The Her Movement Interview: Rosie Stockley
Interviewed by Sabrina Greenberg-James
Rosie is a seasoned fitness expert having been trained at the Equinox Fitness Training institute in New York, along with professional dance training from the Royal Academy of Dance in London, which continues to inspire her approach to fitness. Well known for her energetic bootcamp classes and her intelligent and holistic approach to personal training, Rosie has worked with a ride range of clients with equally diverse fitness goals. After the birth of her daughter, Rosie founded MAMAWELL when she discovered there was a gap in the market for educating women on the changes their body had gone through in childbirth and how this would affect their workout. MAMAWELL offers bootcamp-style classes for post pregnancy, personal training for during pregnancy and post pregnancy, and the MAMAWELL Method, a downloadable video series, making Rosie’s informed approach to postnatal fitness accessible to all women who have become mothers. Visit www.mamawell.org for more.
How has your own experience of being a mum influenced the development of the MAMAWELL Method?
When I’m working with mums, my messaging is around getting strong for yourself. You have to help you with all the new challenges that you have in your life, and find some balance. For me, it’s also finding that half an hour where you can do something for yourself and only you. That is a game changer.
As a mum myself, I could definitely relate when my clients were experiencing a lack of motivation or worrying about tackling the work outs. I created the method by picturing what they would need to see in each session to make it manageable & something that could easily be integrated into their lives. I learned that not everyone would be able to get out every day. You might have bad days or lack of sleep. That’s why I wanted to make something that can be done at home, so it was as accessible as possible.
Getting your heart rate up, doing a work out, makes you feel good. If I can just get people started, I think it would have a knock-on effect. As a mum myself, I understand that it’s much more challenging to exercise now, then back when you don’t have as much reasonability. I have put all that into the method to try and get people energised.
There is a huge lack of postnatal fitness education out there, where would you recommend women to look, to feel more informed about their post birth body?
First of all, always check your source is credible. Anyone who is qualified to tell you about post-natal fitness should have a qualification they can tell you about. Whether that comes from a training side like myself or the medical, physio side. They should always be credible.
From a fitness point of view, instructors should be able to answer your questions clearly if they are qualified. Equally, if they are not, they should be able to refer you confidently to someone who is a specialist. For example, even though I know quite a lot about the pelvic floor, I’m not a doctor or a physio, so I have a team of people I know and respect, and will always re-direct people rather than push on and presume to answer all their questions.
Be careful of Instagram! People who just say; ‘Do this work out, I have had a baby! are not qualified to tell you what is best for your body. Even if they are showing you a good exercise, there are different adaptations depending on your personal needs. There is no one fits all guide, particularly when you have had a baby.
I didn’t know anything about women’s health physios until I had my baby. I didn’t even know about my 6 week check until a friend told me! When I went, there were no probing questions about incontinence or the state of my mental health. If you have any doubts about your pelvic floor, or of you are not sure if things are feeling right, you should go see a women’s health physio - they can also just give you the right exercises, and they are available on the NHS. I will always check if people have gone to see their GP before starting my boot camp.
Time is a huge barrier to entry for new mums. How does MAMAWELL help them incorporate fitness into their everyday lives?
The MAMAWELL method is made up of videos you can do at home at any time of day with very little equipment. I also recommend activities for everyday living, like walking, that you can incorporate into your daily routine alongside the videos to help structure your week
The timing is flexible - they are around 35-45 minutes long, and that includes a good warm up and cool down. It’s long enough, but not too long! The format for all the videos is the same, you go through the warm up, cardio, strength, core, and then cool-down, The idea being, if you get used to the format, and are short on time, you can just focus on maybe the cardio section, or the core as you need to.
I also provide a Slow Flow, which is around 20 minutes of mindful breathing, settling the body and beneficial stretches for areas that are really tight post birth, such as chest and back. Just a flowing natural movement, like yoga, which is great to be done on a more fatigued day.
What is the most common concern or misconception about fitness you hear from the mums you work with?
I see a lot of people wanting to get into it too hard and heavy, too early. I think there are a lot of hormones at the beginning that bolster you from feeling so fatigued. They can make you feel quite invincible even though you’re tired! We want to get back to everything so quickly we don’t necessarily know about the main issues that could arise.
For example, a lot of people don’t know that much about diastasis recti, which is abdominal separation. If you go to a postnatal class the instructor should check for you, or be able to refer you to someone who can.
On a similar note, not knowing about hormones, like relaxin, that you have in your body from when you are pregnant to when you stop breast feeding. Its actual purpose is to prepare the body for birthing, so it softens the ligaments in the pelvis so it can move apart. It therefore can lead to over stretching and hyper-mobility. This makes you more prone to injury.
I also find that some women think they can’t work out because they are pregnant, that they have to rest or can’t let their heartbeat go above a certain level, or shouldn’t lift a weight. Of course, you need to exercise around the realm of your ability and personal confidence. It’s up to you how good you feel about doing each move. But it will definitely help you throughout your pregnancy, and after the birth, to be fit and feeling strong and confident. If you are unsure of what exercises to do when you are pregnant make sure to get advice from a suitably qualified professional before embarking on any programme.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone wanting to move more, what would it be?
I would always say to focus on the activities of daily living. You don’t need to do a spin class to be active. 30 mins of brisk walking is definitely enough. I always suggest walking, and I recommend scheduling it in, for example, if you are going to a café to meet your friends for coffee, leave half an hour, forty mins early. Get in the park with your favourite podcast, make some time for you and that’s your activity done.
Your pelvic floor is an area you want to focus your exercises on, so find three times a day. Even if it is every time you are waiting for your kettle to boil, that is your pelvic floor time. Just fix it in and it when it becomes a routine, then it’s not so much a chore!
The third one I talk to my clients about, is core activation. Not crunches or anything like that, just activating from the inside helps you to start feeling it more. When you bend to pick something up off the floor, or just pushing the pram around! If you can just activate your core when you are doing that, that’s your exercise done, and you don’t need to schedule in a class!.
After you have done your general activities, my other advice would be to just find something you love because you don’t want another barrier to entry. If you love going to yoga, do that. If you love running and you want to start doing it again, do that. If you just love walking, do that. Find something you enjoy. If you can, find some friends to do it with you, you all go together, and it becomes something you look forward to as opposed to a chore. That’s for everyone, not just mums. Find activity you enjoy, and you will be committed to it.
What are some of your frustrations with the health & fitness industry?
Lack of quality content! There are too many influencers, i.e. people who have just given birth and talk about fitness, but they don’t have any specialist qualifications. Are they really qualified to talk about anything just because they have a large audience?
Another frustration is the focus on looks and ‘bouncing back’, and not on an overall balance of wellness and promoting energy and mental health. That’s what I try to do with every piece of messaging. Yes aesthetic changes are a happy result of doing some exercise, but that exercise is also going to lift your mood and help you meet nice people and find a balance in your daily life.
That’s the thing with goal setting An aesthetic goal will only ever take you so far, but a goal for strength: i.e. ‘I want to lift my body weight’ - as a result might change my physique, but that deeper goal, that challenge, that will keep you going long after you have toned your stomach for your holiday.
I get very frustrated with all the cheap, easy content out there. The quick fix diets… Fitness, health and wellness is about you living a long, pain free life. Focusing on that rather than a quick fix.
Rosie is offering Her Move readers an exclusive 15% discount off the MAMAWELL Method when it launches on the 31st March 2019. Just enter the code HerMove15 at checkout!