How to fit in fitness when you are a busy mum

Exercise is often one of the things that becomes less of a priority once you have children. It can just get pushed to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list.
But if you knew that you could do a great workout in just 20 minutes three times a week, then it suddenly becomes more feasible. Our nutritionist, Stephanie Ridley, a mum of two and business owner of Nourish to Flourish shares her secrets of getting fitter with no time.

  • Choose five key exercises that use more than one muscle you can do in the bathroom when you children are in the bath. They will love watching you.
  • Take the children to the park and when they are on their scooters, do walking lunges or walking squats beside them, these are a great exercise to do to tone your thighs and outdoors exercise helps lift the endorphins, putting you in a better mood and increasing your energy.
  • Some parks now have outdoors cardiovascular equipment so whilst your little ones are playing you can watch them from the stepper! Intervals are best for fat burning it is important to get your heart rate up. Aim 45-60 seconds at a fast pace then 45-60 secs rest and repeat 4-6 times, depending on your fitness
  • Exercise at home doing whole body strength and conditioning workouts to tighten your post natal core, tone your muscles, strengthen your pelvic floor and get your metabolism burning fat. Use minimal equipment and an IPod for music. This saves time traveling to a gym. Consider a home personal trainer to take care of your exercise programme



Ten Top Tips on Taking Time Out during Pregnancy

It’s important to take some ‘me’ time during any stage of your pregnancy (but I’m sure you don’t need an excuse!). So, let’s relax the bump (and you)..Janay from the Birth Specialists gives us ten top tips ways to chill out.

  1. Take 5 minutes to put your feet up. Lie on your left side on the sofa, especially in the third trimester of your pregnancy.
  2. Go for a pregnancy massage – you will not be asked to lie on your tummy if you go to a specialists pregnancy massage parlour.
  3. Book in for a wonderfully relaxing Reflexology session – your feet are meant to be the map of your body! Make sure you see a Reflexologist, who is qualified to treat pregnant women.
  4. Listen to your favourite calming music. Music has the ability to transport you to a great place and time.
  5. Meditation or visualisation is a brilliant way of relaxing your body. Life gets so busy and stressful that you really do need to take the time out to purposely relax.
  6. Laugh out loud! Laughing released endorphins – the body’s feel good hormones. Spend time with people you love, watch your favourite comedy, tickle your partner!
  7. Go for a walk and get some fresh air and (hopefully) sunshine! Take time to notice the miracle of nature. When you are out in sunshine take off any glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses to all the sunlight into your eyes.
  8. Take a relaxing bath or go for a gentle swim – you are buoyant in water – so a lovely way to take the weight off!
  9. Breathe! We know this sounds simple but taking just 5 minutes to focus on breathing in and out deeply will give your body time to relax and repair.
  10. Enjoy each moment of your pregnancy. 40 weeks go by in a flash – so take pictures, keep a diary and savour the moments.

For some great relaxation audio, specifically for women who are either pregnant or have recently become a mum, you should check out the birth specialists website. You can either choose the cd or the mp3 download version of all tracks to sooth anxiety and get you to ‘switch off’. Click here to see their range of recordings.

Pregnancy Fitness and Yoga Fix

Discovering you are pregnant is one of the most exciting moments of your life. However, maintaining your fitness and health routine and preparing your body for birth can be a little confusing. People tell you to ‘put your feet up’  and ‘take it easy’. Others tell you to swim and do yoga or pilates.  But what about when you come to have the baby? Your baby may be 4kgs and you have to lift, bend and carry your baby around with you all day long on not very much sleep.  So being mentally and physically prepared and fit to do your new job as a Mummy helps get through those first months (trust me I know, I had my second baby 7 months ago!).

We have the solution to help you prepare in pregnancy and feel fitter during and after the birth. We’ve teamed up with Yoga West, London’s leading private yoga and pilates provider, to offer an exclusive pregnancy fitness and yoga course designed to support a Mums to be fitness and birth preparation.  The course consists of 1 x week yoga class and 1 x week fitness with core conditioning class over six weeks. The best of both worlds – yoga to relax , release tension and improve suppleness.  Fitness with core conditioning to tone your whole body, strengthen your core and avoid excess weight gain. It aims to give mums to be the confidence to keep fit and maintain a healthy routine. It strengthens  pelvic floor, improves hip flexibility, helps maintain tone and cardio-vascular fitness and teaches breathing techniques to help through labour and birth.

