The best way to get your body back after a baby

…is by going to Pushbabies in Barnes!

Warming up in the playground at the start of a class

I had 2 babies in 2 years and my body was, to put it mildly, knackered both times. I found a way to get back in shape that was really effective, sociable and fun. Crucially, it didn’t put any strain on the bits of my body that were still recovering. So I wanted to share this absolute gem of a class with you. It’s called Pushbabies and runs at the Wetland Centre in Barnes. The lady who runs the class is Pauline Crawford.

I have known the lovely Pauline for 3 years now, and I’m very grateful to her for putting my body back together. Twice! So I’ve done a little interview with her so she can share the secrets of how she’s been helping mums in Richmond get back in shape after a baby for the last 15 years.

Hi Pauline, tell me a little about your background?

I trained as a dancer at the Arts Educational School and went on to dance professionally on stage, TV and all around the world [she’s being very modest — this lady was in Pan’s People!]. I moved into Fitness in the early 80’s when Jane Fonda was on the scene! It was very exciting and new. I managed Fitness Centres for Hammersmith and Fulham council for 20 years which also involved teaching and running a diverse programme of fitness classes too. After having my daughter Darcey, I trained to teach Yoga and Pilates and stopped working full time looking to develop other interests. Having children inspires many of us to want to broaden our horizons…..

You class has been running at the Wetland Centre in Barnes for 15 years now. How did you come up with the idea originally?

After having Darcey, I needed to get back into shape with my NCT girls. There were NO classes for Mums and babies then. The lovely female manager at the Wetlands encouraged me to start a class. Working out with Mums and Babies with their buggies just seemed like a great idea, especially in the beautiful grounds of the Wetlands in Barnes. My daughter is 17 years now so many of the original babies are nearly adults. I hope I’m teaching long enough to meet their babies!

Who is the class for?

Pushbabies is for Mums to come and get back into shape SAFELY and EFFECTIVELY after giving birth. Mums need to have had their post natal check with their Doctor or Health Professional to ensure they are safe to start exercising. I also encourage all my Mums to have a Mummy MOT with a Womens Health Physiotherapist to see what’s going on internally- its really important and has implications for the rest of your life!

Walking and chatting are part of the class

What kind of exercises do you do in class?

The pressure to be superwoman and return to pre baby body is huge now and many Mums start back too soon and too intensively. It takes time and special care to get your pre-baby body back. I focus on getting the posture back to where it should be by strengthening weak areas especially the deep abdominal muscles, stretching tight muscles and safe cardio work to burn some calories. And we have FUN!!!

Why did you choose the Wetland Centre to hold the class?

The Wetlands in Barnes is an oasis in the middle of London! How lucky am I to teach Pushbabies there? We use the great outdoors and access a studio with the best view indoors for floorwork. No dogs, no cars and a great café to sit in post workout. Did I mention free parking too!

No other workout studio has this amazing view

How important is the social aspect of the class for the women who attend?

When you are a new Mum you want to talk babies and this is a great opportunity to do that and meet other likeminded local Mums. I recognise that the coffee afterwards is almost as important as the exercise…and the cake!

We always stay for coffee and cake after class. Always.

What if babies cry during the class?

We are all Mums. We know babies cry! New Mums are often anxious about this but we reassure them that everyones baby will cry sometimes. There are plenty of places to hang out and feed baby and I am always available for cuddles- they call me the baby whisperer.

So if someone wants to join the class, what do they need to do?

Baby needs to be a minimum of six weeks old and the Mum should have had a post natal check with a Dr or Womens Health physio.

New Mums can just turn up on the day with baby or give me a ring or e mail me before and ask any questions. There is no pre booking, no termly fees etc. It’s a drop in class.

Happy mums = happy babies too!

Thanks so much for your time, Pauline! I’ve loved every minute of the classes and feel so much stronger because of them. I’m about to head back to work so my time at Pushbabies has sadly finished. If you’re a mum on maternity leave, you want to get back into shape and meet some other local mums, I really urge you to give the class a go.

Pushbabies run at the Wetland Centre, every Tuesday and Thursday at 9.30am, come rain or shine. The class is £5 for members of the Wetlands Centre and £7 for non-members. My advice is to wear layers of comfortable clothing and don’t forget to bring some water. You can bring babies and toddlers in your regular push chair or pram. And if you can, stay for a coffee and cake at the end with the other mums. It’s a great way to meet people and connect locally.



Do you have a favourite local fitness class that fits in with parents’ busy schedules? Let me know via my social pages below, and I’ll feature it in future.