5 Simple Ways to Chat with your Pelvic Floor

pelvic floor health


Not that long ago, I stood on the side of the road, 4 months pregnant, having peed my pants.

Not that long ago, I stood on the side of the road, 4 months pregnant, having peed my pants. It was not a glorious moment for me. Unfortunately, I had horrible morning sickness and well, the pressure was so strong that, yup, I peed my pants! And at the time, I thought that was normal.

You know, that’s what happens when you’re pregnant, right? I still believed it to be normal, albeit very embarrassing, when I couldn’t manage to do jumps in my postnatal exercise class because when I did, I peed a little bit.

I wanted to share this experience because I know that women are looking for answers, for help.  I see it every day! It’s not easy for me, or for any of us, to share these embarrassing moments but it’s time to get all this out in the open so we can get the help we need and lead a vibrant and healthy lifestyle.

‘Lift your pelvic floor’ she said, to which I replied ‘wha??!!’

The number of times I sat in a yoga or pilates class and was instructed in various ways to engage my pelvic floor is pretty impressive considering when I was in those classes, I had NO idea what the hell they were talking about!

I mean, I had many wonderful, knowledgeable teachers but those muscles were completely foreign to me. Even after doing my own yoga and pilates training I was still left a bit mystified. I knew approximately where they were but I wasn’t quite sure what it meant to engage, or lift, or squeeze.

But I did my best…

I clenched my butt and I imagined lifting, I went through the motions, and went through the motions, with absolute urgency during my pregnancy, yet I still wound up with pelvic floor issues. It’s not easy to share with all of you and as well as the rest of the Internet that my pelvic floor muscles were less than stellar but I know there are women out there who are right where I was a few years ago. Completely out of touch with that area of their body and frustrated with the way things are working and feeling ‘down there!’

Don’t worry, we’ve all said ‘whaa?’

Most of us have no real connection to the pelvic floor muscles. We aren’t sure exactly where they are or how they work, we just know we need to work ‘em.

It really has been a taboo subject here in Canada up until recently but in many European countries Pelvic Health Physiotherapy has been part of standard care for postpartum women for decades… amazing! Thankfully this is changing and the information women need to feel better and more confident in their bodies is slowly coming to light!

Pelvic floor meet brain, brain meet pelvic floor!

Let’s take a look at some of the contributing factors to our disconnection of the pelvic floor muscles and what we can do to increase our awareness and function of these muscles.

We assume dysfunction is normal.

I hate to use the word dysfunction… and I just used the word dysfunction. No one likes to think of themselves as broken but if there is pain, or the muscles are not working optimally, there are things that can be done to help. A lot of women figure that experiencing a little bit (or maybe even a lot) of incontinence is normal during pregnancy and postpartum. But there is a difference between NORMAL and COMMON. Many, many women are experiencing incontinence, pelvic pain and discomfort throughout their pregnancy but that doesn’t mean it’s normal. Misalignment, improper breathing techniques, increased tension and trauma of the tissues can contribute to a weakening and/or decreased function of the pelvic floor muscles.

It’s embarrassing.

When it comes to incontinence even though we may think it’s normal, most likely we’re dealing with it silently and not really broadcasting it to everyone. I mean how many people want to tell the world they peed their pants on the side of the road?

It can feel quite disheartening, especially after having given birth and not necessarily feeling comfortable in your “new” body. I know for myself I felt like something must be wrong with me and this was just something I’d have to live with.

Incontinence, painful sex, pain when inserting a tampon, even an increased pressure in the pelvic area can be really hard to talk about. If you feel uncomfortable with a certain area of your body it is going to directly affect your relationship with those muscles and most likely, you will shy away from actually working on those areas/muscles because it feels overwhelming and scary to start.

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

Another big reason we feel disconnected from that area of the body is that unlike many other muscles in our body, we don’t actually see the pelvic floor muscles because they are internal. Generally, we don’t talk about them. We don’t often touch them and we haven’t received a whole lot of education on these muscles. And our muscles can’t speak to us either. Well they can, however, if we aren’t entirely sure how to identify their stress signals, how are we to know that there’s something wrong with them in the first place?

It’s no wonder that the majority of us are walking around without any kind of awareness or relationship with these muscles!

Generally, it’s not until we experience some kind of dysfunction that we become aware of these muscles and begin to look for help. I can remember these wonderful teachers trying to cue how to engage the pelvic floor muscles but it wasn’t until a physiotherapist suggested I actually touch and feel those muscles that I had a better understanding of where they were and how they should work.

