Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Pregnancy and exercise

Pregnancy and exercise

Having had two kids and been extremely active through both pregnancies, I believe very firmly in remaining active during pregnancy. However, what I learnt through these pregnancies, and in the years that followed, is that appropriate training is critical.

During both of my pregnancies, I smashed out the group fitness classes, right up until a few days before each birth. This didn’t do any damage, however on reflection, I WISH I had known more about proper strength training, pelvic floor training and pilates.

I had two very healthy pregnancies, gaining around 9-10kg during both. I’m always keen to push the boundaries and pregnancy was no exception. During my second pregnancy I developed pubis symphysis, which was an extremely painful condition in the pubic bone. This continues to cause me problems 7 years on. Had I engaged in more controlled strength training and a proper pilates program, I have no doubt I could have reduced the severity of this condition. Instead, I karate kicked my way through combat classes until the end of my third trimester, ignoring the pain and the warning signs.

So, here are my learnings, not just from reflecting on my own mistakes, but also through my experience as a pre- and post-natal trainer along with some of my own cool research and chats with some of my favourite referral partners.

It’s ok to continue training. In fact, it is strongly recommended!
Aside from the obvious morning sickness that may keep you bedridden, and the fatigue that hits hard during the first trimester, please continue to exercise. Just going for walks won’t cut it.

What I failed to recognise was the postural challenges I would experience when my little critters came out. Nobody told me I would need to be able to nurse them for 30-45 minutes at a time – PER BOOB – and that this required strong back, neck and arm muscles. I didn’t know I would be doing heavily modified deadlifts throughout my entire pregnancy.

I also didn’t realise that when your baby is upset, there may be nights where you need to rock them for hours. Literally – HOURS. Had I known this fun fact I can guarantee I would have been busting my hump doing squats to get me ready for the leg strength required here.
My superstar client, Jen, who has continued to
work with me, even on her crappiest of days,
because she knows it's worth it in the long run!
This is our modified squat to allow for her
beautiful belly and to keep her extra safe

And don’t even get me started on the sheer strength in your arms required to carry bub, all the while doing housework, preparing dinner, or running errands when you absolutely cannot put them down.
I pretty much carried Sam non-stop for the
first 18 months of his life. I used an ergo-baby
most of the time, as did the carers in the creche
he went to so I could teach classes. YOU
Arm strength would have been useful. 

Do all of these activities on less than three hours of broken sleep when your central nervous system is in overdrive and I can guarantee you that a solid strength foundation is certainly an advantage.

Kirsty Bright, my absolute favourite Physio when it comes to anything relating to Women’s Health says:

“The official position on exercise during pregnancy was stated in the ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) in 2002, stating that 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity exercise on most, if not all, days is recommended for all pregnant women in the absence of medical or obstetric complications.

“Following medical review, exercise may still be recommended in women in the presence of medical or obstetric complications. It further states that exercise can be safe and beneficial in previously sedentary individuals.

“As a physiotherapist that works in women’s health, I believe it is also essential that women start undertaking pelvic floor strength exercises through pregnancy both to avoid potential episodes of incontinence through pregnancy, and to be ready for post natal recovery and return to activity.

“Starting pelvic floor exercises early gives you a better chance for successful return to activity, exercise and good pelvic health  after bub. Happy pregnancy and happy exercising!”

These are the practical reasons. However, what about recovery post birth?

I have trained women shortly after birth who maintained exercise throughout their pregnancy, and those who haven’t. I can state with absolute certainty that the recovery, both physically and emotionally, is without doubt quicker and more enjoyable if an active pregnancy was maintained.

Finally, the other really important reason to remain active is weight gain. Why put on an extraordinary amount of weight if it isn’t necessary? I struggled with post-natal depression after both children were born. Had I also needed to lose a bunch of unnecessary pregnancy weight, I firmly believe this depression would have been a far darker experience.

David Oxenham, Director of Tribe Chiropractic states:

“As a Chiropractor, postural strength/endurance is paramount throughout pregnancy. I find that my patients who fall pregnant, and who are already training in the gym and continue to train throughout their pregnancy, find their birthing process easier.

