For Karen Siah – founder and coach of Kia Kaha Fitness – and more importantly a mother of one since last year, she is inspired to get all mothers in Malaysia to continue to be healthy and active.
Her running statistic speaks for itself. Normally, she would be proud of her Personal Best (PB) timing of 3:44 hr marathon at the Kuala Lumpur marathon in 2018. However, clocking 1:47 hrs in a half marathon at the same marathon in 2019, 5 months post-partum is now an even prouder moment.
ToughASIA: What inspired you to create the group for Running Moms Malaysia on Facebook and when was it founded?
Karen: Actually, Running Moms was Hui Mathews’ idea, and it is an already existing concept in countries like Australia. However, at the moment we have no affiliations to these groups overseas, and Running Moms Malaysia came about a year ago when I became a mom myself. I wanted to encourage other moms, whether new or long time “Mom-ing”, to have an outlet to be active and to do something for themselves.
ToughASIA: How many members do you have now?
Karen: On our Facebook group, we have 50 members.
ToughASIA: Who are your administrators and how did you meet them?
Karen: Right now, the admins of the group are personal friends of mine. They are inspiring, active and want to nurture and encourage other moms to do the same.
ToughASIA: Can any mothers or mothers-to-be join the group?
Karen: Of course! As long as someone from the group has invited you in, we would be more than happy to accept.
ToughASIA: Have you organised any events or training sessions for the group members?
Karen: I wish to do more, but being a mom, we do not always have the liberty of time. To date, we have had 2 cycling events and 1 running event. My target is to organise a Run and a Ride in a month, on alternate weekends. We get about 5-10 turn ups so far, and I am quite happy to say that we have gotten some newbies into running and cycling, so I hope this continues!
ToughASIA: What are the challenges when getting mothers – with babies, toddlers – to get together?
Karen: Well, moms don’t always have the time, and things can crop up at any minute. If we want to make it stroller- or carrier-friendly, we need to find a safe environment and that is not very easy to come by. Also, with the current COVID-19 situation, there are always concerns about whether these places are too crowded or not, as popular running routes tend to be.
I also find it somewhat difficult to balance between a nice, easy workout for newcomers, or new moms, and a challenging workout for those who are fitter and stronger. Right now, my focus is more on building the community, so they are all easy-paced, newbie-friendly runs and rides. But I know that the fitter and stronger moms will not be too keen to “waste” a weekend on this, haha! I totally understand, though. Everybody has different goals.
ToughASIA: What are the major goals or plans for the FB group for the remaining 2020?
Karen: My goals for the group is simple: to grow it, and raise awareness that we are here to welcome any moms out there who would like to run. Seeing that all my competitions are put on hold, and that I, myself, am expecting baby number 2, I decided that it will be my own personal mission for 2020/21.
ToughASIA: Will you still be comfortable running as an expectant mother seeing that you have the running genes?
Karen: Yes, haha! I have every intention to, as long as my pregnancy is smooth and complication-free.
ToughASIA: Do you mind sharing with other expectant mothers, what did you benefit or learn about running and keeping active from your previous pregnancy?
Karen: Sure, I think I was very lucky to be able to keep active because my pregnancy was smooth. I think it helped me with labour, and most importantly to me, I found that I got back into shape relatively quickly as my base fitness had not dropped by much.
Fortunately for Karen, she has been getting continuing support from her sponsors – New Balance, Garmin, Aftershokz – during her pregnancy. Additionally, her clients were all completely supportive too, and some were even quite thrilled to be trained by a pregnant trainer.
Karen said, ” I continued training my clients until my 36th week, and then I decided to take the last 4 weeks of my pregnancy off, because my belly was getting in the way of my steering wheel and driving was beginning to be a problem, haha!”
For moms and moms-to-be keen on surrounding yourselves with other cool, active mums, do check out this Facebook Group – Running Moms Malaysia.