Mama on the Move: Exercise Classes with Laura Gibb, Local Mum


Today on Bishopston Mum is an interview with Laura Gibb, the local mum behind Mama on the Move exercise classes. Laura is a qualified fitness instructor and this week is starting both postnatal exercise classes, as well as exercise classes for mums with older children, at Portico Play in St Andrew’s.
Here, Laura talks about her Mama on the Move classes and her personal experiences of being a local mum, both in Horfield and Bristol. 
1) Hi Laura, tell me a bit about yourself.
I’ve lived in Bristol for 6 years now, after relocating with my husband from London. We finally got on the property ladder 2 years ago and renovated a house in Horfield which was hard work especially as we had a 2 year old and a baby! My daughters are now 4 and 2years old.
I have always been passionate about sport and exercise; I have played sport from an early age and went on to study it at University. I have built a career in sports development and events and alongside that been personally engaged in all things fitness – I love a fitness challenge! I became a qualified fitness instructor just before I started my family as I was aware that it was something that would work around having children. It was a sensible move as I was made redundant from my job as a Competition Manager (I managed sports events for school children across Wiltshire) shortly after the birth of my first daughter. 
As well as being a full time mum I now teach 6 weekly spin/group cycling classes a week at Horfield and Easton leisure centres and I love it. I get to exercise and motivate others and I get paid to do it! 
2) Please tell me about Mama on the Move.
Mama on the Move came about from my passion for exercising throughout pregnancy and after the baby is born. When I was pregnant with my first daughter I was keen to continue my usual exercise routine as long as possible but was unsure what I should/shouldn’t be doing. I found a real lack of knowledge of exercising whilst pregnant aside from the usual recommendations of swimming and pregnancy yoga which lead to me becoming qualified in pre and postnatal adaptations to exercise. 
I was desperate to learn more about the pregnant body and exercise, and also the implications on starting an exercise programme after the birth. The course was run by Alison Merry who is a former midwife and now a personal trainer and expert in the field (who better qualified to advise expectant mothers in exercise?!). The benefits to mother AND baby are huge and with the right support and guidance you can continue exercising safely for as long as you feel comfortable.
3) When and where do you run your classes?
I started off with a class over in Westbury on Trym – I’ve been training an NCT group since their babies were a couple of months old. We started off outside in Canford Park but as the weather grew colder we have moved to a Westbury on Trym Baptist Church hall.
Now I would like to bring some classes to Bishopston, so I am hiring the hall above Portico Play – 45-46 North Road, just off Gloucester Road. It’s a great space, perfect for small indoor exercise classes. Classes will run every Thursdays, from 9.30am-10.30am for the Cardio Toning Circuit Class and then 10.45-11.45 for the Postnatal Exercise Class. Portico has a great café downstairs and there is a great baby room if mums want to stick around afterwards and grab a coffee/cuppa/lunch and socialise.

