Meet The Locals: Rachel Smith From Run Club for Mums

May 2, 2024

Rachel Smith is a Caloundra-based personal trainer and the owner of Run Club for Mums, which has helped countless mums return safely to exercise.

She’s also a part of the Mum Safe network of trainers who specialise in helping new mothers.

Twice a week, Run Club for Mums meets Rachel at the Caloundra Cricket Club for their morning training sessions, which include childminding for those attending. We recently sat down with Rachel to discuss her amazing work.

Rachel, we always see your groups training down at the Cricket Club – tell us how you ended up with a speciality in training mums.

After having my own daughter in 2016 I saw a huge opportunity for mums returning to exercise as I discovered there was very little awareness around the topic. At the age of 33 I quit my corporate role in the travel industry and had a complete career change. Studied to become a personal trainer and then continued to become certified in Safe Return to Exercise for mums.

Since I began my personal training business in 2018, I also became a MumSafe Trainer where I am committed to continually up-skill. I believe every Mum deserves to know what her body is capable of. More recently, I also joined the actual MumSafe team, working alongside the founder, Jen Dugard, supporting our overall mission to ensure all mums are training safely and effectively at every stage of motherhood.

MumSafe is a network of personal trainers who own their own mum-focussed fitness businesses. We have over a hundred trainers across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UK. We are all certified in safe return-to-exercise for mums and have monthly masterclasses with ongoing education, coaching sessions and business support. We understand the importance of having an allied health team around us and collaborate with pelvic health physiotherapists, to ensure mums are always looked after from the ‘inside out’ .

Why do mums need special fitness training?

Your body changes after having a baby, and several considerations need to be taken into account when returning to exercise. This could include your birth story or whether you have any abdominal separation, as well as things like prolapse or incontinence. But they can all be managed.

A lot of women don’t go back to the exercise they did before they were pregnant, or they are hesitant or worried about some aspects of it. But others are eager to return, and you need to do that gradually and safely. I like to welcome all women into my sessions, educate them, and gradually help them ease back into it rather than having them rush in on their own or not do anything.

There is a big void in terms of care after you have a baby. You’ve been seeing your Obgyn, GP, or midwife while pregnant. Then, after you have your six or eight-week check postpartum, you’re left on your own. Although, thankfully a small minority of women may have been advised to get a women’s health check from a physio, there is still a long way to go.

So we try to bridge the gap between the six-week check and being left on your own. Our goal is to be seen as the leading provider of mum-safe training. And, in the end, it’s not just exercise; we play a bigger supporting role that ties into mental, physical, and emotional health and connection to the community.

Tell us about Run Club for Mums – when did you set it up and why?

When I first started my personal training business, it was all about functional fitness: getting mums strong to face mum life. But one of the most common questions I used to get was, ‘When can I return to running?’

Run Club for Mums started two years ago, in August 2022, so it’s only new. But we have loyal foundation members who have been with us from the beginning and I am extremely grateful.

Run Club is about removing women’s fear and providing guidance—a lot of the time, they don’t return to exercise because they don’t know where to start. We want to get women moving, whatever that looks like for them.

It’s not like a typical running club in that we don’t just meet and go for a run. It’s group training with individual attention and genuine care. We do strength and mobility, drills, and agility work, and we are training for high impact – so it’s gradual. Half of the session is building the foundation to make them stronger runners when they go out running by themselves. Typically, I don’t advise to start running til at least 12 weeks postnatal. In running terms it’s a little like the couch to 5km, walking and running, progressively building up over time.

I cap my classes at 12 per group. It’s integrated with different abilities and stages; we all learn from each other. Every session is different and tailored to the mums we have. Most importantly, we have childminding. If you’re sleep-deprived, it’s okay, you can take it easy. Showing up is all you really need to do. I want to remove pressure and guilt – as mums, we have enough of that already.

What do you enjoy about it?

I am so passionate about running, I love it. I really found a niche within my niche. I love the connections I get to build, too. It gives me such satisfaction. I am proud of the women and what they achieve – it’s really so rewarding when a mum can’t run around the field on day one, and they’re running 20 mins without stopping, with no pain and feeling awesome by the end of the first term.

Seeing their success and confidence change and seeing them become visibly stronger. The energy changes. To be honest, some days, I need them just as much as they need Run Club for Mums – I am open with them, which builds trust in the group. They are a big support to me.

What impact has Run Club for Mums had? How important has it been for the local women who have attended your sessions?

In a way, Run Club for Mums is building a community of like-minded women. Some of them say they don’t know what they would have done in this period without it. Run Club for Mums gives them time to themselves to work on creating better, stronger versions of themselves, and that has a knock-on effect on those around them. We are creating happier women from within. That results in happier kids and happier families.

From a trainer perspective, I would like other personal trainers to be able to deliver this program to their own local communities. Watch this space!

What’s your top tip for mums wanting to return to exercise?

Personally, after having had my now seven-year-old daughter I was guilty of rushing back to it and returned to running after my six-week check. Unfortunately I didn’t know any better at the time and it may not have been the best thing to do. I have learned throughout my journey and have a whole new understanding about exercising as a mum.

I think seeing a women’s health physio (I recommend Embody Movement) to make that part of postnatal care and get an overall check and plan in place is really important. The women I have who have seen one versus those who haven’t. They know a lot more and have made it a priority to look after themselves. You need to be kind to yourself as a mum and prioritise yourself because that helps those around you if you do.

Thanks for the chat, Rachel! Run Club for Mums meet at the Caloundra Cricket Club each Tuesday and Thursday morning during term time. You can find out more on the website: run-club-for-mums.mailchimpsites.com.

Caloundra City Realty

Article by Caloundra City Realty

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