A MUM’S LIFE: Why the community centre wins

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 Nichola Burns. 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)
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