“Being under the guidance of a qualified trainer is an essential ingredient as modification of the program is adapted to the changes seen in the gestational Mum. Strong Mum, strong Bub!”

So, what are the actual dos and don’ts of exercising during pregnancy?

Lifting weights? Yes. Unless you have been advised by your medical professional to not lift any weights, please continue to maintain a healthy weights training program.

This needs to be carefully monitored by an adequately qualified Personal Trainer or Strength Coach. Someone who understands the changes that need to be made at each point during your pregnancy and can explain why. Squats, deadlifts and bench are the foundation of all strength training and can be continued, albeit heavily modified throughout.

Towards the end, your squat may resemble a one-inch maneuver onto a very high box, simply engaging gluts and pelvic floor. But this is better than nothing! Your deads may be just the bar lifting a couple of inches off some very high racks – but again, you are engaging the back muscles, gluts and hamstrings – all of which need to be strong for labour and recovery post-birth.
Keeping the butt cheeks firm and strong :)

If your health professional disagrees, always ask why and make educated decisions. Challenge them if you feel intuitively that their advice seems restrictive. Some days, lifting weights may be the last thing you feel like doing, but those happy endorphins will keep the energy levels up and the sleep deep (or as deep as it can be with a baby kicking you in the ribs while you sleep!).

Cardio? Yes, go for it. Back when I was preggers, it was advised that keeping the heart rate around the 70%-75% of your max is a great place to sit. This is something I completely disregarded during my pregnancy as I was teaching high intensity group fitness classes and my obstetrician was ok with it.

However, the guidelines have since changed, and it is ok to lift your intensity and get that heart rate up. Just be aware of how you are feeling and be mindful of not overheating. Otherwise, there is no need to change the activity or intensity you were doing prior to falling pregnant.

Unless you were running prior to pregnancy. I wouldn’t start a running program during pregnancy. Walking and cycling are great options here as they work comfortably around that growing belly.

Pilates/Yoga? Yes. Please do this. This is one of my greatest regrets. Whilst I have been able to repair the damage post-child birth and post-hysterectomy, those few early weeks after bub came out could have been a lot more pleasant! Do engage in these classes with someone who has experience with pregnancy though!

Will exercise make birth easier? Some say yes, some say no. My birth was pretty rough with my first child, so I felt pretty ripped off as I was convinced it was going to be a breeze due to my fitness level.

It wasn’t.

Twenty-six hours later and my body wasn’t doing what it was meant to do.
What I do believe though, is that my recovery was short and pleasant, and my pre-baby body bounced back quite quickly. I was back teaching classes 11 days after the birth of my first child.

With my second labour, I was fit and strong, and wanting to avoid the lengthy labour experience from the first time around. I spent a lot of my labour being active; running up and down stairs outside the hospital in between contractions. The labour was quick and the recovery was even quicker.

Again, give yourself the best possible chance of a happy, easy and quick recovery so you can enjoy that beautiful baby.

I spoke to Trish Cummings about the benefits of exercise during pregnancy from her experience. Trish helps women through their pregnancy and labour with hypnobirthing techniques, so she is exposed to a LOT of pregnant women during the pregnancy, during the birth and for a period of time after. Trish says:

"During pregnancy there are soooo many things to consider. One of the most important factors is taking care of yourself. Most of us know the importance of eating well and keeping active, however what about your mindset and how you're feeling?

“Babies are capable of feeling too, so ensure you take time out for yourself to relax and breathe. When you relax and breathe, so does your baby. Calm mum equals calm baby! So, practice, practice, practice and when it comes time for labour and birth, you'll be ready both physically and emotionally."

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Why an investment is a Personal Trainer is the best investment you will ever make

Top ten reasons you should invest in a Personal Trainer

Before we get into the fun stuff let’s get one thing straight, this is not a sales pitch or a strategy to increase our client-base at Ritual HQ. This is my attempt at explaining why we have the jobs, the qualifications and the passion that we do. And why – if you have significant fitness/body/health goals – a coach could quite possibly be the best investment you ever make. 