The course it taught at two locations in Chiswick, West London. Pregnancy yoga is taught at yoga west from 11-1215 on Thursdays. Fitness and core conditioning  is taught with TheBeezKneez at The Arts Educational School on Tuesdays at 7.35pm.

More about the classes….

Pregnancy yoga works to release deep tensions in the body and help you feel your best as your baby grows and your body changes, building your strength and suppleness. It is suitable for beginners or mothers with a developed practice, from 14 weeks until your baby arrives.  It weaves powerful breath work into the classes in preparation for labour, practice postures that are useful during labour and birth and end with a deep relaxation. The atmosphere is very welcoming, supportive and light hearted approach. The Yogabirth style has been developed over 30 years and is a safe and effective mix of Scaravelli style yoga and birth education.

The class is taken by Lulu Winfield. Lulu has been working around childbirth since the late 90′s.  She is a doula, reflexologist, childbirth educator and yoga birth teacher and trained for two years under Lolly Stirk and Yvonne Moore  – founder members of The Active Birth Centre and Movement. She has trained as a hypno-birthing teacher in the Marie Mongan method and currently mentors trainee Yogabirth teachers and doulas. Lulu infuses her classes with powerful breath work to draw the attention deeper within and uses cleverly adapted poses to reveal both the softness and strength in the mind and the body, essential in preparation for birth. She is a hugely popular teacher with a unique and joyful touch and is passionate about sharing the transformative power of yoga.

Pregnancy Fitness and Core Conditioning with TheBeezKneez.  Featuring modified pilates, cardiovascular bursts and pregnancy body sculpting exercises in a circuit style format. All exercises are specifically for pregnancy to effectively target those areas which get weak and flabby, strengthen the core and address the postural changes that can cause pain and stress.  Ideal for getting you fit for pregnancy, avoiding excessive weight gain, improving your core and strengthening pelvic floor and postural muscles to alleviate back ache.  The class is fun to upbeat music and shows you how you exercise safely and effectively. Suitable for trimester two and three and if you are carrying twins or more.

The class is instructed by Joanne Martin, who has over 12 years experience at teaching group fitness classes. She has specialist qualification in Active IQ Level 3 Award in Designing Pre and Post Natal Exercise Programmes and also instructs Post Natal classes both outdoors and indoors.  She instructs not only at The Beez Kneez but with other health clubs in West London and is a very popular well known instructor for inspiring Mums and Mums to be to exercise during pregnancy and beyond. A mum of two herself, she has first hand experience of pregnancy and childbirth.  In her classes she shows top conditioning moves which are a fantastic way of maintaining fitness and giving energy a boost prior to the arrival of your baby.  Her experience and The Beez Kneez specialist programmes created by founder Vicky Warr with Jo’s input show you the many benefits, ultimately helping you to maintain body shape and tone throughout your pregnancy.


Yoga West: 02073811673
The Beez Kneez: 020 8 354 1583 or

The workouts are already having a positive effect on my slouchy shoulders and sticky-out tummy….

You can really notice the difference our classes make to your body and your confidence – read one of our New Mamas Alison’s  review on our Post Natal classes…

“I have joined a postnatal exercise class run by Beez Kneez ( The instructor Vicky Warr has designed the classes really well to help new mums get their pre-baby figures back. We do lots of work on the abs and other toning exercises as well as cardio to burn those calories! Vicky makes us work really hard and after only 3 sessions, the workouts are already having a positive effect on my slouchy shoulders and sticky-out tummy plus I feel so positive after the class. It’s also fantastic you can take your baby with you. They all sit at the side in their car seats and look on in amusement!  Last week, we were doing the aerobic part of the set and galloping up and down the hall with stretchy bands round our ankles and I looked over to Lauren who, rather than sitting nicely like all the other babies, was crying and clearly had a big leaky nappy -  all down her trousers. AAArrrgghhhh! That girl has got a really good sense of comic timing. Anyway, the classes come highly recommended. I believe exercise is really important in making you feel good about yourself and especially so when you have baby-body blues.”  Alison Lakey, Chiswick.

Halloween Special: Curried Pumpkin Soup

A very healthy, easy to make soup, that’s delicious. Perfect for Halloween!

  • Good source of Beta Carotene (Vitamin A) for good eyesight
  • High in antioxidants to prevent cell damage that can lead to types of cancer
  • Contains Vitamin E, for good skin
  • Easily digested and the seeds are rich in Iron for energy, phosphorous and potassium for metabolism, magnesium for proper nerve and muscle functioning and zinc, improves immunity and sex drive!

