Kate Smart Fitness https://katesmartfitness.com Giving Mums Their Mojo! Tue, 11 Dec 2018 07:38:04 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://katesmartfitness.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/heart-icon.png Kate Smart Fitness https://katesmartfitness.com 32 32 Video Interview with a Women’s Health Physio https://katesmartfitness.com/video-interview-with-a-womens-health-physio/ Sun, 22 Jul 2018 07:58:18 +0000 https://katesmartfitness.com/?p=1717 ]]> This week  I was delighted to spend some time with Claire Anne Rutherford. Claire is a Women’s Health Physiotherapist who works locally to me. We sat and had a chat about the pelvic floor in the postnatal period, discussed some little known statistics and answered a few questions regarding the return to exercise after birth and why we need to consider the long term effects of the choices we make.

I’d love to know any topics you’d like us to discuss in future videos and workshops.


Does this work my pelvic floor? https://katesmartfitness.com/does-this-work-my-pelvic-floor/ Wed, 11 Jul 2018 15:29:50 +0000 https://katesmartfitness.com/?p=1707 ]]>

Many of my blog posts come from questions I am asked throughout the week in classes and sessions. A few weeks ago a client told me that she had been informed by a friend that going from kneeling to standing was a pelvic floor exercise and I think she was surprised to hear that my view was that her friend was ‘kind of’ right.

You see when we take our understanding of the pelvic floor away from being an isolated muscle and consider its connections both to the bony structure of the pelvis and all the fascia and connective tissues of the rest of the body and THEN consider big movements such as going from a kneel to a stand, we can see that that the pelvic floor muscles are definitely involved. That said, we can help or hinder the good old pelvic floor connection with the way we manage pressure through our breathing.

A study has shown that there is more intra abdominal pressure (which can cause a downward ‘push’) when going from a seated to a standing position than there is lifting a 20lb weight and as most of my clients know, managing this pressure is key!

When we utilise a good, purposeful EXHALE on the work phase of an exercise (or daily life movement) we naturally get a lift in the pelvic floor, both protecting us from that downward pressure and creating some tension in the muscle. A deliberate engagement and ‘lift’ of the pelvic floor at the same time as this out breath, adds the extra ‘oomph’. Check out the moving image below to see how the pelvic floor lifts on the exhalation…

So by exhaling as we work we are getting the connection in the pelvic floor muscles that we are seeking whatever movement we are performing. You can go from a kneel to a stand and the pelvic floor can work, or we can choose to breath hold and perform the same exercise and the pelvic floor experiences pressure. You choose!

If you want to explore and reconnect these muscles in a focussed, progressed way, do check out the Holistic Core Restore® Everywoman programme and in the meantime, happy moving!

Love your legs! https://katesmartfitness.com/love-your-legs/ Mon, 02 Jul 2018 15:44:55 +0000 https://katesmartfitness.com/?p=1697 ]]>

It’s unusual for me to write about a body part that isn’t the pelvic floor or abdominal muscles BUT I felt compelled to say a few words as conversation has turned to legs a number of times in the last week or so!

To put this into context, I am writing this blog post in the middle of what some are calling a heatwave, however,  given it’s early July, I think we can just call it SUMMER!

The temperature has hit the late twenties, early thirties for the last week or so and the forecast looks good for at least another week at least.

Working out is hot, hot, hot and conversations have occurred at the start of classes around SHORTS and how comfortable we are to wear them…. pale legs, cellulite, hair that’s not been addressed (should it?) thread and varicose veins, tan lines, those little red hair follicles, too skinny, too fat – all of these things that go through our mind when we bare our legs…… but here’s the thing – how comfortable do we truly feel working out in skin tight lycra in this heat? I for one am donning the shorts and #crackingon because the feeling of air on my legs sure beats the discomfort of feeling too hot.

As a wise young lady said to me last week, ‘I just behave as though my legs are long and tanned and then I forget about them and just feel comfortable’. That’s an attitude I love.

I also have gratitude for these pins because amongst may things, they get me from A to B, they are strong and healthy, they help me earn my living and they make a lovely cat rest in the evenings whilst watching Love Island! I am just sorry that I broke one aged 10 because one thing’s for sure – wearing a full leg cast over an entire summer sucks a whole lot more than baring the flesh!!

Oh and by the way – my Athlete 12 completers are enjoying a whole load of extra leg strength…. drop me line if you want to know more or just take a look….. a new intake will be starting soon!