I often have people give up on their gym program due to time, money, lack of motivation, or a combination of the three. These people are never the clients who have invested in regular one-on-one coaching.


Here are ten reasons why you should invest in a coach.

1.     It’s all about what you know: We are highly qualified and have committed time to this process. So often we see people start out at the gym and they don’t want a program. They just want to come along and “do stuff’” with no real direction or understanding of how to get the results they came for. As trainers, we have invested time learning how to get results, how to train the body and how to program accordingly. We actually know shit. I can’t speak for all trainers, but I know my team at Ritual HQ continue to invest in their education and growth so that their toolbox is continually evolving for you. 
RHQ Trainers Walk the Talk.
They train, the invest in their own coach and
many of them also compete professionally.

2.     Feedback is your friend: We are going to look at your body (and not in a creepy kind of way, promise), which allows us to work out exactly what you need to do to get healthier. With all of my female clients in particular, I can see if I need to chat to them about alcohol consumption, hormones, nutrition, sleep or stress, just by looking at their body shape and distribution of body fat. Then, if the need arises, I will have an honest and open conversation about lifestyle changes that could be made to support the training this client is taking on. You won’t get this by simply joining a gym, starting out on the treadmill and popping into a few classes.

3.     Fail to plan, plan to fail: A coach is going to map out your training week with you. They are going to show you exactly when to train, what to train, at what intensity and how often. This will actually save you time. Rather than just coming in and smashing out random classes and wondering how long to stay for, you will have a specific training plan designed to suit you. Now you just have to follow it.

4.     Accountability is key: Having a coach means you are committing to an appointment that you must show up for. How often have you not gone to the gym because you got busy, tired, hungry, distracted…and the list goes on? You have made a commitment not just to yourself, but also another human who wants to help you. If this is with one of my coaches at RHQ, they won’t just let you cancel if something comes up, they will insist on a reschedule. This is part of our commitment to long-term success for our clients.

5.     To keep you on the straight and narrow: You will have specific goals that are measurable and achievable. A coach will help you set achievable and realistic goals. If we turn a blind eye to clients with unrealistic goals, we are not serving them like we should, and they won’t last long. Our job as coaches is to manage these expectations, set realistic goals and then measure the progress. And most importantly, help our clients to acknowledge and celebrate that progress!

6.     Injuries won’t keep you down: We can help you manage injuries. So many people don’t embark on any kind of fitness journey because they have an injury and don’t know how to train with or around it. There aren’t many injuries we can’t work with, and if we are unsure about the best way forward we will take the time to research and learn so we can help you. Using an injury as a reason not to train is just another excuse that can be removed from your list of objections. Instead, invest in a coach who has experience with programming around your injury. You can thank me later for this one.
Injuries can be managed with the help of a Coach

7.     What you get out is all about what you put in: If you join a gym and then plan on training off the donut you ate on your way there, this one definitely applies to you. We can help you work out what to eat and when to eat it. Most coaches have some form of nutritional qualification alongside their coaching qualification. If needed, we can work together with an appropriate dietician or nutritionist to maximise your eating plan. Working with a coach, you will learn how to fuel your training, recover properly and grow lean muscle. We can give you the planning and structure you need, because you can’t just wing it.

8.     Qualified advice from qualified professionals: If you were sick, would you go to your mate down the road for advice and medication? If you wanted to be a surgeon, would you just pick up a book and try to figure it out? If you wanted a massage, like a proper one, would you just ask your partner to do it (well you might – but you might also get more than you bargained for!)? So if you wouldn’t get unqualified advice for these things, why would you get your mate to help you in the gym, tell you what to eat or teach you how to squat? I can’t say this enough, but we legitimately know our shit. If someone wants to learn to squat for instance, there is a lot involved. Please don’t ask your mate to show you. Get a qualified coach, who walks the talk and have them teach you how to do this properly. Why? So you can squat to depth, safely and effectively.

