Why mental and physical fitness go together

Claire Cole founded Movement for Mums to help time-poor mums get back to work and because she knows from experience how important physical health is for mental well being.


Claire Cole knows only too well how linked mental and physical health are. Over the years she has struggled with agoraphobia and anxiety. Fitness had always been one of the ways she handled stress. When she had her second son four years ago and returned to work, she suffered from post-natal depression and felt there was no tailored support available which linked mental and physical health for time-poor mums.

A Level 3 Qualified Personal Trainer, she decided to do something about it and created Movement for Mums, but did nothing more about it at the time. Last year, encouraged by her husband who called it “an expensive hobby”, she decided to go for it and promote the business. She left her corporate consultancy job and  set up a live streaming platform in November. By December she had started streaming every day.

At first she worked with employers on her return to work programme and published several articles on maternal mental health and how fitness and mental health go hand in hand. The business was beginning to get a lot of publicity and Claire was building partnerships, for instance, with fitness fashion company Sweaty Betty.  Then COVID-19 hit.

Free sessions

She has decided to focus, for the moment, on promoting her online fitness sessions for free to mums stuck in lockdown, something she sees as offering a service to mums and to their employers.

The current lockdown situation is clearly not a good one for mental health. Many parents are struggling with working and managing kids and have no time for themselves and stress levels are high.

Claire did a recent online Q & A with a mums’ site and was bombarded with very specific questions from mums and pregnant women about what kind of exercise is safe at different stages. That includes not just different stages of pregnancy, but also mums who are struggling to get back to fitness and don’t know where to start. They may have had difficult births and be unsure of what is safe for them to do. Claire says safety is her overriding concern.

She says fitness sessions can help people to relax and to sleep better which in turn reduces anxiety. The first person to do her sessions was a nurse who said it helped her to feel better about herself and reduced her stress. “It gives people a 25-minute space where they can focus on themselves at a time when they may be feeling ready to explode,” says Claire.

*Claire will be doing a webinar with workingmums.co.uk on 22nd April about fitness and mental health. Look out for more details in the next weeks. To access the free online sessions on her site, you need to sign up for free here. The membership site has all the past and live workouts, including bonus classes with different instructors and experts, for example, last week a nutritionist did a session.

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