In my last post, I introduced Angi Purinton McClure and her longevity-based workout program, MYMA Movement. Today I’m posting the second part of our chat, which delves deeper into her work with mamas-to-be — yours truly included! — from exercises to help avoid injury to self-massage techniques to relieve common aches and pains.
Angi believes that pre-natal maintenance is important during pregnancy because it helps bring the focus inward and discover a new, changing body. Her MYMA Mama classes connect the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ to movement during such rapid change.
Not only does she develop a pre-natal movement routine that will rejuvenate her clients’ bodies during pregnancy, but she also helps us prepare for birth with an open mind. Something easier said than done, in some cases, I’m sure!
I’ve been working with Angi for a few months now, and I can’t say enough about how great it is to have someone to lean on who is both super knowledgeable about the body, as well as focused on long-term, sustainable results. Here’s her take on the ins and outs — and do’s and don’ts of pre-natal fitness.
5. Whats your overall philosophy on pregnancy & fitness?
While many women hear “make sure you exercise” during the pregnancy, many are misguided in wondering ‘what type of exercise’ and ‘what is right for my body?’
Unfortunately, there aren’t many smart, safe, and balanced Mama pre-natal classes. So what happens is that many women continue exercising they way they have been, not knowing how to listen to their changing body until there’s pain — or many women will jump into a pre-natal yoga class thinking this is their only option.
It’s not true. There’s a balance. If you work out, you need to know that you have to predict how to soften your routines while your body changes. You need movement, but it has to be kind movement that will help your body feel open, loved, and prepared for the birth.
6. We hear a lot about “body after baby,” but you emphasize pre-natal movement. Why’s that piece so important?
We need to move. We need to mentally, emotionally and physically connect before we give birth. This is the time in a woman’s life when she learns more about her body in a nine month period than most do in a lifetime.
Moving and maintaining the body during pregnancy will not only help you during the labor experience and help you heal faster postpartum, but it also benefits the body during the pregnancy. Exercise during pregnancy will help fetal development, connect you to you baby, and it will also aid in a healthy pregnancy and lessen aches and pain.
Besides, what a fun time to get to know your body while you’re growing a baby! So exciting and empowering.
7. Walk us through what goes on in one of your MYMA Mama classes.
In a MYMA Mama class, we exercise with corrective exercises to keep your body strong and loose. We address aches and pains and move through some self-massage exercises that you can take home to use whenever you need. We also open up the conversation of how the body is changing and how you can adapt through: sleeping positioning, partner massage, self-massage, acupressure points, mantras, pre-birth education and more.
We move, we roll, we laugh, and we share stories. It’s a beautiful time in a woman’s life to learn the life-long skills for body care and body awareness. It’s always an honor to meet women and learn their stories, fears, questions, hopes and, of course, meet their baby later on!
8. What are the most common misconceptions you’ve run across when it comes to pregnancy & fitness?
A common misconception that I witness is to ‘take it easy’ and ‘don’t exercise.’ You should always listen to your body (and some have doctors order for bed-rest) and know that if you don’t feel like exercising that day, fine. However, don’t make a habit out of it; walking is good, stairs (going up) are great for opening up the pelvis, and dancing is great, too.
Our bodies are changing and getting tighter, so don’t allow muscles to get weaker at the same time. Move in moderation, move within a time frame that doesn’t fatigue you. Movement should invigorate you. Be it a quick dance with a song you love or choosing to take a 15-minute walk with a set of stairs, you should feel like you got a breath of fresh air and you don’t ache as much. It’s minimal but so, so important to keep moving.
9. Which exercises are the biggest no-no’s that make you cringe when you see pregnant women doing them?
Well, crunches make me cringe but for many who feel their womb grow, it becomes a no-brainer. So the other no-no is over-exercise. People sometimes like to start a new fitness routine while pregnant. It may seem bizarre but it’s true.
I had a client who came to MYMA Mama after a terrible injury while learning kettlebells at 26 weeks pregnant. Yes. They are out there.
If you have been running, weight lifting, biking, etc. before you got pregnant, keep going! Just do it in moderation and listen to your body. Know that you won’t move the same while pregnant, but allow yourself to exercise your mentality by slowing things down. If it feel enjoyable, continue.
10. What should all moms-to-be be doing more of in their pre-natal fitness routines?
More maintenance work. Those who come to my MYMA Mama class leave with tools for at-home self-care, and they need it.
My moms always thank me as their back pain lessens from the MYMA Mama classes. Their swelling went down because they knew the methods to calm the body. Their labors were more empowered due to faith they restored in their body as they learned how their body has the power to heal (and give birth).
I also feel that pre-natal fitness needs more mental preparation, such as mantras to soothe the mind and open the body.
11. If nothing else, what’s the one exercise moms should be doing during pregnancy & why?
First I have to say, that you should always consult your doctor because certain exercises won’t be good for certain bodies.
That said, my main exercise that women forget to do is Kegels. Yes, even during the pregnancy, you want that Qi (“chee”) or energy of intention to move upward to hold the baby and pelvic floor. If you have pubic symphysis, you’ll love this even more because you want to keep a strong pelvic floor.
Don’t worry — you won’t get so tight that the baby can’t come out! This is the beauty of our bodies. They adapt. Balanced, our bodies are to be loose and strong.
Kegels can also help with breathing: Breathe out and let go of the body, then with the next inhalation, feel the pelvic floor lift. (It’s as if you are going to the bathroom and then you stop the flow of urine.) As you inhale, keep the body relaxed as you feel the ‘lift’. Hold the lift as you exhale, then slowly and gently let it go until the next inhale. Don’t ‘drop it’ — you would never just collapse after a squat, so don’t just ‘drop’ the pelvic floor. Think of it like an elevator lifting and taking time to go down as you release.
This is such an amazing time for a woman. These exercises are so important in our later years and to begin them NOW is a head start on living a long, healthy, happy life!
To learn more about Angi’s MYMA Movement and related classes, visit MYMAMovement.com.