“Don't feel like it has to be perfect”

Hollie Grant aka the Pilates PT on the realities of being a mother and business owner

Show notes:

For our third episode I’m speaking to Hollie Grant aka the Pilates PT. Hollie fell in love with Pilates after being burnt as an apprentice pastry chef and working on reception at a studio. From running her own studio, she has grown an empire including an online pilates offering, two books and a podcast, all while raising two children.

We talk about how scary it can be being a business owner and navigating huge personal and business changes. Hollie spoke on the pros and cons of working with your partner, both incomes being dependent on your business and both dealing with being new parents at the same time and the differences between her two maternity leaves with the business being at different stages. Hollie also had some really encouraging things to say about the realities of being a mother and business owner, and how it will look messy but only to you. To everyone else you’ll look like you’ve got your sh*t together!

I used the Bump Plan programme to see me through both my pregnancies and prepare for birth and couldn’t recommend it highly enough. There are options for trying to conceive, pregnancy and postpartum, you can find out more here: https://thebumpplan.com/

Bump to business owner links:

Website: www.bumptobusinessowner.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bumptobusinessowner/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carolinepooley/


About Hollie:

Hollie Grant is an inspiration not just to all women in business, but especially for any mum in the fitness industry.

Hollie set up ‘Pilates PT’ in 2015 which includes her own Studio in London and online platform, then in 2020 went on to create The Bump Plan which came from her lifelong desire to help TTC, pregnant, and postnatal women enter into these amazing times of their life.

Alongside growing and raising a baby and a toddler of her own, The Bump Plan has supported over 30,000 women globally and Hollie has gone on to create fitness plans to support both women conceiving and postnatal mums to be strong and prepared for the demands of pregnancy and motherhood.

Hollie’s second book ‘The Bump plan’ is out now. One which she wrote whilst heavily pregnant with her second baby and then had to edit and record the audiobook whilst he was a newborn.

Hollie’s Links:

Websites: https://pilatespt.co.uk/, https://thebumpplan.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thepilatespt
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pilatespt1/



Hello and welcome to Bump to Business Owner, thank you so much for tuning in today. This podcast is inspired by my mission to find out why more and more mums are leaving the employment world for the entrepreneur life. I’ll be talking to some of the people I believe to be the most inspiring women in business about their journey building their businesses alongside motherhood. I’ll be also sharing some of my own experiences of juggling my award winning virtual assistant agency Upsource, while raising my two young children. Right now they are two and four, and trust me, it can be chaos.

Caroline [00:00:45]

Hello, and welcome to today’s Bump to Business Owner. I am so pleased to welcome Holly Grant from the Pilates PT. Holly Grant is an inspiration not just to all women in business, but especially for any mum in the fitness industry. She set up Pilates PT in 2015, which includes her own studio, London and online platform, then in 2020 went on to create The Bump Plan, which came from her lifelong desire to help women trying to conceive postnatal women entering these amazing times of their life. Alongside growing and raising a baby and toddler of her own, the Bump Plan had supported over 30,000 women globally and Holly has gone on to create fitness plans to support both women conceiving and postnatal mums to be strong and prepared for the demands of pregnancy and motherhood. Holly’s second book, The Bump Plan, is out now, one which she wrote whilst heavily pregnant with her second baby and then had to edit and record the audiobook whilst he was a newborn. Holly, thank you so much for joining me today. Wow, what a CV you have there.

Hollie [00:01:46]:

I feel like I’ve been around the block a little bit. It makes me feel, yeah, like I’ve been around a long time and you’ve got to keep adapting and you’ve got to keep moving forwards. And also I just seem to be addicted to being busy. I think I just can’t sit still.

Caroline [00:02:05]:

I think that’s such an interesting point because as business owners, I think that really ends up once you start one business, like said, you started with your own studio in London, you go on and be like, what else can I do now? This is going well, I can do something else. I think that’s a real personality trait, maybe, of people who are interested in starting their own business.

Hollie [00:02:23]:

I honestly think you really need that. And although we’ve already just started and going off on a tangent, but my husband works with the business and he joined it for different reasons. It’s not like he’s always wanted his own business and we do differ in that respect, in that I really thrive off of having new products coming and I really get a buzz and I’m always saying, well, why don’t we launch this? And he’s the opposite, he’s always like, oh, gosh, please, can we not launch anything else? And I think that’s where, if you are a business owner, you do have to have that type of personality. You have to want to and enjoy constantly coming up with new ideas and new products. For my husband, it’s not really natural to him. He just wants to kind of can we just take a pause and just enjoy what we’ve already got? So, yeah, I think you have to have it in you.

Caroline [00:03:11]:

He’s probably a good balance for you there as a business.

Hollie [00:03:15]:

Maybe the poor guy is just, like, trying to find it out. But, yeah, no, I think as a business owner, the one who everything’s kind of on you, you do need to be that type of person where you want to do more stuff constantly and people do have to say to you, maybe do that next year, maybe just focus on what you’ve got. Yeah.

Caroline [00:03:36]:

No, I love that. I think that’s so true. And so, Holly, what I really wanted to start at, how does a pastry chef go from running her own Pilates and fitness business? But I’m also kind of interested in what made you go and be a pastry chef. Like, were you always into foods and cooking?

