Spring is in the air and with it is new fitness goals and bootcamps in the park. Although if you’re Canadian, the dream of doing anything outside without snow seems far-fetched. Am I right?
So, I have a question for you. What are your fitness goals for the spring?
For many of you, you may find yourself signing up for group classes to get you moving again. After being cooped up all winter, it will be nice to finally get outside. Oh, to get outside in some sun, I mean.
But I have to bring this up before you sign up for the biggest baddest bootcamp (this includes anything geared to mom and baby too). And this is not all group training classes, coaches or trainers are created equal.
Don’t get me wrong, I love group training and what it offers people in general. At 4-months postpartum, I signed myself up at West London CrossFit here in London, Ont. Group training offers community and new friendships. It offers moms a chance to move and get out of the confines of home. And they offer a lot of fun and sometimes a little competition. Who doesn’t want that after being stuck inside after a looooooooong winter?
Now, I’ll be honest, I don’t offer mom and baby or stroller bootcamps. They’re not my thing. I’m not saying they’re a not great training option, many are. I’m more than happy to refer you to some trusted ones if that’s what you’re looking for.
But here is where I get concerned. I see these massive groups of women sprinting, jumping, and doing traditional ab training like crunching for days. Some are pushing strollers and some have their babies strapped to them (wearing your baby as you workout is a safety issue in my opinion).
I’ve seen many moms who clearly haven’t had their alignment addressed who are performing various movements with less than ideal form. This leads me to believe that these moms haven’t learned the strategies that prepare for them for the very movements they’re being coached. They are just running through the motions.
My other concern is how many programs that are geared to women who have recently given birth is their messaging. “Do my super awesome program and get your pre-baby body back” or “how I got my body back and you can too” is just plain awful. It can take up to a year (if not longer) for a mom to completely recover from childbirth. And putting the pressure of weight-loss or body transformation in the most vulnerable time in her life is an ugly practice. Setting up restrictive meal plans and having a new mom record everything she eats into a food log is far from helpful. The first year postpartum isn’t the time for restriction and being forced back into shape. Just sayin’.
I’ve been working exclusively with women since the beginning of my career nearly a decade ago as well as working with prenatal and postnatal women for 4 years. Many women I’ve worked with have mentioned they participated in these programs because they assumed they were safe. After all, who wouldn’t assume that a fitness program that has “stroller” or “mom and baby” in it’s same wouldn’t be safe?
Mommy bootcamps are marketed to all moms. Moms who just got cleared at 6-week and moms who have been postpartum for a year or more. They are even marketed to moms without being aware how a c-section and a noncomplicated vaginal delivery heal differently.
And it doesn’t matter how fit you were before pregnancy, your body still needs rest, recovery, and rehab. All postpartum women need to begin a program that supports the recovery process including, alignment, breathing, as well as core and pelvic floor function. Once all of these things are in a good place, then you can include strength and impact like running, jumping, and yes–even crunching.
In my personal journey and coaching experience, getting your ass kicked is never a good healing strategy, especially within the first year postpartum. With sleep being subpar at best, inconsistent energy levels, and the general stress of life with a baby, you may find your body copes with this impact differently (totally normal during this chapter). This may even leave you feeling discouraged.