I’m going to be really honest. I had never stepped foot inside a community centre before I had baby Cyrus. I wasn’t a hater of them and I certainly didn’t look down my nose at the people who used them. It was more to do with the fact I never had time to go and explore as a fully-fledged career woman.
After I gave birth and the midwives and health visitors waved goodbye, it became clear that I was on my own. I was suddenly a midlife mum whose friends were still very much caught up in the rat race and were not getting pregnant any time soon.
It was up to me to build a new network of mummy friends who I could turn to for support, share a cuppa with and people who wouldn’t judge me because I was a little older than they were.
Now given that I worked in PR before embarking on maternity leave, I thought this was going to be a cinch. I was certainly no shrinking violet after all and I’d always had a can-do attitude.
Despite my outgoing nature though, I was still in work mode because it was all I knew. I’d joked with colleagues that when I returned to work I’d be like Carole (Harriet Thorpe) in British sitcom, The Brittas Empire. The tearful receptionist who kept her children in the drawers of her reception desk.
I admit I was so lost that the first thing I did was strap on my baby sling and head back to the office. Armed with my Harrods baby bag containing a bottle of Aptamil, stack of Pampers nappies , wipes and a Nuby soother, I sat at my old desk a bit bewildered by it all as colleagues oohed, aahed and cuddled Cyrus and told me how well I looked.
I’d never considered joining the community centre crowd until someone at work mentioned that they did pop-up combat sessions at my local centre.
Now I was never a dedicated gym-goer and before Cyrus was born, I had spent hundreds of pounds a year on a membership I used at best once a week, but one thing kept me going back – Les Mills Combat classes. I wasn’t a big fan of aerobics and I was afraid of breaking my ankle in a step class, but with combat I was able to release more feel-good endorphins than I knew I had! The classes gave me energy, confidence and left me feeling great for the rest of the day.
When we moved, I had to give up the gym because it was suddenly too far away and I also needed somewhere with a creche facility if I was going to exercise during the day. I was so disheartened when I realised that it was going to cost me the best part of £100 per month to afford both gym + creche. And as a mum on a very tight maternity leave budget, it was something I could ill afford.
I’d searched high and low before I found Les Mills Combat on the doorstep at my local community centre in Great Park, Newcastle – and the best thing was that I could take Cyrus along to the class too. The sessions were run by gym owner Nichola Burns of Phenomenal You and I have to say her classes were exactly what the doctor ordered! She was full of encouragement and even offered to help me with my nutritional needs too.
Since I gave birth, the community centre in Great Park has become my second home. It’s a stone’s throw away from where I live and it’s somewhere I have made friends with some top mummies through exercise classes like combat and Keepfitmammy too.
The centre offers a wealth of things for new mums and their babies to do and I’ll admit I haven’t had time to try everything on offer, but I’m getting there slowly! I just hope I’ve enough time to get around all the classes before I head back to the day job!
Here’s a list of some of the classes and times. You can find more on the Great Park Community Centre website by clicking here.
- Plantpots Playgroup (Mon – Fri), 9am-3pm
- Parent/Toddler group (Tues) 1-3pm
- Jittabugs Baby Yoga (Fri) 12pm-1pm
- Jittabugs Baby Massage (Fri) 11am-12pm
- Jittabugs Move & Groove (Mon) 1-3pm & Thurs (11am-1pm)
- ArtVenturers (Saturdays) 9am-12pm
- Popolo Ceramic Pop Up Café (Various dates)