Starting a buggy class? 3 really important questions to ask your trainer

The other day I was talking to my friend who was about to start a buggy bootcamp where she lives following baby no.2. I mentioned a few things to make sure she didn’t do any exercises she shouldn’t, and it led to a big chat about the fact I was telling her stuff that she didn’t know about (nor would I expect her to). It reminded me of the YouTube workout for busy mums I had seen a well-meaning local trainer post on a local ‘mum’ Facebook group the other day. Out of interest I had a look and was a bit worried to see a workout which in my opinion was unsuitable for any mum who had any sort of pelvic floor or tummy weakness, and in fact a couple of the exercises could make these problems worse. I’m not meaning to sound bitchy - this workout was clearly designed with the best intentions to be quick, fun, simple, and get mums back to exercising. But unwittingly I think, the trainer just didn’t know her stuff.  

While I’m sure most trainers who run classes for new mums are absolutely up to the job, this isn’t true of everyone, with some trainers simply not realising that the exercises they are prescribing are potentially risky. The simple fact is, your wonderful baby-growing, baby-producing body needs to be looked after and in my experience in 90%+ of cases, needs to be treated a bit differently to before! So help you separate the good from the bad, here are 3 REALLY important things to think about, or ask your new trainer before starting any post-baby exercise classes:

  1. Does the class trainer have any relevant qualifications? There are lots of courses out there tailored specifically to understanding the impact of pregnancy and birth on womens’ bodies and what that requires in terms of healing through exercise, so it’s easy for a fitness professional to equip themselves with the necessary skills. The fact is EVERY woman’s birth experience is different, and good qualifications allow trainers to account for and deal with this. Sure, some mums have little or no incontinence issues, muscle or joint pain, tummy weakness or other postnatal symptoms. But in my experience most DO! And that means at least in the short term ruling out lots of exercises you might expect.  So if your buggy class teacher launches you straight into crunches, full planks, burpees, lifting weights over say 10/12kg, sprinting, or bounding up and down, you might assume that they haven’t got those exams!
  1. Do they plan to, or have they asked you any relevant health questions about your birth, your pelvic floor or core health? Most trainers ask a set of standard medical questions as part of new client consultations. But as mentioned, every pregnancy and birth is different, with a unique set of (non visible!!) results which will impact what exercises are safe for you to do. A good postnatal trainer will always specifically ask about and understand each of their clients’ individual postnatal needs, from c-sections to ‘leaking’, and offer adaptations on exercises, OR particularly for large classes, a safe base for everyone to work from. SO if they don’t, either back out now or TELL THEM what you are experiencing and ask how you should adapt your workout!
  1. Have they, or do they plan to check if you have a tummy muscle separation or ‘diastasis’? This is a key one, as working on the core is normally an important thing for new mums, but also an area where you can do yourself more damage than good if the trainer doesn’t know what they are doing. It’s important the trainer checks whether you have a separation of the muscle above and below your belly button (some women do, some don’t) and if so to what degree. It’s really common, usually nothing to worry about (most women experience at least some separation post birth) and can absolutely be worked on, but it really impacts what exercises you can do. Crunches, anything involving lowering two legs when lying on your back, planking too early, or lifting/swinging heavy weights or kettlebells for example, will cause additional stress on muscles which often need care and attention instead. Drop me an email if you want to know more.

So be confident and ask the right questions, and I assure you, you will see much better results!