We caught up with Pip Black and Joan Murphy, of Frame, to speak about their new venture Mumhood, aimed to support you through pre-natal and post-natal, dispelling all the myths with regards to working out (and pigging out!) during pregnancy and helping maintain your healthiest and happiest you.
Back in 2009 Pip & Joan opened their first fitness studio in London called Frame; housed in a disused railway arch in Shoreditch, it was to become a seminal moment in the London fitness scene. Back then the fitness offering pretty much solely consisted of chain gyms that locked you into year long contracts and the world of 'keeping fit' was pretty stale. Frame burst onto the scene and tore up the rule book, with pay-as-you-go classes ranging from Jane Fonda Aerobics, to Beyoncé Dance workshops to reformer Pilates and yoga. We were one of the first through the doors and loved the inclusive friendly vibe. A gym studio with personality, Frame was a breath of fresh air, putting the fun into fitness and changing the landscape forever. Pip and Joan were game-changers and you can credit them as the catalyst for the vibrant and burgeoning fitness scene we see today.
With 8 years' experience running popular fitness studios for women and with both ladies now being mother's themselves, you know you're in safe hands with Mumhood.
What inspired you to branch out into the ‘Fit Mums’ category with Mumhood?
P & J: We have always offered pregnancy and postnatal classes at Frame, ever since we opened Shoreditch in 2009 as we strongly believe that moving your body is important, no matter what stage of life you’re at. However it was 4 years ago when Joan fell pregnant with Zayden that we really started to think about this category seriously. Being very active ourselves, it was quite a shock to find out how limited and contradictory the advice was out there for pregnant women who wanted to exercise. Everything urred on the side of caution and was targeted at someone with a very low base fitness level. Joan knew from growing up in NZ and having lots of friends who were becoming mums and living out there, that they were still very much encouraged to keep active during pregnancy, and this didn’t just mean having a gentle stretch at Pregnancy Yoga. Now that it had become personally relevant to Joan, we set about gaining qualifications and researching heavily with a number of experts from different areas (physios / midwives / pelvic trauma surgeons etc) to arm ourselves with the knowledge to put together some really great programmes aimed at women who were exercising pre-pregnancy. We created Frame BUMPS a fitness class that concentrated what pregnant ladies CAN do, rather than always thinking about the limitations. I became pregnant soon after Joan had Zayden and carried on teaching the classes and further researching.
Since then we have always had in the back of our minds that we would like to create online programmes and also physical communities for mums who want to work out, and last year when Joan fell pregnant again, it felt like the right time. We were seeing through Frame that many of our customer who had been coming to class for a couple of years, were falling pregnant and we were getting so many questions and requests at our front desks asking about what classes people could do etc. We could see that there was a market of women who were committed to working out during their pregnancies and fully understood the benefits of doing so. This is an education piece more than anything – we need to start understanding what’s going on in our bodies so that we understand what type on modifications we need to make to the exercise we’re doing. The benefits of working out whilst pregnant, and rehabbing your body correctly postnatally are so huge, both physically and mentally. It’s something we really believe in and want to do all we can to spread the word.
What are the added benefits of keeping healthy and active throughout pregnancy? What were your workouts of choice when you were pregnant? How often did you do them?
P: There are so many benefits to working out during pregnancy. This is not about losing weight / keeping weight off, but it’s about: Reducing pregnancy aches and pains e.g. Lower back + pelvic pain, preparing for labour (it’s an endurance event – you need to train your body for it!), a faster recovery post birth, increased energy, improving body confidence.
Preparing for life as a mum – strengthening your arms, upper back + shoulders so that you can carry a baby one-handed whilst cooking dinner / carrying a car seat. This is functional training at its best!
My favourite exercise during this pregnancy has been Reformer Pilates (it’s important that you know how to modify your session as you don’t want to be doing any exercises in flexion), Frame LIFT, a weight training class which works the bigger muscles and gives a great full body workout whilst being low impact, and Frame Barre, again a low-impact class but this time concentrating on the smaller, supporting muscles.
