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Muddy Meets: Rhiannon Bailey, RB Fitness

Fitness Instructor Rhiannon Bailey runs Muddy Cornwall through her empowering postnatal fitness and exercise classes, fuelled by her passion for women's health and desire to break down previously taboo barriers to help new (and not so new) mums.

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women as well as being a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. Here at Muddy Cornwall we are marking the day once again with an interview series of inspiring women across the Duchy.

Tell me a bit about your background and what you do – and how you came to do this?

I’ve always loved sport, and worked in Sports Development for 10 years after University. When I had my children, the role became unmanageable as I covered a large area, I took the opportunity for voluntary redundancy back in 2017 and went self employed as a fitness instructor. It was an opportunity to build my work around the kids, and I quickly developed a passion for women’s health, specifically pre & postnatal fitness. 

I run my own business, ‘Rhiannon Bailey Fitness‘ – I run a variety of group exercise classes including ‘MumPower’ – supporting ladies from pregnancy, through to postnatal and beyond. A lot of my classes are almost a hybrid between group fitness, and a baby group – as the mums are able to bring their children along too. The children play (or join in once they’re bigger!) while the mums get a workout – win win!  As a pre & postnatal specialist, I focus on rebuilding core & pelvic floor strength ensuring that my mums are strong for all the challenges of MumLife!  I also run fun, fast paced evening classes and bootcamps which are open to all ladies.

Has your day to day working life changed at all during the pandemic and if so, do you think it has highlighted any need for change?

During the lockdowns, I moved all of my classes online. They almost acted as a lifeline for some, trying to keep some form of normality and routine in such a strange situation. I had my two children at home while schools were closed so I was really fortunate to be able to continue classes, albeit in a very different way.

Although I am back face-to-face now, I still do run an online platform, and some people have found this to be a better way of working out, at a time to suit them. I also completed my personal trainers qualification so I was able to work 1:1, which was very useful when restrictions on numbers were in place. 

Have you encountered any examples of bias in your working life?

The landscape is changing all the time, but historically there has been very little support or education surrounding postnatal fitness, with women often treated and coached as ‘small men’, without taking in to account all the physical changes that happen when you give birth. Often, trainers are working with new mums with very little knowledge surrounding postnatal health.

There also seems to be a ‘taboo’ around pelvic health and issues such as incontinence & pain postnatally. This can often lead to women taking years to seek help as these issues are seen to be ‘one of those things’ that happens after having a baby, and also avoiding exercise as a result. I certainly knew very little on the subject before I trained as a specialist. 

What are you/ your team doing to call out gender bias, discrimination or stereotyping?

One of my main aims with RB Fitness is to create a welcoming and supportive environment, where no one feels judged. Fitness is for absolutely everyone and can be a huge benefit to your mental as well as physical wellbeing. I work with local healthcare professionals to offer a referral scheme, so ladies struggling with their perinatal mental health can attend a series of classes for free. With my postnatal classes I aim to educate and empower women so they feel confident in their own bodies after having a baby. 

What’s the general vibe among women in business / business owners in Cornwall?

I’ve found it to be a very supportive network, more often than not, these are fellow mums who left full time employment like me in search of a better balance. Other small business owners really ‘get’ what it’s like to be self employed, and it’s been great to share ideas. 

Do you have any role models?

There are a lot of female fitness professionals and women’s health physiotherapists who are paving the way in fitness. Two examples are Emma Brockwell and Grainne Donnelly who are breaking down barriers, specifically in relation to Pelvic Health.

What’s your favourite Cornish beach / view?

The stretch of coastpath from Kennack Sands, through Cadgwith and on to the Lizard Point is simply stunning. I was lucky enough to grow up there and the path is 5 mins from my parents house. On a sunny day I’m not sure theres anywhere better.

What do you do in Cornwall to make the most of living here?

I absolutely love the water, I row gigs and so the summer is generally spend touring around the various beaches and coves around the county. I love to paddleboard, swim, run, ride horses – basically anything that involves being outside. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Favourite cafe/ restaurant / shop / business that isn’t yours!

Anything that involved food and the beach is a winner for me 😉 One of my favourite small businesses is ‘Cornish Bluebelle‘ – she’s a fellow mum who makes the most amazing coastal inspired jewellery – a go to for Christmas and birthday presents. 

Find more ideas here

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