Claire Leigh, Harpenden mum of two, new business owner, copywriter and lover of books shares how she discovered Angela’s Mums That Move Pilates classes and the joy and sanctuary they bring her.

We’ve all been there. The other parents at ballet all seemed to know exactly what to do, what to pack, what to say, how many snacks to bring (lots!) and, basically, how to be a parent! I felt so new to all of this, even though I was now hauling about baby no. 2 in his sling and baby no. 1 was already nearly four!

We moved to Harpenden when George (my second) was eight weeks old and so, when my husband returned to London each day for work, and I started to find my feet in our new place, it was only natural that we would find a ballet class for Bella. She has always loved ballet so I wanted her to
have a weekly treat that she would enjoy.

I was still in the throes of breastfeeding, sleepless nights, back ache, postpartum healing and generally getting to know life with the two small people for which I was now responsible. As always, after adapting to our newest family member, I was longing for some time to myself; time in my
head; time with my body – with no one else on it! This all still seemed a little way off at this particular moment as I scrabbled on the floor with Bella’s ballet shoes. At least we’d made it on time!

Having despatched Bella to her gorgeous teacher (so sweet, we both promptly fell in love with her), I collapsed on the small foyer bench, clutching everyone’s belongings – and George – and looked about for my new mum-friends-to-be! This was, after all, going to be my new thing as I had left my job for the move. I was going to get stuck in to this mumming!

I needn’t have worried. One particularly smiley and welcoming mother (she became known as ‘Fun Emma’ from then on) struck up a conversation with me and we soon got round to talking about us and what we did to unwind. Pah! Unwind?!

She must have been able to sense my overwhelming need for some me-time as she asked if I’d ever done Pilates. I said that I had in the past and really enjoyed it.  I will never forget the following moment.  Fun Emma leaned in conspiratorially, looked directly into my eyes and said, in a hushed whisper: ‘Do you know Angela? She’s amaaaaazing.’

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The awe in her face and the tone with which she delivered Angela’s name made me wonder if she had indeed been sent from above! Emma continued, saying that she wasn’t sure if she had space in the Pilates class she attended but that she would check for me and, the next thing I knew, I was standing (jigging, of course) in the kitchen and hearing Angela for myself on the phone. There are rare moments in life when you know you have hit the jackpot. This was one of those moments.

Angela was friendly and authentic. She was warm and inquisitive. To the soundtrack of her own three children in the background, she asked me about myself with such consideration in her tone and understanding in her voice that it was hard not to cry! I felt I could enthuse about my second birth and whinge about my first, without judgement and to a sympathetic ear. I felt I could be open about my healing body and honest about my concerns.  Angela took the time to get to know my story and it was the first step to getting my body back – and my sense of self.

My first ‘Mums That Move’ class was set up in a lovely room, spacious and clear, and Angela had spritzed rose spray about the place (one of my absolute faves) and lit candles before we arrived. I have come to learn that I am a deeply sensory person and this set the scene for what I came to
expect and enjoy every Thursday evening. It became an automatic trigger to relax, breathe and focus inwardly. It also became clear that this was my weekly sanctuary, my hour off.  Even on the nights when bath and bedtime had gone to the dogs and I had legged it in the door of my class, late and flustered, Angela always welcomed me calmly, got me quickly up to speed and even brought homemade chocolate!

The ‘Mums That Move’ Pilates exercises are always gentle, relaxing, restorative and closely-tailored to what our bodies are all experiencing and navigating: motherhood. Those first weeks of finding my way felt cosy, intimate and reassuring. It was comforting to lie down next to another mother who you knew, despite the strained smile and really nice hair, was in the same crazy boat as you. I could actually sense us all soothing down from frenetic buzz to warm glow beside each other; it was a shared experience.

Angela’s depth of knowledge is awe-inspiring. There is nothing she can’t adapt for someone’s muscle niggle; no part of the body she can’t tell you about; and no challenge she can’t meet. When I learned about her own personal journey, I was moved. She is a marvel.

As the weeks went by and the motherhood journey developed (and often unravelled!), I came to relish the quick whispers of solidarity, the infectious giggles and the camaraderie of my fellow travellers – and the chocolate. Fun Emma would dissolve us all in a matter of seconds with a
mistimed mat squeak or an unexpected ball exhalation. These were my girls – and this was our time.

Angela diagnosed my second diastasis recti (I’d just had my second giant baby – I was expecting my old friend back again!) and recommended adaptations and extra exercises to encourage my muscles to, in her words, ‘knit back together’. And, in fact, in the process, I felt myself being knitted back together. Her testimonials tell me I am not alone; there is nothing that Angela can’t help you with.
(Did I mention the chocolate?)

Then Covid came.

Angela is one of the most resourceful people I have ever had the pleasure to learn from. She is incredibly passionate about her business and her people. She is the fastest thinker and most adaptable human and, within days, she had a solution. Covid posed no problem for Angela. We
would continue our cherished classes online. And we did.

At first, I was sad not to be meeting up with Angela and the girls face-to-face (and it’s great that Angela has been able to move back to this, albeit in much smaller classes). But, as lockdown continued (and sanity levels were certainly turbulent), it became our reliable weekly fix in an
otherwise unpredictable world. With no need for half term holidays – no one could go anywhere! – Angela taught non-stop for eight months until a much-needed two-week break in August. We all needed it and I have never felt stronger.

What’s more, Angela arranged regular online talks in lockdown about topics such as pelvic health, nutrition, life coaching and breathing – and we all added these to our self-care regime with enthusiasm and gratitude.

Zing Wellness is a holistic brand. Angela and James, together, truly believe in assessing the whole person and meeting the different needs of every client who is fortunate enough to be led their way.  They regularly promote the crucial importance of community and companionship (particularly for mothers) and they live and breathe this caring ethos – to the benefit of us all.

(Don’t get me started on a hot stone massage with James – you simply HAVE to have one.)

I am truly thankful for Zing Wellness and thoroughly recommend them to you. I only wish I had found them sooner. With hypnobirthing, pregnancy classes, and early motherhood classes, they really are there for us every step of the way.

Why Claire Loves Pilates