Riina Laaksonen had no idea she had been suffering from abdominal separation. For one-and-a-half years she, a mother of three and qualified personal trainer, had made every possible mistake when exercising, deteriorating her condition.
“Despite my profession, I had never even heard of such a thing,” she says now, three years later. “Only after hours spent on Google did I start to realise what was messing up my body.”
The most obvious symptom was the lack of control she felt over her core muscles. Back pain and urinary incontinence are other indicators – but not a lot of women suspect something is wrong, as they just assume that’s how they’re supposed to feel after giving birth.
For Laaksonen, reversing the mistakes was a long and rocky road. She realised how much easier things could’ve been, had she only known to avoid the situation in the first place.
“I didn’t want anyone else to have to go down the same path. It’s so much easier and more pleasant not to – you get to enjoy life so much more.”
That’s the basis of Nordic Fit Mama, an online service for mothers created by Laaksonen and fellow maternal health professionals, and run alongside her wellness studio Lupaus.
Professionals eradicating fears and doubts
Laaksonen is an economist by education with a lengthy career in information technology. As she had stayed at home with her children for some years, she decided it’d be time to find a job with less sitting down and more activity. The end result was Lupaus, which was founded in 2014.
Nordic Fit Mama followed suit pretty quickly. Although Laaksonen never intended to target mothers in particular, her own experiences guided the direction of the company.
“It just became obvious how much people search for information about post-pregnancy issues, especially about abdominal separation,” she tells. “A lot of the info is scattered around here and there, and many rely heavily on online forums, but they can be unreliable.”
Nordic Fit Mama offers different kinds of training courses for mothers recovering from childbirth. They are not merely exercise classes; instead, the courses take a holistic approach to wellbeing, not forgetting the mental side of things.
The contributors are professionals in relevant fields, such as midwifery, nutrition and sexual health.
On top of that, the service is also an online community.
“There are so many topics new mothers talk about with their peers,” Laaksonen notes. “Receiving fact-based guidance from trustworthy sources will make the phase much smoother. Having a baby is about as life-changing as things get.”
Mothers as a source for ideas
At the moment, Nordic Fit Mama has a selection of five courses in Finnish and one in English. The English version was first piloted in Canada, which Laaksonen sees as a great place to start conquering North America in general.
The courses are adapted and supplemented according to customer feedback, and plenty of new content is in the pipeline. There are also other digital services in the making, but so far Laaksonen has wanted to keep quiet about them.
“We get a lot of ideas from mothers, so we’ve got a lot of things to work with,” she says.
Further internationalisation is being planned, too. The pilots will help Nordic Fit Mama to define its go-to-market strategies. For a digital service, geography doesn’t pose a challenge.
Finland is present in Nordic Fit Mama’s image – quite literally. As Laaksonen changed careers to be able to be on the move more, the course videos aren’t filmed in a gloomy studio.
“We film everything out in the nature. After all, nature is one of the things that makes us Nordic.”