But all joking aside, January is a pretty good time to look at your life and make some changes for the better. Along with the rest of the world, I could do with a health kick – you know the score: more salads, less chocolate, more exercise, less sitting on the sofa – and my main barriers are lack of motivation and lack of time. When I’m not working, I’m either hanging out with my toddler or collapsed in front of the telly, propping open my eyes long enough to watch an episode of Girls. But I’m determined to change. I want to be one of those women who count exercise as just something you do every day and who genuinely enjoys exercise. I’m planning to join the newly started Mothers Meeting running club in Brockwell Park this weekend, so ahead of that, I had a chat with celebrity personal trainer Jane Wake to get some tips…
“The fitter you are, the stronger you are and the better you can cope with all the stresses and strains that come with being a mum. From relieving back pain to simply coping with lack of sleep, exercise is an amazing tonic. Don’t think of it as something that’s just there to help you lose weight – it can do a hell of a lot more than that, including boosting your self esteem and confidence.”
What’s your advice to new mums, in terms of exercising safely to begin with?
“Take it easy. To do regimented exercise you may need to wait until after you have had your six week check but this doesn’t stop you from walking with the pram and doing some gentle abdominal hollowing and pelvic floor work from the onset. The key is to work little and often and to gradually build. If anything hurts or you get any increased early postnatal symptoms after exercise then you must stop. Always listen to your body and take small but progressive steps.”
OK, confession time: for me the best bit about working out is buying new kit! What’s your ultimate work out kit?
“I love Nike Frees – not only do they look rather cool (although a little on the bright side – some of my clients disown me when I wear them!) I love the fact that my feet get stronger every time I wear them and that they allow me to move how I want. When it comes to equipment, my favourite tool is a band. (We use them in the Persil Non Bio Comfort Pure prenatal and postnatal workouts I devised.) They are a great tool for anyone and best of all you can put them in your handbag and take them anywhere. I use handled bands with my clients so that we can convert the great outdoors into our own unique gym.”
I find fitting in exercise on top of working and being a mum to my toddler virtually impossible! How should I motivate myself and find the time to do it?
“It’s so hard to fit in exercise as a mum and why I set up Baby A-Wake - which enables mums to exercise with their babies in tow and at times that fit in with family life and work. As a new mum, your pram is going to be your best exercise tool! Walk every where and try to pep up the pace on at least three outings a week. Try doing intervals where you push the pram hard for 30 seconds, recover for 30 and repeat x 10.”
If someone has just 30 mins to exercise, what’s the most useful thing they can do, in that time?
“30 minutes is actually quite a lot of time! Be efficient – do exercises that work your whole body. It’ll save on time and increase your energy expenditure. If you’ve got less time then you need to work a little harder so new mums should be careful and check that you stay within guidelines.”
What’s the ultimate exercise regime and why?
“It would be pilates done daily and 10 – 15 minutes plus of non-impact cardio (eg. swimming, cross training and biking). In all exercise you need to ensure you are connecting to your inner core muscles. Being able to attend a Pilates class with a well-qualified teacher who can teach you how to do this can make a world of difference. I am a bit of a stickler for accuracy and precision in what you do – for mums this makes most sense. We don’t have time to waste on exercise that’s not going to do anything. Make sure everything you do feels right, and has specific purpose. I get really cross when I see instructors giving mums bicep curls to do with 2-3lb weights. When you are lifting a child daily who weighs 10 lbs and upwards, it shows a complete lack of understanding of our needs! It’s good to go to classes with properly qualified pre and postnatal specialists.”
What’s your favourite way to relax, post workout?
“I have an 8 year old as well as a toddler so a lot of my workouts which involve them are based on adventure games! My 8 year old will ride his bike while I run with the pram and we explore the local area. Invariably we will end up in a cafe with a little treat for the kids and a skinny cap for me! I get my me-time by doing occasional runs late in the evening when the kids are in bed. If I am lucky, hubby will cook dinner and I can come home to some lovely home-cooked grub!”