Alright, this blog has been formulating for over a year now. Drafts, rants on Facebook, in my classes and certainly in my never ending brainstorming.
Before you send me hate emails and defensive comments, read the entire blog please.
Mommy Bootcamps, I like what you do. You’ve created a realm for mothers to come together, in a non-intimidating environment as a way to connect and workout. It is great and essential to have this in local communities everywhere. I genuinely support this effort. You are not my competition. In fact, it would be great to have more local fitness programs and coaches I felt confident referring my clients to when they complete my programs/consults and need something that better accommodates their schedule or interest.
Here’s where I’m seeing some upsetting trends with these kinds of programs. I drive by, and I see these mamas, running, crunching, planking, doing plyos, standing and moving with severe posterior pelvic tilting…with their tiny baby at their side or in their arms. Yes, I’ve parked and observed. The pictures posted on the Facebook pages confirms it as well- running down hill, holding planks, doing bicycle sit ups, etc. But this isn’t what what disturbs me the most.
I meet and coach a lot of women in my community, many of them come to me after their second baby and upon completion of a few sessions, they’re both elated and devastated. I’m CONTINUALLY met with this same feedback: “I went to [mommy fitness program] after I was cleared for exercise after having my first child and the main focus was ab work and running. No one mentioned incontinence, posture, breathing or Diastasis Recti. I assumed my weak core, pelvic/hip/back pain and leaking with a sneeze or during running was normal or at least, not a big deal. I’m sure I made it worse by doing all that. Why is this (what I coach) not being talked about?!”
Look, I know there’s more to these program than abs and running. But, this being a consistent foundation of fitness within a training program designed for moms is a problem for this demographic’s exercise needs/abilities/readiness.
I could easily pick apart high intensity interval training, Beach Body, Yoga, Pilates, Marathon training, etc for the postpartum woman, all programs have their faults, BUT…theses programs/activities are not specifically marketed toward mothers, so although it would be great if all coaches knew the basics about coaching postpartum women, they just don’t (typically), because they don’t have to!
Mommy Bootcamps, however, it’s all mothers! And new mothers- just cleared for exercise mothers- healing mothers- mothers that are NOT ready for the exercises they’re being prescribed. Even the fittest of women, the ones with the most perfect pregnancy and delivery and athletic history, need to begin postpartum fitness with corrective exercise, rehab and proper function of their core and pelvic floor. Once that’s dialed in, then they can work on strength and impact. If a strategy is in place and they are able to progress super fast, great- that’s my goal as a coach! But the women I see, are clueless as to what it means to move and exercise with your core and pelvic floor in mind. Far too many women create more dysfunction than they resolve by resuming exercise “as normal.” Postpartum is an essential time for awareness of the importance of healing and rebuilding a foundation of function and strength.
Here’s another disclaimer: I have NOT read through the certification required to be an affiliate or coach for these programs. And I’m not willing to buy the certification just for writing this damn blog. If you would like to share, pass it on! I am, however, totally disturbed that there’s a certification and program titled “Body Back,” by one of the main mommy bootcamp programs. Fitness professionals should have far better messaging than this, nevertheless have a certification with that title. This kind of marketing is not part of the solution, it’s one of the biggest problems in the fitness industry. Maybe these certifications have material and research that mentions postpartum exercise, coaching cues, progressions, breathing and pelvic floor coordination, Diastasis Recti, SUI, when to refer to a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist, etc…but from what I have observed and been told countless times, THIS IS NOT BEING IMPLEMENTED OR EVEN MENTIONED. Of all exercise programs out there, a new mom based fitness program should be doing a better job of educating their coaches and maintaining quality control for the population they’re coaching.
This is not picking on the coaches, it isn’t their fault. Even if they try to educate themselves via Google, the misinformation is abundant. You see, even college educated trainers do not have knowledge of pre and postnatal fitness. I can personally attest to this! And, it’s important to note, that just because a mom has a “hot body” or lost all her baby weight, does not, in any single freakin’ way, mean she is qualified to be coaching other women, especially during this chapter of fitness.
My coaching career forced me in the direction of working with pregnant and postpartum athletes (all women are athletes) because I simply could not believe that lack of resources available for this population and I could’t turn my back or shut my mouth. I also know what it’s like to assume and “feel fine,” postpartum only to have that backfire. New mamas are the most vulnerable population for extremes and poor exercise choices because they are desperate to get their “body back.” Kicking a new mom’s ass through exercise will never be the solution, it only contributes to the problem for these women. Sometimes, a problem may not always present itself until later on! The exercises and movements you do, what you don’t do and how you do it during pregnancy and postpartum matters, a whole hell of a lot.
Women trust their coaches and will do as they are told. They will crunch hundreds of times, they will do a running challenge at 6 weeks postpartum, deplete themselves by following BS meal plans and will never think to ask questions about their core and pelvic health because of stigma, lack of awareness, don’t think they need to or accept dysfunctions as a normal part of motherhood. No new mother or woman should be training in this manner. It’s not healthy or sustainable.
Mommy fitness programs, you can do better. You can challenge your coaches to help women move more and move better with a proper strategy (breath and pelvic floor coordination, alignment) and provide appropriate referrals , movements and progressions.
If you’re a local coach, I’d be happy to mentor you to help guide your programming and resources. We can do better for the women we get to impact.
Mamas, if anything here has resonated with you, I encourage you to join my postpartum fitness program, regardless of how postpartum you are. If you can’t make those days/times or don’t live locally, I have a variety of remote coaching, consults and personal training services available.
Want to follow other appropriate postpartum fitness advice? Check out the resources offered by my wonderful colleagues!