes it’s hard, even, and that’s what growing up is all about, how we react and adapt to life. Little girls experience all kinds of stuff in their development: good, bad and ugly. I know I sure did. And so many activities for girls put an emphasis on the way their bodies look, but that’s not true of PoserKids Yoga. Mr. Potato puts an emphasis on being at home in your own healthy body and mind and spirit, centered and strong, on being yourself and loving yourself as you are. That’s what I want for my daughter. That’s what I wish I had more of when I was little.

I’m incredibly pleased and grateful for Mateo. Young kids don’t have many opportunities to have strong and playful men in their lives beyond their families. In fact, some kiddos don’t have any positive male role models at all. So, hat’s off to you, Mr. Potato. Thanks for what you’re doing for our kids. Thanks for what you’ve done for mine.

yoga poser 4

This was a sponsored post for PoserKids Yoga. Based in Fort Worth, PoserKids Yoga provides youth wellness programs and training. Their program blends language, movement, music, creative arts and humor in a unique form of interactive play for early childhood development. They are actively recruiting the first national sales organization of local youth yoga instructors ever created.You can email them for more information on joining their team or check out their website about their upcoming Poser Summer Camp (July 7 – 11).  

All photography in this post provided by Amber Shumake Photography.


poser kids yoga guest writerGinger Watson is Associate Pastor at Genesis United Methodist Church in Fort Worth. After years as a labor lawyer in Seattle, she returned home to Fort Worth to pursue her calling to ministry. Ginger and her husband, Steve, are the proud parents of two daughters, Lola and Ruby. Ginger is also a renowned life coach, speaker and writer.




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