Ready Steady Mums – why we think it works and what we’ve learnt

What we do is remarkably simple.

Most of us WANT to get active, feel healthy, empowered and motivated, and set an example to our kids.

Mums WANT to be active

Mums WANT to be active

But mothers can be busy, stressed, and struggling with identity and self-esteem…. and the last thing we need is a complicated and demanding fitness programme.

Ready Steady Mums has grown and evolved in communities. Mums everywhere have led, owned and shaped it into what it is today. Now, as the Prime Minister recognises our founder Katy Tuncer as a Point of Light in communities for her work in setting up RSM, I asked her for her top reasons for why it works?

Here is Katy’s list for why Ready Steady Mums works

  1. It’s all about having fun (mums don’t need any more pressure to lose weight, be a perfect mother, or look good!)
  2. The groups are informal and give space for mums to chat, share feelings, and give each other valuable peer support.
  3. Since the community itself owns the group, they choose a meeting time that fits around their own schedules. Meeting at the same time and place every week helps establish routines and habits.
  4. Joining the group is making a commitment to friends, which helps mums stay motivated to exercise.
  5. It’s free, one more excuse out the window!
  6. Starting with a walk is not scary, no one feels judged, mums from all backgrounds can do it.
  7. Mums can exercise with confidence by looking at video demos with clear instructions for safe exercises in pregnancy/postnatal (on the website)
  8. Because the programme is volunteer-led and has a big impact on important health issues like obesity and depression, and many organisations want to support – for example with getting us the word out to more mothers
  9. Health Visitors are available to empower mums to overcome self-doubt and start or join a group
  10. It’s very easy and rewarding to become a Group Leader – it’s easy to register on the website and other mums give you lots of appreciation

Easing into exercise

photoThe following blog post has been written by one of our wonderful group leaders Catriona:

The idea of exercise always seems quite appealing but actually putting my trainers on and heading for the door is more of a struggle. With two small boys at home, one of whom is not a big fan of sleep, the lure of the sofa, a cup of tea and my pyjamas is usually too great to resist. However, getting involved with a new group who head out to ‘socialcise’ just down the road from my house is starting to change all that.

Started by a few of the more motivated amongst us, a small group of ladies began to meet at a regular spot on a Wednesday evening for an hour to go for a walk and do some easy exercise around our village. Gradually friends invited friends, and with the help of the trusty ‘What’s App’ the group has become a regular Wednesday night fixture in our diaries.

The relaxed, informal nature of the group means you can pop along if you’re free, everyone’s welcome and we just plan the work out as we go. With a combination of keen runners, new mums and those who just want to do something to keep fit, the hour varies each week, from a walk and a few stretches to a 5k run (I’ll be honest, I’ve not made that one yet although I do hear they head to the pub afterwards for a bit of ‘recovery time’)

The group works for us because it’s so easy. With everyone’s busy lives it means there’s a different mix of people every week which is great for catching up with friends and making new ones. There’s no obligation to turn up but there’s always a guarantee that at least a couple of you will be keen to get out for an hour. You can do as much or as little as you like and there’s the added bonus of being able to have a good old natter whilst doing something virtuous.

On busy days, or after a spectacularly sleepless night with smallest son I’ve found it really refreshing to get out there and do something totally different for an hour and get a much needed boost of energy. And afterwards it’s an easy walk back to the sofa and that cup of tea!

Setting up a new group? Handy hints and tips

Claire KBClaire is a Ready Steady Mums Group Leader who runs a free Ready Steady Mums exercise group in her community that has now been going for almost a year. They do exercise as well as walking, they have ramped up the intensity together as they’ve got fitter and more confident. Here is Claire’s advice for new Group Leaders…

“When I first thought about starting my group a lot of questions went through my mind – the first being ‘will anyone turn up?’ and the second being ‘am I up to this?’

After the first session I realised that the answer to both was YES!, but there was a lot to learn and I set my mind to making it a successful and inclusive group.

Here are my top tips for making a new group work.

Advertise your group – word of mouth, fliers in cafes / libraries / nurseries / health centres are all really good ways of alerting people to your group. Make sure they know it is free – so many of my group (now friends) wouldn’t have come if there was a cost, and they got so much out of it! For some of you it will be hard to engage in this way, but speak to people in parks and cafes ‘I am setting up a social exercise group – is this something you would be interested in?’ Put your email on fliers – and when they email you – get them to commit!

Choose a good time – be aware of other groups and baby sleep and feed times. My babies were always early birds and loved sleeping outside in the buggy, so I held my sessions at 9.30 in the morning (nap time mostly coincided!), but after lunch or mid afternoon sessions work too.

Think about venue – Playgrounds are great for older children and provide benches, frames, and walls that are all great ‘equipment’ for your exercise group – they also tend to be pretty empty at 9.30 in the morning (but will be really busy at school pick up). Close to a cafe to grab a coffee afterwards, feed baby etc. works really well for socialising too!

Rope your friends in – Get some friends to commit to joining you for the first session, and get as much feedback as you can. It will really boost your confidence to have people you know supporting you.

And then there is the session itself – I work in Sales strategy and I was confident that I could pull off getting people there, but needed to really nail the first few sessions so that people would come back – that was the ultimate test for me, and this is what I did.

Time the session – For the first few weeks my children and I did the session the day before the group to time the exercises and walk the route. It really helped me get the sessions the right length and gave me loads of confidence as I had practised – although I did look daft pushing a double buggy round the park talking to myself!

Exercises – 4 tips
Don’t be afraid to walk – Keep it fast and tall with great posture and stop for exercises on route. You might also just start off as a walking-only group
Think about the level – you can always tune it up – in early sessions use exercises that will help you gauge the level of your group
Keep everyone challenged – Keep it inclusive, but suggest more advanced versions of exercises for those who want more – squats become one-legged or jumps, push ups against a wall become full push ups (or somewhere in between) etc.
Run (or skip or hop) – Get moving in a different way, funnily I found that people love to run – especially short sprints!

And the most important thing of all is a cliché, but do ENJOY this time – you are really making a difference to yourself, your children and others!”