Want to progress your fitness postnatally? Take a step back

When I met the very smart Rob Clark with a view to teaching my pregnancy and postnatal classes at his gym, #BobsGarage, he asked me with genuine interest about how I trained women after they’d had children.

I set about explaining how the postnatal body is in “recovery mode” for the first couple of years; how our movement patterns are dictated by the tiny person we’ve been given responsibility for; and how it’s unquestionable that women have stretched and weakened core and pelvic floor muscles. I explained that training postnatal women is all about ‘regress to progress’ – not just practicing movements without load, but breaking movements down into their most simple elements, mastering those elements with great form and no pain, before adding complexity and load.

Rob looked at me earnestly and confidently and said “yeah – that’s just training, though, isn’t it?”

And that’s when I knew I was in the right place.

Because Rob is right. A good coach will look at the client in front of her, see what they do well and what needs to be improved – because a movement done with poor form might be okay if you only do a few reps every now and again, but do that same poorly executed move repeatedly, over time, with speed or weight added, and you have an injury. Which prevents prevents exercise and worse, prevents you from being able to carry out your activities of daily life. And if your daily activities include childcare, being unable to do them is more than inconvenient – it really sucks.

But that sort of training rare, especially without paying for regular, focussed personal training sessions.

If, like most people, your experience of exercise is a group class – boot camp in the park, circuits in the gym, studio-based classes or HIIT/weights work – nobody looks at exactly what you’re capable of. Nobody is asking you, “can you feel any pressure on your pelvic floor?”, or checking whether your hips are level and square to the front, or asking you to pay attention to exactly what your body is telling you.

Largely in these classes there’s an assumption that you CAN do most moves, that you’re injury-free and your body works well. Which, for postnatal women, is a very poor assumption.

No two postnatal women are the same, but here are a few of the presumptions i make about women in my classes:
They have a weakened core and pelvic floor muscles they have unstable or achey joints, either from hormonal changes or newly-acquired baby-caring activities
They’ve not had as much sleep as they would have liked
They’ve spent 40 weeks modifying their activity levels and at least six weeks without regular exercise

selfie of myself with the women from my mighty mums class in Bob's garage    photo of healthy snacks and drinks we have available at the class

Which is why in Mighty Mums I take staple fitness moves (which are also daily life moves)- and regress them to find the level that works best for the mum in question, so that she can move pain-free and re-train her body. Week on week she may be ready to progress these moves to the next level, ultimately adding load and impact.

Because ultimately – that’s what training is all about.

Find out more about Mighty Mums and see if it’s for you

cartoon image of mums with buggies looking like super heros



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