How Harrogate mums are keeping fit during the lockdown

When the UK was put into lockdown over a month ago, life as we knew it changed overnight.

Losing the ability to meet up with friends and family has been extremely hard to swallow, and many have been left feeling isolated and lonely - a quarter of UK adults, according to The Mental Health Foundation.

Being a mum can be a lonely time under normal circumstances, so for many these feelings have been compounded as a result of the current crisis.

Nina Meads showing some of the moves and equipment for her classes.

Getting out of the house and meeting up with other mums is a lifeline for many, and the vast array of Harrogate baby groups and play venues do an incredible job of providing support during what can be the most magical, but also the toughest of times.

So when these groups and venues were forced to close, mums were amongst the hardest hit.

In an attempt to continue to provide that lifeline, many businesses in the town aimed at mums, have completely transformed the way they work, moving on to online platforms or offering innovative ways of reaching out to their clientele.

One of these is MummyFIT Harrogate and York, a pre and postnatal fitness business, which is usually based in gym studios, such as Nuffield Health and David Lloyd.

Instructor Nina Meads, pictured with son Luca, has taken her MummyFIT classes online after lockdown meant the group of mums and mums-to-be were unable to meet up in person for workouts.

The franchise is owned by Nina Meads, a journalist-turned personal trainer and mum-of-two, who specialises in pre and postnatal exercise.

She said: “Just before the forced closure of the gyms, I got a call from MummyFIT HQ saying they had taken the difficult decision to stop running sessions for the safety of our members.

“It was an emotional call, as we genuinely care about all our mums, and we really didn’t want to let them down.”

Nina, former education correspondent at The Yorkshire Post, took over the franchise in November, in a bid to follow her passion to help mums train safely when pregnant and after having a baby, as well as help to promote the benefits of exercise for mental health.

“So when lockdown happened, it was a case of ‘how do we continue to offer that support, and still be there for our mums?’” she said.

“The owners of MummyFIT, Jenny and Alex Drage, made the decision to pull sessions at the gyms on the Monday night, the week before lockdown, and by Friday, they had completely transformed the business and MummyFIT LIVE was launched.”

Nina, who also coaches at F45 Training Harrogate, which is also offering live online workouts, currently runs sessions every weekday via Facebook Live. This allows mums to interact during the workouts, which are adapted specifically for pre and postnatal mums.

“Never in a million years did I think I’d be training my members from my kitchen. However, I was absolutely blown away by how many mums embraced it, with more than 50 taking part in the first session,” said Nina.

“The MummyFIT team knew from the response that we had to keep it going, with so many saying it was keeping them sane, by continuing to give them that vital ‘me time’ and interactivity with other mums.

“Exercise is so important for physical and mental health, and when you have young babies, or even older children, it is so important to have that time just for you, alongside other mums who are in the same boat.

“In the gym studios, mums can workout alongside their babies, who love to watch their mummies work up a sweat while they chill out on playmats.

“With the live sessions, it’s exactly the same, and the mums often post ‘sweaty selfies’ with their babies - we even have older children and dads getting involved. And last week we had a virtual coffee morning on Zoom, so we could have a much-needed catch-up.

“Staying healthy, physically and mentally, is more important than ever during lockdown, and that is what MummyFIT is all about.”

Harrogate mum Kate Froggatt said the sessions had given her a sense of purpose during isolation, as well as a “sense of belonging to a fabulous mummy community”.

She said: “As well as providing a well-needed structure to my week, with no support from friends and family during this time, MummyFIT has been an outlet to relieve any stress or tension built up from having to be inside with a baby around the clock!”

Teresa Kelly said MummyFIT had helped her “so much” during isolation.

She said: “It’s been great joining in with all the other mums and our motivational trainer. Even though we’re not physically together, it seems like we are! It has given me a sense of belonging and a purpose during these strange times. I’m actually doing more exercise than before now.”

Long-term member Emily Ryan added: “I started MummyFIT classes when Alice was six-weeks-old and have been so proud to be part of such a friendly and supportive community. I was so glad when the sessions went live and this community spirit could continue. Nina is a fantastic PT and really uplifts me. It is such a fantastic start to every day and it keeps us mums happy, healthy and sane.”

Pregnant mum Emma Oakes said she was now even fitter than before lockdown.

She said: “The online live classes makes it feel like I am in a normal class, interacting with others. Nina is amazing at keeping me motivated and always tailors it for pregnant women, while keeping it fun.

“It’s challenging but also achievable. My husband has also joined in a few times and I don’t think he thought he was going to sweat that much! It gives me something to look forward to, knowing I’m exercising with others and not just by myself. MummyFIT has been a lifeline during this crazy time.”

Last Monday, MummyFIT launched a two-week ‘Reset’ challenge, which is aimed at encouraging mums to make healthier food choices and move more.

New member Katie León said: “The challenge in particular has been wonderful for my mental health, giving achievable daily challenges which provide a sense of satisfaction and achievement. It’s really been an invaluable experience during lockdown for me.”

How you can take part:

MummyFIT LIVE Harrogate and York sessions run every weekday at 10.30am.

- A free live session runs every Monday night at 7.30pm.

- All sessions are adapted for pre and postnatal mums, however you must be at least 12 weeks pregnant and six weeks postnatal to take part - 10-12 if you have had a cesarean section.

- To book a free trial, email [email protected] or call 07765 666026.

- For more information visit www.mummyfituk.co.uk

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