Did you know that 1 in 3 moms has some degree of diastasis? Diastasis Recti, or in other words the separation of abdominal muscles, is often a result of multiple pregnancies, and has been found to be more common among women who have had C-sections. Whats worse, is that many regular abdominal routines, such as crunches, actually increase separation.
So what’s the big deal? When the abdominals start to separate, not only does it give you that unavoidable belly pooch, but it weakens your core, which can lead to injuries in other parts of the body. In order to keep the core strong, and heal diastasis, moms and other women can train using a modified ab-workout, shown here. These exercises are from Julie Tupler, RN the author of Lose Your Mummy Tummy.
The magic of Pilates as the best pre- and post-natal exercise
As an advanced level certified Pilates instructor of many years and Head Pilates Instructor at MINT Health Club and Spa in DC I have worked with many women during and after their pregnancies. When I found out this year that I was pregnant, I decided to turn to a top expert to hear why she suggests Pilates as the best pre and post natal exercise.
I asked Melanie Byford-Young, Master Instructor Trainer of Rehabilitation for STOTT PILATES, physical therapists and Founder and Co-Owner of Pacific Northwest Pilates, Oregon some questions:
T: What is the most important advice you would give to women practicing Pilates during pregnancy?
M: The most important advice I give is to change their focus and intention. Conditioning is no longer about developing flat abs and getting great cardio challenge. The goals when pregnant are to develop or maintain strength and endurance for the duration of the pregnancy, the birth process, and most importantly, for post partum.
T: What happens with a woman’s center and core as the belly protrudes?
M: During the pregnancy abs are getting elongated and need to support the woman’s spine as her center of mass shifts and her spine tends to get pulled into a lordosis. It is also important to think about preparing for post partum: strong upper back for feeding and carrying, strong back and abs and glutes for bending down, carrying the child and all transfers in and out of cars will be important.
T: While giving natural birth the mother will need a lot of strength. Which muscles should be particularly strengthened during prenatal Pilates sessions to support labor?
M: Truly having a strong supple balanced body is what you need for labor. No need to practice bearing down or bracing for the contraction phase. You must be able to let the pelvic floor relax and open for safe passage of the baby.
T: After giving birth, which are the first exercises that new moms can start to practice as the very first steps of recovery? How soon can, and should, these be started, if there were no complications during labor?
M: The new mom should be up and walking very soon after delivery. The return to easy exercise and muscle contractions can begin 7-10 days post partum, but traditional strengthening must wait several more weeks.
Women practicing Pilates as their prenatal exercise report to feel more empowered and in control of their bodies after labor. They often feel more energetic and ready to deal with the physical challenges of a changing body that is temporarily heavier and goes through postural changes. The toning and strengthening element helps to balance lose joints. The beauty of Pilates is that it can be modified and adjusted to anybody’s ability and fitness level, especially working in private sessions.
Three women describe their experience in their own words about the magic of Pilates in their pre and post natal phase:
Vanessa Defornier (Washington, DC): “I have practiced Pilates for a year before my pregnancy. While being pregnant the goals of my training changed. It was still about finding space for myself and relaxing thanks to the breathing and concentration required to perform the movements, but I also thought that the stronger I am the easier it would be to put in a real effort when the big day of giving birth comes. I was in very good shape even the last days of my pregnancy. I was satisfied with my weight and I felt strong enough and motivated about what was going to happen. I deeply believe that Pilates helped with this strength sensation. I knew my body was ready and prepared to go through this. I think that being a professional and having a family is a challenge and my Pilates classes are my little pleasure of the week.”
Lauren Aronson (Washington, DC): “Once I became pregnant I began taking private lessons, instead of group Reformer. My ligaments felt sore and Pilates helped gently and safely stretch and strengthen the muscles for support. I took my last Pilates session at 32 weeks into pregnancy. Giving birth requires you to be in the best shape of your life. The strength training I did in Pilates helped me get through the delivery and labor very well. My recovery was easy as well and I feel that the classes help me build back my strength and tone my body.”
