Time wasting exercises for a new mum or mum to be

As busy new mums or mums to be we simply don’t have time to waste doing exercises that are ineffective in getting us results or that may even cause us injury. Exercise time is precious and need not involve hours in the gym on various machines. For a pregnancy and post natal exercise programme to be effective, the right exercises need chosen and they to be performed correctly with good technique. Think quality rather than quantity.

So which ones should you avoid, why should you not bother doing them, which ones
would be better, and how can you make your exercise programme more efficient
and effective?

Here’s the top five time wasting exercises you can do and what you can do instead to
get a shapier, well-balanced more sculpted look in less time!

1. Bicep Curls

Many people still stand there performing the bicep curl up and down with a dumb-bell
or bar. The bicep is one of the smallest major muscle group of your body, so it
doesn’t need as much attention as you think and secondly the curl is an
isolation exercise.  An isolation exercise means you are only exercising one muscle, in isolation, and ignoring the other muscles which complement it, known as the ‘assisting’ muscles.   Isolation exercises are not functional.  When you do daily activities your body does not just use one muscle in one direction to do something.

For example. When you lift a box or car seat you are not just using your biceps. You are also using your shoulders, forearms and triceps. By not allowing the other muscles to assist and support the main muscle you can promote muscle imbalance plus miss out on multi-tasking your muscles in one move!
Which exercise to do instead.
The push-up which tones your shoulders, chest, biceps, triceps and abdominals in one move.  So, you get more for your money and time!

2. Abdominal curls (or sit-ups)
Endless rounds of sit-ups or abdominal curls is not the most effective way of flattening
your abdominals after you’ve had a baby. Firstly the move will actually make any separation of your abdominals worse, leading to lower back pain. Secondly most people perform them with incorrect technique. Thirdly it is simply not a functional move – that means that you are only recruiting one muscle the rectus abdominals (or six-pack muscles) in only one direction lying on your back.  In everyday life and activities you do not lie on your back lifting your head and shoulders up!  The sit-up or crunch misses out on engaging the deep abdominal muscles, the transverse and the obliques (waist).

Two things you need to do with post natal strengthening of the abdominals:
One is to learn to control your abs by re-connecting and re-training them when they are doing exercises so they can ‘switch on’. Two, you need to do stabilisation movements. This means your body is in a position where it must stabilise your spine and pelvis for a certain amount of time. Your body learns to co-ordinate and recruit the deep abdominal muscles (the core stabilisers) which have been most effected by pregnancy – it’s these muscles (which are like a corset, deep
muscles wrapping around your body) that flatten the abdominals post pregnancy. 
Which exercise to do instead.
Focus on improving core stability with planks (pillar holds), side planks (side pillar holds), hip extension holds, and all fours opposite arm and leg reach variations such as the ‘bird dog’.

3.  Leg extensions

My pet hate! This is where you are sat on a machine in the gym, with your back supported and our feet under a roller thing. You extend your legs up level with your knees and then bending them to take them back to the start position.

This exercise isolates your quadriceps, front thigh muscles.  Most peoples front thigh muscles are stronger than their hamstrings (back of thighs) and glutes (bottom) and just focusing on strengthening these, whilst ignoring the other muscles creates a muscle imbalance leading to injuries.  As you are also sat on a machine you are not
using the glutes (bottom) or hamstrings, which you can also exercise and tone in other more effective exercises whilst at the same time sculpting your thighs. You can also
damage your knees as you can lock these out when extending the legs.  As the knee joint is commonly stressed during pregnancy due to weight of the growing fetus and a weakened core, you wouldn’t want to make this worse!
Which exercise to do instead.
Squats, lunges and power skips

Bonus Tip.  Incorrect technique
Even good exercises such as the plank and the squat and lunge are ineffective if
performed with incorrect technique.  Plus this can lead to injuries and pain which set you back from exercising.
In the plank for example you must avoid letting your hips sag or flexing your
lower back. Your body should form a straight line from your neck through your
With the squat you should load your heels, keep your abs tight with your navel
slightly pulled in and focus on squeezing your glutes as you extend up to
standing. Your knees should not go forward over your toes.

If you are unsure of the incorrect technique it is worth hiring a personal trainer or attending a group class so that you can be shown the correct form, which is easier and more effective than trying to work it out for yourself!

Aching after your exercise session? Ways to reduce the soreness

Ever experienced soreness the day or two after an exercise session?  Many people have! It is known as Delayed Muscle Onset Soreness (shortened to DOMS) simply – muscle pain, muscle soreness or muscle stiffness. It is usually felt when you begin a new exercise program, change your exercise routine, or increase the duration or intensity of your exercise routine.