Hollie [00:03:53]:

I’ll try and keep it as brief as possible, but basically, I just know that everything I have and do now comes from my childhood, really. So I grew up with a dad who’s in the Parachute Regiment, so they are kind of super strong, super fit. So I saw my dad constantly pushing himself. He is a strong man competitor now as well. He’s about to try and go for the over 60s strongest man in the UK, so he’s still very active. And then, I guess, like lots of us our age, a mum who maybe didn’t love exercise and was fed that awful kind of diet culture narrative that you exercise to look slim, as well as smoking a fag and drinking Diet Coke. So it was kind of a mixed bag with that respect. And then I went to a military boarding school, which was paid for by the Mod, and it was to stop military children having to move around and change schools all the time. And it was absolutely amazing. But again, it was really heavily focused on you being strong and powerful, even as a woman. And so that was drilled into me. And so then I went to university really into fitness, because of how it made me feel and how I wanted to be strong and powerful and be the best. And I got a bit of an insight into, actually the relationship that other women had with exercise that wasn’t the same. And it was kind of this whole, I’ve put on weight because I’ve joined uni, I need to go to the gym and lose it or I’m going on holiday and I need to lose weight. And it just felt like quite a toxic relationship with exercise. So I found that really interesting. And I was studying psychology and so my dissertation was on eating disorders in first year students, because I just found it so fascinating, these girls going off to uni, their parents weren’t there to keep an eye on them and suddenly they did develop these kind of behaviors around food and exercise. But in amongst all of that, I was doing psychology degree. But actually, I’d always wanted to be a pastry chef. And the only reason I’d gone to uni was because my business studies teacher had said, look, go and get a degree. Just in case you do open a cafe or a bakery and it fails, make sure you’ve got a degree behind you, which we all know now is absolute BS. But anyway, I did it, chose a degree that sounded interesting and did psychology. And then whilst I was at uni, I was coming back to London and doing starshes or like, work experience with this guy who was the only person I wanted to work for at the end of my degree. So I was coming back doing work experience, and at the end of my degree, he offered me to be his apprentice in London. And so after uni, I moved to Twickenham, a tiny studio flat, and started as an apprentice for this guy. And it was just a year of l is all I can describe it as. It was exactly as you see kind of on TV. It was such a toxic environment, just not what I wanted. And I was talking to somebody about it yesterday about how there was a lot of, like, the C word that would be thrown around. You’d be screamed at, you’d be just expected to work two weeks without a day off, canceling plans constantly. And I used to say to my employer, this guy, you could just ask me nicely and I’ll do it. You don’t have to swear at me. I just don’t understand why people think they need to talk that way. I would probably do a better job if you just asked me nicely. So after a year, I actually understandably. Ended up with quite bad depression. And my parents kept saying, look, if you don’t leave, we’re going to come and get you. And so one day, I literally just couldn’t bear the thought of going. So I called up, quit, was put through the ringer, like, if you don’t come back, that’s it, I’m going to tell everyone in the industry. And I kind of said, Well, I don’t really care anymore, I’m done with the industry because you’ve ruined it for me anyway. So then I had to decide what to do next. And one of my best friends had said, look, I work for a charity and the owner of the charity also owns a Pilates studio and she’s looking for a receptionist. Why don’t you just do that for now? Get your head straight, decide what you want to do. So I took that role and then just literally fell in love with Pilates. Like immediately the first time I tried it, I just thought, oh my God, this just is amazing. It’s about function, it’s about being powerful. It’s not about trying to make me look a certain way or losing weight. And so yeah, I fell in love with it and I practiced every day. And then after a year, the instructors and the owner said, why don’t you go and train to be a Pilates instructor? Which I’d never thought of before as a career. And I did that and just loved it. And that was nearly twelve years ago, and it just kind of went on from there. So I fell into it. Actually. It makes complete sense, given my upbringing and my experiences, that this is what I would end up doing, and that it’s given me more joy than pastry chefing ever could have done.

Caroline [00:08:41]:

So interesting. I also particularly like you can tell your dad and what he does now, sounds like you got the same work ethic and same approach to things as well as your education. But what I find really interesting as well is your dissertation that you did about eating disorders and women. It kind of shows, do you think that shows you’ve always been passionate about how women think of their bodies. So it makes perfect sense that you’ve led to create the bump plan and things really. Was that always a goal to support when you started doing Pilates? Was that always a goal to support pregnant women? How did you come about that?

Hollie [00:09:16]:

Yeah, I think I’m just like a massive feminist when it comes to fitness. Because going to boarding school at eleven years old, living it was a mixed boarding school, but living with 90 girls at any one point and just having the best time, those friends that I grew up with and shared bunk beds with and stuff, they’re still the girls that I hang out with now. They’re still my best friends now, so they’re more like sisters. But I think from a young age, I really loved women. And I really hated when women were told that they couldn’t do things or they were told that they weren’t as good as men or that they were in any way. I don’t know. Pressurized to look a certain way when I would much rather that they felt strong and amazing and powerful. So that was always my message through fitness. And the fitness industry is horrific in many ways when it comes to diet culture. It’s rare to see somebody talking about fitness and not talking about weight loss or how, or the shape of your bum or things like that. And so for me, I found that really jarring when I started in the fitness industry. And so I think that it’s meant that the way I’ve carved out a business has always been about trying to encourage women to like exercise and have a positive relationship with it and not use it for weight loss. And so I think naturally that’s where pre and postnatal kind of came on because those women I was training were then getting pregnant. I didn’t want them to have to give up training, I wanted them to go into labor feeling like an absolute badass and I wanted them to get back to fitness as quickly as possible, postnatally to help their mental health. So I think it just kind of ended up that that’s the way that it would go. And then obviously while I was pregnant, I also just got an insight into how amazing exercise helped me feel whilst I was pregnant. So again, I just think it’s all organically happened. I’d love to say I sat there thinking, oh, there’s a gap in the market, I better fill it. But actually, it wasn’t that way. It was just what I found, what I wanted to do, what I enjoyed doing.

Caroline [00:11:16]:

Following your passion in that sense of it, and the toxicity in the health industry, that’s like something that’s great to talk about. Because I’d love to know, if you don’t mind me asking, when you fell pregnant the first time, did you feel any of that pressure from that? How did that make you feel knowing the industry you were in? Because that’s the part you really hate about that side of it. With the wellness industry, to be honest.

Hollie [00:11:41]:

I felt bit of freedom actually, whilst I was pregnant and that’s what I quite like about training women when they’re pregnant because all of a sudden weight loss is kind of off the table anyway. So I think in some ways I felt a bit of freedom when I was pregnant, but definitely in the kind of ten years prior to that, when I first was in the fitness industry, I was 25, 26, 27, kind of years old and there was definitely a lot of fitness industry has changed in many ways. It has got less diet culture related, I think, or maybe it’s just two extremes now. So the beginning when I first started out, everything was about weight loss and so what I would get is a lot of comments. I was quite muscly, I’ve always had big shoulders, big arms, I honestly think I get it from my dad. And so women would come to the class and they’d be like, oh, I don’t want to lift heavy weights, I don’t want to put too many springs on because I want to be strong, but I don’t want to look like this and they’d be kind of like pointing to my arms and my shoulders. I’d get lots of comments like that, but luckily I think I’ve got quite a thick skin. And also for me, because exercise was about being strong and not how I looked, I think I actually washed it off, I didn’t really care that much. So I think there was probably more pressure on the way I looked pre pregnancy, but once I was pregnant, I think what I found different was more the way that I was potentially treated by brands. It was more that and maybe it was my own insecurities, but I almost felt like there were certain brands that were kind of like, oh, she’s done now. Like, now she’s pregnant in the fitness industry, kind of, yeah, maybe we won’t use her anymore now that she’s pregnant or she’s going to be a mum. And there was a brand that I’d worked with for a long time that I’d kept saying, I really think that there’s a gap here for you guys to create something for pregnant women. Like, I would use it. I know so many women who would use it and I’d been a global ambassador for them for years. And slowly during my pregnancy, I was kind of phased out of that and then eventually told that there was no ambassador scheme anymore and I felt that was quite short sighted. So it was less of a feeling of How I needed to look and more of a feeling of what people envisage as being a fitness instructor in the fitness industry and, like, what’s young and trendy and cool. And I kind of felt like I wasn’t that anymore. But it did open me up to other brands who are much more forward thinking.

Caroline [00:14:12]:

That’s interesting. Yeah. Firstly, shocking, because we all have heard about brands with some sports stars where that has happened. I’m thinking of one particular one.

Hollie [00:14:23]:

Which name?

Caroline [00:14:24]:

But it’s interesting because that must have been quite nerve wracking for you, that while you’re kind of on the other side of it now with your two kids, you’ve been a mum for a while. You can see how it pivoted and it just looks different. But that must have been a little bit scary or a little bit nerve wracking at first. Like, all these brands don’t want to work with me kind of thing and it’s great other ones opened up, but there must have been that in between periods where you’re like, oh, how’s this going to look for my business? I guess was there any worry about your how did you feel about running a business and being pregnant? What did you have any thoughts of what that’s going to look like for you? Because I started my business in my second pregnancy, while it’s all different, I kind of knew the change that was going to happen. How do you kind of approach that? What were your feelings and thoughts?

Hollie [00:15:15]:

Where it’s tricky or where I was nervous is that let’s say I had a job for another company and I was behind the screen. I wasn’t necessarily the face or part of the face of the business and I got pregnant. I know that there’s rules, yes, some businesses flout those rules, but with regards to maternity and having a job kept open for you and things being the same for you when you come back, there’s an element of security there. Whereas I think for me, where it was a little bit nerve wracking was just simply the feeling that I was the face of the business and there are no maternity rights when you’re the business owner, there’s no guarantee. And so I think there was definitely an element of, what if I has been I still think it now, are people still going to want to train with me when I’m like, 70 different audience?

Caroline [00:16:05]:

It will be a different audience.