9.     Get to know the basics: If you want to get stronger, increase lean muscle or lose body fat, at some stage it’s important you learn how to perform the three foundational exercises that are fundamental to all training – squat, bench and deadlift. Please do not attempt these without some coaching and advice. Coaching avoids injury. Simple.

10. Your success is our success: Lastly, but certainly not least, we actually care about you. We want you to live a strong, happy and healthy life. We are going to fight for you, believe in you and stalk you when you lose motivation. If you embark on a training program alone, you miss out on this beautiful partnership. You don’t get to experience what it feels like to have another human fight for your success.

Monday, 23 October 2017

What's your Dialogue?

What’s your dialogue?

I have been working with clients as a coach, manager and business owner for the better part of ten years. I have learnt a ton of shit about humans in that time, but the most interesting thing I have learnt is how predictable someone’s response can be when I greet them before a session or in passing.

The classic question – how are you? – is something I generally avoid asking, simply because I tend to know what the answer will be, depending on who is standing in front of me.

When was the last time you paid attention to what you said to someone when they asked, how are you doing? What if the constant dialogue or story you were telling yourself was actually amplifying those feelings instead of allowing you to push through them and move forward?

I will always call my clients out on this after awhile.

For example, an early morning client comes in every week at the same time and I ask, “how are you doing?” and, “what do you feel like working on today?” I already know the answer and therefore I’ve already constructed the workout, which is in complete contrast to the answer they are about to give me.

But I ask it anyway.

The answer is, *sigh* “tired, something easy today.” Every. Single. Week.
I call that person out after a few weeks of getting the same response and the behavior suddenly changes because there is an awareness of the dialogue. The following week, that same client (who has been following the same fatigued pattern at the start of every session) suddenly brings energy and enthusiasm to their session.

Telling yourself and others that you are stressed, working too many hours, tired, fatigued, in pain, probably going to injure yourself or just don’t feel like being there doesn’t actually serve you as a human being. What it does do, however, is affect your experience during that moment in time. What if you could shift your focus to a place of joy and gratitude for the opportunity and the ability to invest in your own health and well-being?

The other issue when continually repeating the same thought process and dialogue is reinforcing the fabled “boy who cried wolf” situation. People find it really hard to empathise with other humans who constantly tell the same story of tragedy, drama or unhappiness, especially if you are not taking proactive steps to make changes to your circumstances.

If you are THAT unhappy in your world/job/life – change it. Yes, it is actually that simple. You get ONE life. Why would you waste a nanosecond of it doing something that doesn’t bring you complete joy and satisfaction? I can promise you, Ritual HQ would not exist if I was working for money. I’ve worked for money, really good money in fact. Now I work for the pure joy and love of what I do. Thank god for Centrelink and a tight budget! I would not change it for the world. My happiness is worth every single cent I gave up, and then some.

I was chatting about this to one of our coaches, Braeden, who is also someone I talk to very openly about pretty much everything. I was saying to her that I not only know the first thing some of my clients are going to say to me at the start of a session, I also generally know the tone to expect it in.

The difference is that I will challenge it and dig deeper if this becomes a recurring theme, because I genuinely want my people to have a better quality of life. And sometimes this starts with awareness.

What if simply changing one tiny word could have a massive impact on the way you feel and the energy you experience? Take this phrase for example:

“I HAVE to go the gym today.”

Now, make one small change:

“I GET to go to the gym today.”

It feels completely different, right?

So, what is your dialogue? What are the questions you are asking yourself? And finally, what is your standard response when someone asks you how you are?
Give this some thought and ask yourself some quality questions about how you really are. You might be surprised with the answers!

Having said all of that, I want to acknowledge that for those who are actively seeking change for the better but are still suffering through no choice of their own (fatigue, injuries, stress, etc.), it's ok to speak honestly and openly to help seek clarity, direction or professional help.

I know the Ritual HQ team will support you!


(07) 3300 5551


0417 737 066


0409 698 473

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Finalist - 2017 Small Business Champion Awards

Brisbane Women In Business 2016 - Finalist

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858 Waterworks Road
The Gap
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