Lizzie Anderson Worden (Washington, DC): “I originally began with Pilates after a herniated disk in my lower back in 2000. My physical therapist and spine specialist both recommended Pilates. I was determined to keep my back healthy without surgery. Many years have gone by and I had been taking 1-3 classes a week both mat and Reformer and still no need for surgery. However in the new life situation of carrying a baby I became concerned about protecting my back and took my classes more seriously. Pilates always feels great, so it felt great just to be in class. I like the atmosphere of a group class and being with others when I exercise. It helps in keeping my spirit high. I took my last session 3 weeks before giving birth.”
Please consult your physician for information on what will be appropriate for you during pregnancy. If it is safe for you, make sure to work with an expert that is qualified and experienced to work with a prenatal client.
Dance and movement is my favorite method of expression. Starting as a child I knew I wanted to be in the performing arts. At age five my mom signed me up for ballet, jazz, and tap dancing classes, and ever since then dance has been a central part of my life.
When I moved to DC in 2010, I was keen to continue my focus on dance and fitness. I wanted to join a dance studio but like many things in DC, the cost of joining a studio was not within my budget. I decided instead to join a health club. After a year at the club, I decided to get licensed as a Zumba instructor. An exercise in disguise, I realized that exercise classes that incorporate dance are a great way of getting people motivated and excited about fitness.
Through Barre, I have found a new way to integrate my passion for dance and group exercise. Barre uses fundamentals of ballet, Pilates and yoga without requiring ANY dance training! In my Barre classes, you will learn elements of Ballet, while improving body alignment! Attentive to those who take my class, I will focus on the body’s ability to lengthen against gravity and apply functional exercises for all levels of students and make your workout as effective as possible.
See you in Class!
Crystal Scott, originally from New York, brings over 15 years of dance experience to her Barre Fusion training. Her classes are offered at MINT Downtown on Fridays from 12:00-12:45pm.
I’ve recently become obsessed with understanding the Tabata Protocol as its known in the world of science. In the world of fitness, It’s referred to as the Tabata Interval.
The Tabata interval was made popular by Dr. Izumi Tabata. It consists of alternating 20 seconds of high-intensity effort with 10 seconds of recovery. In his research, Dr. Tabata noted a 28% increase in the body’s anaerobic capacity (without oxygen), along with a 14% increase in its ability to consume oxygen. These results were witnessed in already physically fit athletes (Olympic level speed skaters). The conclusion was that just four minutes of Tabata interval training could do more to boost aerobic and anaerobic capacity than an hour of endurance exercise, and is far more effective at reducing body fat levels.
Tabata intervals also create an “afterburn effect”, which is more officially known as “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” or EPOC. Several studies suggest a strong parallel between the number of calories burned post-exercise and the activity’s intensity*. Basically, the longer and more intensely the exercise, the more oxygen the body consumes afterward, resulting in a higher total number of calories burned.
Interested in giving a Tabata interval a shot? Here’s how:
1.) Warm-up for about 3 minutes – start out with a low resistance and low revolutions per minute (about 60-65 RPMs on a bike) for the first minute, increase the tension on your equipment by one notch for the second minute, then increase the RPMs to 70-75 RPMs and/or tension for the last minute, gradually raising your heart rate.
2.) 8 intervals of 20 seconds all-out intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest
3.) 2 minutes cool-down-You can do this by walking at a slow pace on a treadmill or an elliptical.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
First, you can use any exercise. I recommend using an exercise you can safely work at maximum effort. Cardio equipment such as an elliptical or treadmill is what I like to use.
Second, get a good Tabata timer. Trying to keep count in your head or watching a clock won’t work. There are dozens of apps out there like: Interval Timer – Seconds by Runloop (Free), Tabata Pro – Tabata Timer (2.99), or Gymboss 2 Interval Timer (Free).
