They say it takes a village to raise a child but, sometimes, that village needs to take care of the parent as well.
Sweat Like A Mother is a ground-breaking fitness group popular in both Aldershot and Catterick Garrison that sees mums and their children spending valuable time together exercising, learning the value of keeping fit and enjoying each other's company.
For some mothers, moving from base to base means they can find themselves with no friends or family living nearby for mental support. Self-confessed fitness hater Georgina Coughlan is now a fully qualified SLAM instructor.
The military spouse and mum of two spoke to BFBS the Forces Station broadcaster Alice Vickery about how much she has benefited from setting up the SLAM group in Catterick Garrison.
She said: "All of a sudden, I found myself in Aldershot with an eight-week-old baby and a three-year-old – no friends, no family nearby.
"I saw a post on Facebook advertising SLAM and I thought, well, I'm not really interested in the fitness but I'm going to go along and stand at the back, maybe chat, maybe meet some people, and I got hooked."
This is where SLAM or Sweat Like A Mother really comes into its own.
Originating from America, it is described as a fitness programme "created by a mama for mamas" designed to enable mothers to turn up with their children with no need to arrange childcare.
Alexa Smith first set up 'Stroller Strong Moms', the precursor to Sweat Like A Mother, in Columbus, Georgia, in September 2011 after finding it difficult to combine being a parent and exercising.
As the wife of a US Army soldier, Alexa was determined to empower mothers in military communities to get fit and feel strong, plus motivate them to get out of their houses and benefit from bonding with other mothers.
The mothers get time to focus on their physical and mental health and the kids get to see their parent keeping healthy and staying strong.
Military wife and mum, Hayley Warmington explains to Alice why it's special to 'sweat like a mother', saying: "The main difference is you can bring your little ones along, so I've got a three-and-a-half-year-old and a 13-month-old, so bringing them both along means I get out and do some exercise and they get entertained as well and we're out of the house.
"It's very set up for having little ones and you don't feel bad for having to stop and look after them or pick them up and use them as a weight."
And she's not joking – some mums use their children as weights. Why bring heavy exercise weights with you when you can lift up your child instead?
How did SLAM make its way to the UK?
The first person to bring Sweat Like A Mother over to the UK was British Army spouse and mum-of-two Emma Evans. She set up 'SLAM by the sea' in Bournemouth and a year later, Jemima Tulloch established SLAM Aldershot.
Speaking with Alice about why she wanted to bring Sweat Like A Mother to Aldershot, Jemima explains that moving from one base to another, time and time again can be a very lonely experience – something many military spouses will be acutely aware of.
SLAM's tagline is 'come for the workout but you stay for the community', and that's something Jemima wanted to establish in Aldershot.
Her husband serves in the British Army and was posted to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas in 2017. So, as a family, they all moved to Kansas.
She explained to Alice how getting involved with SLAM really helped her enjoy her time in the sunflower state, thousands of miles from home. She said:
"I had an amazing time but so much of that was down to the fact that I found SLAM.
"The sisterhood was really strong and the idea of coming back to Aldershot not having SLAM in my life was a little bit too much, so I was like 'right, I'm going to bring it back, I'm going to do it'."
Originally, SLAM was focused on exercise that could be based around mums pushing prams – hence the title 'Stroller Strong Moms' – but since its popularity in the US has increased, the idea has expanded.
Now, 'Sweat Like A Mother' encourages mums of all varieties, plus women without children, to get involved and they can bring along friends and partners.
So, whether you are pregnant, post-partum or somewhere else in your parenting journey, SLAM provides a community of like-minded people you can exercise with. Serving or spouse, anyone is welcome.
The exercises can be adjusted for pregnant and post-partum women, as SLAM founder Alexa proudly says:
"Ain't no shame in our modified game."
What does the future of SLAM look like?
It might be an American idea, but Sweat Like A Mother is making waves in military bases in the UK, Italy and Germany.
As Georgina explains, the transient nature of military life enables fitness groups like this to spread far and wide. She said:
"Every time one of us moves, I guess the hope is that we can start up a new one and we can get it spread all across the UK.
"So, every time you post, every time you move you know you've got that ready-made community and SLAM fam waiting for you when you get there."
Cover image: Military mums workout with their children at Catterick Garrison (Picture: Georgina Coughlan, SLAM Catterick).