J: I loved doing Box Fit and teaching Total Body during my first and second trimesters as I knew how to modify and these classes really improved my energy levels and made me feel great. In my third trimester I stuck to pregnancy-specific classes such as Yoga and Pilates, as my body is naturally muscular and strong and for me it was more important to try and allow my body to relax prior to labour. We often find that the more ‘fit’ ladies, want to push it hard all the way to the end, but actually sometimes the education with these people is that you need to slow down to allow your body to relax and prepare for birth.
Medical guidelines on diet and exercise during pregnancy have changed drastically throughout the years, it can be overwhelming and confusing, with this in mind, how did you devise the Mumhood programme?
P: We made sure that we did our research. The main aim of Mumhood is to have a ‘one-stop-shop’ with all the latest research in one place. We’ve worked with all sorts of experts from different areas to ensure what we’re saying is up to date. One of the issues currently is that a lot of information that comes from the NHS for example, sometimes takes a little time to get up to speed, which is understandable as it’s such a huge organization with many layers.
J: We’ve tried to make the Mumhood programmes as simple as possible, with guidelines explaining the science to back up the programmes. We do a lot of talks at the moment, and it is amazing how little a lot of women know about the physiological changes going on in their bodies and the impact of these. This is why we’ve really tried to include an educational element to the programmes, not just ‘here are some exercises, go do them’.
We have regular webinars and closed Facebook groups for the programmes so that those on them have a platform to ask any questions, as everyone’s experience is different and there can’t be a ‘one size fits all approach’. It’s about providing a supportive environment where women feel comfortable and also know that we are talking from experience, both from being mums, and from working with hundreds of pregnant ladies and new mums across the past 8 years.
One of the biggest challenges as a mum, is finding the time and/or childcare to stick to a routine, how does Mumhood address this?
P: The videos are all short and can be done anywhere. We purposefully made the videos this way so that we have no excuses. Postnatal Phase 1 for example has a 15-minute video which is updated every week. Little and often is key and for rehab, as with any time, will give much better results.
J: The idea with the at home videos is that they are super easy to fit in around your baby’s naps or for the 15/20 minutes they are happy to be entertaining themselves. Alternatively, you can do first thing in the morning or before bed, when your partner can help out. The pregnancy videos are especially great for second time mums who already have a toddler to look after and can’t make it to a class or the gym.
We also offer classes in studio for both pre and postnatal as we’re all for sociable exercise, so it’s a great opportunity to meet other mums-to-be or new mums. Our aim is to expand to offer classes around the country so that all mums have access to an offline community to complement the online programmes.
Both being mothers yourselves as well as being #girlbosses, how do you manage maternity leave when you run your own company?
P: Second time round hopefully will be easier as we have a really amazing team at Frame now and are both less involved in the day to day business. I learnt a lot from my first maternity leave – I did too much, didn’t rest enough and said YES too often. This time I’m trying to take a leaf out of Joan’s book and going to spend more time at my parents or out of London so I can switch off more. It’s amazing having a business partner who you fully trust, and who understands what you’re going through and how tough it can be trying to find the right balance between work and family. It’s an ongoing issue but we’re getting better and learning from experience. We’re super lucky that our boys love their nursery (and each other!) and that we both love what we do, so it never feels like a chore going to work. I can’t imagine having to leave your little ones to go and do a job you hate.
J: I have just come back from maternity leave. I took 4 months off, but worked quite a bit during the 2nd month once I had recovered from the birth and whilst Jayla was still sleeping lots and I had a bit more time on my hands. I then went home to my parents in NZ for 2 months to get away (couldn’t go much further!) so that I would be able to switch off and enjoy my time with my family before coming back to work. We learnt how hard getting back into work with a little baby is from first time round, so we’ve learned and I planned to have help from my mum and then my parent-in-laws for a few months to help me get back on my feet. I also have been working on project work which is more flexible and I can fit around feeding Jayla etc.
Tell us a fun fitty fact about one another?
P: Joan used to Pole Vault for NZ! I have seen pictures – nice unitard!
J: Pip is a cardio queen – she can literally go on and on and on – better than even a Duracell Bunny!
How do you manage to switch off from the daily grind? Where is your happy place?