Hollie [00:16:07]:

Yeah. I just have to keep moving. Yeah, keep moving with them. So I think it was more a feeling of nervousness as to, will people still want to train with me? Will I be as strong postnatally? Will I still be able to do this? Will I still want to do this? Or will my priorities have changed? In which case, how do we power mortgage? Because my husband works for this business as well. I guess it falls into two categories. One, I was worried about whether people would also see me as being it’s such an awful phrase, just a mum, but whether they would still see that I was still pushing myself to learn new things and stay up to date with the most up to date research and still be fun and energetic and all this lot. And then just the financial concerns about, what if I decide that actually, I don’t want to do this anymore once the baby’s here? Or what if I can’t do it? I don’t have the time. We start making less money and we can’t pay our bills. So there was definitely a lot of nervousness. And actually, before, when I was pregnant with Freya, at the very last point of my pregnancy, she was two weeks overdue, but I remember around her due date, we hit the next VAT bracket. So we went from paying 8% that on all of our turnover, to what was it, 20%? And our business model, when we plugged the numbers in almost overnight, came out as a loss. And so I remember in those last couple of weeks, every morning, me and Stuart were saying to my bump, like, please don’t come today. And we were having meetings with financial advisors. We were running like a million spreadsheets. We were brainstorming, like, everything, thinking, how on earth are we going to cope now? And I remember that being just thinking, this is so unfair, but this is a point in my pregnancy where I should be really excited, and right now I’m really scared. And actually, you hit that buff a bit where it’s a bit tricky, and then hopefully your turnover goes up, that it becomes okay. But, yeah, it was a really terrifying time. It’s very different being pregnant and having your own business.

Caroline [00:18:15]:

Thank you so much for sharing that, because I think that’s really important because I think sometimes you can see someone, Holly, she’s so successful. There will be women in the fitness industry who aspire to be like you, especially if they’re thinking about having kids or something. And it’s really good for people to see the realities behind the business, that while this looks great, everything you’re doing, there’s a business behind it. And turnover, VAT corporation tax, all of that is the thing that you have to think about with running a business, as well as paying your mortgage and your personal income and growing your family. So, no, thank you so much for sharing that, because it does sound like a really hard part. And you’ve also talked a little bit about, obviously your husband works on the business for you with you. Did that help at all, do you think, on the fact it wasn’t just your stress, he could kind of share the loads a bit? How did that look like when you were thinking about your maternity leave or if you took any? We’ll talk about your maternity leave in a minute.

Hollie [00:19:17]:

Before he worked with me, he had gone down the kind of corporate route. So he worked in the city in recruitment for a while, and then he was hired by these guys that set up business, bought businesses on, made them successful, sold them on. So he would go in and basically help these businesses grow and then get moved to another business. And we lived in London and we just thought that that’s what was going to be for the foreseeable future. And I was teaching all over London and then, very sadly, one night we got a phone call and Stuart’s mom had been in an accident and we lost her that night. And so we got in the car and drove to Oxford, to his parents home. And we basically moved in with his dad initially because we just wanted to make sure that he was okay. And in that car journey to Oxford, my husband was like, that’s it, I’m done. I want to leave London. I don’t like my job anyway. Let’s do this, I’m done. So, basically, we moved out of London almost overnight and I gave up some days at my studio. I commuted in the rest of the time, hired more instructors to help with that. And so then we bought a house in Oxford and Stuart took on another job out in Oxford, kind of in sales, but still wasn’t really happy with that job. And eventually I was at a point in the business where I was really struggling with the workload and I needed to hire somebody. And so I said, Why don’t you come and work with me? We know that we can cover our bills and stuff with the business and even if it’s just why you get your head straight or what have you. So that was just over six years ago and we kind of just organically carved out jobs for him to do. I think what’s difficult about working with your partner, I think if you’re the woman, is I cannot tell you how many times people say to me, oh, is he like the finances guy or is he like the numbers guy and you’re like the teacher? And actually he finds it as rude as I do. That actually, no, I do all the financial accounting and he does lots of the marketing and branding and stuff. So I think there’s like a gender expectation, I think, of our roles within the business. He’s always the first to say to people, like, she’s my boss, because everyone always expects that when we work together, it’s his business and I work for him. But anyway, that’s a side note. So, anyway, so, yeah, he’s always been kind of mopping up and doing all the jobs that kind of I was struggling to do. He’s really good with marketing, he’s really good at branding, so he deals with that kind of stuff and we’ve both got our own very distinct roles. But the difficulty working with your partner is that if you’ve got, like, a big launch coming up, you’re both stressed. Or if you have a bad day, something’s happened, you’re both stressed. And it’s really difficult because you don’t get to come home and say to the other person, oh, my God, I’ve had such bad day at work today. This happened, this happened. And they’re like, don’t worry, I’ll make dinner, let me run you a bath. You’re kind of both just sat in silence, so that’s quite difficult. And so when you’ve then got a baby and you’re both really tired and you’re both worried about the business, it’s really difficult. And in those first few weeks, there were times where Stuart was like, I’m a bit nervous that you aren’t interested in the business anymore and what that’s going to look like long term, understandably, because at the beginning, I was like, I can’t be bothered to reply to emails, things like that. So I think it was a bit terrifying for him at first and we didn’t have the team that we have now this time around back then, so he had to take on a lot of my role. So it was definitely difficult. And I probably don’t have fond memories of work of maternity leave after Freya because there wasn’t really a maternity leave. So this time around, we made sure that we put lots of different things in place that hopefully I would be able to carve out more of a maternity leave. And it has been different this time around. But I guess to actually answer your original question is that it’s handy having your partner working for you, because they get it and no one is ever going to he was never going to be frustrated or I was never going to have to worry. I was going to get fired. So there’s the benefit of that. But it is tricky because you’re both going through being a new parent at the same time.

