Author Archives: Jo Ratcliffe

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Trim, Attractive, Active


As the summer days are upon us, it is now, more than ever that people want to look trim. People are outdoors more, socialising more, enjoying times and making memories with family and friends.  Making the most of the long sunny days, before the winter is here again and we all go back into hibernation.  People feel happy; they wear lovely summer clothes that show off their sun kissed skin and they show more flesh to help keep cool.  So it is important for people to feel happy within themselves to be able to do this.


So I find myself asking, how do we get to be trim? Everywhere you look these days there’s some sort of ‘new diet’ on the market, that has been proven to boost energy and burn that excess fat you’ve been carrying around since winter.  They can’t all be right surely, but people buy into these crazes, they spend lots of money and they may see results, but as soon as they go back to their natural eating, the weight piles back on and then some.  This is because they usually starve the body of essential calories needed.  No one should ever eat less than their BMR (Basal metabolic rate).  Your BMR is the calories needed for your body to lie in bed and do nothing.  This number is pretty high, you might be surprised, but your body burns a significant amount of calories performing involuntary tasks, such as breathing and digesting food.  If we eat less than our BMR, or we eat food that is not nutritionally good for us, our body goes into a fat storing mode, meaning when we do eat, our fat cells are ready and waiting to grab the fat and store it, hence us getting fatter.  This is not what we want.  It’s like our bodies against us, we try really hard but yet we’re putting weight on.  So how do we get our bodies working for us, not against us?  We need our bodies in fat burning mode.


Fat burning mode is created by eating the right food, at the right time. Eating five small meals is better than eating three large meals.  Think of your body as a fire, by constantly adding a little bit of fuel to the fire, the fire will keep the burning flames at a steady rate rather than throwing lots of fuel on it, creating a big fire, letting that burn out before adding more.  In doing this, you will have peaks and troughs in energy, which can lead to snacking on unhealthy, quick fix snacks to add a quick boost of energy.  But it’s not just about the times we eat; it’s the food we eat as well.  By eating fast food little and often, you will not see the results you desire.  We need to have a mixture of complex carbohydrates and protein along with healthy fats.  These are our main sources of energy and our diet should include them all.  If you are doing a diet that excludes any of these, then it will not be healthy, it will not be balanced, it will not be enjoyable and it will not be sustainable.  Therefore it is not worth doing.  Food is a pleasure, enjoy it don’t abuse it.  With a little education, we can all have a happy healthy relationship with food.



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My first session

In this month’s blog, I wanted to share my emotions and feelings behind me teaching my first ever session within ‘bumps 2 babes’.  All my planning for a new business was finally becoming a reality and to say I was nervous was an understatement.  I had been a fitness instructor since I left school, I had taught an array of clients, (believe me some a LOT more scary than a group of mums and their babies) but I was really nervous.  This was the first time I was out there in the big wide world on my own.  I was Jo from Bumps 2 Babes fitness and it mattered.  It was my business and it mattered to me and my family if this was a success or a complete failure.  It mattered to me that people liked it and returned again week after week.  I felt an enormous amount of pressure.  But on the flip side, it wasn’t all bad.  I did have a fire burning in my belly, a fire of excitement and anticipation.

1469991_190983211091606_2111292033_nMy first session, was 4th September 2016, at Hudson Children’s centre in Maghull. The session was full and a bit chaotic. My little girl was with me, about 13 weeks old. I remember like it was yesterday, just about to start the class, when she filled her nappy, and I mean filled her nappy, so this threw me off guard a little, but the show must go on. I remember feeling quite vulnerable, I had a group of mums with their babies waiting for a session from me. I was the same as them, just a mum with her princess, but I felt a little exposed, a little vulnerable. I guess I had put myself out there for the first time and there was nowhere to hide.



I had planned a circuit for this session; it had 12 exercises in and planned to go through it 3 times. It was a tough class but I was armed with alternatives to meet everyone’s fitness levels. Half way through the class, I had to feed Imogen, I was a breastfeeding mummy and had a hungry baby, so I’m now feeding and teaching, never done this before, but I’m leading from the front, I’m the same as the other mums, I still have barriers to fitness, but I’m over coming those and working with what I’ve got. All my sessions are completely baby led, laid back and relaxed, although I didn’t feel too laid back and relaxed in this session. I was still a bundle of mixed emotions. Thankfully, with each session I did, I relaxed back into my usual happy confident self and was feeling more comfortable with my new role as a Mummy and an instructor.


