Late last year, Maria Kang aka. Fit Mom seeped into worldwide news coverage when people either felt outraged or supportive of her “you can do it after kids!” message.
In the UK, Dr. Joanna Helcké is deserving of the title “Fit Mum.”
I expressed to her what many young twentysomethings have going on in our minds but are too afraid to admit aloud. The thought of getting pregnant and losing the baby weight scares me when as a young woman, it is hard enough keeping thin and fit without going overboard. We have to work, look thin but not skeletal nor too chunky, study hard and have the perfect everything. How can anyone get fit after children when life is so hard without them!?
In her own words, Dr. Helecké explains how she found her career providing guidance to new mothers and is inspirational to women who may feel looking good with so many expectations from society and your friends is too hard.
My name is Dr Joanna Helcké – but everyone calls me Jo – and I’m a specialist in pregnancy and postnatal fitness, juggling career alongside looking after my three “lively” boys. In what seems like a lifetime ago, I used to work in an entirely different field as a university lecturer, which explains my title of “Dr.” I had a pretty good career really – the youngest lecturer in my faculty, a regular speaker at conferences and I had quite a few publications under my belt.
But then it all changed when I had my children. Much as I adore my three boys, I can’t say that I found it all that easy transforming myself into Mother Earth. It all seemed rather hard work, to put it mildly, and to make matters worse my employers wanted me back at work NOW, if not sooner!
But within the general whirlwind that is life with three little children, I managed to carve out a little space of peace and tranquillity. It was called exercise. I discovered that exercising regularly not only made me feel wonderful, happy, liberated and filled with positivity but it also gave me the ability to cope so much better with everything that daily life throws at busy working mums. It was, frankly, close to miraculous.
And so it was that after having my third son I embarked on a new journey, one where I would be able to pass on the incredible benefits of exercise to other mums and mums-to-be. I spent two years retraining and specialising in this field and then launched my UK-based pregnancy and postnatal fitness, www.zest4lifeuk.com, offering a whole range of classes for mums-to-be and new mums.
The fantastic thing was that I could literally create whatever I wanted, and so my classes were designed to include all the things that I would have loved to have had when I was a new mum but which didn’t actually exist at the time.
I’m a great believer in exercising outdoors – I always say that it’s good for the soul – and so whatever the weather the intrepid mums who come to my classes find themselves outdoors. Similarly, exercising and socialising should go hand in hand in my opinion, and so Zest4lifeUK has become a kind of extended family over the last five years with friendships blossoming – so important when it comes to fighting postnatal depression and the baby blues.
So my local business has been very successful. Mums have loved what I offer, to the extent that last year they voted for me in the What’s on for Me national awards and I ended up winning Best Sports Health or Fitness Group. At the same time I have spent the last 2½ years working on taking my pregnancy and postnatal fitness to women everywhere via an online membership system. It’s been a huge project creating week by week filmed Pilates workouts designed for each specific week of pregnancy and of the postnatal period, alongside writing masses of supporting material ranging from recipes and food planners to exercises to relieve back pain and tips to manage pelvic girdle pain.
My online pregnancy and postnatal fitness system finally went live in November 2013 on www.joannahelcke.com. It’s very exciting to think that I am now able to help women anywhere in the world keep happy, healthy and fit during pregnancy and build up their fitness levels and help them lose the baby weight postnatally. My dream is to create an online community of mums-to-be and new mums who will be able to support each other wherever they are, all whilst keeping themselves fit and happy and – this is the important bit – doing it all the right way, so that they don’t damage their bodies by doing the wrong sorts of exercises. I see so much misinformation out there and my mission is to show pre and postnatal women how to go about fitness the right way and still get the results they want, all whilst having a fun and sociable time.