What?: I am not an exerciser. I mean obviously I’ve done exercise. Before I had Babu I used to walk six miles every day from Camden to Soho and back again, and long before that I was a member of a gym in Shoreditch where grimmo bankers used to come onto me in the steam room, which – by the way, men (and everyone else), is a horrible, horrible place to come onto someone. I’m actually a member of another gym now, believe it or not – not that I ever go, and if I did I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t get hit on in the steam room. There is no steam room, for a start. And I’m old now. I mean, I’m not complaining.
So yeah, I’m not big on the gym. Or exercise. But I still like how I feel after exercise, as well as being able to do up my clothes. And breathe. So I try to walk rather than take the bus (easier said than done with two under-fours in tow), and do a bit of pilates and yoga when I have the time (so never). I do find it hard to motivate myself though, and would always rather do a class than go it alone on the machines. But by the time evening rolls around and Adam arrives home to take over with the kids I’m almost always too knackered to head out to a class – that or Adam looks too knackered to reliably complete the bedtime routine on his own – so I don’t.
Back in November I was contacted by Camilla Hollweck, a London-based pilates instructor, pre- and postnatal expert and and mum of two, and one half of Mamma Method, an exercise class designed for mums that runs across West, North West and South West London. I’ll admit I totally skim-read Camilla’s first message and didn’t get the baby-wearing bit at all. My first thought was how the hell I’d find childcare for Roma while I went and did exercise with a room full of other mums who’d also all had to find childcare for their under-ones on a Tuesday morning. I mean of course it was a baby-wearing class – I’m such an idiot. But there’s an insight into the mind of a someone whose only in-depth conversations are with a very chatty three year old for you.
Our class with Keziah (the other half of Mamma Method) was at Huggle in Swiss Cottage, which is quite far from our house but also inexplicably quicker to walk to than to reach via public transport. It’s also up a massive hill, so I arrived already sweaty and knackered before I’d even strapped the giant baby to me. And speaking of giant babies, Roma was already properly pushing the top end of the age limit at this point, and basically looked like a fully grown woman compared with most of the tiny babies who all slept on their mums’ chests for the bulk of the class, although I think I can safely say I got a better workout than anyone else there with 20lb of Roma bound to my breast.
Seriously though, it was a really good workout. The kind that was fun and empowering and challenging without completely killing you. Basically the perfect amount of hard, with the added challenge of trying to entertain a baby who isn’t really a baby anymore and wants to climb stuff and nose around in people’s bags and poke other babies in the eye. With that in mind I was pretty relieved when it was time to put her down so I could do some floor work, but that presented its own set of challenges because then obviously I had to stop her from climbing stuff and nosing around in people’s bags and poking other babies in the face, all whilst trying to do some bloody pilates.
The most important thing to say though, as an extremely awkward person, is I never once felt awkward at this class. I actually loved it so much I went back the next week for a special class at The Wing, the fancy new women’s members’ club in Fitzrovia. And I’d go back again in a heartbeat, but sadly I think Roma has pretty much crossed over onto the other side (that being toddlerdom) and is unlikely to tolerate being strapped to me for 45 minutes again – and to be honest if she got any bigger I think she’d snap me in half.
But, if you’re lucky enough to be the owner of a new tiny person then I really can’t recommend this class enough. Sporty people always scare me a bit in case they’re anything like my school PE teachers and tell me I’m not allowed to leave until I’ve done a forward roll (true story), but Camilla and Keziah are the warmest, chill-est people you’ll ever meet, and genuinely no one gives a shit if you need to stop, whether it’s to feed your baby or just because your arms are aching – and they will ache, but in the best way. Now I just need to get pregnant and go through another nightmarish pregnancy so I can come back here…
Where and When?: Classes run on Tuesdays and Thursdays 11.15-12.10 at Huggle, Swiss Cottage; Mondays 1.30-2.25 and Wednesdays 11-11.55 at The Maqam Centre, Queen’s Park/Kensal Rise; Wednesdays 1.30-2.25 at Fresh Ground, Clapham Junction; and Wednesdays 1.30-2.25 at the Children’s Wellness Centre, Chiswick.
Best Bits: Exercise that’s fun and you get to hang out with your baby? Yes please!
Worst Bits: The aching literally lasted for three days afterwards, but I think that probably tells you more about my level of fitness than anything else.
Cost: Trial classes cost £12 and £17.50 thereafter.
Would We Come Back?: I’d love to, but you’ll have to lend me your baby.
Mummy and Roro post-Mamma Method workout at Huggle, Swiss Cottage