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10 questions with Frame co-founder Pip Black


Pip Black of Frame studios and Move Your Frame activewear chats to Global Blue’s Kirsty Welsh about the latest fitness trends, her favourite London haunts, the MumHood pre-natal and post-natal programme, and Frame’s collaboration with Mamas & Papas

Kirsty Welsh
Kirsty Welsh ,

How did you get into fitness?
Exercise has been an important part of my life from as long as I can remember. Competing at top-level sport throughout my teenage years and at university, I trained over four times a week and played matches. I didn’t do this because I wanted to lose weight or for aesthetic reasons, it was because I enjoyed it. I got to hang out with an awesome bunch of girls and it felt really good when we won!

When I met Joan (Murphy, co-founder of Frame), we started to look for fun ways to keep fit which we could do together and didn’t require huge commitment. This is when I started practising yoga, going to Pilates classes and dancing again like I used to. It made me remember how important exercise was to me, and I instantly started to feel better, with increased energy levels and a more positive outlook on life.

What are your favourite London haunts, eateries and shops?
I spend most Saturday mornings at the Pavilion café in Victoria Park after my son plays football. From a business perspective, I find it amazing how they keep quality so consistent and deal with the huge numbers of customers. I’m always sneakily trying to work out their tricks while I’m in there!

My husband owns a few restaurants, and I particularly love Albion for a cheese and Marmite scroll when serious carbs are in order! We got married on Boundary Rooftop, so this holds special memories for me, and there’s no better place to sit out and drink wine and Negronis in the warmer months.

Since a child I’ve always found Liberty a treasure trove of goodies, and can’t leave without spending money on something. I’m so excited about the fact Move Your Frame activewear is now stocked in Liberty and that we run classes there. I have to keep pinching myself!

I also have a penchant for interiors and stationery, so SCP, Goodhood and Monologue in Shoreditch are favourites.

Tell us about your latest venture, MumHood.
MumHood was born out of the fact that when Joan, and then I, became pregnant for the first time, even working in the industry, we found it really hard and at times very confusing to find information about exercising during pregnancy that didn’t contradict itself, or err on the side of caution – stick to walking and swimming.

We created Frame Bumps, a fitness class for pregnant ladies which actually felt like you were working out. We then added Mum’s Club, where you could bring your baby so that you could keep moving without crazy childcare costs.

At Frame, we’ve seen first-hand how many women have found out that they are pregnant and want to continue exercising. So many young women exercise regularly and feel the benefits, they don’t want to stop when they are pregnant.

This has spurred us on to research further and to create not only more pre-natal and post-natal classes at Frame, but also to create four programmes which can be done at home with small equipment: Pregnancy, Post-natal Phase 1, Post-natal Phase 2 and Fit Mums. We want to reach as many women around the country as possible, and hopefully the world, to educate and motivate them to stay active and healthy during pregnancy and post-natally, as the benefits for both them and their families are huge.

Before you launched MumHood did you notice a gap in the fitness market for pre-natal and post-natal fitness classes?
100%! Everything was very slow and cautious; perfect for women who had perhaps never worked out before, but not engaging or challenging enough for women whose bodies were used to exercise. The US, Australia and New Zealand were all much further ahead than us, and we took a lot of inspiration from these markets when creating our programmes.

Any tips on which classes to do during pregnancy and what to avoid?
My first piece of advice would be to listen to your body and if anything doesn’t feel right, stop right away. Secondly, everyone is different, and never more so than in pregnancy.

If you have a low-risk pregnancy, advice from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests that you can continue with whatever exercise you were doing previously, if you take into consideration that you want to keep effort down to around 70% of your maximum, avoid working your rectus abdominis (six-pack muscles) through sit-ups etcetera, and ensure that you don’t overheat or work your body to exhaustion. We would also suggest avoiding contact sports and anything that requires high levels of balance, such as rugby, hockey, horse riding, skiing.

How did the latest collaboration with Mamas & Papas come about? Which are your favourite pieces from the collection?
We were contacted by the team at Mamas & Papas last year. They highlighted that health and fitness was going to be one of the brand pillars they wanted to concentrate on, and they liked what Frame was doing in the market. I think the fact that we see exercise as part of your life, rather than the be all and end all, and have a less aggressive attitude, made us a good choice when it came to talking to pregnant women.

We are genuinely super-passionate about educating and motivating more pregnant ladies to be fit and healthy, as the majority of advice out there is currently confusing and aimed at those who haven’t exercised before. The idea of talking to their huge audience about the pros of exercise is amazing.

In terms of the collection, I love the super-soft grey sweater for a throw-over, the mesh sports leggings (love the print!) and the swimsuit. I’ve just been on holiday and trying to find a sensible swimming costume in the maternity sections was near on impossible!

You’ve got five studios in London now. Any new studios in the pipeline?
Yes. We’re aiming to open two or three more in London this year, and then look to grow further outside the capital.

Which are the most popular classes at Frame?
All our classes are popular and different classes work better at certain times and days. We have a timetable team which closely analyses the performance of each class and teacher in each studio and plays a complicated game of Tetris with the results! Beyoncé dance classes always sell out. Our newest classes, Frame Lift, a barbell class, and Cardio Barre, are both proving really successful.

What are your fitness predictions for 2017?
I think and hope that we’re going to start to see a shift from the industry being intent on ‘breaking’ us to a much more measured attitude to working out: the realisation that it’s good to mix a high-intensity interval training class with Reformer Pilates, yoga and some heavy weights. It’s best to mix and match to give your body the best chance of being healthy and balanced.

What’s next for Frame?
Don’t worry, Joan and I won’t be sitting still for a while, we’ve got a lot of tricks up our sleeves. Watch this space!

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