Sunday, 23 November 2014
A smart workout perfect for all mums
All the A-Listers have personal trainers to keep in shape and now, thanks to the internet, you can too, says Cathy Winston
There comes a blissful moment post-pregnancy when the fog clears and you realise you're ready to burn the maternity clothes you've been living in. Annoyingly, however, the point at which you really want to start getting your old body (and wardrobe) back is usually the one where you have the least time and energy to exercise. That's before you start calculating the cost of gym membership, childcare while you shape up – and the fact that you'd rather not be spotted in your workout clothes just yet.
But with new postnatal classes appearing online, it's easier than ever to cram something in if you have a spare ten minutes. Best of all, you don't even have to leave home. 'It's rare to get an hour to yourself when you have a baby,' says Gurgle's fitness expert Vicky Warr, 'so online fitness classes and apps are perfect. Knowing you can exercise in your own home, even in pyjamas, with minimal equipment, has got to be the solution.'
'The right exercise can alleviate back pain, improve your sleep and promote the release of endorphins, helping to keep the baby blues at bay,' adds pregnancy and postnatal fitness expert Dr Joanna Helcke. But don't try to pick up where you left off pre-pregnancy, she cautions.
'People who were very active might feel fine, but even so should stick to low-impact exercise for the first five to six months. you have the lasting effects of the hormone relaxin (which relaxes your pelvic ligaments), and the consequences of straining the pelvic floor are not pleasant.'
Vicky agrees: 'Your posture is affected by pregnancy, your core muscles, back and pelvic floor are no longer the same, and the bottom muscles switch off, no matter how fit you are. You must also get checked for diastasis recti (rec check), the separation between the abs.'
'Frequently people end up going to standard classes, then doing themselves damage. Even instructors don't always know, and just tell women to take it easy,' says Joanna. So a specific postnatal workout is essential – and there's never been a better moment than now to find one that suits you.
Supercharge your walk
It's not just the internet that can help new mums shape up. Make your walks in the park smarter with a gadget such as the Fitbug Orb (£49.95). Tiny enough to clip on clothes, it tracks your activity, syncs with an app on your phone, and sets small goals to spur you on. You can also monitor what you eat, and even track your sleep... although sometimes, ignorance is bliss.
'Because it's a fairly common procedure, it's easy to underestimate the impact a C-section can have on the body,' says Movement For Modern Life teacher Sally Parkes. 'The energy it takes to recover from surgery and care for your baby is huge, so be realistic about what you can manage. Initially, set aside ten minutes a day and see where that takes you.'
Best for...six month overhaul
What's the skinny?
Too little time to plan an exercise regime? Joanna Helcke's 26-week plan takes you all the way from pelvic floor exercises in week one through to the end of the six-month postnatal period. Tailored to your baby's birth dates (just like all those pregnancy emails you signed up for), it includes Pilates workout videos from week eight. Tackling everything from backache to a regular 'Mummy Tummy' workout, plus cardio or resistance moves on alternate weeks, it keeps things varied so you won't get bored by repetition of the same old thing again and again. As a bonus, there are free recipes, time management tips and regular experts on the forum.
Where do I sign?
The programme costs £12 per month, with a free fortnight's trial and sneak preview videos at Joanna's website.