Pregnancy and Postpartum Fitness Plans of a Gyrotonic & Pilates Teacher

As the owner of Pilates and Gyrotonic studio, Gyrotonic Ann Arbor and The Movement Center, where I have the responsibilities of a full client load, conducting teacher trainings, and also of studio manager, pregnancy has been a challenge to maintaining my balance. Throughout my pregnancy I’ve been very active but now, at 37 weeks, I’m really feeling a need to slow down. It’s been a gradual process of easing up.
I went from walking to and from work daily, which is a 50 minute round trip, and teaching physically intensive Gyrokinesis courses for several hours a day, to driving in most of the way to my studio and walking just the last 5 minutes or so, and then just moving a little with my clients through the spinal motions of Gyrotonic.
There came a point at about 30 weeks where my walk into the studio became uncomfortable to me as I could feel my loosened ligaments pulling and an unsettling pressure on my internal organs. Also it was about this time that I felt a drop in my energy levels and found that if I did too much movement throughout the day I’d have no energy left to make dinner, run a load of laundry, or even return a few emails. It became an issue of budgeting my energy resources. Moving gently a little with my clients seems like the perfect balance now. I get the gentle stimulation of the movement, but without the exhaustion that would come from doing my usual full workout. And I also find it’s been inspiring to some of my clients to see me continue to move with my now enormous belly.
I’ve been fortunate not to have any of the back pain many woman experience, and I attribute this good fortune to all the movement training of Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis. In these systems we work with a concept called “narrowing of the pelvis”, which a connection involving the pelvic, abdominal and spinal muscles, to create a support and decompression of the spine, which in turn allows for the greatest possibility of movement throughout all the joints in a manner that is very safe for the body- even a body challenged by disc injury, joint pain, scoliosis, osteoporosis, or, in my case, pregnancy. We then use that “narrowing” connection to support a system of spinal mobilization we call the “spinal motions” which move the spine rhythmically in all the spiraling directions in which it is designed to move, seeking balance among all of these directions of movement. Aside from some pressure to my organs, an overtaxing of my liver (which my midwife explains is from my body processing the pregnancy hormones), and my first trimester nausea, I’ve had a fairly comfortable pregnancy.
As I plan my postpartum fitness program I’m well aware that it will have to fit into the reality of my new life- a life I haven’t yet experienced. So flexibility in the program is key. I have to take into account a nursing schedule that I can’t really know yet, presumably very cold and slippery February weather that will hinder walking outdoors with a new infant, and what I hear will be an overwhelming desire to stare lovingly for hours into the eyes of my child. So what I’m planning are snippets of moving that can be done in 10-30 minute blocks, will involve a lot of “narrowing” work and spinal motions, as well as some fun, cardiovascular work that will help me shake off any creeping onset of winter blues while I’m somewhat housebound for a month.
Since walking is usually my preferred exercise outside my Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis work, and my ability to do walking will most likely be limited by the weather, I’ve had to come up with some other options. I found a gently used mini trampoline for only $10 on Craig’s List, which my husband dutifully drove to Warren to pick up for me, and I’ve been slowly collecting a small library of Bollywood and belly dancing DVDs. I figure I can do some light jumping on the mini trampoline and some fun dancing in short blocks of time, or longer blocks, depending on however my baby lays out my new schedule for me.
Since I’ve been doing so much Gyrokinesis work throughout my pregnancy, and since it always seemed to sooth him, as he’d be very still while I was doing the movement, I’m looking forward to doing some of the Gyrokinesis work while wearing the baby in a baby carrier. It’s possible that the rhythm of the movements will be familiar and soothing to him. I’ve heard this has worked for other mothers, so I’m going to try that and see how it goes. This I can also do in shorter or longer blocks of time, fitting with my need to keep my program flexible.
Of course, at this point this is all theory and intentions. Check in with me throughout the process to see how my plans work out! Look for entries on Wednesday afternoons and Sunday mornings.