Decreased function and sensation.

The one thing that most of us think of when we hear about the pelvic floor is kegels. We’ve all heard we should be doing them religiously – morning noon and night, plus every time we hit a red light!

Kegels focus mainly on the engaging aspect of the pelvic floor muscles and many of us are actually dealing with hypertonic pelvic floor muscles, meaning they are too tense. Tight and stiff muscles don’t work to their full potential and have a limited range of motion.

We can imagine that when we think of our hamstring muscles.

When we feel stiff in our hamstrings they don’t have as much yield to them and feel stuck. Well, that tension and lack of pliability can definitely occur in the pelvic floor as well. When tension builds over time these muscles will not move through their full range of motion therefore we don’t have a good sense of what they feel like when they are relaxed because they are living in a constant state of tension.

Deepening our awareness of the pelvic floor muscles (and other muscles as well) has a direct impact on how well our muscles function. Along with increased awareness comes the ability to move more accurately, ensuring that the proper muscles are working and that we’re not just compensating – this includes our glutes too! Having the pelvic floor muscles working optimally means that your internal organs, spine and pelvis are properly supported.

Let’s explore five ways that we can increase our awareness and deepen our relationship with the pelvic floor muscles.


1. Feel the Rhythm.

I have written about the Core Breath (coined by Bellies Inc. but also known as Diaphragmatic Breathing or Pelvic Breathing) before and what this really means is retraining our core muscles to work in synch with each other as they naturally should. Child’s pose can be a really helpful position to practice this breathing in as it naturally lengthens the pelvic floor muscles allowing us to feel the releasing phase more easily.

Come down onto the floor and rest your bum back toward your heels, knees can be apart or together. Place a pillow under your bum if it does not comfortably rest on your heels. As you inhale imagine the SITS bones (the bones in the middle of each bum cheek) widening apart. As you exhale see if you can feel a gentle lift. You are not squeezing on the exhale but allowing the pelvic floor muscles to naturally draw up. If that doesn’t resonate with you try thinking about the pelvic floor muscles softening or relaxing on the inhalation. If you cannot actually feel any movement just visualize the muscles moving with each breath.

avoid diastasis

2. Let it go.

For some of us the pelvic floor muscles may not actually move that much because of excessive tension. Try placing a tennis ball (or Yoga Tune Up ball) under one bum cheek, just to the inside of the SITS bones. Allow your muscles to soften and release as you stay here and breathe. You can do this sitting on a chair or on the floor.

baby & me fitness diastasis

3. Get some feedback.  

It can be really hard to sense the subtle movements of the pelvic floor, so using some kind of prop may allow you to feel the muscles better. A yoga bolster or something that resembles one (such as a few pillows or a rolled up blanket) works well. A stability ball is another great tool. If you are using a blanket or bolster you will sit on it with your legs on either side of the prop so it is directly below your perineum. Practice diaphragmatic breathing here and feel for the release of the pelvic floor muscles into the prop beneath you.

kegels

4. Get in touch.

Many of us are tactile learners so actually touching our bodies and palpating our muscles greatly increases our awareness. Oftentimes we hear or read about anatomy but if we don’t have personal experience with these muscles and bones we don’t have the clearest picture possible. External palpation of the bony landmarks around the pelvis is really helpful as is internal palpation of the muscles and tissues. Remember, education is key in helping you to feel more connected and more confident in your body and with your body!

postpartum fitness

5. See a professional.

It can be overwhelming to book an appointment with someone who’s going to take a look at your lady bits and let you know what’s going on in there. I get that. Sometimes ignorance is bliss! But I guarantee you will not regret getting a clearer idea of how your body is working, especially if you’re experiencing pain, discomfort, incontinence, a sensation of heaviness in the pelvic area, or even a feeling of weakness in the abdominal muscles. A pelvic health physiotherapist will help guide you and work on any specific issues you have but that being said I cannot stress to my prenatal clients what a great resource a physiotherapist is as you prepare your body for childbirth.  

I’m not saying this journey is an easy one. It takes time to build a relationship with these muscles. I would love for you to consider the ways that you can learn to connect to your pelvic floor so that the next time you are in a pilates or yoga class (or even some really great cardio/strength classes) you will know exactly what they are talking about. You could also jump into classes that are specifically designed to connect you to your core and pelvic floor. Many of the classes I offer are designed specifically for optimal function and alignment in the body and we get to know our pelvic floor a whole lot. Hopefully, one day we’ll even come to love our pelvic floor.

