Doncaster Rovers star Tommy Rowe attended a pioneering post-natal fitness workshop at the Eco-Power Stadium as part of the EFL’s Week of Action.
The 34-year-old, a father of three, came along to the first week of the six-week-long programme to share his experiences of parenthood and joined in the afternoon’s fitness session.
Each week, the course, funded by ICB formally CCG and are working in partnership with Doncaster Council and Doncaster family hubs, takes on a different theme for baby sensory.
“This is something close to my heart with having three kids and my wife has been through something similar, getting out of the house when the babies are growing up,” he said. “It’s something to help out because you see the people and the staff here that do a fantastic job.
“It’s just interacting with different people and it’s interesting to hear different views because I came in to today thinking that I was probably going to hear a lot about how they were forcing themselves to come just to get out, but it was quite the opposite. A lot of the mums I’ve spoken to are wanting to do it for fitness reasons.
“They get an hour of general play with the kids and meet other mums who are probably going through what they’re going through in a different way, then having a coffee. I’ve seen a lot of smiles and a lot of good conversations.
Lauren Platts, Club Doncaster Foundation’s Health and Wellbeing Coordinator, leads the course and helped to establish the programme following a successful pilot.
And the course is the first of its kind to be hosted by a Football Club.
She said: “Doncaster is the second-most deprived district in South Yorkshire, there’s nothing really free for mums and babies to attend where mums can do exercise; anything in Doncaster is post-natal, you have to pay for through personal trainers, so we thought we’d fit it into the Fit Rovers projects that we’ve ran for years anyway.
“It’s a bit different for mums because it’s at a football stadium,” she continued. “It’s just completely brand new. We’ve designed the course ourselves and that’s why we ran two pilot courses to get the mums to design it with us, so they’ve picked the hoodies, the logos, the t-shirts and everything that went well or didn’t go well.”
Week one begins with introductions, a coffee morning, filling out health commitment forms, and baby play.
“The first week is always the hardest because we don’t know the mums whereas the two groups we ran previously, we built a relationship with them so by the time we’d finished the course, we knew them quite well,” she explained.
"It’s just getting over those barriers to exercise because they’re all in a similar sort of position and it’s not like you’re joining a gym and going alone, and you get to exercise with your baby.
“We advertise it as physical activity with the programme, but we try to focus on the mental health side as well. We open up as a support network for other mums because you can be socially isolated after having a baby and you don’t want to go anywhere.”
In addition, as a social event and celebration, the programme organised for the mums and families to attend a football match at the stadium – to see Rowe in action – with a handful of attendees having never attended a game before due to financial implications.
“For me, it’s been something I wanted to work hard on for my own personal development to reach out to the Club and to offer my services in whatever capacity they can be used,” said Rowe. “As players, we’re trying to work with the Foundation more.”
“There are loads of elements that are helpful, but the main thing is it’s a community that’s together and everyone is here for the right reasons.”