What you should expect at an outdoor buggy postnatal class https://katesmartfitness.com/what-you-should-expect-at-an-outdoor-buggy-postnatal-class/ Tue, 06 Feb 2018 20:31:05 +0000 https://katesmartfitness.com/?p=1550 ]]>

…. and what you should NOT!

Yesterday I taught my usual Tuesday morning Buggyfit and as always, many topics of conversation came up, but one in particular has prompted me to put pen to paper (or finger tips to keyboard) and that was around the subject of expectations and the reality of a postnatal exercise class.


Over the many years of teaching exercise to women in this precious phase of their life, I have invested in and partaken in many different postnatal education courses and programmes. It is an area that I am SO passionate about and I predict I will continue that education for many many years to come. Similarly, in the same period of time I have had the privilege to train a vast number of women anywhere from 6 weeks to YEARS (decades even) postnatal. This affords a fair amount of experience and I learn from every single one of them.


Yesterday I heard of a lady who had been to an outdoor buggy style exercise class and afterwards had deemed herself ‘not ready yet’. The reason why? Star jumps had been required of her – not even in the main section of the class, but in the warm up. I would imagine that I barely need to start a discussion on why this would perhaps be an ill advised exercise choice for a women who has recently birthed, but maybe that would do continence pad companies out of business. That aside, it’s a pretty hardcore way to warm up!


So here’s the thing. If you are newly postnatal and you EVER go to a class calling itself postnatal you really should expect the following:


  • a thorough screening, that includes questions about your birth, (how you gave birth, complications, pelvic floor issues)
  • a check of your tummy muscles to see if you have a separation at the midline (this is called Diastasis Recti). For experienced postnatal teachers, this SHOULD NOT be a show stopper – they should be able to adapt their workout to suit you.
  • sensitivity towards the fact that you may well be VERY sleep deprived, that your mood may be low and that you need to gain energy from your workout, not feel totally depleted.
  • A class designed to give you energy, work your body, incorporate functional movements that are useful for your job as a mum (reaching, lunging, squatting, pushing, pulling), give you mobilisations and stretches that address common postnatal postural issues.
  • Raise your heart rate without allowing you to wet your knickers!! (NB if all the other points have been ticked and that still happens, don’t stay quiet about it – let your instructor know (fine to do that in private, or not, your choice) and seek help via your GP, Women’s Health Physiotherapist or pelvic floor exercise specialist)
  • Work your core FUNCTIONALLY (ie whilst doing other movements and without making things go ‘weird’ – see below)


Warning signs to consider (in other words ‘proceed with caution’):

  • A high impact warm up. In fact, large amounts of high impact anything (jumps, sprints, full burpees)
  • ‘Old school’ abdominal work (crunches, oblique twists, full planks)
  • Blank looks on questions around tummy gaps, pelvic floor issues
  • No screening
  • Any exercise that makes your tummy bulge or pelvic floor leak or feel heavy

Please do keep an open dialogue on any issues that bother you. S/he should know their stuff and be approachable.

We are made to move. Let’s just make sure we are doing it right for the stage you’re at. If you ‘don’t feel ready yet’ because of a poor experience, research other options in your area. Please don’t settle for less than your precious self deserves.

For Buggyfit in Bushy Park click here

For Holistic Core Restore® Everywomen Pelvic Floor and Core courses click here

With love.





Pelvic Floor Knowledge Bombs (part 1) https://katesmartfitness.com/pelvic-floor-knowledge-bombs-part-1/ Thu, 19 Oct 2017 19:22:40 +0000 https://katesmartfitness.com/?p=1501 ]]>

Not so long ago, I blogged about the news article on the issues with vaginal mesh implants and this week, amongst the carnage of Hurricane Ophelia and the scandal around Harvey Weinstein, the subject of this kind of surgery has been in the news again. You can read a BBC article here.

As many of my regular class participants and followers of me on social media know, I am a ‘pelvic floor enthusiast’ and it’s a muscle and subject very close to my heart (well approximately 40cm away from my heart if we’re going to get anatomical about it, but you know what I mean!)

Obviously the surgical procedure talked about in the news is something that may not be on the agenda for the majority women. It does however, highlight the fact that surgical solutions to pelvic floor dysfunction such as Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) or incontinence issues are less than optimal.

