Pilates for Pregnancy
Every now and then you meet someone who truly inspires you.
For me, this is CJ from @citizencore. Not only is she the most incredible Pilates instructor I have ever come across, but she is also a super lovely girl and her passion for wellness through Pilates is infectious.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always enjoyed Pilates but it wasn’t until I stumbled on CJ’s classes at Soho Farmhouse just after the birth of Autumn, that made me truly see the physical and mental benefits of Pilates.
I was fortunate to interview CJ for my blog about her journey into wellness and her guidance on Pilates for pregnancy.
Tell us a little bit about yourself CJ?
I’m CJ. I’m a Fully Certified Stott Pilates Instructor, Sweaty Betty Ambassador and mother-of-two. I train one-to-one clients from my private studio space in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside. I also I teach regular Pilates classes at other hip and healthy Cotswolds’ studios, including Soho Farmhouse and Oxfordshire Pilates.
How did your journey into the world of wellness begin?
Pilates hasn’t always been a part of my story. In 2014 I was juggling a fast-paced marketing career in the corporate world with raising two young children and striving for perfection in all areas. Working hard and exercising harder was my coping strategy for keeping my head above water and dealing with the daily stress and deadlines.
The cumulative impact was a body that on the outside appeared strong, fit and in control, but on the inside was riddled with stress and imbalances. Confronted with the pain from the environmental and physical stresses I’d been placing on my body, I was forced to question how I was living my life, why my body had got so out of balance and disconnected from my mind. I was desperate to be free from pain. That’s when I discovered Pilates. Pilates strengthened, lengthened and rebalanced me. But more importantly, Pilates re-wrote my story.
When did you first start teaching Pilates?
In 2014 I rebooted career direction. With an evangelical belief in the power of Pilates to transform the body, I retrained as a Fully Certified Stott Pilates instructor (teaching matwork, Reformer, Chair, Cadillac and Barrels) and founded Citizen Core.
What are the main benefits to practising Pilates during and post pregnancy?
The unsung hero of parenting is the superhero your body has to become to cope with the physical challenges. Your body has to be up for the challenge of growing, carrying and looking after somebody else’s body. You hold people on your hip like it’s a chair. You bend down and lean over more times in a day than you can count as you lift car seats, change nappies, pick up toys, empty the washing machine and dyson the floor. You never stop carrying and cuddling. Pilates supports you and your changing body throughout your pregnancy and beyond. As Pilates instructors, we have a privileged opportunity to work closely with pregnant women to ensure that they remain healthy and comfortable, preparing their body for the birth itself and for the physical demands of motherhood.
If you could recommend one Pilates exercise for pregnant women to do each day, what would be the most beneficial and why?
Pilates goals should be set according to the demands of each trimester and the boundaries of your changing body. Throughout pregnancy a focus on building a connection to your inner core (transverse abdominis, pelvic floor, diaphragm and multifidus) is paramount to improving posture and protecting from lower back pain.
In the first trimester, proper breathing technique and developing leg strength is important, while in the second, preparing the upper body for the rigors of carrying and feeding your baby—focusing on shoulders and developing endurance and strength is key. In the final trimester the Pilates goals are the same, but endurance and tolerance are different to prepare you mentally and physically for your new arrival.
Do seek out a certified Pilates Instructor with recognized qualifications and specific pre/post natal training (look for names like Stott or Body Control) offering small class-sizes with plenty of hands-on support to ensure the safety of you and your baby.
What mantras do you try to live by?
“Done is better than perfect”. It’s a maxim I’m sure many other women can relate to. It doesn’t mean accepting mediocrity, quite the opposite, it reminds us that perfection can be the enemy of achievement. Mothers, especially new ones, have so little time anyway. It reminds us to stop shooting for perfection and get ‘out there’ rather than beat ourselves up for not being good enough. I’m still work in progress on this one.
You can find out more about CJ and her classes at http://www.citizencore.co.uk/