Nicole mum blog

Hogarth Women's Health Focus: Working Out As a Mum (of 4!) by PT Nicole

Hogarth Personal Trainer, Nicole Seidemann writes about her personal experience with training and exercise as a mum of 4, along with helpful tips and strategies to navigating this new challenge of keeping up with your training.


I am still waiting for ‘things to get better’. My youngest is 5. 

Training, working out, exercising or just moving - for me as a mum, those words suddenly had a different meaning. And throughout certain phases of the last 11 years I would reply differently to the question: how are you keeping yourself fit?

In the first month of motherhood, I was happy to be just moving without falling asleep. I had to learn to accept that exercising is not number one on my list anymore and that this new way of being is just fine. I had to learn and accept that the changes the body goes through due to pregnancy do not disappear magically over a course of just a few weeks or even months. Roughly speaking, it takes 9 months to go one way and this is how long it can take and in my case, took to go back the other way. I am not just talking about weight but the hormonal changes affecting your bones and joints which affect your way of exercising.

After having a child (or children), exercising - even though you may have always enjoyed it, lived for it, and breathed it - can suddenly become a struggle. A thing I must still do because…. No! Try to stop right here. If exercising becomes a must, it becomes a burden and eventually, we don’t do it. It’s the same with dieting – if we put too much pressure on ourselves to eat a certain way, it will become unsustainable and we most likely won’t stick to it.

If you are too tired because you were up three times in the night, then you are too tired and really in no shape to do a big workout in the gym. But does that mean we end up doing nothing? No. We just need to change our way of thinking and what we define or classify as exercising or working out - 



So, after an awful night, we most likely will still be going for a walk to get some fresh air or to get some shopping done. If you have more than one child one of them is eventually old enough to start nursery or school. So how about making that walk to the shops or the walk to nursery or school into an exercise walk? Even just getting your heart rate up for 20min by walking faster will make a difference. AND more importantly may be all you manage that day so let’s embrace it and count it all!

If the way from and to the shops is too short go around the block or into the park to get that little extra time in. Seek out some hills or add in a little bit of running.

I do not need or use the pram anymore but for many years the pram was my only workout tool.


A pram full of shopping and a baby or two is a wonderful device to keep up with your overall strength: upper body, core and legs can all get a workout. My babies always got an “extra move” in when I was doing my “triceps pram pushes” preferably uphill. When walking up a hill make sure you embrace your upper body into a relaxed (especially top of your shoulders) but steady, firm, and correct (make sure you keep your shoulders from folding in) position and now push up that hill with a heel to toe movement using your trunk and lower body, meaning your legs especially the glutes until they burn. As you are moving along the road or park you may not be able to re peat that very often so don’t think 3 sets of 20, rather count every opportunity you get.


As your child is growing older, start to exercise with them. When my children were learning how to ride their bikes we could only go to the local park: whilst they were building up their confidence and strength on the bike, I was running alongside them. I said earlier don’t count 3 rounds of 20 reps. In this example don’t get hung up on your pace or time or distance. This run will be interrupted by crying children, grazed knees, or flat tires, and you may only run 10 minutes at a time but you may have been energetic for a good half an hour, counting the way to the park and back home. You had some fun with your children and can give yourself a tick for the day in terms of exercising - it is not the time spent which will count but the occasion you have used!


You probably didn’t manage one pre-natal appointment without this part of your body being managed.

And no matter how long ago you have given birth: if your workout of the day just involves exercises around your pelvic floor and core muscles – I say that will be a great day! A great workout! Because this muscle will be the key to when and how efficient you can return to ‘normal’:

After birth, your core muscles can be weak. Almost all pregnant women have some degree of diastasis recti, which is a gap between the left and right abdominal wall muscles that’s caused when connective tissue thins out in response to hormones. That gap may close on its own in the first eight weeks after birth, but it often doesn’t, leading to a belly that still looks kind of pregnant, back pain and core muscles that are inefficient at lifting, pushing, and pulling. However, you don’t have to just put up with it: the right exercises to help regain abdominal strength and heal the gap are relatively simple and straightforward if done correctly and regularly. 

Regaining your abdominal strength isn’t just important for your future fitness regime in the gym, on the tennis court or ski slope. Your abdominal control and trunk strength will be crucial for your new everyday “fitness regime” – lifting, caring, juggling a child in one hand whilst hoovering with the other. Or pushing or pulling a pram with one or two small children, whilst dragging the dog along! I can go on and on. In the first few weeks or maybe even months of pregnancy, you may not feel your babies’ weight but as they grow if we have not done any additional muscle growing ourselves, this imbalance can become a problem. The simplest and most effective pelvic floor exercises are Kegel exercises. These can be done anywhere from the home to the gym. A classic example which we can all relate to is stopping the flow of your urine.