So in terms of preventing or delaying the need for intervention like this it is worth bearing in mind the following information:

What stresses the pelvic floor in the first place?

The pelvic floor muscles and the connective tissue which attach to the underside of your pelvis are complex and essential for many things including maintaining continence, supporting your pelvic organs, sexual function and your overall core function (with other muscles).

Life changes such as pregnancy, the hormonal changes of the peri-menopause and menopause can weaken the connective tissues and muscles. Postural issues can put them under pressure, as can extra weight as the muscles are loaded in different ways.

Able to withstand some pressure, if these muscles are already weakened, the added pressure of ‘explosive’ bodily functions (think sneezing, coughing, laughing – even vomiting) or external explosive action (jumping, running) can strain them further.

Lifting heavy things or straining (even on the loo) can also cause pressure against these muscles that stresses the tissues. (Constipation is also for another blog!)

What are the warning signs?

An obvious warning sign of a weakened pelvic floor is the leaking of urine, sometimes noticeable with the ‘pressure moments’ described above. Given the muscles also support the bowel, passing wind without warning or leaking poo is also a strong warning sign that the muscles need some attention.

A lesser talked about dysfunction are the different types of pelvic organ prolapse (POP). More common than many women realise (current studies suggest that as many as 50% of women who have given birth twice or more will develop POP at some stage) , there are different types and stages. I will save this for another blog but here’s a useful image of the different types from the Holistic Core Restore® programme:

Tell-tale signs of a prolapse can include a heavy, dragging feeling in the vaginal area, low back pain, pelvic pain or just a feeling that ‘something is there’. Some women with POP find it hard to insert or keep a tampon in. Sometimes sex can be painful or difficult and if the prolapse is a stage 3 or 4, there may be tissue protruding from the body.

So who can help?

In the first instance, if you think you have a prolapse, or are very worried about any leaks you are experiencing, make an appointment with your GP or self refer to a Women’s Health Physiotherapist. Please don’t be embarrassed, it is very common and it’s their job to help.

With regards to physical exercise,  I posted a video on Facebook last week urging women to speak out in any exercise situation that is making them uncomfortable. Given a lot of women have given birth, it is foolish to think that this is an issue that doesn’t affect many people! Trust that any issues you may experience like this can be discussed openly and without embarrassment with me and do consider signing up for the Holistic Core Restore® Everywoman course. It has literally changed hundreds of women’s lives. If you are not local to me, check out the main page for Holistic Core Restore® here.


21 Day 6 months plus postnatal workout 1 https://katesmartfitness.com/21-day-6-months-plus-postnatal-workout-1/ Wed, 31 May 2017 13:27:47 +0000 https://katesmartfitness.com/?p=1457 ]]>

A slightly more advanced workout for those who have finished the programme and are at least 6 months postnatal with no diastasis recti (separated abdominals). In this workout I am using a pair of dumb bells weighing 2kg each.  

This content is only accessible if you have signed up for the 21-day Post Baby Tummy Programme. See the latest Online Programmes on the top menu for more information. Thank you.

What a mesh….. https://katesmartfitness.com/what-a-mesh/ Wed, 19 Apr 2017 08:32:38 +0000 https://katesmartfitness.com/?p=1438 ]]> More than one client emailed me links to the news article below, knowing that I would have something to say.  Take a read (the link to the article is in the title).

“Vaginal Mesh Implants – hundreds sue NHS over ‘barbaric’ treatment”

To those of us working in women’s wellness, with a special interest and experience in the pelvic floor and core, this comes as no surprise. Scotland has already banned the treatment and you don’t need to spend long in the online forums of women suffering pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or continence issues to see that there are many who have had the mesh surgery with poor outcomes. There are, of course plenty who have and are extremely happy with the outcome. Similarly, there are surgical options available without the use of mesh.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-surgery but it’s a sad fact that the surgical option for so many women isn’t ‘water tight’ and the risks involved need to be taken into account. I have one client who was booked in for this very operation who literally days before read further round it and pulled out at the last minute.

So where does that leave us?

For me, I would always go down the route of preventing or delaying this kind of surgery for as long as possible. Here are my 5 top tips:

  1. Understand what stresses the pelvic floor in the first place
  2. Recognise the warning signs
  3. Manage ‘pressure’
  4. Exercise safely, effectively and appropriately
  5. Seek help and advice from experts – GP, WH physio, specialist exercise instructor

During this week I will dive deeper into these 5 tips. Keep your eyes peeled!