Top 7 Fitness Directories – A Smart Way to Grow your Fitness Business!

Fitness Directory

This is not a blog about generating more blog posts, or even social media, however, if you have a fitness business you probably think about these topics a lot!

Yes, blogs and social media are fabulous ways to connect with potential clients, but time and time again fitness professionals come to us frustrated with creating content, only to get nowhere when it comes to engagement and community building.

How to NOT post on social media:

There is actually a very simple way to turn this around and it comes down to the 80/20 rule! Just as wellness pros talk about the 80/20 rule with nutrition, we like to talk about the 80/20 rule with social media.

What most business owners do is spend 80% of their time creating/writing their content, only to post it once and watch it die a quick and unloved social media death.

What you really should be doing is creating 20% of the time and posting, sharing, commenting and repeating 80% of the time. You need to be spending more time getting yourself out there and creating the visibility that is so important for generating business.

That’s great, but what does this have to do with Fitness Directories?!

A whole lot, let us paint a picture for you.

You become a fitness/personal trainer. You get certified, you build a beautiful website, you create your social media platforms, you get more certifications, you attend more conferences. All of that is fabulous, and let’s face it, part of the fun, but much of your effort is going towards preparing and perfecting the business, rather than putting the business in front of the people who need it. Again, you are missing that VISIBILITY piece that is so important.

You could be the best trainer, have the best branding, be the most prepared and if you are not getting your business out there, none of that matters.

That’s where directories fit in!

Whenever your website is linked on any high traffic site, like a directory, your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is improved. What does this mean? It means that you rank higher in Google searches, which is a very important step when increasing the visibility of your business. Your goal should be to get your business listed on the first page of Google so when someone searches prenatal or postnatal fitness in your area, you show up!  Getting yourself listed on directories will help you reach this goal.

Our advice to many new business owners is to get your business name/website/contact on every directory you can find. If you are not already listed on Google, Yelp, and Bing (yes, Bing!) you are missing out…big time!

You are also going to want to jump on some industry specific directories like we have listed below:

The Top 7 Fitness Specific Directories

1. YDC – http://www.yogadirectorycanada.com/index.html

This is a great place to be if you offer yoga in your business. It is free and links to all of your social media channels and your website. You can also list workshops, retreats and job opportunities. Downside? It is only available in Canada.

2. IDEA Fithttp://www.ideafit.com/fitnessconnect

IDEA is a large directory dedicated to inspire the world of fitness, we love that! The directory gives you the opportunity to list your specialty and clients have an opportunity to rate you!

The one problem? The directory does not link to your website which does not help much with your SEO.

3. BAM Pre/Postnatal Fitness Directoryhttp://babyandmefitness.com/fitness-trainers/

This directory is perfect because it is niched for pre & postnatal fitness specifically. Clients can search for you based on your specialty and your location, plus they can give your amazing classes or sessions 5 stars which also helps your Google ranking. You can choose a free listing or you can pay to make your listing stand out by having the option to customize your listing, making it as beautiful and appealing as possible.

One of the most unique aspects of the Baby & Me Fitness directory is the focus on creating content to drive pregnant women and new mothers to the website and mailing lists, sending more potential clients your way.

4. Certified Personal Trainers Networkhttp://www.cptn.com/Find/find_trainer.asp

This is a very large directory and certifying body that spans throughout Canada. There is a $70 membership fee but If you are CPTN certified and already a member you can be sure that your profile is up here. You can also post jobs and find training facilities for rent in your area.

5. Precision Nutrition Coach Directoryhttp://www.precisionnutrition.com/fitness-pros-directory

This is another large directory that spans the globe but you do need to be a PN coach to get on it. It is a free directory which is great, but the search capabilities could be refined. Currently you are  able to search in your city/province and the fitness professionals are listed in alphabetical order. What does this mean? Unless your name starts with ‘A’, people probably will not search the pages of lists to find you. It also makes it challenging to find a specific trainer if a client wants to search by name because they have to scroll through the alphabetized lists to find the specific person they are looking for.

6. FitnessTrainer
http://fitnesstrainer.com/

Specific to Personal Trainers in the US, this directory is very sleek in design and easy to search by location. It is a wonderful tool for potential clients but as a professional you will be working under the FitnessTrainer umbrella, which means booking/payments run through the site.