Third, stay positive! You may feel like you can’t finish the first 4 minute cycle once you start, but stick with it. I recently heard one of my clients whisper to herself, “Don’t worry it’s all in your mind” as she finished a set of burpees at maximum effort in a pool of her own sweat. That was what she needed to keep going. I like you use really good music to keep me going. Find what works for you.
If you add a full Tabata Protocol two your workout routine at least twice a week, you will soon find out why it has become the talk of the fitness world!
Pilates is great for anyone and everyone regardless of age and ability. If you can breathe… you can do Pilates. It is the ultimate form of cross training for athletes, and it is a preferred method of rehabilitation used by many physical therapists. Unlike other strength training regimens, Pilates focuses on toning your muscles, thereby improving your balance and alignment.
What is Pilates for Athletes?
Pilates gives athletes the strength, the endurance and the flexibility they need to perform at their best. Pilates, in general, promotes greater balance and support to your Core/Powerhouse by increasing blood flow to the internal muscles that support your spine, thus improving your endurance, strength, and precision of motion. Not only are the exercises challenging and fun, they’re functional.
Pilates is ideal for athletes and non-athletes who are recovering from injury because, unlike other exercise regimens, Pilates begins by focusing on the proper alignment of the body, helping the athlete to reduce stress and pain. Once the body is aligned, Pilates starts building muscle to support the proper alignment. Athletes often develop muscle imbalances due to sport specific training. As a result, some muscles become over developed and tight while other muscles become weak and stressed. Over time these imbalances can create injury and keep us from doing the sports we love. Pilates helps to restore balance and to maintain flexibility.
By improving your core, your performance will be greatly enhanced. When Pilates is incorporated into your regular exercise routine, you will experience greater flexibility in all of your joints, heightened range of motion and improved accuracy, not only in sports, but with every motion in daily life activities.
How soon after beginning Pilates will I see results?
Many people feel different after only one class, however real and lasting changes may take up to 10 sessions. Michele recommends taking Pilates on the reformer a minimum of two times per week. Three times a week is ideal.
About Michele Landry
Michele competed in her first triathlon in 2004. That season, she quickly developed into an endurance fanatic craving more opportunities to race and longer distances to push herself. Michele has competed as a top age group athlete the past 9 seasons in more than 80 endurance events. Her accomplishments include qualifying for the Boston Marathon 3 consecutive years and 4 Ironman finishes, including one trip to the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, HI. Michele incorporated Pilates into her endurance training three years ago and has watched her times drop! Michele is a STOTT Certified Pilates Instructor and works with all types of athletes in a group setting or one-on-one, from the weekend warrior, age-group athlete, golfer, runner, cyclist or professional tri-athlete who wants to stay strong and limber.
If you are someone who comes to the gym, jumps on a piece of cardio equipment and looks at the weight room wishing they knew what to do then the machine routine definitely for you. Or, if you are someone who wants to incorporate machines into your resistance training, but isn’t sure where to start, join us for a Machine Routine class. Explore the floor.
Come learn how use resistance training machines safely and effectively in a full body workout. This is a great introduction into the world of weight training and a great way to diversify the way you workout! Join us for the first session of Machine Routine THIS Friday. The class is free to members.
Personal trainer Canaan Dorian demonstrates how to foam roll properly.By Melissa Romero
Foam rolling has been around the physical therapy world for a while, but these days you frequently see it happening in gyms and studios. It’s a great tool for increasing flexibility and range of motion, but the problem is that most people don’t know the best muscle areas to focus on—orhow to foam roll properly, for that matter. We asked personal trainer Canaan Dorian of Mint DC to demonstrate a few key areas to foam roll.
Muscle Area: IT Band
This long muscle that runs along the outside of the thigh is often a major cause of knee pain. To prevent soreness, place one hip on the foam roller and place your top leg in front of it. Slowly roll the IT band over the foam roller for 1 to 2 minutes.
