So, recently I went to my very first (postnatal) exercise class, and it was…amazing!
Ever since I gave birth, I have been trying to find mother and baby classes in my area. In the first few months, I had a brief look online and when I didn’t find anything, I assumed that the idea must be too good to be true.
So I started doing my own thing – I did YouTube workouts at home. I enjoyed the flexibility of fitting the workout around my busy schedule but eventually found it really hard to maintain. The main difficulties I faced were:
- I had to get the timing juuust right – most of the time my baby would wake up halfway through the workout. By the time I had put him back to sleep, I’d most likely have lost all motivation to continue working out!
- On the rare occasion that I managed to finish the workout, it barely lasted more than 20 minutes long. Because I was at home and surrounded by other responsibilities, I was constantly distracted by things around me that needed doing.
I realised after a couple of months that I couldn’t rely on home workouts alone if I wanted to take this exercise thing seriously.
So I started taking regular walks. Now, if you live in a particularly picturesque area, or perhaps you have a car and can drive yourself and your baby someone nice, this might just be your thing. Sadly, neither is the case for me! I live in the middle of a busy city, and beautiful parks are about as scarce as a breath of fresh air amid the pollution. I do love to walk though so I still try to stretch my legs a few times a week (usually just to do the shopping – but hey it counts!)
The Eureka Moment
After many months of searching, one late night a few weeks ago I found exactly what I had been looking for!
Frame (also known as Move Your Frame) is a fitness studio offering a wide range of workout classes that are designed to be fun and challenging in an unintimidating environment. Mumhood is a prenatal and postnatal health and fitness group which operates regular classes in Frame studios. These include fitness, HIIT and yoga, as well as other classes. The class sizes are small (usually under 10 people per class), which is great because you’re not drowning in a sea of people (and their sweat) and instructors get to see how you’re performing and tell you where to improve.
What do I do with my baby?
When you come with your baby to the classes, you can either leave them in the pushchair (if you’re lucky and they’re napping!) or you can place them on the floor with you, where they can watch in wonder while their mum looks like a crazy woman for an hour!
Don’t feel self-conscious if your baby cries because chances are they aren’t the only one! You can simply take a break from the workout to comfort your baby and get right back to it when they’re settled. If you’re a great multitasker (and it is safe to do so) you can still follow along with some of the moves with your baby in your arms.
The instructors are trained to help pregnant and postpartum women
The best thing about the Mumhood classes is that you feel safe knowing that the instructors are trained to deal with your postpartum body. On my first day, the instructor checked my abdominal muscles to see if I had any diastasis recti after giving birth and informed me of which exercises I should modify to help my body heal. I wasn’t checked for diastasis by my GP even once after giving birth (how?) so I was really pleased that by attending that class, I learnt how to exercise safely for my body’s needs.
Tips for hijabi women
For me, it was important that any exercise class I attend be female only with a female instructor. In general, it is so hard to find that! However, the perk of a mother and baby class is that it is by default probably a female only environment!
However, the studio as a whole is not female only – only the room in which you’re exercising is. For that reason, whatever you wear while working out should not be something that you wouldn’t want to be seen in if a man walked in for some reason (this has never happened to me, but I prefer to err on the side of caution).
What to wear
I recommend that you come to the studio wearing your usual clothes, with your modest exercise gear underneath. I wear my workout gear underneath a skirt which I take off inside the room. Underneath my skirt, I am wearing my jogging bottoms with a long top. After the class is over, I simply put the skirt back on before leaving to freshen up in the changing rooms.
Also, you should be aware that the toilet and changing areas are not very private (this may vary from studio to studio, but this is based on my experience in the branch that I attend). There may be male or female caretakers of the changing rooms, so you shouldn’t assume that it is a female only environment. For this reason, I don’t recommend getting fully changed or taking your hijab off.
4 reasons you should give classes a go
- Motivation: Being around other people who are trying to get fit is so much more motivating than being all alone at home!
- Prioritising your health: as a mum, it can be so hard to find time during the day to focus on your health. When you’re paying to attend a class, you are probably not going to miss it even if you’re feeling a bit tired that day!
- Confidence boost: The rush of endorphins you get from exercising is great for your mood and confidence. Plus, pushing yourself to do something outside of your comfort zone is a great confidence booster!
- Healthy mama, healthy baby: We are the biggest role models for our children. If they grow up seeing us regularly exercising and living a healthy lifestyle, they are much more likely to follow in our footsteps.
Invest in your health
The downside to the Mumhood classes – or any other classes for that matter – is the price tag. It is obviously much cheaper to simply go for a walk or exercise at home. If this works for you – great!
However, if you’ve noticed that days and weeks go by without doing anything active, maybe you should consider dedicating yourself to a class. What is worth investing in more than your health? We only get one body, and it is our responsibility to maintain its well-being. Just ask yourself truthfully if you the money you think you will ‘save’ by not investing in your health will actually be spent on something useful or not in the long run. If not, then what are you waiting for?!
Motivation from the Sunnah:
Whenever I really want to give up in the middle of a workout, I try to remind myself of this hadith:
قَالَ رَسُولُ اَللَّهِ ﷺ: اَلْمُؤْمِنُ اَلْقَوِيُّ خَيْرٌ وَأَحَبُّ إِلَى اَللَّهِ مِنْ اَلْمُؤْمِنِ اَلضَّعِيفِ, وَفِي كُلٍّ خَيْرٌ
“A believer who is strong (and healthy) is better and dearer to Allah than the weak believer, but there is goodness in both of them.
Allah wants you and I to be strong, regardless if you are a man or woman, young or old. The beauty of Islam is that it encompasses every element of life and seeks for you to excel in everything you do. There are countless hadiths which stress the importance of looking after one’s health, which is a precious gift and responsibility from Allah. Your body has rights over you! On the day of Judgement, every person will be questioned about everything to which they owed responsibility and care, and this includes our health and wellbeing.
If you remind yourself of this every time you come to exercise, you will receive so much reward for every breath you take, and every bead of sweat you produce inshaAllah!
It doesn’t matter how you choose to get active – there is no one size fits all solution. But if you’ve ever felt scared to try something new like a fitness class, I am here to tell you that it really is not as scary as you might think it is! Walk in confidently and with a smile, knowing that you are taking steps towards a healthier you. Refresh your intention every time and inshaAllah you will reap the rewards in both this life and the hereafter!