Caroline [00:23:39]:

Yeah, and I guess I take for granted. With my husband, when I’ve had a bad day, he’ll just like, listen and shut up kind of things, but he’s not feeling it like I feel it when I’m worried about the business. He just kind of is like, there’s nothing to worry about. And I’m like, maybe there is, but yeah, when you’re both worried, I can imagine that. And that’s a really good point, like, thinking about both because you can’t really compare to maternity leaves. But my first, I really didn’t take much either, even though I was employed. But that meant with my second, I was like, yes, I’m going to make sure I’m going to make this maternity leave work. So your first time around, did you take much time off or was it just you guys were going to be like, let’s see how it goes and see if you’re interested in picking things up?

Hollie [00:24:27]:

I think first time around, it doesn’t matter how many times people say to you, you’re going to be tired, or like, babies take up lots of your time, or you’re going to have a low mood or anything like that, you can’t imagine it. So we were kind of like, oh, it’s okay, we’ll just be really flexible about work. But actually, I had a really traumatic labor. And so actually, those first few weeks, maybe even months, I think I was quite shell shocked and I wasn’t really interested in anything other than just having Freya with me all the time. So that made it really difficult to work. But I had to work, so I remember I’d be sat there kind of freya would be on the boob, I’d have my laptop, like, hanging off the side of my hip and I’d be trying to tie during labor. We’ve got a photo of it. I took payment from a new client on the phone in between contractions because I needed that new client. I couldn’t admit, like, I’m in labor. I didn’t have a PA at the time. And my husband, because it’s a very feminine business, my husband doesn’t feel particularly comfortable, understandably, being the person answering the calls or responding to emails. So I remember finding that very difficult. So there wasn’t really a maternity leave. And then, like with you, I just knew this time around, I wanted things to be different. And also the business is in a different place now. We were really worried about money that first time round. We didn’t really have any staff other than my instructors at the studio, whereas now we’ve got a full time bookkeeper and accountant. They do all of our accounting for us, so we don’t have to do anything there, thank God, because I hate it. We’ve got a full time PA, charlotte, who has been with us for ages and is just. A dream. I mean, you know how helpful Pas and Pas are.

Caroline [00:26:05]:

Charlotte’s fantastic. I’ve spoken with her, I’m a fan.

Hollie [00:26:10]:

She’s amazing. And she’s also a mum, so she gets it. And so she’s been able to be me, basically, since I had Kit. We’ve got a PR manager who deals with all the PR and also if there’s questions that come in and she knows she’s trying not to hassle me too much, she’ll pull together stuff and write it and tweak things I’ve written before. So we’re in a much better position now than we were back then, thank God.

Caroline [00:26:39]:

That’s so great to hear, because I actually did this, I was talking to a friend about it the other day about how the honesty about women who seem really successful, mothers that seem really successful and actually what support they have in place to get there. And you admitting that your second maternity leave has been easier because you guys can afford at this stage to have that help in place, and so that’s made you free up your time to take a bit more time with your second child. So thank you for sharing that. It’s great to have the honesty behind there of where the help is. So, has it did you feel a bit easier on the approach of this maternity leave or still chaos because you’ve also got a toddler?

Hollie [00:27:20]:

Yeah, we did it to ourselves, but when I was about seven months pregnant, we moved from Oxford, we moved our family down to Dorset, so we bought a house down here, moved in. It had been empty for a while. It was probate, it was quite run down, so there’s quite a lot to do. In the two months before Kit arrived, freya was moving into a new nursery. We’d just launched the bump plan, trying to conceive plan, so we were still kind of riding off of that. I was finishing writing the bump plan book because the deadline was literally Kit’s birthday. So with the publishers, it was that they just wanted me to have the final manuscript to them before I gave birth. So that was a bit of a pressure as well. It felt slightly chaotic in the lead up to Kit coming, but the difference, I guess, was that we knew all of this was so that I could have it easier on the other side. So it’s kind of like it’s a necessary evil so that when Kit gets here, you are able to sit on the sofa and watch TV all day or go to bed and have a nap if you need to, and you won’t have to keep writing the book once Kit’s here. I’ve had to edit it and do the audiobook, but at least I wasn’t having to use my brain too much when Kit was here. So, yeah, I think there was a lot of behind the scenes prepping, which we didn’t do first time round, and making sure that Charlotte knew the answer to any possible question that came in, so she didn’t have to ask me. Making sure that Stu had everything in place so he could take some time off as well. And just generally making sure that everyone knew, I’m going to try and take some time off this time, and made a big difference.

Caroline [00:29:05]:

Yeah, I’m so pleased. It sounds like that preparation really has really made a huge difference. And the fact you kind of had learnt things, obviously, from the first time round, which you do, and how newborns it is quite nice just to sit there and watch TV. That was what I was really looking forward to as well. With my second, I’d stored up below.

Hollie [00:29:25]:

Deck, just for deck. Everyone I know watches it and I haven’t watched it yet, so now I feel like, okay, I need to just break the seal and get stuff.