P: You have to commit to it. I’m a bit ‘all or nothing’ I definitely work too many hours but when I decide to switch off, I’m pretty good at being ‘in the moment’. When we have family time, I leave my phone somewhere I’m not tempted to look at it, and if in doubt a glass of wine or a G+T is a great way to relax at the end of the day. Now that Phin is getting a bit older, the dream situation is having lunch at a friend’s / pub garden where the kids can run around and the parents get to natter and tuck into a delicious meal!
J: Good food, nice wine, family… you can’t beat this combination!
When was your last cheat day? What did you eat?!
P: I’m 34 weeks pregnant and I need to eat regularly to keep my energy levels up. We’re all about getting nutritious food into our bodies (especially when pregnant and breastfeeding as you’ve got another one that this directly affects!) but I don’t follow a specific regime, just try to eat unprocessed, good quality food, cooking from scratch where possible. On Sunday I tucked into a bag of mini eggs that my mum had given me to make Easter nests with Phin… whoops, sorry Phin, your sister was hungry ;-)
J: I stick to the 80:20 rule. Eat well 80% of the time (unprocessed, natural foods) and allow myself treats for the remaining 20%. I am definitely someone who gets Hangry and need to eat regularly so I always keep lots of healthy snacks in my bag for smacks on the go. I am also partial to an ice cream – Pip always laughs at my ice cream shelf in the freezer – but will happily partake!
As you know, we love a slogan at Hey! Holla. If you were one of our slogans, which one would you be? Please answer for each other!
P: Dance like everybody’s watching
J: Drop it like a squat
Which women in health and fitness are inspiring and motivating you on social media right now?
P: @adrienne_ldn – we met her 3 years ago on the shoot for our first collaboration with Whistles. What Adrienne can do with her body is outrageous, but she’s also a super sound women, a mum to her gorgeous little Jude, a fighter and totally genuine.
J: @fit_moms_of_ig is a great account – it’s super inspiring as she shares all different mums working out and doing it with their kids to set a good example. It’s so nice to see a mix of different women doing it their way, rather than one person saying that their way is the only option… also to have a nice mixture of different body types is so important. Genetically we are all different, no matter what training we do / what nutrition we put into our body, we’re not all going to be 6ft and look like a super model, it’s just not physically possible!
What do you have coming up in your health and fitness calendar that your fans can see you at?
P & J : We’re at Be:fit / Balance / teaching at Frame on Saturday mornings (9am pregnancy fitness) 22nd April we have an event on at Frame KX
What is one workout / sport / activity that you have always wanted to try, but have not yet got round to?
P: I have a lifelong dream of a long distance sailing trip around the Med! One day ;-0
J: Arial / silks
We're huge fans of Frame, we would say you're responsible for reinvigorating the London fitness scene (thank you), how have you seen the scene and attitudes towards health and fitness change over the past eight years and how have you adapted your offering to match?
P: Our vision has always remained the same: To get more people moving and to spread the word that ‘getting fit shouldn’t be a chore’. At the beginning people thought we were bonkers and we had lots of people coming into Frame who hadn’t worked out since PE class. These days it’s much more common for exercise to be an important part of someone’s life… it’s almost like we have to re-iterate the message that it should be part of your life, but not necessarily YOUR ENTIRE LIFE. I think social media has a lot to answer for with exercise / health becoming an obsession, which in itself is not healthy… it’s a tricky one to find the right balance!
J: Our class offerings are definitely much harder as our customers demand tougher and tougher classes as they are getting fitter, but on the flip side we have also seen a huge increase in demand for classes such as restorative yoga, our anxiety workshops and low impact classes such as barre. I think we’re hopefully getting through to our customers that a good workout doesn’t always mean trying to push yourself to the max, but that sometimes your body needs other things, when we have stressful lives, adding more stress with regular high intensity workouts can actually do more harm than good.
Disruptors, trailblazers, hustlers, pioneers, mums, friends, girl bosses all monikers we would use to describe the dynamic duo that is Pip Black and Joan Murphy of Frame. We have no doubt Mumhood will be a huge success, there's such a gap in offerings for Fit Mums!
You can catch these lovely ladies in person at Be:Fit London on Friday April 28th, where you can learn more about Mumhood in their talk at 3pm on the Be:Fit London Live stage.