Claire Gregory, CEO of The Female Fitness Academy

Redefining fitness for mums – from preconception through to post-menopause

In 2013, I was employed as a teacher in the sports department of a Further Education college. A member of the senior management team, I’d steadily risen through the ranks during my seven-year career.

That year, both myself and a colleague of mine – Robyn Ablott – were on maternity leave together. Already great friends, we felt grateful to have each other during the time off with our brand-new baby daughters.

The news then came that we were both being made redundant. Oddly, neither of us panicked because we reasoned it would give us more time with our children (we both have two daughters) and that we were in it together. We’d speculatively entertained the idea of going into business with each other, but neither of us would have given up our jobs, so we thought: ‘We’ve got nothing to lose now!’

We’d found a huge gap in support for health and wellbeing for new mums that wasn’t solely focused on weight loss, so we focused on rebuilding fitness after having a baby. Pooling together our accredited professional expertise – including personal training, massage and pre and postnatal health and exercise – Robyn and I leased a studio and provided a safe haven for women to work out and learn more about nutrition and healthy eating.

A couple of years in, we gave up the premises – learning through experience that mums would prefer it if we came to their houses. Now we bring our gym to them – working around our clients’ daily routines so their exercise time is valuable and super-convenient.

We believe in giving back, so in 2014 we set ourselves the goal of raising £20,000 for charities supporting women by 2020. We hit our target this February, which we’re thrilled about, but we’ll continue to create inspiring and affordable charity-based challenges for women to take part in.

Our newest service is running retreats abroad, with Croatia proving particularly popular.

Through The Female Fitness Academy, Robyn and I are showing women – especially mums – that there’s a whole other side to exercise that isn’t fixated on what your dress size should be. For us it’s about discovering strength and power you never knew you had, and building amazing friendships!

The Female Fitness Academy