Interview with MumShape Founder
With the launch of our web app fast approaching, we decided to sit down and get up close and personal with MumShape founder Lisa.
Opening up about her journey as a single mum and a successful business woman, Lisa shares her inspiration for starting MumShape and future plans for the company.
What inspired you to start Mumshape?
I had just moved to London from San Francisco to pursue my career as an interior architect. Working for one of the best design firms in the world and leading a very fit and active lifestyle. When I unexpectedly became pregnant, my world took a sharp new direction. Instantly experiencing all these physical and emotional changes all at once and before I had a chance to get to grips with that journey, my little baby Mila arrived. I found myself totally overwhelmed by this new role of 'Mum' and desperately wanting to feel good about my body again at the same time.
Raising Mila as a single mum without the support network of my family, I rarely had any time to myself. So I began looking for nearby fitness classes that would allow me to bring Mila along with me. The only suitable classes I found near to me were through a local mama WhatsApp group but that required a commitment of 6 weeks.
As you can imagine being a mum to a newborn, it is not easy at all to commit to 6 weeks of classes. I wanted more freedom to pick and choose classes that I could attend whenever I had the time and suited my daily schedule. That's when I thought, surely there are other mamas out there who are also in the same predicament? So I set out on a mission to make physical and mental health more accessible, at convenient and flexible times and with no upfront commitment. And that's how my second baby - MumShape was born!
What was your biggest fitness struggle once the baby arrived?
Over the past 5 years, I ran quite a few half marathons and had actually completed one just before I became pregnant. It took me some time to adjust and come to terms with the fact that I may have to put marathon running on hold for a while. When Mila arrived It took me at least 2 weeks before I managed to get out of the house to go for a walk with the dog. And it took me another 6 weeks till I could go for my first gentle run.
What I didn’t expect was just how much pregnancy would change my body. My pelvic floor was a complete mess, every step I took on that first run post-pregnancy I actually pee'd my pants - I had no control! That was the biggest thing I struggled with.
What exercises helped you most during or after pregnancy?
There’s a common misconception that when we get pregnant we must give up exercising. But as long as you listen to your body you can continue most regular fitness classes for a few months. I continued my workout (adapting my workouts to how my body felt) at my local fitness studio for about 5 months and then kept up my fitness by simply walking the baby and dog. I also listened to motivational podcasts which helped keep my mental health in check.
Post-pregnancy I enjoyed going to strengthening classes with a fun approach. I joined an outdoor fitness class that had onsite childcare so I was able to focus and exercise with complete peace of mind. That’s part of the reason why I created this platform to feature baby-friendly fitness classes.
What’s your experience juggling a baby and a business?
There are definitely moments of stress especially being a single mother, but there is also a sense of freedom, I don't have to report to anyone and I can work at my own pace and plan out my schedule however it suits me & Mila.
I went into starting my own business with little experience, so I've had to do a lot of research, reading and learning as much as I can. I still sometimes struggle to find the right balance and have learned how important it is to allow myself a break.
What makes MumShape different from other booking platforms?
Our app not only focuses on mamas fitness but it also provides support in all areas throughout her pregnancy journey and beyond. Staying physically and mentally healthy during pregnancy can be difficult. We go through extreme hormonal changes and it can sometimes feel lonely and very overwhelming.
MumShape offers a membership that will provide mums access to baby-friendly classes, health experts and a community of local mums, encouraging them to work out together and share their struggles and motherhood experiences with other like-minded mums. Taking away that feeling of isolation and being part of a community that provides support when you need it. We aim to offer hands-on solutions and opportunities to talk to our in-house midwife.
Our aim is to engage and encourage women to start their wellbeing journey whilst they are pregnant so that they can get into a lovely routine that works for them. The more active and fit our mind & body is the smoother the pregnancy and birth journey. We make it our priority to support and guide women whether they are having their first, second or third child.
What would you say to a new mama who's starting out on her fitness journey?
If you were already active before pregnancy, continue with whatever makes you happy, obviously, take your time and adapt as you get closer to your due date. Your body will make you aware of what it needs and when.
If you haven’t been able to be as active as you would have liked through your pregnancy, I suggest starting slow with some pelvic floor exercises. Strengthening your core with yoga or pilates. And most importantly - don’t isolate yourself, get out there to meet other mums, connect, chat and share your feelings. Our mental health journey is just as important as fitness and will help you find the motivation to get active.
You seem to have your hands full juggling a baby and a business, what do you do in your free time if you have any?
I don’t currently have a lot of free time between baby and business, but sometimes I am able to sneak in a little run. It calms me - I get into a meditative state when I run. So this is kind of my time off away from the chaos, where I have the opportunity to clear my mind, reassess things and recharge my batteries. I also try to fit in at least one yoga session a week.
If you were able to travel back and start the business over, is there anything you would change?
I am a great believer that everything happens for a reason. Of course, the thought crosses your mind, ah maybe I’ve wasted some time there or I could have done something better or faster, but at the end of the day, it's all a learning process. I feel I did the best I could under the circumstances, being a single mum, juggling life and a start-up with limited time and resources.
This is what MumShape also represents, growing, learning and adapting as you go along. I wouldn’t be in the position I am today if I didn’t go through this journey and process exactly the way I did.
What’s in store for the future of Mumshape?
We are launching our Web App at The Baby Show starting on 28th of February 2020. And the excitement to exhibit and reveal what we’ve been working on for quite some time, is peaking!
Over the next few weeks, we want to double down on establishing ourselves in the marketplace and work on making the platform accessible to as many mums as possible. We are also looking into transitioning to a mobile app in the next few months, which will involve some amazing features and focus more on providing mental health support. With demand and the MumShape community continuously growing we also want to expand our reach beyond London to throughout the UK making it furthermore accessible to all mums.
We have so many plans and ideas for the future which I can’t discuss in too much detail now, but we are super excited about the future.
Follow us on our journey on social media and keep up to date as we take our next steps.