Ingredients (serves 4):

2 tbsps of Olive Oil
1 large Onion, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
1-2 tbsps of Curry Paste
900g Pumpkin, peeled and diced
900ml Vegetable or Chicken Stock (organic, low salt)
Pinch of Black Pepper

How to make:

  • Heat 2 tbsps olive oil in a large saucepan (avoid letting the oil smoke ), add the large onion and Garlic (crushed) and cook for about 5 mins or until onion is softened.
  • Stir in Curry Paste, according to taste and cook for a further 2 minutes
  • Add 900g Pumpkin, peeled and diced and continue cooking for a further 5 minutes
  • Add 900ml vegetable or chicken stock and black pepper, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft.
  • Allow to cool slightly then blend in blender or liquidize in food processor until smooth.
  • Return the puree to pan, adjust seasoning and add a little more stock if necessary.
  • Reheat until hot and serve with warm, crusty wholegrain bread.



How to relieve Sciatica in pregnancy

Sciatica is painful but can be prevented through hamstring stretches and doing pelvic
tilts.  If however the hamstring stretch causes further pain, stop immediately.
A physiotherapist, experienced with pregnant clients will help you release any other
tight muscles that may be causing imbalances leading to the Sciatica.

Hamstring Stretch

  • Sit on a block, towel or exercise mat and stretch one leg out in front of
    you with your knee straight and bend the other leg slightly to the side
    ensuring you feel comfortable.
  • Place your hands behind your bottom to help shift your weight onto your seated bones and lift and lengthen your spine.
  • You should feel a stretch down the back of the leg which is stretched out from the bottom to the back of the knee.
  • Hold for 8-10 seconds continuing to breath.
  • Then point the toe and release and circle the ankle one direction 3-5 times then in the other direction 3-5 times.
  • Repeat this whole stretch and ankle rotation on the other leg.

Pelvic tilts

  • Do these on all fours starting hands under shoulders and knees under hips.
  • Keep your lower back flat and shoulders away from ears.
  • Breathe in and as you breathe out, tilt your hips and pelvis as if rounding off
    your lower back and drawing your pubic bone up towards your navel.
    Relax breath in and return to neutral.
  • Repeat 5-8 times.

Ten Minute Core Restore and Flat Abs Programme

Before beginning this ten minute flat abs programme be sure to warm up with some dynamic stretches beforehand for 5 minutes. 



Straight Arm Pushup Hold

  • Start the movement in a pushup position.
  • Extend your arms into a pushup.
  • Hold that position for 10 secs and rest for 3 secs and repeat 6 times.
  • Alternative: Rest on forearms and elbows with elbows under shoulders




Alternative option below: 









Left and Right Side Pillar Hold

  • Lay on the ground on one side. Raise your body using one
    forearm and support it in this raise for 10 secs, rest for 3 secs and repeat six times.
  • Lower your body and repeat on the other side.
  • Remember to keep your head, neck and body in a straight line.






Hip Extension on back (with or without band – arms by side if you not using a band)

  • Lie on the floor and place the resistance band across your waist (if using) and pin it to the floor with your hands.
  • Squeeze and clench your bottom (NOT your back). Keep you back flat (tilt hips)
  • Extend your hips up towards the ceiling keeping your feet on the ground.  Hold position for 10 secs then rest for 3 secs. Repeat 6 times. 
  • More challenging option: Lift one foot off the ground and bend the same knee pushing the foot in the air towards the ceiling as you hold your tight glutes (bottom). 






Bird dog (opposite arm and leg raise on all fours!)

  • Start by placing yourself on your hands and knees.  Draw in your navel slightly so you feel your abs tighten. Keep shoulders down and away from ears.
  • Slowly raise your opposite arm and opposite leg and extend them out away from the body. Hold for 10 secs and rest for 3 secs. Repeat 6 times.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat with the other side.
  • Always keep this movement slow and controlled. Never flex your lower back. 






Standing Hip Extensions

Start by placing your hands on the back of your hips.
Slowly shift your hips forward using your muscles and your hands.
Only push until a comfortable stretch or range of motion is achieved. Hold for 5 secs and repeat 5-6 times

Psoas Hold (knee raise) (picture not shown)

Stand tall. Lift one knee up so that your knee is higher than your hip. Aim to hold with good balance for 10 secs, rest for 3 secs and repeat 6 times. Then replicate move on other leg. Be sure not to flex your spine. 

