Tell us a bit about you Brad – you started life as a footballer and have now carved out a whole new career as a fitness expert…how did this come about?
Like many young boys my dream was to be a professional footballer and I made a really good go of it. I was at Chelsea FC from quite a young age before moving to Queens Park Rangers. Unfortunately I suffered two quite serious injuries which set me back and meant I was spending a lot of the time in the physio room & gym in order to maintain my fitness levels and boost recovery.
During this time I think my passion for football dwindled and I started to think of other options, personal training being the main one as I was enjoying the gym quite a lot. A trip to Iceland (one of the healthiest countries in the world apparently), playing for one of their local football teams IBV opened my eyes to true healthy living, eating and exercising; the people there were so inspiring. This definitely sparked my desire to become a fitness expert, I wanted to make people feel good & look good for a living.
What do you love most about your job?
I won’t lie, being able to stay fit and healthy for a living is incredible and even better the fact that it inspires so many others to do the same. But I think my favourite thing of all is transformations, I love a challenge and helping someone transform their body is such a good feeling.
How do you motivate yourself every day to training and keep healthy?
I’m motivated because I’m so passionate about it. I want to stay fit and eat well because I want to live a long and healthy life. I also want to feel good in my clothes, sounds shallow but I would hate to wake up everyday feeling bad about myself, it’s not just women who want to look good in a pair of jeans or tight top. I also love sport, I always have done so it’s a real enjoyment for me.
What sort of training do you do with your pregnant clients?
It all depends on what stage they’re at in their pregnancy and how fit they are initially.
If you’re a regular in the gym already then I’d do a mixture of cardio and body weight training, nothing completely exhausting or too strenuous, but you can still push yourself before the bump starts to really show. Exercises that strengthen your glutes, quads, hamstrings so that the weight of the baby/bump isn’t completely reliant on your back are really useful and can help prevent problems like ciatica or pelvic girdle pain (PGP).
I’d also advise lots of stretching and yoga specifically for pregnant women as this helps you to relax whilst caring for the muscles.
Is there anything that pregnant women should definitely NOT be doing?
I would never reccomend exercises such as crunches, plank, burpees or anything where the baby/bump is put under too much pressure. You can still do core exercises but you have to be very careful of which ones. I like to suggest a side plank over a normal plank for example, working the sides of your core muscles rather than the front.
How important is it to stay fit during your pregnancy?
There are so many reasons why I think women should stay fit during pregnancy. A lot of the reasons are the same for anyone even if you’re not pregnant.
1. You’ll feel better in yourself
2. You’re less likely to put on too much excess weight
3. You’ll have more energy especially during the delivery stage as I can imagine that takes a lot of stamina
4. Your baby is less likely to carry excess fat, remember what you eat is growing your baby so stay active and eat well
5. You’ll feel a lot less pressure once the baby is born to lose weight as you’ve maintained your fitness through out the 8-9months
Essentially, by staying fit and healthy through out your pregnancy you’re more likely to have an enjoyable and more comfortable experience. You’ll feel happier in yourself as you embark on the biggest physical change in your life and it could also result in a happier baby!
Once baby has arrived how long should we wait before we start exercising again?
I think this is a personal choice. I’m a male personal trainer but most of my clients are women and I know they feel the pressure to get back in shape after a baby. However, it’s far more important to enjoy your time with your baby and to bond. If you maintain your fitness as much as possible during your pregnancy you may find you feel less inclined to get back on it straight away.
Nevertheless, ease yourself into it when you feel it’s the right time. Start off with long walks with the pram, uphill walks are great to get the heart rate up without being too much hard work.
Personally I think a month spending time with your new born, going for nice walks as a family is ideal and then after that you can start looking at the gym or home work outs with weights.
What tips and advice would you give to any new mums out there wanting to get back into shape after giving birth?
Similarly to the above. Ease yourself into it, don’t put yourself under too much pressure and enjoy your new born baby. Eat really well, as I undertand your hormones change greatly and your body and baby will need all the nutrients it can get (especially if breast feeding). Start with leisurely strolls and build it up until you’re ready to intensify it. Once you’re ready, building your core strength back is essential, your core is the main pillar of the body, it supports us in everyday movements and you’ll be doing a lot of lifting and carrying so that would be my biggest advice.
We’ve been up all night with baby crying and have hardly slept…what would you say to us when we tell you we’re too exhausted to train?
Well sleep is so important and training whilst exhausted isn’t always a good idea. I wouldn’t want my client to feel under pressure to train especially as they have a very good excuse not to but if they can get out to the shops, walk around the park for some fresh air and make sure they’re eating really well then at least they’ve done something to keep up morale.
You may find that you’re up all night every night and therefore exhausted to train most days, so maybe looking at the babies routine and when you can have naps in the day so you can afford to fit in a 30 minute session at some point.
How important it is to combine exercise with the right healthy eating plan?
There will be times when you are too exhausted to train or you can’t train for as long or has hard as before so ensuring you are having a well balanced healthy diet a long side some exercise will 100% help. Nutrition is extremely important for new mums, it also determines your energy levels and can help you lose that unwanted baby weight. If you can’t train for whatever reason, you’ll feel a lot better for having a good diet.
What are your ‘go to’ snacks to keep you away from picking up bad foods?
Plain yoghurt or natural Greek yoghurt with granola and berries. A small bowl of this is helps curb the sweet cravings and is actually very nutritious.
I also love hummus with cucumber, carrots or some whole meal pitta. About a tablespoon of hummus is a good portion for a snack.
Lastly a square of dark chocolate with a herbal tea.
How can we stay up to date with all of your amazing new projects?
Follow me on Instagram @bradleysimmonds where I post regularly work outs, motivational tips and recipe ideas. My website bradleysimmonds.co.uk is a great place to read my blogs, browse my fitness plans and pre-order my FIRST book ‘GET IT DONE’, which is being published on the 22nd March.
Thanks Brad! We loved chatting to you and can’t wait to read your new book…you’ll be sending the Mammas a signed copy, right?!
Zoe and Georgia xx