Try not to be alarmed even if you are pregnant.  Delayed onset muscle soreness is a normal response to the different exercise or exertion and is part of an adaptation process of your body that leads to improved stamina and tone as the muscles recover and build.

The soreness will be at it’s worse within the first 2 days following a new, more intense activity and slowly subsides over the next few days.

Tips for Dealing with Muscle Soreness After Exercise for both pregnancy and post natal.

Try these methods to deal with your discomfort, they are not all are backed up with research, but many people ease the soreness with one of these remedies.

  • Use Active Recovery. Low-impact aerobic exercise such as swimming or walking increasing blood flow.
  • Some R and R (Rest and Recover). The soreness will go away in 3 to 5 days with no special treatment.
  • Try a Pregnancy or Post Natal Massage. Some research has found that massage may help reduce reported muscle soreness and reduce swelling,
  • Try an Ice Bath or Contrast Water Bath. (Not the most popular option (!) but if you go for this one, take a Holiday/Travel Magazine in the bath with you and just fill the bath so your legs are covered. An Ipod with favourite music will take your mind off the cold too!
  • Gentle Stretching. Many people find it simply feels good, although there is no evidence that stretching alone reduces muscle pain of soreness,.
  • Listen to Your Body. Avoid any vigorous or high impact activity, which is certainly not suitable in pregnancy or soon after a baby in any case or exercise that increases pain.
  • Warm Up completely before your next exercise session (this is a vital part of theBeezKneez classes which is why we incorporate the dynamic stretches). This can help reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness
  • ** If your pain persists longer than about 7 days or increases despite these measures, consult your physician.

How to ward off a cold this Christmas

Being such a busy time of year and with the cold weather reallly kicking in so many of us and our kids come down with colds, coughs and the flu as our immune systems are lower and our bodies less fit to ward off the illnesses!  Boosting your immune system is key to not only recovering faster but also means you have less chance of catching the cold and sickness bugs in the first place.  So I picked our Scrummy Mummy, Nutritionist’s, Steph Ridley’s brains for her top tips to ward off colds and flu this Christmas so you can enjoy the festivities and not have to spend it in bed with a box of tissues!
Vitamin C and ‘antioxidants’ are key to boosting your immune system. These are found in fruits and vegetables and whilst your diet may include plenty of these the amount of actual vitamin C your getting from your fruit and vegetables may not be as high as you think. Vitamin C is water soluable and heat sensitive so these elements deplete their levels. Any heat processing, which occurs during the manufacturing process of juice, and boiling or cooking vegetables reduces the vitamin C content.   

  •  So, always buy a juice which says ‘NOT from concentrate’. Orange juice from concentrate is more radically heat processed. Better still squeeze your own from pure oranges.  
  • Drink a mug of hot water every morning with lemon and manuka honey will give you a real boost. The lemon contains vitamin C and the manuka honey is a natural antibacterial agent.
  •  Steam your veg – we often think by eating vegetables and fruit we are having vitamin C but if these have been subjected to prolonged heat this destroys the vitamins and nutrients. Steaming and stir-frying your vegetables is the best way to retain vitamins as they are quicker cooking methods.
  • Add a daily handful of berries such as blueberries, blackberries or Strawberries to your breakfast or snack you’ll be taking in more antioxidants to boost your immune systems
  • Eat plenty of green vegetables in particular brussel sprouts – these have high levels of vitamin C.

For a lovely green vegetable recipe which takes just ten minutes to prepare, go to the Beez Kneez recipe binder on the bbc good food website.

How to get glowing skin

What you eat can influence the health of your skin. Eating the right nutrients for healthy skin formation and supporting detoxification pathways naturally, to reduce toxin elimination via the skin, can all help. Steph Ridley, Nutritional Therapist and founder of Nourish to Flourish’s easy essential tips to glowing skin:

        • Keep hydrated – skin cells lose water every day so you need to replace it by drinking fresh, filtered water daily – ideally 1.5 litres/day
        • Include plenty of liver-supporting veggies in your diet to promote natural detoxification pathways – these include onions, leeks, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, beetroot and artichokes.
        • Essential fatty acids – ‘essential’ being the key word! These are needed to keep skin cell membranes fluid and supple. Make sure you have enough in your diet by including some raw nuts/seeds each day and organic eggs (well cooked) and oily fish, such as salmon or sardines, twice a week. Alternatively, find a good quality omega supplement (suitable for pregnancy/breastfeeding if necessary).
        • Vitamin-C rich foods – a vital ingredient to that all important ‘glow’. Vitamin C supports collagen formation needed for healthy skin – raw tomatoes, freshly squeezed juices, peppers and berries are all good sources.
  • Avocados can be eaten regularly as they are a rich source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant found in sebaceous gland secretions believed to help protect fats needed to keep the skins surface supple.
  • Five a day – five pieces of a mix of fruit and vegetables means a good intake of fibre that helps clear toxins from the gut that can otherwise work their way back into the body for excretion via the skin.
  • ZZZZZZ – Keep your skin clear of toxins by using suitable beauty products and getting your shut eye!  A good 7 hours of sleep each night if possible – this is when your body does most of its skin regeneration. (or take a nap when your baby naps and do not feel guilty about it).