Caroline [00:29:33]:

Definitely go for it. Start with like, the Mediterranean one or something.

Hollie [00:29:39]:

Noted, actually, but just on that note as well, kind of. I think it’s really important as well, I guess, to any kind of mums who are thinking of starting businesses and it can look really intimidating. We’ve talked about this earlier, because it can look externally, or let’s say on social media, that everyone’s got their shit together and everything’s running really smoothly and I’m managing to take an alternative leave. But equally, I’m doing this podcast with you and I’ve been doing the audiobook for the book and I think the difference this time around is almost that I’m only doing things that I want to do this time. And now I know how guilty you kind of feel when you’re choosing to do work stuff over spending time with your baby, but also how much you would rather spend time with your baby than most other things. It almost makes you more strict about what you say yes to. And so this time around, I am still working and doing things, but I’m only doing things that I actually want to do. And if it doesn’t serve me, if somebody else could do it, then I’ll say no. And I think that’s the difference. This time around, I couldn’t do nothing because I love my business so much and I love what I do. And that’s why I’d said yes to something like this. Because it’s an hour of talking to someone else who’s really interesting. But it just means that you focus the mind more. You say no more. And the things that you do do are because you want to do them. And so I’m not sat here feeling guilty, I’m not sat here wishing I’d said no. I’m here thinking, oh, lovely, stuart’s taking Kit out for a walk. He’s fine, he’s been fed. And I’m getting to do something and talk about something I feel really passionate about. So, yeah, that would be the difference, I think.

Caroline [00:31:27]:

Well, thank you. That’s nice.

Hollie [00:31:28]:


Caroline [00:31:29]:

And I think that’s so true because it is that conflict. And from my experience with that is that the conflict of, like, I should be with my baby the whole time, like everyone else on maternity leave, but then it’s actually like doing stuff like this is really good for you as a person, which means you can be a better mom when you are sat on the sofa watching TV with your newborn or, like, running around after a toddler and the chaos of having two children in one day, which you’ve spoken a bit about on social media, which, from my perspective, I’m like. Thank you. Because it is absolutely chaos. And I remember thinking, how do people do this? I haven’t looked back on it and think, oh, how did I used to have Fridays with both my children when they were a toddler and a baby? I’ve forgotten how I used to juggle that at the same time. So I think that’s a really important lesson if you’re in that position and you’re running a business, to be like, it’s okay to not say yes to everything or do everything, or it’s okay equally to do the things. That serve you well and going to make you feel better when you’re back with your baby an hour later, if that’s what you want to do.

Hollie [00:32:35]:

And also, on that note that again, and we talked about this beforehand, it might also be that you’re having to ask people to be really flexible with you. Because I had to delay this by 15 minutes, right, because Kit was still asleep and I didn’t want to wake him early from a nap because I knew I needed to feed him before I went on a walk. And I think it’s understanding that people are actually really understanding. Not all brands, as we’ve talked about, but lots, especially if you’re working with lots of other people who have children as well. People are actually really understanding if you are honest with them and say, I really wanted to still do the podcast. I’m really sorry I’m going to be 15 minutes late. Is that okay? Or do you want to reschedule? Nine times out of ten, people are going to be like, totally fine, let’s do it in 15 minutes. So don’t feel like it has to be perfect because parenting kids are not robots, and sometimes their schedules change and your schedules change, and that’s okay. Most people are pretty cool about it.

Caroline [00:33:30]:

Yeah. And also with you. And I’ve got another lady I’m speaking to on this podcast. I know you’re both on maternity leave, so we’re not the priority. Well, not maternity leave, but in the early stages. And it’s like that. We’re not the priority. And that is still the case as the kids grow older. And I think that’s something really interesting to share because I think just drilling home, we don’t have this all sorted behind the scenes with our businesses and our babies. Our babies do take a priority, and if people don’t understand that, then maybe they’re not the right brands or people to work with.

Hollie [00:34:04]:

100%. Yeah, totally agree.

Caroline [00:34:07]:

So a question following on from that, because I like to kind of ask everyone coming on about the question, how do you do it? Because a bit of background a couple of years ago, I think there was a bit of pushback on, how do you do it? Oh, we’re not asking men this question or fathers this question, which I think is very valid. I agree with that. But at the same time, when we’re recognizing women and mums are still taking on while doing really well, there’s still a gender pay gap, but taking on the maternal loads and the mental loads in the house. And when I’ve been asked that question, it’s either been from mums who genuinely want to know or people who respect the fact that I am juggling babies in a business. So how do you feel about it yourself?

Hollie [00:34:51]:

That’s really interesting. I hadn’t thought about the fact that people wouldn’t necessarily ask my husband, like, how are you managing to juggle a baby in a business? I guess one decision that me and Stu did make really early on is that I wanted to have a maternity leave, but that it wasn’t going to be a reality that Stu would also get to have, like, six months off work because one of us would need to work. And the reality is that I am exclusively breastfeeding. I’m the only person that can get Kit to sleep, I’m the only person who can feed him. And rather than us both trying to take maternity leave or potentially leave, we’re really lucky that we’re quite flexible. Stu does work most days, but also he doesn’t work nine to five. I definitely have had to be the one to take the maternity leave while still juggling everything. So I guess that’s probably why people wouldn’t ask Stuart that question, because they know that it’s not the same situation. How do you do it? You know what? I’m not sure. Many people ask me that question, which I don’t know whether I should be offended or not. Maybe they’re like, you’re not managing, maybe.