The first session is this Thursday (27th February) and this is just £3 as a taster session. Thereafter, it is £5 for a block booking or £6 on a pay as you go basis.
4) What activities does a typical class offer?
Postnatal exercise classes are a mix of cardio and core toning and strengthening exercises. The body has had a huge strain put on it through 9 months of pregnancy, not to mention giving birth, so it is important to start off gently and safely. Class participants should have had their 6 week postnatal check from their doctors if they had a straightforward vaginal delivery and those who had a c section need to wait for 10 weeks post birth. 
Classes are generally in a circuit type format, and we will sometimes use resistance bands and small weights. They are designed for all fitness levels and we will concentrate on strengthening core exercises that have been weakened through pregnancy and childbirth. I can advise women on how to check to see if their stomach muscles have come back together if this hasn’t been done through their doctor at the postnatal check. The importance of pelvic floor exercises will be encouraged as well!
Women attending my postnatal class in Westbury on Trym have seen results fast and commented on improvements in muscle tone and strength as well as losing their baby weight and getting back in their pre pregnancy clothes.
The earlier class is for women who have older children either at school, preschool or nursery. They can come along after dropping the children off and enjoy a fun workout with other mums. I know how hard it is to fit time in for yourself when you are a mum however it is so important to spend time exercising as it is as good for your mental well – being as it is for your body. All fitness levels welcome and we will concentrate on burning maximum calories through cardio activities and again focusing on strengthening that core to pull the tummy in and improve posture. All muscle groups will be targeted, legs, bums, tums and upper body.
5) What or who inspired you to set up Mama on the Move?
The inspiration came from personal experience. I was keen to continue exercising in pregnancy and wanted to have the knowledge to be able to do it safely. Postnatally I found being able to exercise as essential… not just for my body but for my mind! 
It really is an excellent stress buster and as anyone with a baby/young children know it is an incredibly full on and demanding job. Going for a run, doing an exercise class allows me to let off steam, have some time out for myself and get the endorphins pumping round. Ultimately, it makes me feel better and although I know full well how exhausting the demands of babies and children are, exercising will make you feel LESS tired and give you more energy to cope( although sometime it may not feel like it at the time!). 
Having a baby can sometimes be a bit isolating so doing an exercise class allows you to meet other mums and helps beat the baby blues that can sometimes creep up. All this I know from personal experience which I believe puts me in the perfect position to run classes such as these – I have been there! 
I also suffered from a difficult birth with my first daughter and the recovery was long…. being able to exercise SAFELY and not over doing it too soon is crucial for a proper recovery from birth. Pelvic floor muscles need to be strengthened before women are off running or doing high impact activities. I believe a lot of damage can be done from women starting inappropriate exercise classes too soon after giving birth and this was another reason I was keen to start mama on the move. 
My classes are not just about losing the baby weight, although this will happen gradually and healthily making it easier to keep the weight off. It is fundamentally about safely and slowly recovering from the pregnancy and birth and gently strengthening your muscles.
6) What are your personal experiences of being a mum in Horfield?
All good, I love it here. I was amazed how at home I immediately felt when we first moved here.
It’s very family oriented so that helps as you certainly don’t feel isolated being a mum around here.
7) Are there any activities in or around Bishopston that your children particularly enjoy?
Being a fitness instructor and passionate about physical activity it may come as no surprise that we love the most active classes. Particularly we love Jack in the Box gymnastics in Henleaze, Hawks Gymnastics is also brilliant, and we are fans of Badgers Forest School in Leigh Woods. We are members of the Zoo and @ Bristol and the Bristol Museum are great for rainy days. 
More locally, we also like heading to Horfield Sports Centre for swimming, soft play and Trampolining, St Andrews Park, Portico Play, Rimando’s, Fresh Ground Cafe and the Ardagh Toddler Group. My girls have boundless energy (they wear me out more than the fitness classes that I run) so I’m constantly looking for ways to tire them out.
8) In your opinion, what are the advantages/ disadvantages of raising children in this part of Bristol?
The benefits of living in Bristol are huge, we previously lived in London and loved it but knew it wasn’t the right place for us to bring up a family. Bristol, particularly Bishopston/Horfield is the perfect place for us, a bustling place geared up for families with young children. I’ve never seen so many mums! We are never at a loss for things to do and places to visit, I have made lifelong friends with other like minded mums and we also have some fabulous country side on our doorstep.
However, I grew up by the sea in Devon and sometimes I do miss that, but we are lucky that my parents still live there for us all to visit for holidays. Another disadvantage is the secondary school situation…. That worries me as much as it does for every other mum around here it seems!
9) How will you juggle running your classes and being a mum?
I’m not going to lie, it’s tough being a full time mum and then dashing out most evenings and at weekends to teach spin classes or to prepare postnatal exercise classes for the following day. However, it is a genuine passion of mine and as I quickly learnt after becoming a mum it’s all a juggling act! Although we don’t have any family living nearby to help out, I do have some particularly amazing friends who help with childcare – I am so grateful to them! 
It’s great that I can work my classes around looking after my children, and once my eldest starts school and youngest is in pre school I will have a lot more time to grow the business and run more classes. I want to start pregnancy exercise classes and I’m also starting to train as a Pilates Instructor as I would love to do Pre and Postnatal Pilates classes…
10) Is there anything else you would like to add?
We are also looking for new members for the Westbury on Trym postnatal exercise class – it’s on a Monday at 11.-12pm Westbury on Trym Baptist Church Hall. 

The first session at Portico starts this Thursday and costs £3 as a taster session. Thereafter, it is £5 for a block booking or £6 pay as you go.

If you would like to sign up for one of Laura’s Mama on the Move courses, or maybe just try a class first before committing to sign up for the 6 week course, please contact Laura on 07792574057 or email Laura also has a Mama on the Move Facebook Page where you can keep up to date with her classes.
*Disclosure: This was a sponsored post.

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