20 minutes…. https://katesmartfitness.com/20-minutes/ https://katesmartfitness.com/20-minutes/#comments Fri, 27 Jan 2017 07:14:46 +0000 https://katesmartfitness.com/?p=1386 ]]>

This week a client asked this exact question: ‘When you have 20 minutes ‘down time’ what do you do’?

I was honest and answered that quite often I will take a look at all the notifications that I have on my phone – messages in Whatsapp groups I’m in, Facebook notifications and perhaps indulge in some pictures on Instagram.  My answer left me pondering though. I always have a nagging list in my head of things that I need to do, and habits that I’d like to form and scrolling on the smart phone isn’t one of them. That said, as it is for many, it is my newsfeed source, work enquiry portal and I learn a lot from people I follow and am in groups with on social media. And that’s where the boundaries blur…..


I started thinking about when I was a teenager – I would come home from school before my parents got in from work. My brother had gone to uni so I had the house to myself. After eating half the fridge (I was a teenager after all) I would put music on, sit on the floor with my back against the bed and just sit. Obviously there were no devices to give me that ‘down time’ like there are now I realise that I was, in my own way, meditating and processing my day.

Moving on 30 or so years, my client’s question combined with my own complaints that ‘there’s never enough time’ or ‘I keep meaning to….’ has made me think more about how that time could be used to properly generate a rest or perhaps productivity.

Here are my thoughts on great ways to spend that spare 20 minutes (on that rare occasion it occurs) and I think it largely depends on mood:

  • Meditate. If you don’t already have an established practice, there are loads of great apps to guide you. Headspace and Calm being my favourites.
  • Read. I always have a book on the go, but it sits on my bedside table and I usually fall asleep after about a paragraph, so from here on the book is going in my bag.
  • Listen to and audiobook or podcast This one is already becoming a habit for me after signing up to Audible. Every month I have an audio book downloaded on to my phone and these tend to be the non fiction type. Brilliant for in the car or the bathroom or to have on when prepping food. Talking of which…..
  • Plan meals In all my programmes, I talk about the benefit of planning meals and yet still find myself shopping ‘on the hop’ when things get busy, so in that 20 minutes, how about getting out some lovely cook books and plan ahead a few days eating.
  • Watch something that makes you laugh Oh my gosh, having a proper belly laugh feels so good! Think about what used to make you laugh a lot and search it out on youtube. Recently my husband and I rediscovered Trigger Happy TV…. (don’t judge please)
  • Exercise! I had to say it… a 20 minute walk round the block, some dedicated appropriate core exercise (those who’ve worked with me on Holistic Core Restore® programmes know what to do and how quick it is), a quick round of full body movement (squat, push something, lunge, pull something, move about), perhaps a short yoga sequence or pose. I recommend Shavasana. If you don’t know it, look it up; it’s REALLY challenging 😉

So there’s my start. Hit me up (youth speak) with your thoughts and additions to the suggestions and feed your mind body and soul when you have a spare few minutes.

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New Year, Same you! https://katesmartfitness.com/new-year-same-you/ Wed, 04 Jan 2017 10:27:20 +0000 https://katesmartfitness.com/?p=1353 ]]>

I do love January. There’s a sense of optimism, of reclaiming clarity and order and good intentions are set but it’s so well documented that resolutions fall by the wayside a few days or weeks into any new year. Habit changes are often difficult to maintain, especially when they are completely replacing old ones.

This morning on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, the term ‘self-optimising’ was used – a worthy aim of trying to be the ‘best you’ and I think we have all read and heard the phrase ‘New Year, New You’ bandied around a lot since 1.1.17. It’s not my favourite phrase as I quite like the me that went to bed on New Years Eve! (though she was a bit too full of tarte tatin and under-performed at karaoke.)

Like everyone else though, I am no longer mainlining chocolate, cheese and wine as the first month of the new year swings into action. I am drawn to new exercise programmes, returning to my favourite classes and sessions and planning my own for both new and regular clients as well as worrying that the ski trousers I have worn for the last 4 ski holidays will be too tight come our impending trip. So small achievable changes need to be made!

