Female Only Personal Trainer Maya Saffron on the importance of pre and postnatal fitness, especially for BAME mothers…
It’s no secret that BAME women in Britain die more than white women during childbirth. As a pre and postnatal PT I have a proximity to a whole range of mothers and mothers-to-be. From my experience BAME women are less likely to prioritise their fitness due to the familial demands placed on them. I currently have only two Asian postnatal clients and one black postnatal client and zero pregnant BAME women. This is not to say that ethnic minority women are incapable of exercising throughout their pregnancy and thereafter or even that they cannot afford the service. I am well aware of how systemic racism shapes society, stopping all people of colour excelling to the levels of their white counterparts. If you are still in disbelief/unaware of the disparity despite the most recent surge in BLM, then I urge you to do some research. However, Let’s table that for a second and pretend that doesn’t exist.
I have come to the conclusion that BAME women are less likely to prioritise their needs because most ethnic communities are set up on the basis that the mother is the backbone of the family and must ensure everyone else is good before she is! For example, in a typical Punjabi household husband and wife live with the husband’s parents and siblings and potentially his grandparents too! His wife will wake up and will start breakfast for the entire family (eldest first) and feed herself last. By then she’s definitely missed the 7am HIIT class at her local gym. She’s not unhappy about this or even slightly phased, it’s just how it is! I’m not knocking it at all, I think the west would greatly benefit from support from extended family. However, this model does not allow for a woman’s fitness to happen in a ‘conventional’ gym going way. Therefore BAME women think ‘it can’t happen for me at all, where am I gonna find the time?!’ FYI the example I just gave is without a baby in the equation.
This is a call to action. Beautiful BAME women, I know society doesn’t always make it easy for you, I know that there isn’t as much out there expressing your SHEER value in comparison to a white woman’s, but you are so very loved. Please start to prioritise your health and fitness, especially throughout your pregnancy and thereafter. You will be stronger, fitter and even happier. There will be obstacles, but you wouldn’t let that get in the way of making your little one some food – this is that important. The fitness model you see isn’t the only model! Grab an hour just before bed, in your bedroom, wear whatever you want, slap a YouTube HITT session on and bang it out! We are taking up more space now, there’s a way, you just have to find it.
1. Invest in something that will help remove obstacles, it may sound obvious but I’ve noticed that it’s not that new mums become less physically able to perform their regular exercise, but rather they are too overwhelmed by all the new things they have to do each day! Invest in something which will help gain you an extra 30 min when you need it, eg another pair of hands for two mornings a week, a bouncer for the baby or even a breastfeeding sports bra!
2. Prioritise your exercise, that means tell yourself each day you have to do SOME kind of exercise. I don’t want to add to your pressures, but this is something that will make you feel SO much better! So make a promise to yourself and one other person who you can trust to hold you accountable that you’ll get it done!
3. Don’t attempt things you did previously, without accepting that your body has just completed the ultimate fitness challenge (delivery) AND you’re still recovering. Trying to do what you used to straight after becoming a new mum, is the fastest surest way to give up!
Female Only Personal Trainer Maya Saffron specialises in pre and postnatal fitness