If you teach buggy outdoor fitness classes, my hat goes off to you.
It really does take a special kind of instructor to enjoy training in the outdoors in all weathers with mums and potentially screaming babies in tow. Tee hee.
When I first started out, I set my postnatal classes up to be indoors only, and then the following summer, I decided to put an outdoor class on the timetable, mainly to target a different market and to see whether it would take off.
I was not disappointed and actually had very good attendance.
I can even remember one day where we were the only group of people in the park trudging through mud and getting soaked to the bone, but boy we had a good time.
The weather did not dampen our spirits.
The main reason I haven’t picked them up again in recent years is due to:
- time constraints – my timetable is pretty full and putting on another class for me, doesn’t necessarily provide the best use of time and/or profit
- venue – I trialled a few different parks/venues nearby to my indoor classes, but for whatever reason, they just weren’t ‘perfect’
Today, I’m sharing some tips for those of you who teach outdoor buggy classes to freshen up your exercise content, get your mums burning some fat and helping them return to their pre-pregnancy fitness levels.
Make use of outdoor furniture if your venue’s a park. I’m talking mainly about park benches mainly here.
Let’s analyse a few moves you can do on a park bench:
- Press ups
- Tricep dips
- Stand and sit (literally that – they sit on the edge of the bench with their heels under their knees and using their bum and not their hands – stand up)
- Step ups (depending on the height of the seat, or just do foot taps instead)
- Modified plank with knee lifts (set them up for press ups at the back of the bench and using their core, they slowly bend one knee/lifting the foot of the floor)
- Knee lifts (in a seated position, engage core and lift one heel or foot off the floor to work the core)
This is simply cardio, followed by core.
Here’s the instructions:
Pick a point in the distance that your mums can see and tell them that’s the cardio element.
So, essentially, you want them to walk to the edge of the park (or wherever) and then return to back to you. (This is called ‘getting your clients to do the work here’ whilst you check Facebook – I’m kidding!)
Once they’ve returned to you, you then get them doing a standing (or a floor-based) core exercise if you prefer for x number of reps, sets or for a minute or whatever.
And, just keep repeating the process.
Off they go for a walk, then they come back and do the core-based stuff.
The cardio’s the active part. The core’s the rest section.
Best bit is – the fast-walkers return back to you first and do ‘more’ core reps. The slow-walkers walk slower and do ‘less’ core reps.
KEEP ON MOVIN’
Get creative here and think of exercises you can do that involve moving the buggy forwards or backwards, and mums get a good workout, and if anyone’s baby’s kicking off – they’ll be more settled too.
I used to like performing things in sets like a group-style circuit, using the buggy, so:
- Walking lunges – you could do this forwards and/or backwards pushing the buggy as mums travel
- Superman – stand on the left leg with your right hand on the buggy handle – push the buggy forwards with your right hand and take your right leg behind you then return to starting position and repeat.
- Squats – push buggy forwards and backwards whilst mum squats down and returns to standing
- Cardio – either using the buggy to walk to a designated spot in the distance, position the buggies in a circle and mums walk around the buggies waving at the babies as they go past, or whatever – the choices are endless!
And, there you have it! My top tips for freshening up your outdoor buggy classes.
Obviously the only thing that’s constrained here is your mind, so get creative, walk over different paths and give your clients a great outdoor workout.
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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.
EXERCISE HISTORY (OR LACK THEREOF)
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.
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And, if you have a question – get in touch.
When I did my Level 3 Pre/Postnatal certificate (like a hundred years ago!) there really wasn’t a lot of emphasis on the practical element.
Yes, there were exercises demonstrated and listed in the manual etc – sure.
I can remember spending hours putting a lesson plan together that ‘ticked all the boxes’ so to speak to pass the assessment, but when it came to the real wide world of teaching pre/postnatal – I really didn’t have a lot to go on.
Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, you’ll have noticed that there’s been a shift towards ‘functional’ training over the past few years. Nothing new there.
So today I’m going to give you the tools to enable you to freshen up your standing exercises safely and effectively for your pre/postnatal clients.
If you’re a regular reader of my ramblings, you’ll already know that I’m a big fan of interval training for my pre and postnatal clients.
Interval training provides several benefits including:
- Time-saving – for you and your clients
- Fat-burning – great for new mums
- Full-body workout – who doesn’t want that?
Interval training tends to lend itself to high intensity, and I can’t say I’m all over that for pre/postnatal, but with a few modifications – it’s brilliant.
I refer to HIIT as MIIT – which stands for Mummy-Intensity Interval Training.
Pretty cool, eh?
Here are my top tips for making MIIT with your mums-to-be and new mums successful:
I’m all about squats during pregnancy.
The squat is one of the first exercises I get a new mum to do, post-birth.
It’s only fair that I request that you spend time perfecting their perfect squat.
Are you ready?
Ok, so start off in this stance:
- Feet hip-distance apart (I do allow a slightly wider stance if a client’s in their third trimester)
- Pelvis in neutral (which is ASIS and pubic bone level at the front, by the way)
- Shoulders relaxed and ribcage down against the pelvis,
I love circuits for pre/postnatal clients.
Not only do they give your class participants a good workout, but…
They give your tired aching ankles, knees and feet a bit of a rest too, don’t they?
You do need to have a minimum number of clients attending your sessions to make it worthwhile running a circuit, but 8-12 is a good figure to start off with.
Here are 5 reasons WHY you should be running a pre/postnatal circuit class for your attendees:
Due to changes in recent legislation (Children and Disabled Persons Act), if you’re planning on running a postnatal class where mums bring their babies along with them, there are a few points for consideration before you begin.
Put simply, YOU as the Instructor in this environment, are responsible for each babies’ safety.
Not the mum.
It’s important therefore, that you don’t put a baby in a comprising or unsafe position, whilst their mother exercises.
I’m here with some standing core-based exercise ideas for your pregnancy classes.
Sometimes you just get stale teaching floor-based core work, huh?
Hands and knees positions are fine during pregnancy, but you know that I know that you know, that you should also include core exercises in a more upright position too.
All you’ll need is a wall space for these exercises.
I’m pretty sure most halls, sports centres and gyms have those, don’t they?!
Ok, so without further ado, here are my:
Top 5 Upright Core-Based Exercises for Pregnant Clients
So, today’s topic is all about relaxation.
If you don’t feel particularly confident doing relaxation as part of your pregnancy sessions, hopefully after today you WILL have the drive to do so.
Mums-to-be are so incredibly stressed out nowadays that they need to de-stress, whether they like it or not!
Below, you’ll find some language and phrases that will help you put together an amazing relaxation session.
It’ll stop you feeling like you’re a broken record, which is exactly what I felt like the first time I did one, ok?
Today, I’m listing 4 popular exercises that are best avoided for any client suffering with Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP).
I’ve broken some of the moves down, with details on WHY they’re best avoided.
As fitness instructors, personal trainers and Pilates instructors, we have a Duty of Care really, to ensure that the types of exercises we prescribe to our clients in a group setting, doesn’t make someone’s pelvic floor dysfunction worse.
More education is needed in relation to POP (Pelvic Organ Prolapse) and although you may not feel particularly comfortable broaching the subject with your group publicly, a little bit of information can go a very long way.
Write a newsletter listing 5 FAQs about the pelvic floor for your class participants – even if your client group isn’t pre/postnatal.