I have a few tricks up my sleeve to try and help me and I’ll share them here:

  1. Forward planning – (a massive help with family life too!!) Just a quick note of what I’m planning on making for lunch and dinner plus when my exercise fits in around my work and family time. Exercising first thing? Put the workout clothes out before bed, obvious stuff really.
  2. Achievable goals – I cannot eat quinoa every day (I don’t like it enough) but I can stock the fridge with lots of fresh veg to make big soups and salads. I can’t teach classes and clients for the majority of my day then do an hours session for myself every night , but I can fit in my favourite classes 2-3 times a week.
  3. Know my triggers – Ha! Sitting next to a half finished box of chocolates for a start!! On a more positive note, when I’ve slept well and gone to bed at a reasonable time, I have more energy and less of a likelihood to hit the caffeine and obviously other c**p that goes with it.
  4. Enjoy what I do – whether that’s what I’m eating, how I’m moving or spending my free time. It’s obvious but I’m ever going to get myself in a pool if I hate swimming (and I REALLY HATE SWIMMING!!) So just because your friend loves HIIT, or camel wrestling or tough mudders, you find your thing…. Add to this, do what’s appropriate – if you pee when you jump, maybe those trampoline parks are not the best option…
  5. Remove the idea of ‘perfection’ – if the last piece of Christmas cake falls into my stomach, it’s not ‘game over’. I’ve just had cake. That’s all. There’s plenty more kale in the fridge (!!)

If you like the idea of an ‘imperfect’ but slightly more ‘optimal’ you, and need some accountability later this month, you might like to think about joining me for the next 21 Day Post Baby Tummy Programme  where you can find quick effective and post-baby safe (doesn’t matter how old your baby is!) strategies for feeling great and maybe shift a few inches with lots of support along the way.

And for more of my news, musings, occasionally recipes and videos, add yourself to my newsletter list here.

I promise never to spam you or pass your details on to anyone else.

Happy 2017!

Kate x


Thrive Through the Festive Season! https://katesmartfitness.com/thrive-festive-season/ Wed, 23 Nov 2016 16:43:21 +0000 https://katesmartfitness.com/?p=1332 ]]> top-5-tips-christmas

As I write this post we are just over 4 weeks away from the big day (and even writing that makes me fret a little at what needs to be done!)

This week will be seeing me out of the house every evening, either through work things or the festivities already starting and the effects will definitely be felt, so here are my TOP 5 TIPS on how to thrive through the Festive Season, stay healthy and avoid burn out.

Drink Plenty of Water

As the weather gets colder, it’s easy to forget to hydrate, but it’s super important to stay on top of your fluid intake to keep your energy levels high, absorb the nutrients from your food, keep your digestive system moving and, of course, prevent any possible hangovers. Try and achieve your 2 litres a day and if going out, drink a big glass before and after and intersperse any alcoholic drinks with water too. Remember dehydration combined with the diuretic effects of alcohol can leave you feeling really ropey! The morning after, go for hot water with lemon instead of medicated with a strong coffee.

Eat Before You Go Out

(Unless of course you’re out for dinner!)

Making sure you’ve nourished yourself well before arriving at a party will keep you further from the buffet table! Similarly, if you’ve had a good protein rich breakfast before a Christmas shopping trip, you are less likely to stray to all the goodies in the coffee shops when you have that much needed break!

Take Time out for Yourself

Without a doubt, for most adults, there is a LOT TO BE DONE at this time of year; shopping, children’s plays, social events, visiting family, cooking, present wrapping….. all on top of the day to day stuff. Remember to rest and recharge your batteries so you’re not feeling the burn out by the middle of December! Short meditations, a moment with a good book, an Epsom salts bath and an early night (when you’re in) can all give you much needed headspace and a little cortisol reset. Think hygge, the Danish concept of creating well-being, warmth and connection…..

Move your body….

…. in a way that feels good. Wintry walks and bike rides, restorative yoga or a short HIT workout (appropriate to you and your body, of course) will  crank up the endorphins, increase energy and of course, stand you in good stead for the inevitable extra calories that might be coming your way! If you’re regularly exercising, you might find it better to move your workouts to the morning if you usually exercise in the evening as your routine may well get disrupted by your social life! Exercise for energy rather than punishing your body.

Enjoy Yourself!

It goes without saying that this is your festive season too! If you’ve been on top of your health, wellness and fitness for the majority of the year, there will be little fall out from the effects of a few good parties and meals. As long as you don’t view the next few weeks as a free for all at the tin of Roses and the free flowing prosecco, there’s plenty of space for treats and indulgences!


Have a very Happy Festive Season!