FITNESS TRAINER ROCAMOON
SAY WHAT YOU WILL about this young, adventurous mother who takes her 3-year-old son with her everywhere, from surfing waves to climbing mountains and an occasional jump from high places. But Mona-Jane’s life is not boring. And that’s just the way she wants it.
Mona-Jane is a popular fitness trainer and world traveler whose website and Instagram feed, Rocamoon, is filled with gorgeous photography, inspiring vignettes, healthy food recommendations, and workout tips from Hawaii – where she lives – a place she calls her own little piece of paradise. She’s an adventurous free spirit who is unabashedly chasing happy in her own unique way.
“What would you do to make yourself happy? Put up the walls. Who cares what everybody else is doing. You just do you.”
Mona-Jane just doing Mona-Jane started early, growing up from between top of the north island and more central Hamilton in New Zealand, she’s the second youngest of six kids. Inspired by her family with a rugby-playing father who was also her coach, a mother who was a dancer, and her athletic older brother named Maihi who she has always looked up to, high-intensity sports took up most of her time. She was encouraged, even early on, to do whatever she wanted to do. Which, it turned out, was a lot.
“The first-ever sport I played was hockey. Then I played rugby, netball, volleyball, water polo, and basketball. I was on the boxing team. I wrestled for a year. And I did fencing for a while!” she laughs. “I was very much a tomboy.”
“I love high intensity and I’m definitely the type that, if he can do it, I can do it.”
Mona-Jane loved – and still loves – anything and everything outdoors, and she dreamed of being a “surfer girl.” So at 16, a time when a lot of teenaged girls are trying to identify their passions, a headstrong Mona-Jane was already making future plans. Her goal was to visit the United States, Hawaii in particular. She dropped out of high school in New Zealand and made the journey.
Eventually she was living in the states, on the mainland for a bit, but mostly in a place she’d always wanted to live: Hawaii. Mona-Jane finished high school and went on to college, graduating with a degree in Exercise Science from Brigham Young University. As even she may have predicted, it didn’t take her long to fall in love with the Aloha State.
She also found love with Max Hannemann, the man who was just as much of an adrenaline-seeker and adventurer and would become her husband. They started a family soon after they were married. That, perhaps, is when a new Mona-Jane started to emerge but now with added responsibility. Now there was a baby to consider.
“Adding children into the mix definitely brings on a different phase of life, a different way of thinking. And I think a lot of women get caught up in trying to be the best mom, and dedicating everything to their child, which is the way it should be, but in a sense, they lose themselves. They forget what they like to do.”
She noticed that people were curious about what she did to get back into shape after a baby and the steps she took. Not wanting to bombard her personal social media accounts with workout and nutrition information, she started Rocamoon.
Rocamoon’s very title is representative of what seems to be Mona-Jane’s foundation: her family. ‘Roca’ is the name of her son, now 3 years old. And ‘moon’ refers to an “angel” baby girl she and her husband named Bella Luna. Mona-Jane was almost halfway through at 4 1/2 months pregnant when she miscarried. It was that heartbreaking experience, followed eventually by the joy of Roca’s birth, that prompted Mona-Jane to start running the trail she’s blazing today.
Her brand has a huge following on Instagram and has been an enormous inspiration to women around the world. But Mona-Jane pauses when she’s asked if she calls herself a role model.
“Where I’m at in my life now? I would say yes, because of the feedback I’ve gotten from things I have done and shared,” she says reluctantly. “It’s not like I think I’m so amazing. I just want women to know they can be a mom and do a lot of other things. I see girls I knew before they had children and they don’t do the things they loved anymore,” she says, and she’s wistful, perhaps remembering a time she could have fallen into the same pattern.
It's here that Mona-Jane gets emotional; I can hear her start to cry, softly, then apologize for crying. She takes a minute to compose herself, then starts talking again, slowly and thoughtfully.
“I went through a phase when I needed a different kind of satisfaction. And that sense of fulfillment that comes after a workout, when you’ve pushed yourself hard… I’m proud of where I am, and it makes me sad to see other women stuck in that rut, you know?”
