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A baby boom in the gym as newborns watch mums work out

West End star Sophie Evans lifting her son Jack as part of the exercise in this gym class
West End star, Sophie Evans, is following the road to fitness while not having to worry about childcare.

A mother breastfeeding while on an exercise bike may not be a common sight in most gyms.

But classes where parents take a break in working out for a quick nappy change are becoming increasingly popular.

The idea is to stop mothers feeling isolated after childbirth, boost physical and mental health and offer a safe space for women while exercising.

West End star Sophie Evans takes part in classes with 13-month-old Jack in Llanishen, Cardiff, meaning she does not have to worry about childcare.

Sophie Evans exercises as baby Jack, looks on from his pram
Stretching it out, Sophie Evans and baby, Jack
Sophie Evans and baby Jack lifting a ball in the gym
Sophie Evans and baby Jack getting to grips with the gym equipment

"When you have a baby your life completely changes. It is baby, baby, baby," said Sophie.

“Mothers can feel guilty when they prioritise themselves because you have a baby and you think everything should be about the baby, but I believe keeping physically healthy, makes my mind healthier."

The West End star, who has performed in Wicked and The Wizard of Oz is now following the road to fitness while not having to worry about childcare.

“This class is a place where I can let off some steam and if Jack needs a nappy change or is hungry, I can step aside from exercise and give him a bottle or change a nappy," she added.

“I've seen mums breast feeding while on the exercise bike. And I think 'wow you're incredible'."

Sophie added: “It is more of a community feel than a gym.”

Gym owner Rachael Sowden-Taylor and baby Rory
Gym owner Rachael Sowden-Taylor and baby Rory

Rachael Sowden-Taylor, who runs Mum Fit and is the owner of the gym, said: "You do struggle mentally throughout pregnancy because your body is not your own and it is changing.

"We design the exercises to make mums strong again.

"So they can deal with picking up babies, car seats and prams, and we prepare them to be strong for motherhood."

Rachael designed the class around what she felt was important after becoming a mum for the first time.

"Finding the time for exercise can be difficult but I wanted to give mums the opportunity to have this environment where they can bring the baby and not have to worry about childcare," she said.

"The babies love it too with the music on and seeing their mums exercising and sweating.

"We're building a nice little community."

Trainer, Harley Edwards and son Lake
Trainer Harley Edwards says she keeps prices low because of the cost-of-living crisis

Harley Edwards, 27, runs H-Fit in Cardiff and is mother to 19-month year old, Lake.

She offers classes at reduced prices to help in the cost-of-living crisis, adding: "When you're postpartum, the months right after childbirth, it can be an emotional rollercoaster.

"I think lots of mums are put off leaving the house, let alone exercising, so knowing you can go somewhere which is a safe space is so important."

She added "the postpartum baby blues are real", saying: "To do exercise can be one of the most beneficial things we can do to help with them."

Emma Clayton a regular at the classes in Llanishen exercises with her daughter, Olive, sat on her back.
Emma Clayton is a regular at the classes in Llanishen with her daughter Olive.

The classes at both gyms are busy with around a dozen mothers and their babies taking part.

Emma Clayton is a regular at the classes in Llanishen with her daughter Olive.

"It's a safe space for me and the little one," she said.

While I do a little work out, Olive tries to copy me sometimes and often climbs on me, but she likes to see mum do a little exercise."

Eimear is a nurse from Cardiff and takes son, Beauden, saying it gets her out of the house without worrying about childcare.

Robyn Honey-Tuttiett, who attends with daughter Elleah, said: "We can exercise while passing snacks and rattles to the babies.

"It's just a lovely atmosphere.”