My Journey through Pregnancy to Winning UK’s Fittest Pair

Poppy at Farm Fitness

I would like to take this opportunity to share my personal journey, from keeping fit during pregnancy, to getting back to training after having my baby. If you are going through this yourself, the most important thing I would like you to take away from reading this is that everyone’s training and pregnancy journeys are different, it’s about finding what is right for you.
When I found out I was pregnant I was excited and nervous after having some previous complications. Due to this, I thought it was not going to be possible for me to train whilst being pregnant which I didn’t like the thought of, not just for the physical aspects and health benefits, but for my mental well-being, as training helps me manage my anxiety.

I was advised by medical professionals that I could carry on training and that it would be good for me, good for baby and importantly, it would not have caused the previous complications that I had. This was a massive relief but I still proceeded with caution and listened to my body.
I am blessed to have a great support network of friends around me. Family, trainers and training partners, who helped and supported me the whole way through – from 4 weeks to 40 weeks –  I could not have achieved what I have without each and every one of them.
The first obstacle to overcome was to get into a whole new mindset and alter my approach to my training. Rather than looking to improve and get fitter, stronger and hit new PBs, my training needed to become all about maintenance, staying healthy and mobile, while listening to my body. Throughout my pregnancy, I suffered from a condition called SPD which made walking, running and anything where my feet weren’t planted and stable very uncomfortable.

With the help of Farm Fitness trainers Claire, Tom and Physios (Claire & Hayley), I was able to keep mobile and work my training around this condition. I found that removing any carrying exercises, like farmers walks or sled push, really helped. I changed my training further to suit my body as I grew and after starting off with a fairly small bump, I ended up with a HUGE Bump!

We joked a lot that I was going to have the baby at the farm, but as much as I would have liked to have seen the look of pure terror on Tom’s face, luckily that did not happen. 4 days after my last session with Tom at the farm, I had my son, Oscar.

I was lucky enough to be given the all-clear by the doctors and begun training 6 weeks after giving birth. I had a check-up with Hayley before I started to check my diastases. I was lucky that it wasn’t bad and I definitely think the training helped my body recover faster! I worked closely with fellow trainer Claire during these first few months and she was amazing! She kept me motivated and helped me function on little to no sleep and helped me feel like I could get back to full fitness. There where times I didn’t think that it was possible, let alone be stronger and fitter than before I had Oscar.

Before my pregnancy, I had trained and competed with four other girls. During my time off, they had all carried on training and competing and made lots of improvements. I found it very hard not to compare myself to them and get frustrated. I needed to remind myself what my body had just done something amazing and to not be too hard on myself.

I set out to focus on my own progress, easier said than done when training with four determined girls and being trained by Tom and Claire, getting my butt kicked week in week out. But slowly, with their support, I was able to see an improvement in my performance. Week by week further improvements came, and with determination, I found myself at a point where
I felt I could contribute to a team in competition again.

I entered into turf games with a mixed team which really gave me something to focus on and a new goal to push me to get fitter and stronger than I was before becoming a mum. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed being part of a team.
Training after sleepless nights was tough and then there was the ‘mum guilt’ about taking my baby to the gym whilst I trained and not giving him my undivided attention. I was very lucky to be able to take Oscar with me, he actually smiled and enjoyed watching me workout. Now he’s a bit older, he’s even started copying my training, lifting broom handles and miniature D-balls, even copying my grunts and groans while lifting!

It was brilliant but also nerve-wracking to be back on the competition floor six months after having Oscar. In the Turf Games comp, we made the top 10! I was really happy to have been part of such a great team and to see how far I had come in a short amount of time.

This feeling of achievement inspired me to enter the women’s pairs at the National Fitness Games with my partner, Hollie. I pushed on in terms of strength and fitness training, looking to improve my PBs before the games. Unfortunately, COVID and lockdown hit the UK so the NFG was postponed! Not to be disheartened, we stayed focused on our goals had and kept training.

I did lots of FaceTime workouts with family and friends throughout this period. Having something to focus on really helped my mental health and wellbeing, especially where I wasn’t able to spend time with loved ones in person.

Finally, we received a new date through for the NFG! We had done all we could to get ourselves into the best shape we could for the competition. Whatever the outcome, I was proud of how far I had come in 16 months. We both felt fit and strong leading up to the competition. In the back of our minds, a top 10 placing was what we were aiming for, top 5 would be a dream.

The National Fitness Games did a fantastic job and put on a wonderful event whilst making it a safe environment for the athletes involved. All of the Farm Fitness teams came together to support one another throughout the day and this atmosphere helped push us both to achieve PBs in the strength block. I had the biggest deadlift of the day, something I couldn’t believe! Everyone gave it their all and I couldn’t be more proud of all of my teammates.

The results took a day to come through and the wait was agonising. We had done our best, that’s all we could have done. When the results were finally posted, we found out we’d won our category! I couldn’t believe it! WE HAD WON THE NFG! And against some of the toughest competition around! All the hard work had paid off. I felt a huge sense of achievement and pride, not only in myself and the journey that brought me here but what we had achieved as a team.

One of the things I had really struggled with was self-doubt, I didn’t believe that I could actually do it.

I have realised that I need more confidence in my abilities and to believe in my self more. This is an ongoing journey and something I will always be working on.

We all have our own journeys when it comes to pregnancy and training in the gym. This was my journey, and yours can be whatever you want it to be.  

I could not have done this without my amazing friends, family and everyone at Farm Fitness! Not only do I get to train, but also coach, helping people achieve their own goals and hopefully start a journey of their own!

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