Muscle Area: Piriformis
Foam rolling the piriformis will relieve tight glutes. Balance on your right leg and left hand while placing your left hip on the foam roller and right hand on your opposite hip. Slowly roll back and forth for 1 to 2 minutes. Switch sides and repeat.
Muscle Area: Quads
While facing the floor, place the foam roller under your quads and slowly roll for 1 to 2 minutes.
Muscle Area: Hamstrings
Place the foam roller under your hamstrings (you can foam roll both legs at once, or do it single leg if you want more pressure). With your hands behind you, slowly roll your hamstrings back and forth over the foam roller for 1 to 2 minutes.
At MINT we like to keep our yoga program fresh. Multiple times throughout the year we’ll rotate in a variety of workshops and different series of classes. These workshops and series are typically free for members and on occasion, open to non-members for a fee. We’re excited to announce the next two Yoga series that are on the schedule for 2013!
Prenatal yoga invites a woman to explore her own valuable resources as a human being. She learns how to tap into the rhythm of her own breath and how to hold herself in that deep current of her own “prana, or life force energy.” The movements (“asanas”) help to prepare her body for the amazing feat of labor and delivery. Birth takes both strength and flexibility. The power of endurance is held in the same hand as surrender. If you’re expecting, you won’t want to miss this four week series to help support your pregnancy, birth and body! Each class will include yoga, relaxation and mindfulness techniques to help you prepare for your birth. This series will be lead by Kate Miller, certified prenatal yoga teacher, professional birth doula and childbirth educator.
Free for Members (registration strongly encouraged)
$60 for Guests (4-classes)
Questions: Ask at the Front Desk or contact Meredith McCullough at email@example.com.
Yoga 101: A Short Series in Yoga Basics
with Kate Miller, Senior Yoga Instructor at MINT
Thursdays 7:00 PM – 8:15 PM
February 7th – March 14th
Never practiced yoga before or need a refresher? This 6-week class series is designed specifically for the absolute beginner or anyone wanting a step-by-step review of the basics. Join our us for this special set of 6 classes and walk away with a strong foundation in the fundamentals of yoga, breathing, and alignment in elemental versions of all poses. Upon completion you will have enough knowledge to be comfortable walking into our Open Level, Level 1/2 and Gentle yoga classes. Come play!
Class size is limited.
Free for Members (registration strongly encouraged – this class tends to fill up!!)
$72 for Guests (6-classes)
Questions: Ask at the Front Desk or contact Meredith McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About your instructor:
Kate Miller received her first yoga teaching certification in 1996 in Interdisciplinary Yoga and then went onto to study Anusara yoga where she received a certification in 2001. As a hatha yoga teacher, Kate draws inspiration from not only various teachers and styles of yoga, but also her love of tantric philosophy, her daily practice of vipassana meditation, her continued exploration of anatomy and kinesiology, her work as a birth doula and the many forms of dance she continues to study. She is currently working towards becoming an RIE instructor and a childbirth educator. She holds a BFA in modern dance and a MA in spiritual psychology. It is Kate’s wish to inspire her students to radically affirm and honor all that they embody. With a gift for teaching to all levels and physical conditions, she loves to weave words of inspiration and spirit into her clear, direct instruction.
We’ve been talking about the Synrgy360 for a couple of months, now that the updated cardio equipment is in place at MINT Dupont, the Synrgy360 has shipped from Chicago and is scheduled for installation before next weekend 12/15!
The first Synrgy360 class will take place next Saturday 12/15 at 10:00 AM.
Synrgy classes will always be Trainer lead. What can you expect from this 50 minute workout? A high-intensity, interval workout. In other words, lots of action and very short breaks. Sound exciting? We think so! Classes will be open to approximately 8 attendees on a first come, first serve basis.
What classes can you anticipate? Watch the schedule for options on Monday, Wednesday & Saturdays!