Prenatal Fitness and Lagree
When I became certified in Lagree Fitness, I had no idea that it would have such a huge effect on how I trained my clients. As the creator of The Bloom Method, an exercise method focusing on women before, during, and after pregnancy, I’m always researching and trying other fitness methods to make sure that I’m constantly providing the type of challenge that my clients deserve.
My method moves between functional movements, Pilates style exercises, cardio training, rehabilitative core work, and in the third trimester, I introduce my moms to “labor training”. Yep, that's right, I train my clients for birth. I don’t think anyone would ever wake up the morning of the Boston Marathon and decide to run it.
With the average birth being 3x’s the length of a marathon, why would we choose to show up to our births unprepared and untrained?
To effectively train my clients for the “birth marathon,” I use long periods of exercise along with rest periods to mimic the way contractions tend to move throughout the body. We get moms heart rate up through challenging cardiovascular exercises mixed with tons of strength training. It’s during labor training where my clients are truly tested, BUT they never give up and most certainly never pull out of the exercise. After all, you can’t pull out of a contraction so why pull out of the exercise preparing you for it?
Within my first 5 minutes on a Megaformer, I knew this machine had the ability to mirror my labor training in a beautiful way.
Of course, I’d remove a lot of the core exercises and include core training methods specific to expecting and new moms, but the series of long holds, pulses, and shakes along with distracting the mind so that you “don’t stop moving” was exactly what I was teaching my moms.
Classes on this machine could be an amazing option for labor training, and I just couldn’t get enough.
I began teaching my Prenatal Fitness classes in a way that would train each individual to be stronger, better, more determined and more focused. I would always suggest that my pregnant clients try to come to at least one of my Lagree classes per week to challenge their body and mind in a different way. When they were brave enough to show up — keep in mind that the machine can be quite intimidating to women whose body is changing and balance is nowhere near where it used to be — I would modify their pregnancy core exercises and challenge them beyond belief with movements that left them begging for the minute to be over.
Having several pregnant or newly postpartum moms in the studio created some hype for the instructors to understand the do’s and dont's of pregnancy moves. Lagree clients and other Lagree studios would reach out to me via email asking me, “What do I do on the machine now that myself or my client is pregnant”? The machine has a lot of amazing core exercises interwoven throughout the 45 minute workout and, knowing how important it is to safely train a pregnant and postpartum core, I was happy to educate anyone interested on which exercises to avoid and which to keep up.
For expecting mamas (post-1st trimester) & new moms up to 4 months postpartum
Avoid- all catfish variations, wheelbarrow on the back of the machine, frontal planks, bear variations, all crunches, mermaid twist, french twist & teaser!
Keep doing spoon, wheelbarrow on the front of the machine, static crunches (setting up in a crunch with an angled torso and HOLD, imagining you’re tightening your body’s natural corset), and side plank variations. My moms also loved doing extra upper body exercises when the class was doing a core series.
The reason these changes need to take place is simple: you want to avoid abdominal separation while protecting and strengthening the deep abdominal muscles during pregnancy and heal/re-strengthen your core post birth. A lot of women expect that they can resume core exercises normally once cleared from their doctor, but I strongly suggest against this due to the weakness in the core and huge risk of separating the abdominal muscles post birth. My clients who retrain the muscles in their core, focusing on their deepest abdominal muscle first, gain amazing benefits and tend to heal their cores quicker than most.
Using the Megaformer to heal your postpartum body is a brilliant idea especially once you’ve built up your core strength and are ready for those crunches, planks, catfishes & bears! When you perform core exercises that work your deep core muscles as these exercises do, you also have the ability to tap into pelvic floor engagement and heal any prolapse you may be experiencing post birth. The balance component on this machine is another great way to challenge the core and pelvic floor, giving you an overall awareness and new-found strength to your body.
I highly recommend this workout to expecting and postpartum moms. Don’t be afraid to ask questions — if an exercise doesn’t feel right, stop doing it and always let the instructor know. Pregnant women need to be challenging themselves through exercise; it’s crucial for both mom and baby. The strength that this machine can provide is unparalleled and will keep you coming back for more whether it’s during pregnancy or to reclaim your body post birth.
The Megaformer is a beast of a machine.
If you’ve stepped onto one and felt the sweat dripping down your face within the first three minutes of class, you know exactly what I’m talking about. That said, if done correctly, this machine can be a true test of stamina, and focus for expecting women. This method will challenge you, push you, and make you into someone new. I like to tell people that working out on this machine makes me feel like a cross-fitter in a dancers body!