The low winter sun stretches over Scarborough’s North Bay and a calm sea embraces the headland where the town’s historic castle proudly stands.
It is a crisp morning and tourists and dog-walkers are already enjoying a leisurely amble along the promenade. They turn to look as shouts of “go hard or go home” echo across the bay and a string of mums and buggies trundle past, before screeching to a halt and mums drop down beside their prams to do 20 press-ups.
This seafront spectacle is the Sniper Fitness Buggy Bootcamp, which was launched in September 2013 to satisfy the need for postnatal fitness in the town. It is the brainchild of 28-year-old mother Laura Baudoino, her partner Mark Millard and best friend Chris Stubbings.
Laura said: “We set up Sniper Fitness in March 2013 and I was due to give birth in the June. We decided there was nothing here that offered postnatal exercise for mums – it was always prenatal. We wanted to do something that was more baby-orientated rather than just getting mums back into shape and that’s what made us start the buggy bootcamp.”
Laura announced the launch on Facebook and was overwhelmed with the response.
She said: “Around 50 mums put their names down straight away as it was unique to the area. Because of the landscape we have got, it would be a waste not to be outdoors and the babies are more than happy to be sat with the rain covers over their prams, so it works regardless of the weather. It gets the mums and babies out of the house and they can make friends, so it’s very much the social aspect as well as the getting fit.”
The bootcamps see up to 16 mothers and buggies being put through their paces three times a week over a month in a variety of locations in the North Bay.
The “operations”, led by “drill sergeants” Laura and Chris, include running alongside the beach huts, lunges and squats at the Open Air Theatre and completing an obstacle-style course near the castle. Jogging on the sand, tyre-dragging and pushing the prams up steep banks are all par for the course – with all tasks undertaken as the babies look on in amusement.
Laura, who is mother to 17-month-old Gabriel, said: “We get really positive feedback from people who watch us. They take pictures and cheer everyone on. It’s quite a spectacle as we have such an amazing setting.”
The average weight loss is five to six pounds a month, but some lose more – with one mother losing a stone in the first month.
Laura said: “Mums feel extremely pressured to get into shape quickly because they see celebrities go from giving birth to being a size eight overnight. But they have a team of people that cook for them and a personal trainer that gets them up and exercising every day and nannies to look after their babies. They also go on juice diets and things like that.
“Exercising over a period of time and eating well is the healthy way to do it. It’s about leading by example to our children.”
This “fit over thin” ethos is one of the main reasons Laura Daley, mother to 15-month-old Lily, wanted to sign up.
“You want to bring up your child to have good eating habits and to enjoy being outside in the fresh air and not just sit watching TV. I love training and I love exercise but I also love to live my life and enjoy food, ” she said.
When Laura, 32, decided to join the bootcamp, she was apprehensive as she had never really exercised before.
She said: “I started when Lily was eight-weeks-old and to be honest I put on weight before I had her. It was hard but the weight came off quickly and I felt so good for doing it. It built my confidence and I made some good friends and we have a really nice social group. That for me is priceless.
“I have always said it should be on the NHS for women with postnatal depression. If this was available for everyone it would make a hell of a difference.”
And Laura speaks with some authority, as she wrote her dissertation on the subject at university.
It is an issue that is close to home for fellow recruit Caroline Elgey, 30, who suffered with postnatal depression after having her son Joshua, 21 months.
“I got diagnosed and the sessions really helped boost my confidence, ” she said.
“Being a first time mum can be daunting as you don’t know what’s right or wrong and there is always another way of doing something, so it was nice to meet other mums and have feedback off them. We now all meet socially and go out for runs and walks around the town.
“I can’t imagine I would have the same confidence and be able to push myself on my own without the buggy bootcamps.”
As a result of the huge success of the bootcamps, the trio have already set up a franchise in Beverley and there are plans to expand further.