Pre/Postnatal: Group Exercise Versus 1-2-1 Training

So, when it comes to working one-on-one with our pre/postnatal clients, I feel it’s important to highlight that some exercises are more appropriate in a 1-2-1 setting…

….and….some don’t really transfer tremendously well to a group exercise environment.

Ok, we’re all vastly aware that we need to do more and more standing, functional work with our pre and postnatal clients nowadays, and I’m pretty darn sure if you’ve been a follower of mine for a while, that you’ve taken this onboard over the past few years.

Pat yourself on your back because you’re simply awesome for challenging your pre/postnatal clients’ core muscles in a more upright position.

But, there are some considerations to bear in mind when it comes to exercise prescription with this specialist population.

And, today I’m focusing particularly on group exercise content versus 1-2-1.

Drawing on my many years of experience teaching pre/postnatal women (I think just last week I clocked up my 1,052nd attendee + baby – yay!), here’s my spin on things:



Ever had a client not know their left from their right and thought: “Gosh, they’re a bit uncoordinated…” and all you were doing at the time was a Pilates-style warm up?

Yeah, it’s kind of embarrassing to watch, huh?

Sometimes my pre/postnatal classes are peppered with clients who are so totally unaware of where their limbs are, it’s simply unsafe for me to teach a particular exercise or movements in a group situation through fear of that said client harming themselves, their unborn baby or literally falling into the person next to them, taking out an entire row of pre/postnatal women as they hit the floor, dominoes-stylee.

So, having said that, I think you’d agree, doing exercises such as: complex, multi-planar functional work with this particular client in a group setting, would be slightly dangerous.



It’s obviously your job as a group exercise instructor to correct your clients’ technique as and when you see fit and I’m certain you do this throughout your sessions.

I’m going to stick my head out on a block here and say: “Some people, know matter how fantastic you are as a teacher, on exercise execution, when pregnant or postnatal, are genuinely, categorically cr*p”.

Take the humble squat as a great example.

Ok yes, it’s an exercise we should be instructing, but if you see a client doing this movement so badly it makes your eyes bleed and no amount of cueing changes her technique, perhaps 1-2-1 training may be a better option for them, personally.

TIP: When I teach my Pilates classes, I always do a squat-type movement in the warm up/mobilisation section, so I can kind of see what I’m dealing with later on.

And, if someone squats in the warm up so poorly that a part of me dies watching it, I collar them on the way out the door and spend time with them running through the basics.



I think finally the message is getting through to a few prenatal women out there these days that exercise is indeed safe, and well – a necessary part of being pregnant.

But, boy oh boy, if they’d done just an ounce more exercise since leaving Secondary School, geez our lives as Pre/Postnatal Specialists would be a darn sight easier, huh?

I work my pre and postnatal clients to a moderate level of intensity in class – I want their work out to be worth their while at the end of the day.

But, it’s striking the amount of clients pre and postnatal, who just don’t do any exercise whatsoever and wonder why their legs and arms ache for 3 days after their first class with me.

Taking prior fitness history (or lack thereof) this into consideration – you’ve got to pitch the level of intensity appropriately in a class, or do exercises that are safe and effective for everyone in attendance, especially the uncoordinated ones.

TIP: Interval training is brilliant for pre/postnatal because everyone can work at their own pace, and although it’s a timed workout, everyone will do a different amount of reps, some will stop early, and others will continue until the beep sounds.


What are your thoughts?

I’m not saying for a moment that you should stop doing functional training with your clients…

because there are plenty of safe alternatives you can offer them.

…but just because someone, somewhere on YouTube or wherever says it’s alright to do a particular exercise with a pregnant client

…doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for all clients in a group exercise situation.

What do you think?

I’d like to hear from you.

Have YOU ever taught a challenging exercise to your prenatal clients in class, only for them to execute it really badly?

Are there movements you avoid in your group sessions through fear of clients not really understanding ‘why’ you’re doing it?

Have you tried out a new pelvic floor exercise, but found your clients didn’t ‘get it’?

Drop me a line to get in touch.


How are your diastasis recti rehab skills at the moment?

Feel a bit out of your depth in this department?

Well fear not!

I’ll show you how to fix your postnatal clients’ abdominal separation using a 7 step method that’s been tried and tested on my own new mummy clients.

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