By K. Liv
I have a 10-month old and a 3-year old. Both boys. Entirely different pregnancies, entirely different deliveries. And even though I had two completely different deliveries, nothing changed when it came to postpartum fitness classes and information I received about getting back to fit.
This is a real problem.
There is a SERIOUS need for modern, fun, and intelligent post-natal fitness!
I went to multiple postpartum fitness classes with various instructors as I try to get rid of my muffin top and third love handle. While some of them were good, there were one too many classes I went to that did not address the needs of new Moms.
In particular, it really bothered me that some instructors were doing exercises without modifications for the specific needs of new Moms. Whether or not my breasts have quadrupled in size, pee comes out of places I didn't know existed, my coordination and balance resemble that of a drunken old man, and my joints haven't gotten used to the hormones and extra weight; overall, I expect my instructor to know best. I expect her to know that I should not be doing sit ups, well, at all; I expect her to not have me planking at 6 weeks post-C-section. I expect her to not say "peeing yourself is normal," and I expect her to not make me clean and jerk my body weight while my stitches are still fresh.
In particular, instructors should know about things like incontinence, core breathing and diastasis recti. There are exercises you most certainly should and should NOT be doing! Instructors (most of whom have a special certification for pre/postnatal fitness) should know about your pelvic floor and how to set you up for a successful re-introduction to fitness that does not include a gazillion jumping jacks. I actually went to a class where we were told to do box jumps! Your body is not healed for that kind of internal pressure even months into your recovery. Hello, pee.
You should be provided modifications for isometric exercises (like push-ups or planks) and eccentric exercises (like V-sits or leg drops) as these exercises put stress on your pelvic floor, abdominal region, and lower back, and you need time to get your strength back. And you will- it is just safer for you to get there eventually and not right away.
That being said, they should also know that I don't want to pay prime dollar for a workout consisting of a few Kegels and walking at a snail's pace. I hate being that annoying woman who runs when the rest of the women walk. This was a class I didn't make any friends at.
My sister actually taught a post natal class, and I liked her as an instructor. This was shocking, as I generally don't like my sister.
Just kidding, sis. Well, mostly.
Reasons I liked her: she's FUN, knowledgable, and kicks the crap out of me appropriate to my postpartum stage. What I like most is that she herself has 3 kids under the age of 6, is fit as a horse (thus makes me believe that it IS possible... single tear), plays music that is not from 1975, and puts us through a tough class but provides modifications where necessary. She also happens to have a medical background (she's a nurse), so she is up-to-date on all things snatch (both the exercise, and my vajayjay).
Shockingly, I also love classes that have the baby time at the end where we sing songs, blow bubbles, and generally make fools of ourselves to get our babies to smile for 1 second.
Before having my sons, the idea of screaming babies, singing songs, and working out all at the same time had me doing my fastest mile way the hell the other way. Now that I'm a Mom, I love having the opportunity to get back in shape, entertain my child, chat with some other Moms (I stress the word "some") and get the F out of the house. My suggestion to any new Mom is to research the fitness class you are signing up for, and perhaps do a trial class (many offer this). There's nothing worse than paying money for a class you don't like or don't feel safe at.
You should look for a qualified instructor, one with up to date training in postnatal fitness, who doesn't yell at you the whole time, and educates you on your new and super fun new bod (that was sarcasm). I also believe it is important to find someone who they themselves have had kids.
Not to knock those who don't, but I'd prefer a woman who knows how my boobs, belly, and bladder are coping week by week.