Caroline [00:35:54]:

You just look like you’ve got it nailed. Holly, let’s not ask her. She’s sorted.

Hollie [00:35:59]:

Maybe I’m too honest. Maybe I’ve made it very obvious that she’s refreshing. How do you do it? Yeah, I don’t know, to be honest. I think that because of the industry I’m in, actually, sometimes people think that because I’m a palazzi teacher, that my life’s actually really easy and that I just turn up and teach and then go home. I have had clients in the past, especially a male client, say to me, like, what else is there to do? Because I was like, how many hours do you work? I was saying, I work so many hours. He’s like, what else is there? To do. Surely you just teach. But I actually think it’s more that people probably don’t realize how much there is behind the scenes that goes on to run something that outwardly just looks like I just turn up and teach and then go home and put my feet up. So I don’t know, maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s why people don’t think to ask that question.

Caroline [00:36:50]:

I think that’s an excellent point because I run a virtual assistant agency so I don’t do the doing as a VA anymore. But I run a business though, and everything that comes with that. But I think sometimes people are like, oh, that’s fine, you just bring on the team and the clients and that’s that. And also imagine with your online plans it’s like, well, you’ve recorded the videos.

Hollie [00:37:12]:


Caroline [00:37:15]:

Just sit there and the income comes in.

Hollie [00:37:22]:

I think if you’re a fellow business owner, you understand the concept that you are also like you’re having to have meetings with your accountant and you need to know what VAT is, corporation taxes, employment liability, all sorts of stuff. You have to know everything. And actually a lot of that takes you away from what your actual business is. Like you said, you don’t VA anymore and at the moment I’m not teaching, but there’s still so many hours, man hours going on in the background. I think people don’t always see. So, yeah, I think it’s probably only fellow business owners that would know how much there is still going on behind the scenes. And everyone else probably just thinks, oh, she’s taking maternity leave and she’s already done all the videos anyway, so maybe that’s yeah, but the question in general, I think the question in general yeah, I guess it’s because maybe to lots of people, people do look like they’ve got their shit together. And then at home they’re looking at this growing pile of washing or the fact that the dishwasher has not been emptied since yesterday. Or the best thing that you managed to do today was make porridge for your kid rather than just throwing cereal at them. And I think that’s why it’s important that we’re all really honest about the highs and the lows of parenting so that people aren’t thinking that how is everyone else managing to keep their shit together? And I’m really struggling when actually we’re all just doing our best.

Caroline [00:38:39]:

That’s such a good point. I’m literally sat here, I’ve got coffee all over my trousers because my little one built it at the bus stop this morning and a train track behind me. So this is the reality of recording and obviously we need to start later. I think anyone listening, that’s our reality. And I think that’s such a good point because I also think sometimes it can feel starting a business is easier than being employed as a parent. I do think for me that holds some weight. Like if I need to book a doctor’s appointment and cancel my morning. I feel it’s a lot easier with clients and things than telling my boss again or something, but I think it’s important we talk about all this behind the scenes stuff because there’s things that you’ve got to learn how to make a business profitable and scalable, if that’s what you want. And so I’m really glad we got to chat about that today to make sure it’s like we’re clear all this stuff that goes on behind the scenes. I didn’t just decide to, I’m going to grow a VA agent, that’s how it’s going to go. And the same with you. And I think while we come to it as well, because you have grown such a really inspiring brand, if you are known for one thing, by pregnant women and women on their mumhood journeys, what would you want that to be?

Hollie [00:39:55]:

I mean, everything that we do as a business is in the hope that it takes even just one woman away from exercising purely as weight loss tool to actually wanting to exercise. Like getting up in the morning and thinking, I can’t wait to do my bump line workout later on, or I can’t wait to go for a run later on, rather than, oh, God, I need to because I ate loads last night. So I think that I just want it to be that anyone who trains with me, whether that’s in the studio, the normal on Demand, the bump Plan, TTC Pregnancy Pose, any of those platforms that they start to enjoy, it that they do it because they actually want to and that some of me banging on and on and on and on and on about function goes in and that they start to really just have that positive relationship with exercise and be able to see through diet culture and the fact that it is trying to sell us this dream and that we’re supposed to all look a certain way. So, yeah, I don’t know if that answers your question, but I just want it to be that people that train with me train with me because they want to, not because they are trying to lose weight and they’re dragging themselves kicking and screaming to class, making them feel good.

Caroline [00:41:04]:

And I think that’s true body positivity at its finest, which mums need, I think, still.

Hollie [00:41:10]:

Yeah, god, yeah, we need something as well. For me, like, exercise is that thing that just gives me some time alone and is just for me where I’m focusing on my needs and not somebody else’s million needs. So I just want that to be possible and available for everyone else as well.

Caroline [00:41:30]:

I’m just interested to know now, do you work out on your own, then, or with the kids around you, or is that you’re like, no, this is my time.

