January always has a unique feel, a bit gloomy but very exciting with the opportunity for a new start in the new year. We’ve had a chat with Ro, founder of The SHE Collective to discuss everything fitness and how we can kick off 2022 in the best way possible. Whether you’re wanting to keep healthy during your pregnancy, to get that pre baby body back, or simply just need some motivation, Ro has the answers to your questions. Read on to learn about Ro’s incredible journey and see how The SHE Collective can help you start your fitness journey. If you would like to watch the Instagram Live then click here.
“I love training women’s bodies. I love that sense of connection with a woman. It’s the journey I love, of helping women who perhaps don’t like exercise or have never stuck to it before. I never stuck to exercising long enough to feel the benefit of a fitness programme. After I gave birth to twins at a young age and one of my little ones used to get poorly a lot, my anxiety was really bad. I tried different things but didn’t want to rely on medication for the rest of my life, but of course lots of people talk about the benefits of anxiety and exercise. So I joined a bootcamp. And I stuck with it. And I felt so much better. It provided a sense of peace and I started to see my body as something more than a collection of lumps and bumps that needed fixing.
So that was the aim of the game with creating The SHE Collective. We want to create this space where women can support one another and feel good about exercise in this environment. We wanted to create a community where you’re part of a team of women who are struggling with the same kind of pulls on their life, and who offer support no matter what stage you’re at. Exercise should not be another thing on your to do list, it should be something that you look forward to, that you come out of and you’re buzzing and happy!"
What healthy habits can I follow while pregnant?
During pregnancy, it’s all about looking at the full circle from exercise to nutrition. There’s the basics that you need to make sure are in place, you have to make sure you’re eating enough nutritious food, concentrating on lots of fruit and veg and keeping hydrated. One of the most important things you can do is to keep moving, you have to think of it as if you’re running a marathon, you’d never run a marathon without preparing for it. Of course, this bit gets a bit trickier when you’ve already got children and are running around after your little ones. However, always prioritise your body, balance your rest as much as your movement and listen to what your body needs.
The first trimester is often the hardest for women who struggle with morning sickness or those who have had previous miscarriages and so it’s often the hardest time for women to exercise. This is not the time to take up something you’ve never done before, focus on low intensity activities like walking and yoga and be gentle with yourself. In your second semester, you should be over that morning sickness and hopefully ready to embrace your body that’s gearing up for birth. Now it’s important to focus on those pelvic floor exercises, but it’s still important to listen to your body and adapt when ready.
What are some risks about exercising the abdomen terminal area too early after pregnancy?
There are lots of stories and rumours around the issue of divarication. The first thing that is important to know is what degree of separation you’ve got. You can check this by:
- Lie down and make sure you’re comfortable with something under your neck and your knees up.
- Practice your connective breathing with two fingers four inches above your stomach button and two others four inches below.
- Use connective breathing to fill your diaphragm with air and then as you release you put pressure into where you would feel that gap.
- If you have got less than three fingers breadth then that’s not a divarication and you can do exercise.
You should always check with your GP before you start exercising. This separation is a really natural part of pregnancy, but the time it takes to recover will depend on each individual. It doesn’t mean you can’t exercise it just means you have to adapt what you do, but it’s worth taking it slow. Absolutely avoid any kind of heavy lifting, stay away from doing planks and intense exercise.
How do you make sure you don’t lose strength in the pelvic floor? Are there any exercises you’d recommend for that?
There are three different stages of connective breath which you can do to incorporate pelvic floor muscles. So connective breathing is learning to feel the diaphragm and then you can connect this to your pelvic floor. As you breathe out, you should be thinking about raising your pelvic floor and bringing your stomach and back off of the floor. Once you’ve nailed that, you can incorporate that into most exercises. Say if you were to do a bicep curl, when you’re exerting that force and when you breathe out, that’s when you think about the connective breath and squeeze the pelvic floor. In the slower work, it’s about retraining the neural pathways so that it becomes automatic.
Once you’ve got the connective breath and know how to engage the pelvic floor, you can put it into exercises and it becomes quite instinctive. The difficulty is that we live in a world where we want to see things instantly, but it’s a slow progression with the pelvic floor. There’s no timeline to this, even if you’re 10 years postpartum there are so many exercises that you can do. Pelvic health physios are magic, there’s nothing more worthwhile than getting a check up with one if you’ve got any concerns post birth because there’s only so much a PT can do.
What are the best exercises to firm up my belly again?
If you see anything that says: fix your mum tum in a month, please ignore this! It’s a slow game. Building a bulletproof body postpartum starts with the connective breath, learning to do a kegel, moving your legs etc. when you feel ready and you’re not getting any heaviness, dragging, pain or any other symptoms then you need to look at the core as a whole.
To create an entire core it’s really important that you don’t ignore things that involve the entire body. For instance, doing crunches are very hardcore and can lead to separation. Instead you want to do Pilates like moves where you gradually increase the instability. You want to concentrate on every bit of the core as you do each movement. When you’re ready it’s great to do functional fitness like kickboxing. I find kickboxing really fun! As a woman, you’re lifting things, moving things, doing different movements all day long. So it’s so important to focus on functional fitness.
There are certain things that you can’t do much about. Things like excess skin you might have to come to peace with. But you’ve got to give it time and be patient because it’s a different tummy now that you’ve grown a baby. The first weeks and months postpartum aren’t your future set forever, focusing on your core and waist work will help you look back in shape!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to exercise but who has morning sickness?
Morning sickness is hideous! If you need to step back from exercise during this time that’s not going to do you any harm, you need to listen to your body. There are certain times of the day that you do feel better, so embrace those little moments. Exercising outdoors will really help, but it’s so important to stay hydrated and have little bits of food and most importantly be kind to yourself.
For more help and advice about exercising pre and post baby, watch the Instagram Live then click here.