My first session wasn’t a huge success, but it wasn’t a massive failure either. Some mums didn’t return after that first session, and I was upset by this, but some did, and I am grateful for them as they helped me to build my business. I am far away from being a super successful business, but I’m learning all the time, and what more I’m loving each day. I know I have made the right decision for me and my family in starting bumps 2 babes, thank you so much for each and every one of you, who has attended even just one session. Without you ladies, there would be no bumps 2 babes.

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Today I wanted to talk to you about exercising through pregnancy and explain the great benefits to exercise for mum and baby, try and help break down barriers we all have to exercise and pregnancy, and also explain when exercise possibly should be avoided during pregnancy.


Exercise during pregnancy is fine, but what you need to understand is that pregnancy is not the time to get fit; it’s not the time to diet or lose weight. Rather it is the time to tick over nicely, maintaining current fitness levels and avoiding any excessive weight gain. (NB weight gain is inevitable)


As a fitness instructor, there was never any doubt in my mind that I would train through pregnancy, and I was also convinced pregnancy wasn’t going to stop me. Well it did and didn’t. I exercised through both pregnancies through all 3 trimesters completely fine, but my training adapted as my pregnancy progressed. The reason for this was because my body was changing, my energy levels were up and down, I now had to factor in a bump that I hadn’t before and I was experiencing hormone changes within my body. I overcome these changes with knowledge and listening to my own body, as we know ourselves better than anyone else.


Nothing changed to my training till around the half way point. This is when I stopped running, in both pregnancies. First time because my pelvis ached and I didn’t want to chance developing SPD, and second time every time I ran, I needed a wee! My running had started to slow down before this point, but I was still running and happy to do so, and it’s fine to carry on running till the end, Paula Ratcliffe is a perfect example of this, I just listened to my body and decided this was the right time for me to stop, so I swapped the treadmill for the cross trainer, bike or stepper.

I used weights and I still taught body pump, spin and circuits. I just eased off the intensity that I trained at and swapped some equipment around to make training easier for me, for example, using TRX suspension, Dumbbells rather than barbells, using stands, so I wasn’t bending down to the floor all the time.


If you have never exercised before, you can still get involved in gentle exercise, there are exercises out there suitable for all needs. I would always recommend discussing fitness and exercise with you midwife and fitness instructor before carrying out any fitness programme. It is always better to work with a trained professional as they know what they are doing.



Benefits of exercise during pregnancy

  • endorphin release giving you a natural high
  • boost your energy levels
  • prevent excessive weight gain
  • maintain your fitness levels
  • recover quicker postnatally
  • improve stamina (needed for labour)
  • maintain muscular strength
  • prevent pregnancy aches, pains and niggles
  • meet new mums to be in your area
  • socialise


Barriers to exercise

  • people’s opinions
  • lack of knowledge/education
  • work
  • family commitments


When to avoid exercise

Exercise should be avoided when pregnant if you are told by your midwife/doctor to avoid it. Always listen to the trained professionals; they will have yours and your baby’s best interest at heart. You should also avoid exercise if you have:

  • any health problems such as heart or lung disease
  • experiencing any persistent bleeding during 2nd and 3rd trimesters
  • placenta praevia after 26wks (when your placenta blocks the neck of your uterus)
  • premature labour during current pregnancy
  • ruptured membranes

I really hope that this helps you to understand that exercise is a great benefit to your health. There are times when exercise should be avoided but if your pregnancy is going well, then it’s safe to participate in.


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So I’ve worked and exercised through pregnancy, now my little man’s here and he’s perfect but does not sleep!  So I’m tired, as all new mummies are, but I do still want to exercise, only now I have a baby, I can’t just nip out to the gym, he was a winter baby, so taking him for a run wouldn’t be ideal so what do I do?  And the majority of the time was nothing but be mummy, which was great, but I was starting to lose Jo and I was morphing into just mummy!

02When my partner was home, this sometimes freed up some time for a quick jog around the block, and occasional gym session, but I felt so much pressure, I was a breastfeeding mummy and had a hungry baba, I could never be away from him for long. (The seed is now growing!)