In the early days the sleepless nights will seem endless and getting to the gym may feel unrealistic so doing these exercises at home can keep you ticking over. However, the sleepless nights will cease and in time you will find the time to join the gym again. 



I mentioned earlier due to pregnancy your body goes through a lot of changes. This includes postural changes. In general, literature suggests that those changes disappear with time. In my experience however most clients are not even aware of them in the first place. If ignored or manifested through unawareness, discomfort can turn to pain, pain can turn into injury. Long term problems can arise. Beside keeping you motivated a trained professional can help you avoid getting stuck in this vicious cycle by pointing you in the right direction through correct exercises right from the start of your post-natal journey.


For many this intersection will provide a double challenge. The changes to our body due to age, the longer period of healing after (ever so minor) injuries or the longer period of regeneration after each workout or training session combined with our daily workload, worries and stresses changes how efficient and frequent we can train. I am coming from a background of years of competition since childhood, and about 15 years (prior to my first child) detailed long distance endurance training, where every day a goal was assigned and needed to be executed or the upcoming competition wasn’t going to be pleasant. This is not a world of mine anymore, but I do miss it. However, I need to be careful not to get caught up in the past because firstly my circumstances are totally different but more importantly my body has changed and is still changing due to age. YES, exercising is slowing down ageing. Studies suggest regular exercise is more effective than any drug yet invented to prevent conditions facing older people, such as muscle loss.

Some of you may start to scream now and say: “What is she talking about? I am still strong and fit and beautiful!”  Yes, you are! Different though if you start to compare yourself now with yourself of 10, 20, 30 years ago. The combination of age and motherhood is always worth acknowledging.


Many mums benefit from the support of the online community, which can be positive. However, social media can give us the impression that it should be all so easy, and worse still so desirable to look or be a certain way a day after giving birth.  It can paint the picture that no matter how many children you have it should be easy to keep up with managing your household, whilst looking after your children, looking fabulous and not bothered.  Most may immediately exempt themselves from this influence. But in my 28 years in this job, I have come across this underlying pressure time and time again. 

So, therefore it is worth remembering that social media can be unrealistic and urge you to stop being so hard on yourself. We are always available to help you through it all.


How can a trainer help you on your new journey? The first thing is motivation and support. We all function better on a routine but especially as a parent this seems to be tricky to uphold. Most parents will probably agree that over time, they have perfected their children’s daily routine, but maintaining their own can become tricky due to unplanned interruptions such as a sick child. The Hogarth’s perfectly outlined exercise plan for you is in jeopardy and after a week or two, most end up not going to their free monthly session because (and this is probably the number one reason I have been given most times over all the years working as a trainer) you feel embarrassed. You feel you did not just let yourself down, but also the trainer, and you may even feel ashamed of what others think. 

I believe the right response to your struggle should be encouragement and understanding that life doesn’t always plan out. It is okay to be tired and therefore to struggle with motivation, it is okay that exercising is not the main drive for everyone. This is why, a monthly session can be used to kickstart, to check in or to just enjoy your training more. Our trainers will be able to pick you up where you left off and help you motivate yourself back into the next phase. Look at your weeks ahead and find that block of time in your schedule that’s consistently free of commitments.



Make a list of gym exercises, classes or sports which appeal to you and ones you’re less keen on. Work your way through that list until you find one or several that you enjoy. Only if you enjoy what you are doing, will you be able to keep it up. Only if you enjoy what you are doing, will you be looking forward to coming back to it after that unplanned break.


You might also find an opportunity to exercise whilst your child is at their after-school practice. Walk briskly around the ball field, team up with another parent for extra motivation. That hour your children are at dance practice you could meet your PT and use that time for you.


The Hogarth offers a wide range of group classes, which are a great way of getting back in shape. Maybe one month your target is to try them all out? Hopefully you will *find some exercise buddies to share your experience with*. Having a set time or times every week can be helpful to make some of those group classes part of your routine. Exercising with a partner or a group increases motivation and consistency. Having an exercise buddy or group keeps you accountable. You are more likely to show up if you know someone is expecting you to be there. Also: a nice cup of coffee with your friends afterwards sounds worth the effort beforehand!


Television is always tempting but overdoing it can set your exercise back. Don’t allow yourself to watch TV unless you are on the Cross-trainer, bike, or treadmill in the gym or unless you have already exercised that day.


Make a chart or tracking you activity on an app may be the solution for you to keep yourself accountable. True, only to yourself but if at the end of the list sits a nice reward, something we truly look forward to like a spa visit or a deep tissue massage… what can go wrong?! 

As I finish writing this article in isolation – see another unplanned interruption! - my final words of advice are;
start at your own pace, find what works for you and be kind to yourself.

Nicole PT family