Inspirational Woman: Charlie Barker | Founder, Bumps & Burpees

Charlie BarkerA time that is unbelievably special but also brings with it a lot of anxiety and uncertainty, especially around what is and isn’t safe.

Founded by award winning author and personal trainer Charlie Barker, the Bumps & Burpees community is one that aims to provide information and motivation to help everyone enjoy their pregnancy and time as a Mum as much as possible. Life as a new and expectant mum brings enough challenges along the way and our goal is to make sure that exercise is not one of them. It is not only about guiding women safely through exercise during this time, but also helping them to fit it into their new lifestyle and hopefully enjoy it too.

Physical and emotional strength is at the forefront of everything we do and helping you to realise the importance of looking after yourself as well as your baby is a big part of what we do. Learning how to keep fit and healthy as a new mum can feel intimidating so Bumps & Burpees is here to guide and motivate.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am 33 years old, a mother of a toddler and about to give birth to my second baby. I live with my toddler and husband in Surrey, and am the founder of Bumps & Burpees. I grew up with a big family, and earned myself a decent amount of pocket money by babysitting and nannying my way through my teenage years so when it came to qualifying as a personal trainer it made so much sense to me to focus on pregnancy and motherhood. I still enjoy the one on one personal training sessions with clients but nowadays most of my time is spent on the business, managing a growing team of trainers, and teaching classes on the Bumps & Burpees membership platform.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I am not someone who has ever had a 5 year plan, or even a 1 year plan up until now. I have very much gone with the flow so far which has allowed me to take on opportunities that I never thought I would and they have got me to where I am today. I always knew that I wanted to work in the fitness industry, then when I qualified as a pre and post natal specialist I started to have ideas of how I could make a difference to this niche market. Over time it has become more about supporting women mentally as well as physically and after experiencing pregnancy and motherhood myself, it changes again and so even though now I have a much better idea of where the business is going, I am constantly allowing my plans to change if I come across things that I might not have anticipated.

You founded Bumps & Burpees – tell us a bit more about this?

Bumps & Burpees was founded to try and support and empower women going through pregnancy and into early motherhood. I found that so many women were admitting defeat as soon as becoming pregnant and assuming that it meant everything had to change and they had to basically sit out of all the things they loved. I felt so passionately about showing them that this does not have to be the case, that they could feel strong and do amazing things whilst they were growing a baby or even after having had their baby. If this meant they brought their baby to training sessions, or the trainer would come to them then that is what we would do. They wouldn’t be “mummy sessions”, they would be regular training sessions that are just tailored to their needs rather than making them feel they were different now. I saw how much difference this made to their confidence and that only spurred me on to grow the business, and now there are trainers all over the country travelling to client’s homes to train them, there is an online platform that they can be a member of that will guide them through their pregnancy and post partum journey and a growing community of incredible women supporting each other.

I am incredibly proud of how the business has grown and is continuing to evolve. Prioritising the mental and physical health of a new or expecting mother is so important and I am glad to be even a tiny part of that.

Charlie Barker bumps and burpees

How important is exercise for expectant and new mothers?

It is more important than some realise, but exercise doesn’t need to involve a sports bra and a gym – it can be a walk in the fresh air or playing in the garden with your kids. It is important for new and expecting mothers to keep active for their mental and physical wellbeing. The release of endorphins that comes with movement and physical activity is important for keeping our mood up which can be very erratic with all the extra hormones women are dealing with, the fresh healthy blood flow to you and your baby is a huge benefit of keeping active, preparing your body for birth, the sense of achievement and normality – are just some of the reasons that I encourage women to find a way of moving that they enjoy.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Aside from giving birth to my son, I would have to say that writing my first book during that pregnancy was a huge achievement. The book was something that I had wanted to do for years and to be able to write it whilst going through pregnancy myself was such a privilege. The book guides the reader through fertility, detailing the struggles we had in the hope that it might help them feel less alone, then trimester by trimester talking about the ups and downs as well as providing workouts that they can follow throughout the nine months and into the early weeks of motherhood – the fourth trimester. I am very proud of it.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

I find myself getting very frustrated with the expectations on mothers to have to juggle the work life balance a lot more than fathers. Even though my husband is great and does what he can to help with the childcare around his work, if our son is sick it is me who has to put a pause on my work and not him. I would love more work places to have flexible working hours no matter the gender and understand that our children come first so if we have to leave the office early to do nursery pick up then that is a non negotiable. I think we have come a long way already which is great, but there is still so far to go! I would like my husband and I to have equal amount of time in the week to work around childcare, instead I am having to squeeze mine into nursery days as his work is less flexible. 

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Not to worry so much about what other people think. I still have to tell myself this. I am a worrier, and I read far too much into things, dramatising them in my head when actually most of the time none of it is true. I would remind my younger self that you can’t possibly please everyone so don’t try to.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is to juggle two children under two years old, and my business!! This is going to be a serious challenge as work is in such a good place right now and I am loving seeing the business grow and grow and in a way it’s growing because I am getting deeper into motherhood myself but splitting my time and energy between it all is going to take some getting used to. 

What have you learnt so far about juggling motherhood and business?

There has been a lot of trial and error, and I still don’t have it all sussed out however I have learned that if you try to do it all you will do none of it properly. The days when I try to work whilst I have my toddler climbing on me and asking me to play cars are the days I feel like I am failing because I can’t give my all to anything. I try as much as possible to separate the two so on nursery days I do as much work as I can and focus only on that, so that when my son is not at nursery I can be there entirely for him. It isn’t always possible with running your own business so of course I am answering emails in-between music classes and playgroups but where I can I try to allocate time for work. It’s a constant learning curve.

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