I searched for ‘mummy fitness’ classes and found nothing local so I decided I was going to look into starting my own business, I was more than qualified in the fitness side, knew nothing on the business side but I was willing to learn, then I got pregnant again!  Business plans on hold for a short period of time. I went back to work, where regardless of new business venture, I knew I didn’t want to be, and started planning!


A leap of faith


Whilst pregnant with my daughter, I was back at work full time, looking after my son and was planning a business venture. I felt crazy but also like it was completely the right thing to do for me and my family. I became qualified in pre/postnatal fitness, worked with The women’s Organisation who helped me with my business plan, book keeping and business advice and so the journey of bumps 2 babes fitness began.

I left a full time salary, for the unknown. This, even though I knew where I worked was not my forever job, was still scary. I had some security there; I knew I was getting paid each month.  Now I have to work like I’ve never worked before to get paid, and although it’s hard, especially having 2 little ones, it’s worth it. I love my job.  Love it! Not many people get to say that!  I’m passionate about what I do, what I teach, and I hope the women and babies I work with enjoy what I do.


Hope you’ve enjoyed reading a little about the lady behind ‘bumps 2 babes fitness’. I’m looking forward to sharing with you my postnatal exercise debut.

I’d really like to thank Bernice @Virtual Finesse for showcasing bumps 2 babes fitness last week. If you’d like to read what she said about us click here.


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Who am i?

Profile PicHi everyone. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog. Let me introduce myself.  My name is Jo Ratcliffe, and I am the founder of ‘bumps 2 babes fitness’.  I have been involved in the fitness industry now for 15years in one way or another, starting out as an exercise to music (ETM) aerobics instructor during college, aged 16, helping to pay my way through college and then University whilst I was studying Sports Science. I have always worked for other people, other companies, never completely on my own.  Over the years I have gained several qualifications; NVQ L2 fitness instructor (free weights, fixed weights, circuit instructor), FA L3 Treatment of Injury, L3 Pre/Postnatal fitness, Kettlebells as well as BA/BSc Sport science developing on the first ETM qualification.



I have two beautiful children, a son aged 2 and a daughter aged 1.  These are my inspiration for ‘bumps 2 babes fitness’.  They keep me fit and healthy, (you’re never still with two little ones) they keep me up all night (one day they’ll sleep) and they make me laugh every single day.  For my children, I am truly blessed, the best things to ever happen to me!

So why did I set bumps 2 babes up?

So being pregnant with my son was amazing.  I was lucky, I had quite a good pregnancy, no major problems just a few, usual little niggles.  I was working as a fitness instructor, in a place I knew wasn’t going to be my ‘job for life’, but it was a job and I got to keep fit and exercise throughout all 3 trimesters.  Everyone knew me, and most kept their opinions about a pregnant lady exercising to themselves.  But there was a few comments made… “I should really stop exercising now I’m pregnant!”, “are you sure that’s safe?” Etc etc, if you’ve been pregnant and exercised, you’ve probably heard them all, you might have even been the one saying these things?

13833125_10210263152480730_1890239128_oSo this got me thinking! It annoyed me that people who was totally not qualified in any kind of way in any aspect of health and fitness, deemed it appropriate to start telling me how to do my job, and somehow try to make me look like a bad mummy to be, as I was putting myself and my baby at risk! This was not the case. I wasn’t playing Rugby or rock climbing, I was simply delivering safe and effective fitness classes, to said people as well as maintaining my current fitness levels within a gymnasium. I ran, till I felt like every time I ran I wanted a wee, about 20wks and I chose to stop, because it felt right for me, and I was annoyed at stopping every couple of minutes for a wee (mum troubles!) I did spinning, cross trainer, stepper, circuits, light weights, TRX suspension, kettle bells.

Deep down I knew the people saying the comments wasn’t trying to undermine me, or call me a bad mummy, but they had a lack of knowledge.  They didn’t know it was perfectly safe to exercise through pregnancy, if everything’s going well and mine was, and especially as I’d exercised all my life, to stop because I was pregnancy was crazy!  Gone are the days of wrapping women up in cotton wool because they are with child, or the ‘eating for two’ mentality should be gone, we should be actively encouraging mums to partake in some form of exercise as there  are so many benefits to mums exercising safely for both mummy and baby.  People just need educating, and I wanted to educate.  The seed has been planted.

Don’t forget to look out for next months, to hear more about my story and why bumps 2 babes fitness is here.