I was sitting in the makeup room a few weeks ago, waiting to appear on S4C’s Heno, to discuss our Mam Cymru #YearOfTheSmear campaign. Suddenly, a super fit woman appeared wearing her lycra combo; She had my dream body! Her name was Anna Reich, a 36-year-old personal trainer who had just returned home to Cardiff after living in London. As well as moving house, and setting up her new gym in Pontcanna, she was also a new and first-time mum!
How on earth can she juggle a physical career with raising her new born? How can she look like that after giving birth?! My mind was working overtime as I stared at her in complete admiration! There was no time to do an interview as she was rushing off to do a fitness fashion item and I was ready to discuss cervical screening. Fortunately, I did get her mobile number and arranged to do this interview for Mam Cymru, as I was keen to learn more…
Firstly, congratulations on becoming a mum! Are you enjoying the journey so far?
It’s amazing but it’s also hard! Maximus is now 6 months old and I enjoy being a mum, but I also sympathise more and appreciate mum’s so much more now! There’s a lot of juggling involved, and the most difficult thing for me, is trying to find the time to exercise.
Have you always been interested in exercise?
Yes, since I was a child. I was raised in Cardiff and I enjoyed my gymnastics club and athletics club. I wasn’t one of these children who won prizes for sport, but I really enjoyed keeping fit.
Have you always worked in the fitness industry?
No! I had never planned to have a career in fitness. I was working in PR in London for a long time, and my boyfriend and I split up. I was heartbroken and felt really rubbish about myself and life in general. My sister Lisa, decided to buy me a personal training course, she insisted that this would be a really good way of building self-confidence, and she was right!
I had never realised the importance of feeling physically strong, and how a strong body can affect every aspect of your body and mind, and life in general. Working with my female personal trainer was life changing. I could see a massive difference in my body, I had never felt so strong and so proud of myself.
I decided that I wanted to train as a personal trainer, and within time I swapped PR for a career in PT! It wasn’t easy, it took time, but I’m proud to have a job which gives other’s the opportunity to feel strong and proud.
Who are your clients?
In London, I trained women, men, young people, older people a real variety. Since returning home I’ve set up a gym on the bottom floor of our house in Pontcanna, and again I’m working with a variety of clients. I prefer working with women, because seeing women discover the benefits of a strong body and muscles gives me a real buzz! Knowing that I’m part of this process of feeling good and feeling confident about the body, is really exciting.
Do you work with mums?
Yes! I have a group of mums who come to the gym on a regular basis as well as mums who work with me on a 1 to 1 basis. Some bring their babies along with them and I look after them so mum can focus on her body! I enjoy allowing mums to exercise and focus on themselves.
Is it hard for mums to exercise?
Yes. Since becoming a mum I really understand what mums have to go through on a daily basis. We don’t have as much time or energy, don’t have as much money and so on. Stepping in to the gym for the first time isn’t easy for anyone, and there’s so much pressure on mums to lose their baby weight and look like we did before having children. I offer online fitness programmes which are really good for mums as you can do these exercises in your own living room, and whenever works around your busy routines.
Did you continue to exercise during pregnancy?
Yes. I’ve invested ten years and more into exercising and weight lifting and the pay back was that I had a fairly easy pregnancy. Because I was strong and fit, I avoided many side effects such as swelling, back ache, bad skin and so on.
I exercised and continued to lift weights until the last month of pregnancy, but the last month was hard! I was craving and eating sweet treats, which I’m not used to eating, and I was frustrated that I couldn’t exercise for a solid hour each day, like I’ve been doing for so many years.
As a new mum, how do you find time to exercise?
This first six months with Maximus has been really hard. I had a difficult birth and I was in pain for weeks, so I couldn’t do any exercise. When I recovered, I didn’t have the time to exercise for an hour a day! I’ve competed in weight lifting and have been so strict with my regime for so many years and it’s been hard for me, both emotionally and physically. I crave the endorphins and the body I had.
I’ve learnt that when you become a mum, we have to accept that the body and our lives change so much. We have to discover a new way of doing the things which make us happy. Exercise makes me happy, so I schedule a few hours a week to do this. I’m a better mum and a better person when I‘ve done the thing that makes me happy.
What advice do you have for other mums who want to keep fit?
1 – TIME
Be realistic about the time you have to dedicate to exercise. Make sure it fits into your busy life and that your partner knows when you have planned to exercise.
2 – MONEY
Think about how much money you have to spend on keeping fit. It’s hard to justify spending money on fitness when you have nappies to buy and bills to pay, so make sure you spend that money well, don’t waste it on exercise that doesn’t give you your desired results.
3 – RESEARACH
Take a look at the mum and baby groups on Facebook and ask other mums in your area what they are doing to keep fit. Exercise is a brilliant way to socialise with other mums and many classes allow you to take the baby with you, like I do!
4 – WHY?
Think about why you want to exercise. If it’s for weight loss, you need to understand that this is a long-term commitment.
5 – ADVICE
If you are attending a gym or a class, have a discussion with the instructor and ask for advice to make sure you get what you want out of this time that you’ve dedicated just for you.
6 – RESULTS
Finally, remember that this investment in yourself and your body will be time well spent in the long term, not only in terms of body image; strength, self-confidence and more. Every member of your family will benefit if mum feels strong and happy!
Mam Cymru would like to thank Anna Reich for sharing her inspiring story. If you want to learn more about the services Anna has to offer and take a look at her online fitness programmes, visit her website; www.annareichpt.co.uk. Right, pass me my trainers!
By Heulwen Davies, Mam Cymru.
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