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Start-up is Tackling Confusion About Pregnancy Fitness

Celebrities who exercise while pregnant are helping to boost sales in maternity sportswear

Celebrities who post videos of themselves on Instagram exercising while pregnant are fuelling the sale of sportswear designed especially for expectant mothers.

Gemma Atkinson, the former Strictly Come Dancing contestant, is leading the trend for high-profile mothers-to-be to share clips of their exercise routines on their social media pages.

The creator of a brand of sportswear designed especially for expectant mothers says the trend has helped to boost her business, with her maternity fitness wear now being sold in 195 countries worldwide.

Alexandra McCabe, 34, launched FittaMamma in 2013 after struggling to find maternity fitness wear for her pregnant sister-in-law who wanted to stay fit but was confused by contradictory advice around exercising while pregnant. She also felt self-conscious about working out in conventional sportswear.

Taking matters into her own hands, Alexandra, from Brighton, decided to create her own e-commerce business to empower women to keep exercising through their pregnancies.

Using a fixed-term £10,000 loan from the Government-backed Start-up Loans scheme, part of the British Busines Bank, she built a website that provides a “one-stop shop” for information on health and well-being during pregnancy, and designed a range of sportswear that would give pregnant women the confidence and reassurance to exercise while pregnant.

Subsequent tests carried out by a team of researchers from the University of Portsmouth showed that FittaMamma’s specialist sportswear reduced “bump bounce” by half – even when running.

Four years on, Alexandra’s brand of sportswear is becoming more and more popular. This Mother’s Day, Alexandra expects to see a 20% uplift in sales.

The NHS advises on its website that pregnant women keep up their normal daily physical activity or exercise for as long as they feel comfortable. It stresses that “exercise is not dangerous” and that there is some evidence that active women are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and labour.

FittaMamma’s Instagram channel aims to specifically address misinformation and campaigns for change using #pregnantnotpowerless.

Alexandra McCabe, founder of FittaMamma, said:

“We hear many stories of women who don’t exercise because they’re worried about harming their baby. When my sister-in-law fell pregnant, I noticed how difficult it was to find sportswear that gave her the confident to continue exercising. After researching the subject, I also discovered how much contradictory information there was.

“This inspired me to face the challenge directly and create my own maternity fitness brand to empower mothers-to-be to stay active. The Start Up Loans Scheme provided me with a fixed-rate loan, as well as mentoring support to help me get started.

“Since then, there’s been a real positive shift in sentiment towards the subject and the trend for pregnant celebrities to post pictures on Instagram of their exercise routines has really helped. We’re really proud of all the progress we’ve made over the past four years and we look forward to seeing what’s in store for the rest of the year.”

A spokesman for Start Up Loans said:

“In just four years, Alexandra has taken a simple idea and created a successful e-commerce business which now exports to 195 countries worldwide, which is a prime example of start-up and scale-up.

“We recognise the value of small business and enterprise to the UK economy and it’s our mission to help as many people from all walks of life to follow their passion and set up their own business.”

The Start Up Loans Company is part of the British Business Bank.  Its scheme provides low-interest loans and mentoring support to aspiring business owners across the UK who might be struggling to access other forms of finance.

Backed by the Government, the Start Up Loans scheme has lent over £468m to start-ups and early stage businesses since it was launched in 2012.


For more information, please contact:

Olivia Tomblin

020 3128 8721

Notes to editors

About the Start Up Loans Company:

The Start Up Loans Company was formed in June 2012. The Start Up Loans scheme provides personal loans for business purposes of up to £25,000 at a 6% fixed interest rate per annum, and offers free dedicated mentoring and support to each business.

The primary aim of the Start Up Loans scheme is to ensure that viable start-ups and early-stage businesses have access to the finance and support they need in order to thrive. A network of Delivery Partner organisations support applicants in all regions and industries throughout the UK. The Start Up Loans scheme is not designed to generate a commercial profit. Capital payments together with the interest are recycled to help meet our customers’ increasing demand for finance.

Free guides on a range of subjects related to starting a business are available on The Start Up Loans Company website: You can find recent media coverage and press releases in the Start Up Loans Media Centre here:

The funding for The Start Up Loans Company is provided by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The Start Up Loans Company a subsidiary of the British Business Bank. British Business Bank plc is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government which is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). British Business Bank plc and its subsidiary entities are not banking institutions and do not operate as such.

The British Business Bank makes finance markets for smaller businesses work better, enabling the sector to prosper, grow and build economic activity. Their Business Finance Guide explores finance options and the journey from start-up to growth. Access the Business Finance Guide here:

Key statistics

  • Since 2012, The Start Up Loans scheme has delivered nearly 61,000 loans, providing more than £468m of funding, helping to back 28 businesses a day, and contributing to the creation of more than 60,000 jobs. NB. that is jobs created or supported by a Start Up Loan including the individual recipient.
  • In the financial year 2017/18, the scheme provided 8,539 loans with a total value exceeding £91.2m – helping to support around 27 businesses every day of the year
  • 21% of loan recipients were formerly NEET (not in employment, education or training) and 39% were formerly unemployed or economically inactive.
  • Approximately one in five loans go to residents in the UK’s most deprived communities.
  • 17% of loan recipients were aged between 18 and 24
  • The overall return on investment of the scheme is £3.30 per £1 invested.
  • Loan recipients report estimated average turnover of £44,000 in the first year.
  • In the November Budget 2018, the Chancellor announced that the programme would be extended with a target of 10,000 additional loans being issued in the year to April 2021

For more information about Start Up Loans, please visit:

All of these statistics are gross estimates, with the exception of the return on investment numbers, and are based upon Start Up Loans CRM and externally commissioned research undertaken by Qa Research.