Brooke Shepherd-Wright is passionate about helping women train safely whilst pregnant and regain strength from the inside out postnatally. She also works with women to transform their mindset towards exercise and their relationship with their bodies. Having worked in the fitness industry for over 15 years, she is a MumSafe Affiliate and Trainer and also Safe Return to Exercise Accredited. Her pre and postnatal fitness classes are perfect for mums who are looking to safely protect and strengthen their pelvic floor and abdominals, alongside keeping fit and strong throughout pregnancy and postnatally. Here she talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the passion behind BRSW Pre and Postnatal Fitness, the challenges she has overcome along the way, and her hopes and dreams for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
When I was pregnant with my first baby in 2016, I began looking for more specific guidance for strength training whilst pregnant (over and above my 10 plus years of experience in the fitness industry as a personal trainer), but there wasn’t really anything on offer in my local area, so a little seed was planted!
A few years later (and after the arrival of my second baby), I injured my foot badly and I couldn’t help but think it was linked to being early postnatal and the changes in my body and hormones. Knowing what I know now, I had returned to running too soon after my first two babies without doing the proper strength work needed to strengthen my deep core muscles and pelvic floor. This led to wanting to deepen my knowledge in the area of training pregnant and postnatal women, to help others not make the same mistakes I did. This inspired me to complete Safe Return to Exercise, become a MumSafe™ Member, and start taking Pregnancy and Postnatal Exercise Classes in my local area of Hamilton, New Zealand.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
The timing was a little unusual, following our first Covid lockdown, with the uncertainty of what life was going to be like living with a global pandemic, let alone the economic implications, but it worked out well as it followed completing Safe Return to Exercise and the gyms reopening.
I got in touch with a good friend who had a boutique women’s gym, and in July 2020 I started a weekly class. I then made myself known to one of the local birth centres (where I had stayed after having my babies) and added in another class in the October of 2020.
I was also halfway through my pregnancy with my third baby (so again not the ideal time to be launching a business), but it was great to be training other mums and mums-to-be who were in a similar situation to me. Each week the workouts were adaptable to the different stages that each mum was at, and how they felt on the day too.
Some great friendships have developed from my classes, which has been so lovely to see and be a part of. Even now with my youngest just over 2, he has a couple of little friends from when he was coming to classes with me back in the early days before he began moving and causing havoc!
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
My biggest breakthrough was overcoming the fear of starting my own business following our first Covid lockdown, redundancy and being pregnant! It took some inspiration and a gentle nudge from the founder of Safe Return to Exercise and MumSafe™ mentor Jen Dugard to get out there, become known in my local area, and help pregnant and postnatal mums to exercise safely and effectively.
My training philosophy and classes are very different to many of the other, more intense forms of training. We work off a traffic light system where if you have had minimal sleep, are feeling uncomfortable, or haven’t had the time to fuel well before class, you may arrive as a “red”. At this point, I know not to push you, but instead gently guide with some restorative exercises. More often than not, the mum leaves feeling so much better for having done some form of exercise. When you arrive as a “green”, I have the permission to encourage you to push yourself more, add some reps or sets, or add a little more resistance. My programmes are a guide which are adapted every class to the mums’ abilities, and stage, so that everyone is working to their level and leaving feeling invigorated, not exhausted!
With a little over 2.5 years under my belt of taking classes in Hamilton, word is getting out, and I am beginning to be known in my local area, but it has been slow going with lockdowns and restrictions to work around. I now run some of my classes and personal training sessions from my home studio, which I set up just over a year ago.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
I have three “workdays”, which are the days that my two boys are in kindy and my eldest is at school. As for the rest of the week, it’s a matter of finding little pockets of time to jump on my laptop to do a bit of admin or record a video or reel (trying to keep up with the trends!) before the next round of mum duties begins!
Sometimes our weekend family adventures are thought up with a social media post in mind, but as long as I don’t take too many photos, the kids are usually pretty happy to play along. My daughter has even developed a bit of an interest in photography since I have had her take several photos of me in different settings.
I’m conscious of how much time I spend on my phone and laptop when the kids are at home so if something comes up when they are with me, I let them know that I just need to do a little bit of work then I try and switch off from it and continue with family time.