Steph Claire Smith’s #1 Tip for Getting Back on Track After a Fitness Setback

Stephanie Miller, Co-Founder of Keep it Cleaner talks Low Impact Exercise
Image Credit: Keep it Cleaner

Stephanie Miller, AKA Steph Claire Smith, is the co-founder of Keep it Cleaner, a health app that provides fitness routines, nutritional information and wellness hacks to over 250,000 fans.

Miller and her co-Founder Lauren Henshaw have recently updated the Keep it Cleaner offering, with a series of low impact HIIT workouts. Low Impact with Brooke is designed by trainer Brooke Jowett, it involves HIIT workouts that take the pressure off joints and muscles, while still toning your body and getting your heart rate up. You can read my review of the program here.

Miller came up with the idea as she adjusted to working out post-pregnancy and a knee injury. The workouts are perfect for those returning to exercise after a prolonged period of inaction, or for those who are new to working out or recovering from pregnancy or injury. We spoke with Steph Miller about her changing relationship with exercise and her body and overcoming psychological barriers to exercise. Her #1 tip? Be kind to yourself.

POPSUGAR Australia: Can you tell us where the idea for Low Impact with Brooke came from? 

Steph Miller: Over the past few years, I’ve had to adapt the way I workout because of my pregnancy with Harvey, postpartum journey and most currently, my niggling knee injury.

I’ve learnt to swap out high impact movements like jumping and burpees, for more low impact, gentle exercises. A common question we’d hear from our community is ‘what exercises should I do if I’m returning to exercise after some time off?’, whether that be because of COVID, injury or simply lack motivation or time. With my personal experience and our communities feedback, I knew that Low Impact would be a great addition to our hub of workouts, it’s a program that still challenges you (trust me, you will sweat!) but doesn’t require the same level of exertion as our HIIT classes and is gentle on your joints.

Steph Miller and Keep it Cleaner HIIT instructor Brooke Jowett
Steph Miller and Keep it Cleaner HIIT instructor Brooke Jowett

PS: How did your relationship with exercise change post-partum?

SM: Pregnancy and childbirth certainly change your body, and it’s okay and completely normal to look back on the body you ‘once had’. One thing that’s really helped me on my postpartum journey is learning to be grateful for what my new body has achieved. It’s grown and nurtured a beautiful little human. It’s a reminder that you don’t need to love your body, but learn to accept and appreciate it for the amazing things it’s done and continues to do on a daily basis. 

“You don’t need to love your body, but learn to accept and appreciate it for the amazing things it’s done and continues to do on a daily basis.” 

Steph Miller

My body has physically changed, perhaps not as much as others experience, but I personally notice the differences. My fitness and strength are noticeably different. It’s taking longer than I imagined to regain my strength and that’s okay. I’ve had sleepless nights, injuries, a new schedule and other hurdles in my way to recovery. I know that it’s not forever, I know I will find my routine again, my confidence and motivation to challenge myself will return and I will gain back that strength and fitness I once had. I’m learning to be patient and that listening to my body is the best thing I can do for it. 

PS: Being a mum is often talked about as one of life’s biggest blessings, but you’ve been open about some of the challenges, too. How did parenting affect your mood and lifestyle?

SM: Something I have struggled with over the years is managing my stress and emotions. I can fall into an unrecognisable state where I overthink, overreact and lose control a little bit. I once saw a psychologist about it, and she helped me to recognise this, to discover a few triggers, and find ways of managing it all. Still, that postpartum period and parenthood in general certainly has thrown some curveballs.

When I’m sleep deprived I’m on edge, very easily irritated and incredibly forgetful. Harvey’s sleeping through the night now but he’s still an early riser. In the mornings it’s hard to be motivated to do any sort of physical activity or anything for myself because on most weekdays it’s the only one-on-one time I have with Harvey. Every now and then I make the effort to at least go for a walk with him before work, and when I do, I definitely feel better and more energised prior to heading into work.

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to (and won’t be able to) bring your ‘A’ Game to every single workout. Listening to your body and moving to suit your mood will help reduce your frustration.

Steph Miller

It means trying to find the motivation and energy at some other point in the day to fit in my workout, my ‘me-time’. Luckily, our KIC workouts are only 20mins long, so more often than not I do find the time, but the motivation isn’t always there. My lifestyle is less spontaneous… and I certainly do not have much time for ‘me’ anymore, but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. Harvey is the light of my life, he makes me feel so much pride and joy every day and I’m just trying to soak up all the time in the world with him. I know that some weeks I’ll have more flexibility and time for myself, and that’s great, but for the most part, I have to work it all out around him and that’s okay. I really could let all this change in lifestyle get to me and stress me out, and I certainly have at times, but I choose daily to focus on how grateful I am instead.

PS: When we’re busy, whether it’s with new babies or hard deadlines, it can be hard to prioritise exercise. What are your tips for staying consistent?

SM: When I make the time for exercise, I never regret it, I always feel better for it. But the motivation is only there 10% of the time these days! I try to remind myself how good exercise makes me feel and how much more energised I am throughout the day when I’ve made time for it. Sometimes the motivation comes once I’ve done that. If it doesn’t, I’ll press play on a workout anyway and give myself five minutes… if I feel like giving up after five mins then that’s cool… but nine times out of 10 I follow the workout through.

You’re only going to be motivated to exercise if you find an exercise you enjoy, so find a style of workout that works for you and do your best to schedule it into your routine — as if it was a nail appointment you don’t want to miss! Otherwise, if you’d prefer to just squeeze it in whenever you have the time, make sure you’ve always got your space set up. Have whatever equipment you need and your mat laid out somewhere in the house you can visit in times of motivation! Make little changes to make getting into a good routine easier!

PS: Whether you’ve experienced a change in fitness levels due to illness, or you’re trying to work out for the first time, really difficult classes can be pretty dispiriting. What are your tips for staying positive?

Absolutely, when we’ve taken time off exercise, no matter what the reason, we can be so quick to criticise our strength and fitness levels and compare them to how we ‘used to be’, which can be really frustrating. We designed Low Impact with Brooke to not only help you ease back into exercise but to simply be there as an option when you just can’t be bothered jumping! It’s important to remember that you don’t have to (and won’t be able to) bring your A-game to every single workout. Listening to your body and moving to suit your mood will help reduce your frustration. Pick a workout that you know your body can comfortably achieve on that particular day. If you’re feeling tired or unmotivated, try a gentle Pilates or yoga flow, and save the HIIT or strength workouts for when your energy levels are higher. 

Try Low Impact with Brooke, along with other HIIT, pilates and yoga workouts via the Keep it Cleaner app available on iOS and Android.

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