Tell us about you
My name is Magdalena Hawley. I’m a mum of a very energetic little boy and the founder and head trainer of Mums Going Strong Fitness. I’m originally from Poland but I live with my family in Sydney, Australia. I’m on a mission to educate women about the importance of becoming strong from the inside out after childbirth.
Becoming strong from the inside out
I was always involved with group fitness at high school and I commenced working in the fitness industry whilst studying for my university qualifications. I’ve been teaching group fitness classes since 2000 in Poland, England and Australia. However my interest in postnatal fitness is quite recent.
After having my son I got back into fitness very quickly. I started with an exercise regime after giving birth, not because I wanted to get my “pre-baby body back” (yes, this was probably somewhere at the back of my mind if I’m totally honest) but mainly because I didn’t want to lose my fitness. I had worked out and taught fitness classes throughout my whole pregnancy and I thought that the longer I delayed exercising after birth, the harder and more painful it was going to be to get back into it. Another reason was that I was really scared of postnatal depression (PND) and I knew that exercising could help to prevent it. My husband and I don’t have family in Sydney and we don’t have much support so I really wanted to make sure I was looking after my wellbeing to decrease the risk of PND. Exercise was time just for myself and it made me feel good and strong.
Four to six months after giving birth, I was in better shape than I was before having my son. Unfortunately, something wasn’t quite right. I would leak during high intensity exercises like running or jumping. I thought that it was normal because I had just had a baby (especially because I was fine during Body Pump classes and on a day to day basis , just not when I jumped). My turning point was about 18 months post delivery when I did a really high-intensity class, jumping almost non-stop for 45 minutes, and ended up with a wet crotch! At that point, I thought that I needed to do something about it.
I love HIIT training and plyometric exercises and I didn’t want to stop just because I leaked. However I didn’t even know where I should look for help. So I did a little bit of googling and learned that I needed to see a women’s health physiotherapist. To be honest, even when I made my appointment, I thought that she was going to say that it’s normal to have a weak pelvic floor after childbirth. I did not expect to find out that I had stage two bladder prolapse and minor bowel prolapse.
On hearing this diagnosis, my first reaction was anger. I’ve learned from my physio that 1 in 3 women will suffer from prolapse after giving birth and that assisted birth (forceps and vacuum) can increase the chance of prolapse to 50 per cent. And I had an assisted birth. Why the hell did no one at the hospital tell me about the risks? Why didn’t they tell me to see a women’s health physio to make sure that everything was fine down there? I couldn’t understand why, during the birthing and parental classes or mothers groups, no one mentioned this if it’s so common. And the worst news was that I wasn’t supposed to be lifting heavy weights or doing high-intensity exercises, as these activities would make it worse. Hello? These two exercises are my favourites. I was thinking, “So what am I going to do at the gym now?”.
Actually, during my first session at the gym after I found out about my prolapse, I refused to go light. However, during the session, I started to think, “Do I really want my pelvic organs to fall out? Do I really want to make it worse and wear pads for the rest of my life or have surgery? Hell no!”. I decided to fix it. So when I went back to see my physio, I asked her to recommend any courses I could take to learn more. And let me tell you, I did learn a lot!
After this experience, I decided I wanted to help other mums avoid these common mistakes when they returned to exercise after having babies. It’s not just about fat loss; you need to get strong from the inside out. You can have the best body ever, even after having children, but you need to do it the correct way. And that is how Mums Going Strong Fitness was born.
I consider myself lucky because I used this experience as a motivation to help others. However, there are many mums who feel like their body let them down after finding out that they have prolapse. They feel alone, lost and depressed.
This is why I am passionate about educating mums about their bodies and the changes that take place during pregnancy and labour. I also teach them about nutrition and why what you eat matters and how it can impact your energy levels and recovery post-birth. With that knowledge, mums can make the right decisions to get the body they always wanted and the confidence to bring their sexy back!
My mission is to help mums feel happy and confident while achieving their health and fitness goals in a safe, social and inviting environment
Mums Going Strong Fitness: programs created to meet the needs of mums
I started Mums Going Strong Fitness last year as a Facebook blog during my Advanced Postnatal Course so I could share my knowledge and experience with other mums.
Recently, I resigned from my office job and started group and personal training for mums on the Lower North Shore (I’m based in Lane Cove). I run a Core and Pelvic Floor Restore Program which is suitable for new mums or any woman struggling with a leaky pelvic floor and/or weak core. These sessions run for a scheduled 6 weeks of reintroducing the body to exercise by combining a mix of pelvic floor work, core restore exercises, functional exercises and some resistance work to make it an enjoyable but deeply beneficial and safe way to get fit.
I also conduct training for mums where I organise nannies to look after their children.. Currently, these take place outdoors in Lane Cove. These sessions are more intensive. They are designed to get you fit and strong and help you flatten that mummy tummy, get shapely legs, tighter butts and awesome arms! This training caters for all fitness levels and exercises can be modified for individual needs, from basic to advanced. I always put the pelvic floor first and make sure mums are strong enough before I increase the intensity of the exercise.
Giving birth a truly memorable moment
My most memorable moment so far is probably the birth of my son. He was a week early and on the day I went into the labour, our wardrobes were being installed. I was determined not to go to hospital until they were finished. We had the wardrobe guys trying to their job while I was in the front room with contractions! Lol.
It wasn’t funny anymore when I realized that I hadn’t really felt the baby during the day so we rushed to the hospital. On the way to the hospital, I started to feel him. However when I got there it turned out that every time I had a contraction his heart rate dropped so they had to speed up the birth. Three hours later he was out. I can just remember how much I just wanted to sleep after he was born (my contractions had started the night before so I didn’t have any sleep for almost 24 hours). I felt so guilty as you always read stories where mums cuddled the baby after the birth and it was such a special moment for them and all I wanted to do was sleep. I just wanted to share this in case there are other mums out there who felt like me…you are not alone! 😉
A favourite recipe
Crunchy Chicken Satay from the cookbook ‘I quit sugar Simplicious’ by Sarah Wilson. It’s so easy and so yummy!
½ cup crunchy, natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons tamari
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cm knob of ginger, minced
6 chicken thighs or drumsticks
300 grams sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 bunch asparagus (end snapped, spears halved)
2 green shallots (thinly sliced)
¼ cup peanuts
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 200C degrees. Combine the peanut butter, coconut oil, tamari, chili, garlic and ginger in a baking dish and mix well. Add the chicken and chuck around to coat. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and add the green vegetables, shallots, peanuts and sesame seeds. Return to the oven and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the chicken is brown.
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