Can exercise help you love your body more?

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Author: Helena Zachariassen, Home & Lifestyle Editor

Exercise is a crucial part of a healthy home and lifestyle. No doubt. Whatever the form of exercise, it improves both your physical and mental wellbeing, which directly affects the people you live with and the atmosphere in your home. I personally used to mainly exercise indoors, as a child in various gymnastic halls followed by indoor gyms and swimming pools. And I seriously disliked running. I just couldn’t understand the running high people were getting from running. Total mystery.

After having my first child 8 years ago I discovered Mom in Balance in Zurich, first as a member and a few years later joining the team and spreading the positive vibes! Since then there’s no better way of exercising for me than outdoors! All year round, no matter the weather. How’s that possible with snow and freezing temperatures? Well, have you heard the expression “there is no bad weather, just bad clothes“? And actually, after having two kids, I have finally learned to enjoy running too…preferably in snow and cold weather, a short moment just to nurture my inner Finnish winter loving soul.

I recently had a lovely chat about exercise and body image with Personal Trainer and owner of Mom in Balance Switzerland, Sara Schjodt Eriksen. I’m proud to present this gorgeous lady and the amazing all inclusive, empowering workouts for women. Enjoy the read and if you manage it until the end you will get a reason to try out a workout for yourself 😉

Q: Sara, you are the owner of Mom in Balance Switzerland. You’re also a busy mom of three children and 2 dogs. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your company?

A: I moved to Switzerland 9 years ago from Denmark, leaving a stressful career in Finance behind me. Moving to Switzerland gave me the opportunity to spend more time with my children and focus more on health and personal development. Sports became a regular routine for me and the interest in wellbeing became more than a passion and as a result, I became a Personal Trainer and later on also a pre-/postnatal fitness expert.

Q: So what does Mom in Balance do?

A: Mom in Balance is all about empowering women, women just like You! We offer energetic outdoor workouts for women of all fitness levels: pregnant, back in shape after pregnancy (Rückbildung) or a longer break, and we also offer a more challenging high intensity workout called Mpower for all active and ambitious women. We want to offer the best workout program to help as many women as possible to feel physically strong and full of energy, so they can enjoy life and motherhood combined with all of their ambitions and goals.

Q: You have almost 200 members training with Mom in Balance on a weekly basis. How do you think your outdoor fitness classes can improve these women’s self image and self esteem with regards to how they see their bodies?

A: Self esteem comes from inside of you, and I think we need to pay more attention to that. I think we all know that feeling when we feel amazing, our clothes fit perfectly and we are full of positive energy. Then the day after it’s another situation, maybe we didn’t sleep well or maybe we feel we didn’t achieve all the crazy goals we put up for ourselves yesterday. 

It’s time to love YOU, do what makes you happy, and don’t make up unrealistic ideals and goals. If you are not 20, but 40 and have 3 children, well then it’s no wonder your body looks different! Embrace that, and appreciate where you are in life. Not saying that a healthy lifestyle can’t make you feel better, because it can. But make YOU a priority and don’t do what your neighbour does – we have different needs and it’s not the same things that make us happy. 

I think our Mom in Balance workouts contribute to greater wellbeing – it’s all about a positive mindset, moving your body, and being active. This can for sure give you better self esteem and self power!

Outdoor sports are associated with a wide range of physical health benefits including a reduced risk for several major diseases like heart attack, stroke, cancer, and type 2 diabetes, and can support increased life expectancy. Furthermore, outdoor sports lead to a better subjective overall health perception and a better physical quality of life, which are also important in the context of healthy aging.

Q: Have you ever felt any of the participating women feeling uncomfortable or insecure with regards to body shape/fitness level in your classes? What do you tell these women?

A: Most women have some insecurities, and with social media being a big part of our lives it’s not easy. I love seeing how women now post more and more realistic pictures of themselves without make up and where they proudly show stretchmarks and cellulite. I feel it’s important that we embrace our bodies, are proud of those stretch marks – we made a baby, and that is not an easy job. Let’s be more open about what happens to our bodies after giving birth – the loose skin on our stomach, how we can’t hold our pee when we do jumping jacks. It shouldn’t be a taboo – it’s life!

At all Mom in Balance classes, we talk openly about these things and try to demystify it all with a sprinkle of humour – it’s nothing to be ashamed of! The concept is genuine and real: come as you are, our classes welcome ALL types of women!

Q: Pregnancy is a huge change for every woman and affects everyone very differently. In your role as trainer, how do you see women perceive their bodies pre and post-pregnancy?

A: Pregnancy brings up a lot of mixed feelings and fears for some women. Fear of a body “out of control” that will never be the same after giving birth. Our most important job with Mom in Balance is to provide our members with some precious “me-time”, offer a positive environment and a great workout. It is super important to have balance in life and to do something just for YOU. We do all we can to inform our members about all the benefits of working out and I believe strongly that this knowledge gives our members a more positive body image.

Women are caregivers and should be reminded that we are able to best care for others when we first take great care of ourselves. To have an hour just for ourselves, will help us to be more relaxed during our day to day life. 85% of our participants tell us they get more energy because of their weekly sports routine. Psychological well-being also improves because of exercising outdoors.


Physical benefits for the mother include:

– Reduction of varicosities
– Reduction of bone density loss
– Improved cardiovascular function
– Lower risk for gestational diabetes
– Reduction of swelling of extremities
– Improved strength and lean muscle mass
– Reduction of pregnancy-related physical discomfort
– Even mild exercise will reduce weight gain during pregnancy
– Less fatigue because of enhanced sleep, adding up to an improved sense of wellbeing

Several studies have shown that regular exercise decreases depressive symptoms, reduces stress and anxiety and brings an increase in self-esteem and a positive body image. Women who exercise during their pregnancy are more likely to continue exercising postpartum. A woman who exercises, will have less body fat and therefore a lower baby birth weight. When it comes to labour, women who have exercised during their pregnancy will experience a reduction in length of labour.

Q: What can you tell us about your own personal history with regards to body positivity?

A: I often use myself as an example in my classes – I grew up being chubby, loving food! 

I always did sports, but more for the social aspect than for being active and those extra kilos followed me, together with a low self esteem for many years. With my first pregnancy I gained more than 25 kg and I didn’t feel comfortable. This was the big game changer for me, during my first pregnancy I was very stressed about gaining weight, since I was already on the heavy side. I didn’t enjoy my pregnancy and my birth was a marathon. After coming home from the hospital with my daughter, I decided to make that change. I knew how important it was to change my life- and now it was time. I started doing a baby class with my daughter and got some assistance with my nutrition. It changed my life – and made me who I am today! With my youngest son, I was active until the end and for me that was a powerful statement to MYSELF – I did it and it gave me so much energy and self love became a high priority in my life, and still is.

Q: What would you tell your 8-year-old self regarding her body knowing what you know now as an adult?

A: I would remind her how amazing she is – and that she shouldn’t hide.
Love yourself as you are and don’t be so hard judging yourself!


If you want to join an outdoor class with Mom in Balance (and you don’t need to be a mom to join!) you can use Sara’s code MOMFREE for a FREE trial when you sign up here. They currently offer classes in Zurich, Basel and Zug and are soon opening up new locations in Lenzburg, Rapperswil and Winterthur.

Are you enjoying our content? We would love to hear your opinions in the comments sections. Stay tuned for more of our March posts, focussing on body positivity, turning 50, expat resources, and travel diaries.

To read posts from February, click here

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