Maria (Personal Trainer, Pre and Post Natal Trainer, Mphil Psychology, BSc Psychology, PGCE) is the founder of Fitness Fertility, a friendly personal training company supporting women on their fertility journey. Maria has helped many women with their general health and fitness and has also supported a number of women in becoming pregnant. Maria has a 2nd dan black belt in Shotokan karate, she plays touch rugby and cricket, loves running and the gym and completed the Snowdonia Half Marathon in July 2022. Maria has a real passion for supporting women at different phases in their life, in particular those going through fertility treatment and the menopause. She is a self professed geek, loves learning new things and has a genuine interest in the effects of hormones on both physical and mental health. Maria views fitness as a form of medicine, not just a means to look great and she gets real joy from helping others.
Read on to find out more about how Maria feels exercising and improving your fitness can support you on your fertility journey.
Tell me a bit about yourself and what your journey was to bring you to work in fertility support.
My name is Maria and I love supporting women on their trying to conceive and fertility journey. I am a personal trainer with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and needed fertility help to get pregnant. After I gave birth to my second son, again conceived with the help of Clomid and Metformin, I knew that I wanted to do something to support other women on their own journey. My absolute love of sport and all things active meant that personal training was the best way I could support others. I founded Fitness Fertility and I jump out of bed in the morning, eager to start the day and get to work. I love it when a client messages and says they have lost weight and the ultimate goal is of course pregnancy; a number of clients are now pregnant and this is the best news in the world. How is personal training / exercise, specifically for fertility, different?
There are a few key differences between training for the "summer shred" and the consistency and awareness needed for the longer term goal of fertility support. As a growing area of research within the sport science and the obs and gyny research fields, we know that consistency is key, the level of intensity you work out at and the type of training you do (e.g. cardio, resistance, interval) can really support you on your own journey. It is vital that you have a trainer who not only knows about fertility but understands treatment processes around fertility medication, IVF and ICSI so that they can support you as best they can throughout the whole journey. What areas of fertility do you provide support with?
I support women who need to lower their BMI before treatment, who want to be in a healthy body before they start treatment, women with PCOS and those who need space for their own mental health. A number of my amazing clients are undergoing IVF or preparing to start in the next few months and they are wanting to do everything they can to prepare themselves for treatment. How long do you normally work with individuals for, and what regularity do you recommend?
I don't have a minimum length of time like a number of other personal trainers because I know that the fertility journey involves multiple appointments, stims, egg collection, changes in mood, anxiety but also the joy of making progress and ultimately becoming pregnant. So this means that I sometimes work with a client for a month, sometimes 18 months. It really depends on each individual and what they need. Are there particular forms of exercise that you would advise against during someone’s fertility journey?
This is a great question and there are a number of things that I would discuss with the client to answer this question. It is very important to be mindful of the intensity of exercise and the stage of treatment. I have adapted workouts to support women who have been through egg retrieval or stims. I know some women struggle with injection sites and bruising and the twisting movement can be tough for some. I would always follow the advice of the doctor in the first place, but if the doctor says exercise is okay then I am very happy to support the woman through whatever stage of the journey they are at, including pregnancy and postnatal. What do you think is one of the biggest myths / misconceptions that people have about fertility and exercise?
That exercise will always damage your fertility. This isn't true; there are numerous research studies now that show that at the end of the day exercise is good for you! Exercise can be used to support medicine and when it comes to mental and physical health, the effects of exercise can be staggering. You CAN workout and support your fertility at the same time, and that is why I love doing what I do. What is one of the biggest changes / improvements that you’ve seen when people work with you that may support them in their journey?
Other than the awesome physical health improvements, such as a lower BMI, muscle tone and fitting back into their favourite clothes, the improvement in mental health is amazing. Many women feel so out of control and overwhelmed by the fertility journey that taking the first steps towards controlling one aspect of this journey is hugely important. So many women feel like they have no control over what their bodies are doing and so taking control over their physical health is hugely important.
If you could give 3 pieces of advice to support someone on their fertility journey, what would they be?
Firstly, I wouldn't give any advice! I'd sit down, have a cup of tea and listen to the person's own individual story. One major thing I have learned is that every single woman I speak to has a different story, even if on the outside things look similar.
Then I'd say:
1. Be kind to yourself; this is tough, it's ok to have bad days, it's ok to miss the baby showers and it's ok to hate pregnancy announcements, even if it is your best friend.
2. Consistency is key. Regular listeners to my podcast will know that this is definitely my favourite phrase! But consistency is hugely important, especially as the fertility journey can be a long one.
3. There will be bad days. Days were you don't work out, where you eat the donuts or where you don't get your steps in. Progress isn't linear. Just don't give up. Keep going. You can do this.
You can get in touch with Maria, and find out more about how she works, by either following her on one of her social media pages, listening to her amazing podcast, or taking a look at her website:
Podcast: Fitness Fertility Podcast
Website: Fitness Fertility
I hope this has given you some direction and motivation about how to incorporate exercise and movement into your life.