Overcoming a Nagging Pain in the Arch.. Plantar Fasciitis

I had this once when I started to increase my running. It can be really sore and a right pain (pardon the pun!).

Plantar Fasciitis is an inflammation of the strong fibrous bands that run along the bottom of your foot. It helps maintain the arch and holds the foot rigid as you walk.

Along with the muscles and bones this connective tissue, the plantar fascia, forms the arch of the foot. You will usually feel plantar fasciitis pain in your arch and heel as shown in the diagram to the right. When first arising standing you may experience heel pain which is the fibre stretching at the plantar fascial enthesis when the foot is bearing the body’s weight. After walking around the pain can ease. When applying thumb pressure the pain is worse at the heel bone.

Sometimes known as Heel Spur Syndrome, plantar fasciitis is one of the injuries most commonly experienced by young runners, post partum women, golfers, athletes and also those who stand for long periods of time on hard surfaces with poorly fitting or supportive footwear or pumps. There is also high incidences in people that are overweight in their 40s-60s and in 20% of cases, pain can occur for over a year if it is untreated..

The vast majority of people with this pain may

also have feet that over-pronate.

If you have flat feet or high arches, take extra care as you are more at risk. Tight archilles tendons put more risk on the fascia, so make sure you stretch both of them and your calves.


Try one or more of the following methods to help improve the condition:

  • An ice massage the area for 10-15 minutes. Fill a paper cup with water and freeze it. Peel off the paper, place the ice under the foot and roll your foot over it, from the heel to the ball and back.
  • Taping your foot before jogging or running can help relieve the discomfort. Follow this by stretching the calf muscle, to within limits of pain, which is very effective.
  • One stretching method is to use your toes to pull a towel, piece of paper, or marble off the floor.
  • Place a golf ball under the base of your big toe and roll the foot forwards over the ball to the base of your second toe, and repeat. Do the same motion starting from each toe, exerting enough pressure to experience a little tenderness.
  • Sit on the floor with one knee bent and the same ankle flexed towards you. Pull the toes towards the ankles. Hold for a count of 10, and repeat nine more times.
  • Wear proper supportive shoes. Running or athletic trainers with excellent support, no or minimal heel, and well-cushioned soles. You can also include padded or gel inserts
  • Use felt, gel, viscoelastic, or synthetic heel pads that spread and are shock absorbing as the heel lands on the ground. This eases pressure on the ligament structure of the plantar fascia that supports the longitudinal arch of the foot.
  • Aim to lose weight – bone, joint, muscle or nerve pain tends to worsen with more weight the body has to bear.

Read More…

Banana pancakes for the family

pancakes7Pancake Day – I love it!  Feeling the need for a healthier version to adding chocolate and sugar, I sought Stephanie Ridley’s advice on how to make my pancakes healthier!

Nutritional  Therapist Stephanie says “These are great because the banana adds a sweetness which means you can get away without adding extra sugar on top – and you get the added nutrition from the banana (vitamin B6 for energy, vitamin C for healthy skin and combating stress and manganese for healthy bones) that you don’t get from sugar. Instead, serve with a dollop of plain, probiotic yoghurt on top (to up the protein content) and a handful of fresh blueberries or blackberries, if you want.  You could also add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the mixture. Cinnamon has been shown to improve blood sugar control, so it may be particularly beneficial if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes or you suffered with gestational diabetes yourself”

Here is the recipe from Food Republic:


For Meal Plans for Post Baby and top ten tasty snacks, check out our facebook page


Post Natal Exercise: Get a Beach Bottom

This exercise tones both the outside and main part of your bottom as well as you inner thighs. It is great for reducing fat from the stubborn bottom area.


Place your hands placed behind your head and stand with feet close
together at a stance with one foot centred in a small towel (use on a wooden floor).




Look straight ahead, keep your head up, tuck your bottom under and keep your spine long and body in centre of balance. Pull and ‘lift’ your belly button up to keep your abs. tight.
Slide your foot with the towel directly out to the side at a 45 degree angle, hinging and going back at your hips. Avoid any rotation of the hips.
Your upper thigh should be parallel to the ground.
Stop when the towel sliding leg is fully extended.

Repeat for 10-12 on the same leg then switch legs. Perform 2 sets on each leg.

Pregnancy version: hold on to the back of a chair so the chair is at your side, with the leg that will slide being furthest away from the chair. Instead of using the towel, simply step back into the position.