I am a pre-and postnatal corrective exercise specialist with a focus on the core. I help women navigate their fitness journeys from pre-conception into motherhood. By Meredith Kramer

Tell us a little bit about yourself; your home and work life, family, values…

First and foremost I am like any mum raising her kids in a foreign country. There is a lot of winging it and reading about parenting. I start the day with coffee, lots of it, and since having two kids I tend to lose track of the last time I washed my hair.  

I feel like I am the typical modern mum trying to find a balance, feeling judged on my parenting move, and tired of justifying my parenting style. 

But the one thing that sets me apart, is my love for fitness and helping women during pregnancy. If I am not in the gym one morning, I get asked the next day by the regulars where I was. I feel like I am there more than some of the people who work there. 

Three times a week I try and go twice a day because I love being there. I love to sweat and push myself through tough workouts. I usually spend mornings coaching and pushing myself through a hard workout. The afternoon session is when I will  workout again, but I am timing and perfecting the plans for my mums. 

Born and raised in Santa Barbara, California, I live roughly 7,000 miles (11,265.41 km) away in Germany 11 months of the year with my professional basketball player husband Dennis, and the two boys, Jackson (4) and Chase (22months). This is Dennis’ sixth season in Germany and we are lucky that the last two seasons we have been able to stay in one city. Our first year we moved mid season and in the second season I moved to another new city with an eight-week-old baby and the fourth season I was seven months pregnant and didn’t know where we were going. 

Never did I think I would be a ‘stay at home mum’ or even a fitness professional. I graduated with a Marketing degree, and an emphasis in real estate finance. Before the big move I was underwriting hospitals, parking lots, shopping centres and office parks as well as managing a 32-property portfolio for two real estate brokers in San Diego. I loved it, but when my husband said he wanted to live his dream to play professional basketball, who could deny anyone that opportunity? So we packed up and off we went. 

How did 40weekFit come about?

I would spend all evening googling and watching tutorials about what was possible during pregnancy. I then wrote it all down to take with me to the gym. The pregnancy was great, my body felt strong, and my labour was pretty easy. But three hours after the birth of my son Jackson is when my life changed forever. He wasn’t able to breastfeed, and was losing weight. We tried everything, even drinking from a bottle would take him 45 minutes. The first six months of his life I was either in the hospital spending the night with him, or visiting our paediatrician every month to make sure he was gaining weight and staying healthy. Needless to say I fell into a major postpartum depression. 

The idea for coaching and training pregnant clients was a day dream I had in the office one day when my boss was talking about his wife having a hard time finding a pregnancy workout that was challenging enough. I never thought about it again until my own pregnancy when I was staying active and all my friends told me I was motivating them. I didn’t really have a choice but I loved going to the gym. I had only lived in Germany for a short time and I didn’t know anyone and didn’t speak the language, so the gym was my excuse to get out of the house. 

I felt like my body was broken because I couldn’t do the most natural thing – breastfeed your child. I felt like my body was broken because my son wasn’t perfect, and there was something wrong with him. I would cry myself to sleep, and take naps during the day. Looking back I was probably pretty lifeless. I went from this incredible high of exercising every day to not even wanting to get out of the house because I was so ashamed of the woman I was. I felt like my body had failed me. 

One night I was watching a Periscope and a girl was talking about starting your own business. I remembered how many people I had helped during my pregnancy and how amazing it made me feel. I knew I may have something, then the idea I had years before in the office popped back into my head. I started looking into fitness certifications and how to make a website. By June of my son’s first birthday, I had the idea, a certification, the basis for the website and a rough draft of a product called 40weekFit. 

Tell us about its main features

Unlike other workout programmes that are about 12 weeks and then you repeat them, 40weekFit starts off at four weeks (when a woman finds out she is expecting she is already four weeks pregnant). So, instead of picking up a plan or pressing play on any old workout video, these workouts have been tailored to the flow of pregnancy. 

For instance weeks 7-11 are going to be the easiest workouts because this is when you experience fatigue, morning sickness and hormone surges, and your blood volumes are catching up to fill the size of your arteries. So much is happening and I took this into account. Whereas with the second trimester we focus on cardio, strength, and more challenging exercises. The weeks leading up to the third trimester and every week in the third trimester focus on leg and upper body strength and less cardio. The baby is almost fully grown and carrying around additional weight from pregnancy is more than enough cardio. But there is a reason I have programmed the workouts up until the due date (yes even until week 41) and it’s based on research and the medical advantages of keeping fit during pregnancy.

There a new set of workouts for every week tailored to what your body is going through and what it needs, and I haven’t included any abdominal work that could cause a diastasis recti. I encourage my mums to learn how to belly breathe and in my one-on-one sessions I teach them about the importance of this type of breathing, why we need to do it during exercise and how it is going to help them both during labour and postpartum recovery. 

How does it benefit pregnant women and how do the different trimester sessions play out?

Women can follow each of the weekly plans feeling confident in their workouts. They can make them more or less challenging depending on how they feel. They know they are doing what is necessary to maintain a high fitness level and it is great for them, but research has also shown many benefits for the child as well.

They also never have to worry or wonder what’s coming next, or how to plan a workout programme. Each daily workout from weeks 4 through 41 has been carefully written. Not one of the 40weekFit workouts repeats itself, so you are always getting something different. 

Tell us what we can expect from your work with Glowing Bumps.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with Laura and Wendy. It’s been a dream of mine to have the 40weekFit workouts together with a a registered nutritionist to provide scientifically based advice on what to consume before, during and beyond pregnancy. 

I am finally going to be focusing on preconception and postpartum which are equally important in preparing for having a baby and recovering from labour. Glowing Bumps has given me the opportunity to create something that doesn’t currently exist and will really help simplify pregnancy fitness!

What does the future hold for you?

I love women’s health, especially around the women’s core (abdominals, pelvic floor, breath, and lower back) all throughout life, preconception, postnatal and menopause. 

After two pregnancies I know how hard, long and annoying the process of getting back to your old routine can be. I have also seen the effects of what happens if you rush the process. It’s not as fast as the media makes it out to be. So I am teaming up with two of my previous clients who are also now certified corrective exercise specialists to write, film, podcast etc about the things we are learning. We feel there is a need to share this specific corrective exercise knowledge with women around the world. 

Anything else on your mind?

This is such an exciting venture, and I can’t think of a better time. Women are teaming up all over the world to do incredible things together, supporting one another. Sharing what it is that they know with other women, and celebrating each others victories. 

Meredith x