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What's in your instructor toolbox?

I was actually just recently asked this question. It is probably the BEST question I have been asked as a fitness instructor.

****Please advise that I am NOT a doctor, I should not replace any advice you receive from your doctor. I speak from my own experiences and you are more than welcome to discuss anything I write with your doctor before you proceed with any physical activity. Deal? Ok, let's move on...*****

My immediate answer was my modifications I provide for expectant mothers. Not only have I taken several prenatal and postnatal workshops, I have actually had a child myself. I had a very healthy pregnancy and I exercised the entire time. And here's the thing...I was doing Pilates BEFORE I became pregnant! I didn't say "Hey, I finally got pregnant, it's time to try something new". No, no and nope. In fact, I was a bit of a runner before my pregnancy, but it just didn't feel right, so I stopped. No big deal, I started up a few months after my daughter was born. It's not a life sentence, it's a pregnancy.

So where was I? Right, instructor toolbox. I taught several pregnant women when I was teaching mat and reformer classes, but MANY seemed to find me when I began teaching Barre. It almost seemed like they flocked to me, like there was this club of preggos somewhere and they all came to find me. Weird, well no, not really. Barre is almost like pilates standing up. Well, not exactly, but ALL THE SAME PRINCIPLES apply. It's low impact (well, my regular barre class is) and the Barre allows for so many modifications. Many women are told not to lie down on their back during pregnancy, especially during exercise. Many are told they can lie down on their backs, but to limit the time. Guess what? Barre is done almost entirely standing, so I didn't even have to address the issue of how long they are supine. Brilliant!

Always keeping knees bent and one foot on the floor is a great modification!
Single-Leg lifts at the Barre.

So what are these modifications? Glad you asked. When we sit on the floor to do core work, I sometimes place a bosu (that dome piece of equipment with flat bottom)behind them so they can do all work sitting upright. Sometimes it is a ball, sometimes I have them sit right under the barre, hold on to it with their hands and do single leg lifts. (see above photo) Now if you are reading this and you have taken my class, you might be saying "Hey, I am not pregnant and she had us do those leg lifts!" Precisely! That is what makes Barre so great, most of the time the pregnant women are doing THE SAME THING AS THE REST OF THE CLASS.

Now I said MOST of the time. What is an exception? Full plank positions and pushups. They are a no-no for expectant mommies, well in my opinion anyway. But guess what? There is a ballet barre in the room and they can do planks and push-ups on an incline. And you know what? Many of the non-pregnant people do push-ups at barre too. Sometimes I make the entire class do them. Ok, more than sometimes...

Push-ups at the Barre!

Other modifications? Well, I tend to tone down any twisting. Just not good for the baby overall. I know what you are thinking. I can't work my obliques? Yes you can. Side bends are still allowed with light or no weight (this is where doctor comes in) and side-lying exercises are wonderful for the momma-to-be. Just put a blanket or something soft under the side of your belly to get more comfortable.

Now I can't give you all my tips or I would be out of a job. Kidding! This blog post would be too long.

But here is your take away: If you find out you are pregnant, talk to your doctor first about exercise. S/he may not want you starting a barre class if you are not used to it. So find me after your baby is born and you are clear for exercise. You still may not be able to exercise on your back. I remember attempting to do an abdominal crunch about 6 week postpartum (doctor cleared). I got down on the floor, bent both knees, put my hands behind my head, and.....nothing. NOTHING happened. My brain was telling my torso to curl up, but nothing happened. So bottom line...patience. Your body will find its way back to where it was. Need proof? I have a client that is a Party Princess and was back in her Mermaid costume just two weeks after giving birth to her adorable baby boy. How? She took my Barre class regularly. She even did pull-ups while sitting under the barre while the rest of the class did other ab work.

Questions? Feel free to send me a message and don't forget to join my email list!

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