Bouncing Back after Baby

Sarah Cornett — once again a new mother — has some advice to help others retake their bodies.

The Pilates Concept, a fully equipped Pilates studio located at 4201 Camp Bowie Boulevard, brings the benefits of core fitness and movement therapy to Fort Worth’s Cultural District. Men and women of all ages have sought out owner Sarah Cornett and her team to help with fitness goals and injury rehabilitation.

In particular, many women turn to Pilates to retake control of their bodies after pregnancy. In this regard, Sarah can combine her professional expertise with firsthand experience: she recently returned to work following the birth of her second child. We asked Sarah a few questions about her experience in recovery, and what suggestions she has for other new mothers.

How have you adapted your own workout routine in 
 the aftermath of having a child? What about the routines
 of clients who have recently had children?

Sarah: I didn’t have a caesarean and was lucky to avoid stitches, so I was able to ease back into my workouts pretty quickly. For me, I’ve struggled with hyper-mobility, thanks to years of ballet and the hormone relaxin. Because of this, I’ve needed to be careful about over-stretching and overloading my joints. Luckily, as a low-impact exercise, Pilates strengthens stability throughout the body.

Every woman’s body reacts to pregnancy differently. Depending on a client’s prenatal workout routine, delivery, and post-natal body, the workout approach can vary. A couple of important exercises for all women after a baby are to walk and to continue their pelvic floor exercises. Six weeks postpartum is when most women visit their OBGYN to learn if they can resume regular exercise.

Q: What are some common fitness struggles you see new mothers experience?

Sarah: Women want to lose their baby weight quickly and return to their high-energy workout, which is a huge struggle. Between postpartum blues, hormonal changes, incontinence, and diastasis, women need to set realistic goals and understand that everyone’s bodies react differently to pregnancy. Try to get moving early, even if it’s just short walks with the baby.

Women need to be careful not to overwork their rectus abdominis, and avoid overloading their bodies. The hormone relaxin still circulates while breastfeeding, which means the body has more laxity than normal.

Are there ways to involve a newborn or young infant in a simple workout routine?

Sarah: Yes! I loved wearing my boys in a vast array of carriers. While wearing the baby, the mother can do calf raises, lunges, squats, push-ups or tricep dips on the back of the couch, and many more easy exercises. I used a mat, ab ball, resistance band, and light weights at home. You can also take them on long walks. Working out and getting fresh air can really help elevate a mother’s mood.

Q: What are some strategies you recommend for anyone who struggles to get into a workout routine?

Sarah: Start small, even if it’s just going out for a walk. You can also find a friend to work out with, which helps with accountability. Sign up for a class that has an instructor to guide you, and try several different types of workouts to see which your body responds to the best.

Q: Do you have a set program you institute for new mothers? In addition to Pilates, can you recommend other types of workouts?

Sarah: Pilates is great because it is a therapeutic exercise program with instructors who specialize in injuries and clients’ particular needs. We don’t have a set workout for new moms, but we do have guidelines for exercises to incorporate or avoid, depending on the mother’s body. For example, we can work on opening the chest and strengthening back extensors, the pelvic floor, or transverse abdomens, while avoiding excessive rectus abdominus work.

I also find yoga to be a great mental approach for new mothers that need a Zen aspect for dealing with the chaos of little ones at home. Pilates and yoga alike are mind-body exercise routines.

As for other workouts, it depends on the woman. For example, if a woman has been doing Crossfit for years, then she could be able to return to it. Many women, however, can’t handle that type of workout, and might hurt themselves. It’s all about finding what your body reacts to, and what you enjoy.

To learn more about what the Pilates Concept has to offer, visit 
www.thepilatesconcept.com.