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Ahead of Mother’s Day, we talked to the awesome co-founder of London fitness studio Frame, Pip Black, about guilt-free exercise, pregnancy classes and motherhood.

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"She (my mum) is awesome. I am turning into my mother. It's one of those things I used to hate the idea of and now I'm like, oh actually I wouldn't mind being my mum. That would be quite cool."

 

Hey Pip! So tell us about how your first baby Frame came about...

When Joan and I set up Frame back in 2009, there were hugely negative connotations about fitness: it was something that people dreaded but felt they had to do because they'd eaten too much. Joan and I had spent our entire lives playing sport and had competed nationally, but when we were working in advertising, we found that we weren't able to connect with the London fitness scene at all.

We were working hard but also partying really hard and we just didn't feel great: you were drunk, then hungover, working and exhausted. We didn't have energy and, ultimately, it was because we weren’t moving anymore. We just sat at our desks all day. So we had a look around but there wasn't anywhere we could just drop in to work out without committing to signing up for a year's membership.

I was 24, Joan was 25 and we were just like, ‘God, let's just do something’. We felt like there was a huge opportunity to create something new and drive a fitness movement that was really positive and aspirational. So that’s where the Frame came from –  a direct personal need from us and our friends. And it has grown and grown from there…

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You’re known for your brilliant pregnancy classes – how come you started doing those?

When Joan fell pregnant, it became clear that it was very confusing as to what you can and can't do when you're pregnant. It felt like our duty to do something about this, in the same way that we wanted to get people moving in the first place.

We figured that a lot of the people that come to Frame are women in their twenties and thirties who are going to fall pregnant at some point. We wanted to help them continue to move and feel good, which is our whole emphasis with Frame, throughout their pregnancy and postnatally. That's a time in your life when so much is out of your control so exercise is a really important tool of helping you manage your stress and anxiety levels and making you feel really good at a time.

We started a class called Frame Bumps which was a fitness class designed for pregnant ladies – a proper work out rather than a pregnancy classes where you sit and breath. That was stage one. Then I had my little boy, Phin, so I started teaching that and we took it to the next stage. Then with our second children, we could see the appetite was getting bigger and we wanted to help educate more people. We realised that lots of women when they're pregnant can't actually get to Frame so we created our Mumhood online programs.

We now have both an online and in studio program which includes pregnancy pilates, yoga and fitness. Postnatally, we have Phase One which is about rehabilitation and putting your body back together. Then we have Phase Two which takes that up a notch and includes low-impact heart-racing activities so people feel like they're getting a safe work out. Then there’s Fit Mums which is for parents that have six months plus babies which is a 20 minute routine to do at home or classes in the studio with their kids.

That’s great! It sounds like you’re creating an amazing community of mums...

Yeah, absolutely. The community is a huge part of what we do and as it’s female-led fitness, we hope to make it feel like a really nice welcoming place to all to all Framers not just mums. We make sure our staff make sure mums feel looked after. They all do tend to form bonds and go out for coffee afterwards. We also put on a lot of events around the whole wellbeing of mums including nutrition workshops and book clubs to make sure that they're looking after themselves. I think that whole ‘you can't pour from the empty cup’ thing rings so true.

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Tell us about the 5am club.

A lot of mums are up at five am and we wanted to bring together a community to show that we’re all in this together and to try and make people feel like they're slightly less alone. For us, it's all about spinning things into the positive. It's a fact that you will be up at stupid times in the night so how do you start your day feeling better? Are there things that you can be doing whether it's nice stretches or reading stories? Also since we’ve been up since 5am, what can we do throughout the day to make sure we're not depleted of energy and that we're putting the right nutrients in our body, catching up on rest etc.

Sounds like looking after people’s mental health and wellbeing is a big part of what you do at Frame.

Yeah it is. If you go onto our timetable, you can see we have a mood filter where you can put in how you're feeling that day and it will tell you what classes will help you feel better. Everything we do is based on mindset, mood and making people feel as good as they can. I genuinely think that's why people come. We've done surveys and the thing that comes back time after time after again is that people come to Frame because it makes them feel better.

So how do you personally destress?

I use exercise definitely. Again, depending on how I'm feeling I'll choose different classes. I love yoga, I find that’s very good for me. I now know how to listen to my body and figure out what it needs. I also love running. I don't do it as much as I would like to, but for me that's a really great stress reliever. Then, you know, just being with my children. To be honest, there are times when they are very stressful but the majority of the time, leaving any kind of device at the door and spending that hour at the end of the day with my kids, reading stories and having cuddles relaxes me.

How do you juggle running a business and being a mum?

I'm very wary of these interviews where people seem to have it nailed. Me and my friends are all very open to the fact that none of us have it nailed and that we're all just struggling through! It is tough and you have to give up things and work through stuff. With my first child, I was adamant that I didn't need help. He went to nursery full time, but  I dropped him off at 8am and picked him up at 6pm and that was very stressful because we lived a long way from the nursery so we'd have to leave home at 7am and I was always trying to rush to get back there before they closed. Second time around, I have got a nanny that does the same hours as me so that has made a huge difference. I'm not saying that we all can afford a nanny, and I'm lucky that we can, but I don't know how we would do it without. I'll happily forgo other things in my life for that right now because that's the only way that keeps me sane.

How do you typically spend Mother's Day?

Mother's Day has always been a lovely thing but it's only become this big commercial thing in the last six to eight years. Since I was a kid, we always made mum a card and had a lovely dinner, whether that's a roast at home or going out for a lunch. Now I've got two kids and my sister's got a little one, it's a really lovely reason to get together with our families and spend time together. For me, you want to be with your mum and your kiddies, and that's all I care about.

When I was little we'd just make her a card and look after her: take her breakfast in bed and try not to be naughty. Last year, mum and dad came to visit and we all went for a walk to a restaurant on the canal and had a nice lunch. It was very simple. As I said, it's just spending time together really. My mum and dad are amazing: they come up to London every Wednesday and look after my children, which is incredible. They don't live in London so it's quite a trek for them but to them it's important to have a relationship with the grandchildren. I hardly see them because we just throw the children at each other so it's really nice to have these special times when you take the whole day and just sit and chat.

What’s your mum like?

She is awesome. I am turning into my mother. It's one of those things I used to hate the idea of and now I'm like, oh actually I wouldn't mind being my mum. That would be quite cool.

Is there a bit of advice that your mum has given you that really resonates?

I've learned from her that if you believe in something enough then you can make it happen. She will make shit happen!  She's very nurturing and taught me to look after the people you love and give them everything you can.

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There are Frame studios all over London.  LEARN MORE

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