Delicious Baked Fish

Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Soak a pinch of saffron in 2 tbsp warm water.

Slice 1 medium potato per person into 1cm slices and par-boil for approx 6-8mins. Drain and layer them across the bottom of a roasting pan, big enough to hold a sea bass/ sea bream (for 2) or any white fish.

Clean the fish and slash it several times each side and then season.

Lay the fish on the potato slices and scatter 2 red peppers, 1 courgette and 2 large handfuls of cherry tomatoes either side of the fish and pour over the saffron water, a glug of stock and cover with several sprigs of thyme and/or parsley. Drizzle over 4tsp regular olive oil and season.

Cover with foil and bake for approx 1hr or until the fish is cooked through. Serve with a handful of leaves and some olives.

Recipe courtesy of Stephanie Ridley, Nutritional Therapist.  info@beez-kneez.co.uk or www.nourishtoflourish.co.uk

Stretch for back ache

This stretch releases muscle tightness in the back, a common complaint during pregnancy and after the baby. The extra weight from carrying your baby around (both prior to him being born and afterwards) means a lot of pressure is placed on all the muscles around the spine. The stretch also improves flexibility in the back.


  • Kneel on all fours, hands under shoulders and knees under hips.
  • Spread your fingers with palms flat and draw your belly button up towards your spine to bring your head, neck and back in alignment and straight.
  • Breathe in and tip your bottom up towards the ceiling, looking up and drawing your shoulders away from ears and slightly together.
  • Breathe out, tuck the chin and look down and pull your belly button up towards your spine. Round up your back and feel a stretch down your spine.
  • Repeat for four to six breaths, moving slowly and smoothly between each one.


Don’t brush off the Brussels

Adults can be as bad as children when it comes to pulling funny faces at the sheer mention of ‘Brussels Sprouts’ (you know who you are). But did you know these little green gems could help to boost your immune system, stave off fatigue and give your skin a glow? Read more..

This is because Brussels sprouts are a great source of vitamin C – just one sprout can contain over 16mg, so you pregnant ladies need only eat 3 sprouts per day, and breast-feeding Mums only 4 ½, to get your reference nutrient intake (RNI) for vitamin C.

Vitamin C is known to have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. It’s also a powerful antioxidant, helping to prevent damage caused by excess free radicals in the body (e.g. from pollution, toxins, oxidised fats).

But it doesn’t stop there ….vitamin C also increases the absorption of non-haem iron in the gut (i.e. iron from non-animal sources such as lentils and spinach) and is needed for the production of collagen, which supports healthy joints and skin.

Brussels sprouts also have a low glycaemic index, meaning they help to stabilise blood sugar levels, which is key when fatigue is a problem.

If you don’t fancy them steamed, then why not try steaming then lightly frying in some olive oil with garlic, chilli, ginger and a dash of soy sauce – delicious! And they are in season right now. Quick! Scribble them down on that shopping list!

Juices for Better Abs and Skin: Day Two: Five Star Skin Juice

beetroot_juiceFive Star Juice.
Highly recommended for Pregnancy!
Containing: Orange, Beetroot, Carrot & Ginger

This makes enough for 4 people

x 6 Medium Oranges (Peeled)
x 1 RAW Beetroot (Peel and half – wear gloves!)
4 Medium Carrots
(Peel and cut in half)
½ inch of Ginger

Pop all ingredients into the Juicer and Juice.

Add crushed ice or ice cubes if you like.


Why it’s TheBeezKneez..

Oranges. Improve appearance of your skin. Oranges are a well known source of Vitamin C required to boost immune system to fight infections and disease. Plus it helps increase iron absorption to improve energy. Oranges also help improve your complexion!

Beetroot. Perfect if you feel fatigued. Much better than a bottle of pills! A powerful blood cleanser and tonic. It really helps boost immune resistance and is often used in treating anemia, iron deficiency.   Make sure to use and eat RAW beetroot as the properties are more powerful as the nutrients have not been depleted in the cooking process, like the vacumn packed beetroot. Also has a long history of use in the treatment of cancer. Some studies have shown specific anti-carcinogenic substances in beetroot.

Ginger. Helpful in providing morning sickness relief and aids digestion. Good as you can’t take many medications during pregnancy.


Carrots. A single carrot will give your body your daily Vitamin A requirement. Near the top of the list of vegetables that help protect against cancer. If you want to stay looking young (yep) and wrinkle free eat plently of carrots. Extremley high in Vitamin A, C and E for your skin, eyesight and circulation.


