Olympian Katey Bates shares her favourite workout for busy mums

When you’re a new mum, finding time to yourself can be a real challenge, which is why so many of us have trouble staying on top of our fitness. But it’s still, and arguably even more so, important to look after yourself. Olympian Katey Bates shares her favourite workout for busy mums.

Finding the time to do anything for yourself after giving birth isn’t exactly the easiest feat. Not only are you completely exhausted all the time, depending on your particular birth experience, but your body and mental health may also be hanging together by what seems like the thinnest of threads, making it all the less appealing to put on some activewear and head to the gym.

Trust me, I get it.

I suppose because I competed as a cyclist from when I was young, I was always drawn back to the bike – even when I was pregnant and after giving birth.

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Having been involved in the Chicks Who Ride Bikes community for several years, I totally understand that for some women – and particularly beginners – cycling can be daunting, intimidating and seem totally unattainable.

If you’ll only take one thing away from this, I want it to be that women (and mums in particular) can and should consider cycling not only as a great form of exercise, but a way to carve out some me-time while having fun along the way.

Outdoor cycling

If you didn’t grow up on the track like me, you might have weird visions of MAMILs (middle-aged men in lycra) when you hear the word “cyclist”. And if you haven’t ridden a bike since you were a kid, the thought of buying one and using it for fitness may seem absolutely absurd.

If this sounds like you, stay with me!

While many think of jogging as the ideal cardio exercise, cycling is about as perfect as it gets. It provides a low-impact workout (super-important for beginners, those with injuries and post-partum) and builds strong legs and core while improving heart health.

Not only is it great for your body, there are lots of ways you can do it. If road cycling is your thing, you can join the hundreds of women and MAMILs who flock to the roads in the early mornings or on weekends.

If you’re less game to weave through traffic, you can explore bike paths in your local area, or even some forest mountain trails!

And if you’re a time-poor mum like me, you may find that riding indoors – either on a stationary bike or putting your bike on a trainer – is the best way to balance mum life with other activities for the majority of the week.

Indoor cycling

Spin classes are definitely options if you love going to the gym, but if you’re looking for a way to incorporate some low impact and easy exercise into your schedule, look no further than a good trainer setup.

I’m a cycling addict from way back, but becoming a mum and having a real job took my focus away from fitness. I wasn’t sure how to get back to the community and the sport I loved, but indoor cycling has given me a new lease on life.

So why is indoor cycling so good?

  • You can build technique and fitness in between IRL rides.
  • You can learn about things like cadence and power and heart rate without the pressure.
  • It’s for all weather – rain, hail or shine.
  • 20 minutes will still give you a great workout.
  • It’s accessible to anyone, and you can ride on your own terms.
  • There’s minimal set-up time – just hop on and you’re good to go.

Virtual cycling experiences like Zwift are available for those that miss the community or group aspect of the RPM class. It is a gamified program for indoor cycling.

There are a few different ways to get set up, but essentially you need a bike, a stationary trainer which can be connected to the app, and a TV, tablet or smartphone. A water bottle, towel and bike shorts with padding are recommended, but everything else is completely up to you!

Indoor cycling has many benefits, one of the biggest is that my kids get to see their mum working hard.

They often cheerlead and encourage me when I’m riding, and even at 3 and 5, my girls understand what it means to be fit and healthy.

The virtual world is a great way to make the most of the limited time you have as a new or expectant mum. There’s no gearing up for long hours on the road (unless you want to!) or packing a bike in the car to drive to trails.

Once you’re set-up, it’s super easy to just jump on the bike and get started in the morning, evening, or just when the kids are asleep.

Katey Bates is an Australian Olympian and World Champion cyclist with two decades in elite sports and a growing footprint in sports administration.