Mona-Jane now uses her life’s adventures to help other women find theirs. In addition to raising Roca – and surfing every chance she gets – she’s studying for her personal training certification. She already teaches group classes, but she’ll eventually have specific personal training and sports nutrition degrees. What she wants to do with that is another story.
“Welcome to my mid-life crisis,” she deadpans. “Do I open a little gym in my garage? Do I write a workout book? I want to do everything!”
Everything, as long as it’s intense, such as a workout so hard you struggle to move when it’s finished.
She craves to sweat.
“Hard work freakin’ feels good,” she says, definitive, a confidence rising in her voice. “I love that feeling of losing your breath. If I’m doing a workout and I’m not huffing or sweating, it doesn’t really count.”
Rocamoon’s 140,000-plus Instagram followers surely find strength and inspiration in Mona-Jane’s posts; they may also pick up a healthy recipe or snack and of course workout tips along the way. That’s what it’s there for. She describes herself as someone who has no shame, who is just ‘naturally out there.’ Her friends, she laughs, would describe her as “freakin’ crazy” (in a good way). The decision to share her life so publicly was a conscious one; she thinks the feeling of support and community social media provides is critical, and she loves connecting with women next door or on the other side of the world. But she is quick to point out the thin line between inspiration and comparison.
“Don’t they say comparison is the thief of joy?” she thinks aloud. “In this social media world, people are constantly comparing themselves. It’s a really funky world we’re in now. But it’s really important for people to step back and ask what kind of lifestyle they want for themselves.”
That statement might be the key to everything Mona-Jane stands for, and everything Rocamoon hopes to illustrate.
“Invest in the lifestyle you want, and you’re invincible.”
Something she has demonstrated time and again. Mona-Jane’s priority is to show this wide, wonderful world off to her son. After having Roca, she insisted on buying a “really good stroller and baby carrier” to take him along with her wherever she roamed, along with a wet suit and floaties so he can surf right alongside her. Mentally and physically she not only needs to be active, but to set that example for her little one. Her boy, she says, her “wild child,” seems to have adopted her adventurous spirit.
“If you do it when they’re young, they’re more likely to keep that lifestyle as they get older. I’m constantly going, taking my son, carrying him on my back. He’s crazy, and I love that.”
He’s along for the ride wherever she and Max roam. She recently posted a series of pictures and videos from the Mentawais a favorite travel spot of theirs, and Mona-Jane admits she also feels a strong pull to travel to New Zealand when she can. She’s a wanderer, but she’ll will always have a soft spot for home.
Now, at 24, Mona-Jane says it is her son Roca who helped her find a mission, one she is happy to pass along to her legion of followers, who no are no doubt drawn to her bright eyes, her wide, contagious smile, and her incredible long, flowing hair – those dark, wavy strands seemingly as untamed as she is. She lights up each post and picture she shares. She effortlessly demonstrates fitness moves and wellness tips, shot beautifully on the picturesque North Shore of Hawaii, sometimes next to little Roca, showing off his own moves.
She’s also passionate about eating as naturally as she can – clean and plant-based most of the time but always in moderation, because she points out there’s no happy life without ice cream and chocolate.
The intersection of all of those ideals is where Rocamoon was born, and the platform she uses to show other women, perhaps mothers in particular, what she struggled to learn. Though she’s a constant work in progress, she wants to be an example that there is a happy medium between selfishness and selflessness, a balance she considers essential for women to find. Draining a cup over and over only results in nothing left to give; Mona-Jane thinks filling that cup back up is essential.
“I can run along the coast, looking at coconut trees and the ocean and people surfing, and it’s incredible. Or I can be at home, watching a movie with my family. In my ideal mind: I’d be in nature, with my family, surfing or on a hike.”
She understands that her idea of accomplishment won’t be the same as everyone else’s. She also recognizes that her adventurous nature doesn’t sit well with everyone. No matter. This kiwi mama plans to live the life she has always dreamed, inviting everyone whose path she crosses to think about what that means for them, and make it happen. That’s the spirit of the slogan – prominently displayed on her website – One Body, One Nature.
“We have one body, one life, one earth, and it is my goal to combine them all into one nature. Creating healthy, mindful habits to make the most of these beautiful creations, giving our selves and nature the care it needs to thrive and be our best self!”
BY JULIE YELEN