Why do you go to the gym?
Maybe you’re one of the rare folks who simply loves it, or perhaps you’ve got a great crowd of gym buddies who you like being with.
Or perhaps you’ve got a WHY.
I started because of a history of heart disease in my family and being acutely aware that I didn’t want to leave the people I loved before I had to.
Perhaps you want to climb a mountain, avoid osteoporosis, make up for the hours you spend sitting in front of a screen all day for work.
If you’re pregnant, or recently postnatal, getting strong can give you a very powerful WHY.
Being strong helps you be a really useful mum.
First of all, right at the start of your mum-life, labour and delivery are hard going. I’ve lost count of the mums who’ve told me they’re grateful I made them do so many squats when they were pregnant, because their strength made it possible for them to have an active labour. Being strong for labour is important.
Then, being a mum is physically demanding. If you’re new to parenting, let me tell you that you’ve probably got about a decade ahead of you doing hard physical work.
- Long shifts of feeding (breast or bottle): sitting still, supporting baby, getting the latch right – sometimes feels like you have to be a contortionist as well as one of those living statues you see on the Royal Mile in August.
- Carrying a car seat. It’s challenging the day you leave the hospital – and it only gets heavier.
- Nappy changes, frequently on the floor: being able to go from kneeling to standing without using your hands (because they’re holding a baby) is a very useful skill but requires some practice and a good bit of strength and mobility.
- All of these early-days activities are done while your body is healing. Baby carrying can be exhausting, even for the parent who hasn’t recently had a small human expelled from their body.
- Getting sleeping babies into cots without waking them requires stability and strength as well as keeping calm under pressure!
Advanced manoeuvres for specialists include: picking up dog poop while wearing a baby in a baby carrier. This one needs practice and shouldn’t be attempted by amateurs. (See also: picking up dropped dummies while still holding the baby)
Perhaps you’ll have a c-section wound or an episiotomy wound to heal, so you won’t have access to your usual movements. Your core, having been strengthened and weakened over the nine months of your pregnancy, won’t be working at full capacity for a few months.
Toddler-walking: When they’re keen to walk but haven’t yet got the skill, you can spend ages hinged over, holding their arms while they practice. It’s hard on your back if you don’t do it right.
- Carrying toddlers
- Carrying toddlers back to bed when they’re asleep.
- Carrying toddlers back to bed when they’re asleep but the mattress of their cot is really low so they can’t escape but you still have to put them down gently so they don’t wake up.
- Wheeching toddlers out of danger: getting to them quickly and being able to pick them up
- Pushing, pulling and manoeuvring a buggy with a toddler plus shopping
When they’re bigger, you’ll probably want to be able to keep up with them. Taking them to the park and joining in (maybe even doing a pull-up on the climbing frame); keeping them safe on the soft play or rescuing them if they’re stuck; chasing them down for a kick-about on the beach.
My point is: being a mum requires that you are physically strong. Being able to deadlift a couple of kettlebells or back squat 35kg, or jog after them for a few minutes without thinking you’re going to faint, all comes in really handy.
Let’s call these Mum Movement Patterns. We can approximate them all in the gym and teach you how to do them well and safely, so you feel confident and strong.
Being a mum is not time to take it easy (even if you’d like to) so why not train for it?