Hollie [00:41:38]:

It varies through life. And that’s another thing I really want people to know is that it’s going to look different at all stages, but there’s always a way of so what we talk about is physical activity, right? Or exercise. Exercise we often think of as being like going to a Pilates class or getting on my spinning bike. When we talk about physical activity, that is any form of movement that gets your heart rate lifted. So I think, especially as parents, we need to think more about physical activity because it’s so inclusive. So, for example, I am struggling to carve out time to do a bump plan routine or get on my spin bike. But one thing I am able to do that I’m trying to do most days is put Kit in the Papoose, the baby carrier, and walk to Lullworth, which is near where we live. So it’s like an hour and a half walk. It’s great exercise, he’s asleep, so actually, I am able to respond to messages or call my friends and that is physical activity as well. So it’s going to look different throughout life and it’s important that we don’t just say, oh, now I’ve got kids, I’m never going to be able to carve out the time, so I guess that’s just me done. Then. If it’s important to you and it makes you feel good, find a way to do it in the buggy in the baby carrier. That’s my life at the moment. But I know that soon Kit will be more independent, he’ll be able to sit up and then I might be able to that might look like doing some Pilates on my mat, but, yeah, at the moment he’s asleep, so I’ve got some head space. He’s happy, I’m happy. And we’re out in the beautiful countryside. Yeah.

Caroline [00:43:04]:

Walking naps.

Hollie [00:43:06]:

Yes, the best. I dread the day when they start cutting back naps. What am I going to do?

Caroline [00:43:12]:

I still do a walking nap on my mummy days with my two year old. We walk back from the gym because we do swimming class together, so it’s still like my time to walk with him. So I’m like, dreading when he stops that as well.

Hollie [00:43:25]:

It’s heaven. Yeah.

Caroline [00:43:27]:

Well, thank you so much. And finally, one piece of advice for a mom who’s aspiring to start a business in the wellness the fitness industry and grow a business in the fitness industry. Do you have a piece of advice for them?

Hollie [00:43:42]:

Yeah, I think it’s just really reiterating the beauty of the flexibility of it. It’s not that you’ll work less hours and it can sometimes look like that. I think on social media, for example, if I put up a post story later on showing that I’ve just walked to Lullworth and it’s an hour and a half out of my day and I’m having a coffee, it’s easy to kind of look at that and think that, oh, well, maybe I’ll work less hours. That’s not necessarily going to be the case, but what it means is I’ll go for a walk now and then when the kids are in bed, I’ll stay up maybe an hour and do some work then. But that’s the beauty of it. It’s the flexibility. And like you touched on earlier on, if you need to book a doctor’s appointment, you’re not having to beg your boss to do it. But, you know, okay, that’s going to be an hour out of my day, which means I might have to catch up on work when the kids are in bed. That’s the beauty of it. It will look messy. It’s not going to look like Monday to Friday, nine to five. It will look messy. You might drop the ball a few times. You might have to ask people, please, can I move that meeting because my kid’s sick and they’re at home? But at the end of the day, you’re not letting anyone down. There’s not that constant feeling like, my boss is annoyed at me because I’ve got kids and they need me. The only person you’re letting down is yourself, and you’re not really letting yourself down at all because they’re your kids and your business is important, but your kids are far more important. So I think it won’t look perfect, but it will be really flexible and in some ways easier, in some ways hard. I don’t know if that’s helped.

Caroline [00:45:06]:

No, I think that’s really helpful because I love calling it messy, because that’s exactly what it is. And it is that like, oh, wow, I’ve got to pick up my kid early because they’ve got this appointment and so that means tonight I’m going to be working. And you have to sometimes rein that in and sometimes it will look different, or sometimes you need to ask someone in the house, your partner, to help you or family to help, because you need to do something at the weekend. And I think, let’s leave it on that. It can look messy. I like, yeah, it looked messy to.

Hollie [00:45:35]:

You, but actually, externally, it won’t look messy, but to you it will. Yeah.

Caroline [00:45:40]:

Well, thank you so much, Holly. Where can people find you if they’re interested in your new book, The Bump Plan? Where can they find you?

Hollie [00:45:48]:

So, on Instagram, my personal page is at the PilatesPT, so I tend to share kind of what it’s like to juggle business and children and just what we’re up to. Our bump plan instagram is at TheBump plan. Our website is WW. Dot thebumpplan.com. Or if you’re looking for our studio, it’s pilatespt.com. But otherwise we’ve also got a podcast, a strong women podcast, actually, which some of your listeners might like to listen to. I recorded it ages ago, but it’s got some incredible women on there, or bun in the Oven podcast is more kind of pregnancy specific. Yeah, I think that’s mostly it.

Caroline [00:46:25]:

I really appreciate that. And again, thank you. You’re still in your postnatal period, so I really appreciate your break in the day. And enjoy. If you’re going on a walk later, enjoy it.

Hollie [00:46:34]:

You’re welcome. Thank you so much for having me on.


You have been listening to Bump to Business Owner, the podcast for mums running businesses, aspiring to run businesses, or simply supporters of mums who go on this crazy business journey. I’m your host Caroline Marshall and I run a virtual assistant agency called Upsource. I started it in lockdown 2020, I’ve seen it through maternity leave and it is growing alongside my two growing boys. Thank you so much, please connect me at Bump to Business Owner, my name is Caroline Marshall.

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