How to exercise safely during pregnancy

If you’ve exercised before your pregnancy, there are no complications with your pregnancy and your GP or health practitioner has given their agreement for you to exercise you can continue. If you are new to exercise always consult with your GP or midwife before starting an exercise programme.

Here are some essential tips to take on board when exercising during pregnancy.

This is the must to any exercise as it prepares your muscles and avoids injury and decreases post work-out aches and pains.

Shorter, regular workouts are better and will keep you motivated than longer sessions that are less frequent.

Regulate your body temperature
Wear loose fitting clothes that do not soak up sweat or add layers that you remove easily. Exercise in a well ventilated room and not in high heat. Drink water before, during and after exercise.

Prevent and reduce the risk of hypoglycemia or fainting
Consume adequate calories and keep exercise sessions to less than 45 minutes.

If you have gestational diabetes
Take particular precautions with exercise: monitor blood glucose levels, regulate meal times, incorporate rest periods and monitor baby movements and uterine contractions.

Keep an eye on your posture and correct!
The added weight from the abdomen and breasts can cause the upper back and shoulders to round forward, your lower back to arch and hips to tilt forward (so the bottom sticks out). Performing pelvic tilts, standing or sitting help re-align your pelvis, correct the arch of the lower back and reduce lower back ache.

Hormonal changes with the production of ‘relaxin’ lead to increased joint suppleness and hyper-mobility. Stretching too far means you can tear delicate tissue and cause injuries. Stretch only the muscles that feel tight. This is individual and over the cause of life, some of your muscles get tighter than others, depending on which you use or overuse more. If you do not feel the stretch, it feels too easy or if you feel any real pain – the stretch would not be for you. Hold the appropriate, desired stretch for 10-20 seconds and take deep breathes throughout.

A healthcare professional or qualified coach should oversee weight-bearing exercise in women affected by joint suppleness changes.

Train with Friends and get into Shape for Summer

Our Train with friends programme is a unique and alternative way to getting fitter and improving your body shape, post baby or children. The programme is for 2-6 people and tailored especially for Mums.  This is no bog standard programme or class! Our aim is to get you results, show you what to do and how to do it effectively. It’s also convenient as the programme is delivered to your front door, home or venue of your choice.  The small group friends environment means motivation,  consistency and camaraderie!  The specifically qualified post natal trainer provides you with personal attention and specific exercises like the prestigious-ness of personal training with less of the cost.  

A six or twelve week group training plan is a combination of a post natal specific exercise and nutrition programme addressed to meet each individual client in the group, their pregnancy, type of birth and fitness requirements. You may wish to shed those post baby pounds, improve your general energy and fitness to meet the demands of being a Mummy or simply get to work on re-discovering, flattening and strengthening your stomach muscles and core post pregnancy.

The Initial Consultation session:

  • You and your friends meet with one of our trainers to discover how we’ll get
    you fit after having a baby
  • Groups of 2 to 6 friends
  • Held at a venue of your choice*
  • Cost £20 per person
  • Includes all equipment & materials required to demonstrate what we would use for your full programme

TheBeezKneez “Train with Friends” Programme:

  • Six week fitness programme for between 2 to 6 friends
  • Weekly group training sessions with your Personal Trainer for six weeks (approx. 45-60 minute sessions)
  • A six week personalised fitness programme provided to every client
  • A weekly nutritional check provided to every client, for the 6 weeks worth £99*
  • Cost from £150 to £250 per person dependant on group size

The programme will include:

  • Discreet weekly weigh-in & measurement of each participant
  • Targets & monitoring
  • Two meal plans, quick, easy nutritious recipes,  portion control advice & guidance*
  • Exercise technique, education and guidance
  • Movement, mobility, posture and stretching evaluations
  • Weekly progress and programme adaptations (where required)

Prices for six week programme: (off peak times)

  • Two clients £245 per client
  • Three clients £225 per client
  • Four clients £205 per client
  • Five clients £190 per client
  • Six clients £180 per client

Off peak times are Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm.

Peak times are Monday to Friday 6.30am to 10am and 4pm to 8.30pm. Saturdays and Sundays from 8am to 3pm. Please add £30 per client to the total cost of the six week programme if you wish to train during on peak times.

*Please note this does not include:
- venue hire costs if you are training in a studio or hall
- additional nutritional follow-ups or meal plans provided
- programme times are subject to ‘marrying up’ clients preferred training time with availability of the personal trainer

Nutritional Consultations are provided by Skype or telephone.

Childcare can be provided during the programmes at an additional cost. Please call for details.

Limited spaces available. London only.  Call 020 8 354 1583 to book.