Skills Active scholarship winner stepping up her skills and supporting strong mums

November 18, 2019

Briana Herlihy wished more new mothers knew about the amazing secrets of postnatal exercise. Now she’s getting qualified through Skills Active so that she can spread the word.

Briana says she has been keen on fitness since her early 20s. However, her outlook expanded after she had her first baby, and her sister-in-law, a postnatal exercise specialist, invited her along to a class.

“She educated me in how to exercise differently for my body, and I was just so blown away that it wasn’t a well-known thing! I felt like I was learning so much, even though I already knew a lot about exercise. I thought, why is nobody talking about this?”

Briana says she noticed there weren’t very many postnatal trainers around, and thought perhaps this was something she could do. Previously she’d been working in a corporate job, and as she changed lanes to an exercise career, she was keen to get qualified and expand her knowledge further.

In 2018, she applied for and won the Skills Active exercise scholarship, which enabled her to enrol in the New Zealand Certificate in Exercise (Level 4). She has been completing this qualification on the job, while working with postnatal trainers KC Fit in Auckland.

Briana has found the qualification suits her life as a busy parent. Going into a traditional classroom environment would have been impossible, she says.

“I’m a full-time mum, working and studying. [The assessments] are online, so I can fit things in in my own time, and I can make it work around my family. I always work during naptime. I do little bit by little bit, every day.”

In the meantime, Briana is busy getting hands-on experience helping women regain function after childbirth. That might mean strengthening their core muscles or their pelvic floor, repairing a tummy split, or addressing sciatica or back pain.

“[Pelvic floor weakness] is a thing women accept after having a baby,” Briana says. “‘Oh I can’t jump on trampolines anymore, because I’m going to wet myself.’ But actually you don’t have to accept it. If you train your body right, it is something you can do.”

She says postnatal classes can brighten a mum’s day in more ways than one.

“It might be the only hour in that week that they have just done something for themselves. So it’s pretty special, when you think about it.

“Quite often at mums’ coffee groups, it’s all, ‘What’s your baby doing?’ and ‘My baby is doing this.’ Whereas this is just regular talk with other adults, which is quite refreshing.”

Briana has no plans to return to the corporate world. Her future plans include setting up her own postnatal bootcamp to reach even more mums.

“This is something I used to do myself as a client, and something that I really cherished in my week. Now that I’m on the other side of it, it still doesn’t feel like work.”