Fitness Journal | Pip Black & Joan Murphy

Pip Black and Joan Murphy, the founders of London-based fitness studios Frame and Mumhood, a dedicated programme for pregnant women and new mothers, join us this month to talk pre and postnatal fitness. Joan’s children are three and five months old, and Pip is seven months pregnant and has a two-year-old son.

Having both been extremely active all our lives [Pip is a former England hockey player, while Joan is a former New Zealand track cyclist], we were disappointed to find that there was nothing out there that inspired women and helped them find exercise fun and feel-good, rather than a chore.

With this in mind, we set up Frame in 2009 and now have studios across London. Mumhood was created as a direct result of our own experiences during pregnancy and then postnatally, as we tried to juggle full-time work with our young families. We found that there were a lot of barriers to keeping regular exercise a part of your life after having children, so Mumhood is a way of us talking to women about the many benefits of staying fit and healthy as a new mum or whilst pregnant. We aim to concentrate on how fitness can reduce pain, give you more energy, prepare your body for labour and help you to recover more quickly after birth, rather than on having an amazing figure. After all, you’re going to need a new-found strength – mentally and physically – to deal with carrying car seats up flights of stairs, cooking one-handed with a baby on your hip and to endure yet another sleepless night!

This is a great piece of kit as it doesn’t take up any space and is easy to take with you on your travels. It’s great for performing upper back, shoulder, arm and glute exercises – all of which are really important during pregnancy and post-birth. Specific exercises will help to stabilise the pelvis, the upper back, shoulders and arms. When you are a new mum, all daily movements will be in a forward-folding position, so you need to work those posterior muscles to counteract this tightening of the chest.

Your deep core muscles are important during pregnancy. These are the abdominal muscles that wrap around your middle, ‘hugging’ your baby into your spine. By keeping the core strong, you can help prevent or limit many common pregnancy issues, such as lower back pain. Modified planks are a great way to exercise these muscles. On all fours, with your shoulders back and down away from your ears, hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips, tuck in your toes and as you breathe out, lift the knees just one inch off the ground, whilst ‘hugging’ your baby into your spine. Hold for five counts and release. Repeat five to eight times.


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