Kareen Lai gave up a career in teaching to set up Mums in Sync, her own fitness and nutrition business for new mothers looking to get back in shape after pregnancy. Inspired by her own journey after having twins, and determined to share her experience with other mothers, she now dedicates her time to spreading her message. We asked her about her goals and aspirations.
What were the factors that led you to setting up Mums in Sync?
The main stimulus for leaving my teaching job and running my own work schedule was really giving birth to twins. Many people yearn to run their own business, for the flexibility to schedule work around their family, but without a unique idea, supported by a sustainable business model, leaving a full-time job might be reckless.
I left teaching because I sensed that my idea offered a service that was untapped and had great potential. When there is a problem to be solved, there is opportunity, so I decided to step into unchartered waters to start Mums In Sync.
Have you always been interested in fitness training?
I have been active running and playing sport throughout my life. I started climbing in 2000, and then became a certified climbing instructor. I swam, ran, climbed and cycled to keep fit but it was more for fun and not so much for a ‘hardcore’ gym work, or a planned routine.
What are the mistakes a lot of women make when trying to lose weight after childbirth? Did you make those mistakes?
Like most mothers, I went through the phase of trying to find a slimming centre that would help me get back into shape fast and a jamu masseur who would massage the fat away. I signed up for a package at a slimming centre and also a weights programme at a gym. After spending a few thousand dollars, I found nothing had worked, with not an inch of fat lost! So I made the same mistakes as many and felt the same frustration when there were no results.
What are the main things that women should concentrate on after childbirth?
For postnatal mothers, it’s really crucial to take it slow and focus on restoring their core first, before thinking that they can join fat loss boot camps or high intensity cross-fit sessions. It is crucial to heal the abdominal separation first, otherwise there is the risk of more injuries and the stomach fat will remain when the abdominals stay separated.
Don’t place too heavy an emphasis on getting back into shape too quickly. Remember that your body just nurtured a new life and it needs time to recover for having worked hard for 40weeks. It’s about giving your body the right nourishment to help it recover more efficiently. Eat right, move right and think right, so that you will eventually feel right.
Most of the time, it’s about recognizing that you need to be well, strong and energised in order for you to be there for your children.
Start off with investing 15 minutes a day on your health and well-being. Get used to it, and then increase to 30 minutes and then an hour. Take baby steps – there is no need to rush into things.
Why do you think it’s important for women to get back in shape?
For me, the excessive weight truly affected my self-esteem and confidence. I couldn’t come to terms with standing in front of my then students with excessive weight and a loss of strength. I didn’t feeI that I was an appropriate role model.
Not all women are like me, but I believe we share the fear of gaining weight from pregnancy that will stay forever.
However we can get fit again if we make the decision not to succumb to ‘fate’. You will be surprised how much confidence, energy and presence you can achieve. Most importantly, your children will see what it means to have a confident mum – the ultimate reward is being the confident role model your children need.
What is the main purpose of Mums in Sync? How did you start the business?
I started Mums In Sync mainly because I was inspired by my own transformation journey and I wanted to reach out to inspire other mums so that they can claim back their bodies. The ultimate vision for Mums In Sync is to Shape Up the Nation, One Mother at a Time.
What sort of programmes do you run? What exercises should we all be doing to maintain and develop our core strength?
I run fitness & nutrition programmes that help mothers get into tip-top shape. The Core Restoration™ programme aims to help postnatal women restore their core and get their core connected again in a safe and effective manner.
The Mummy Fat Loss programme helps mummies get fit following the Sexy Fit Framework™ which I developed. Most of my clients engage my consultancy on a one-to-one personal coaching programme but I’m planning small group classes in 2015. If there is one exercise everyone should do, it would have to be squats.
If you can squat well, I know you are structurally sound and reasonably flexible. When you squat, you fire up one of the biggest muscle groups in your body – your glutes. This stimulates energy and helps you stay metabolically sound.
How has the fitness scene in Singapore changed in the past five years? Is it an exciting time to be working in the fitness industry?
Singapore has pumped lots of money and effort into building up the sports scene and culture here, the most recent development being the new Sports Hub. As a climber and a teacher, I understand how sports can bond and unite people.
People here are getting involved with more exercise activities and sports – just look at the number of cyclists on the roads during the weekends! For my part, I am just excited to be playing a part in getting mums actively involved, because they have so much influence in getting their kids involved in sport and starting young!
Apart from the website, what other projects are you involved in?
At Mums In Sync, teaching people how to move right, eat right and think right is what I do all the time. I am starting another business that focuses on getting people to start eating better, starting with the simplest foods, like switching from unhealthy spreads to a healthier more wholesome alternative. My brother and I have been testing the market, educating people about nut butters and introducing them to our homemade almond butter spread, called ‘Nuts About Butter’.
What is there to look forward to in 2015?
In 2015 I plan to publish my book,‘18 Again – Finding the Sexy Fit Mummy in you’, where I share how mothers can plan out smart and realistic strategies to make things better for themselves.
So it’s going to be an exciting year for me.
For more information on Mums in Sync go to
www.mumsinsync.com or visit: www.facebook.com/mumsinsync
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