7. Fitness TOhttp://www.fitness-to.com/

This directory is for Fitness Pros and Yoga Instructors local to Toronto. Not only is this directory up-to-date both in its appearance and search capabilities, it includes most social media platforms as well as blogs and videos. Plus it shows you the weather!


What now?

Once you have your business listed on a few directories, be sure to keep a close eye on your Google analytics. If you don’t have your website registered with Google analytics yet you can do so here. This is the best way to keep track of which directories are sending traffic your way!

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email us, we can help get you and your business set up on the right directory!

A Big Opportunity for Fitness Trainers!

prenatal and postnatal fitness

The competition in the fitness industry is fierce, it takes more than being a ‘good trainer’ to stand out in the crowd and get booked solid with clients, or fill your classes. Luckily, the market is rapidly growing and more individuals are looking for quality trainers that are perfect for them and their unique situation. So how do you ensure that they find you on their search?


Choosing a specialty will grow your fitness business.

You will become lost in the crowd if you rely on Google to bring up your business under ‘Personal Trainer’ or ‘Fitness Classes’. When you add a speciality into the mix it differentiates you from the ‘pack’ and you have a chance at ranking higher. Just think, if you are one of the only people in your city who specializes in therapeutic aquafitness, you have a much higher chance of showing up on the first page of Google when someone searches for ‘personal trainer aquafitness’.


How do I know what to specialize in?

Deciding how or what to specialize in can be a bit of a balancing act. Not only should this be something you love to do, it also needs to be a target market you love working with, and a large enough market to sustain your business. The answer can lie within your fitness specialty such as certifying in something unique like aqua yoga, or it can lie within the persons you choose to service, for example, yoga for runners.

Fitness trainers

Looking at the equation this way leaves you with a lot of options to choose from so your next question might be ‘is there a large enough market for what I would like to specialize in?’ One of the obvious answers would be aging population since it is the fastest growing age group that is expected to double in the next 25 years.

There is a hidden gem that is often overlooked when deciding on a fitness speciality: Prenatal & Postnatal Fitness. This market is growing at a remarkably unexpected rate. Furthermore, it is a market that can feel very rewarding when you are passionate about the promotion of women’s health and fitness.


Specializing in Babies, Birth & New Parents.

Pre/postnatal fitness is a specialized target market that, of course, we at Baby & Me Fitness live and breathe. If you feel this kind of love for baby bumps and babies you are totally in luck because there is a baby ‘Boomlet’ happening in North America. Approximately 380 000 babies are born in Canada each year and our southern neighbours see 4,000,000 babies born per year – yep, that’s a lot of babies! More importantly, that’s a rather large pre and postnatal market!  In Canada alone the number of children under the age of 5 has increased by 11%, the largest increase since the baby boom 50 years ago.

This Boomlet took many by surprise simply because it looks so different than the baby boom that happened post war. For the first time on record, birth rates are higher for women in their late 30s than in their early 20s, where the average age for a first time mother is now 28.5 years old, compared to 21 years old in the ’70’s . The difference now is that even though many are waiting longer to have children, younger women are still having babies, leaving a 20 year cohort where babies are being born.

A lot of couples/women are now waiting until they are in a better financial place before having their first child. Those that are actively choosing to wait are typically better educated, more active and more involved. As a result, family centered/baby businesses are booming and waiting lists for both city and private programs for children under 5 are at an all time high. This trend is expected to continue for at least another decade. And let’s not forget about the Millennials! This group of individuals are known for being health conscious and informed, and they are also starting to have children. The findings of Baby Center’s Millennial Moms Report shows that Millennial moms are more likely to be laid back, share the parenting load, and have a greater desire to have larger families than the generation before them. Further fuelling the Boomlet fire!

New Mothers and Media

Now, if we are talking about Google and having your business found online, searches like prenatal fitness or prenatal yoga are up 32% just in the last year. There were 113,650 searches for Prenatal Fitness in Canada for May 2016 and, are you ready for this?! Prenatal Yoga searches were nearly 3x that number!!! For any yoga instructors reading this, this is a clear indication that there is a niche market ready and waiting for YOU!


Google Searches for Pre/Postnatal Fitness Related Topics

Fitness trainers

As a Fitness/Yoga Instructor you know that peak months for fitness related searches are early in the new year, surprisingly enough (or maybe not) it is the same for prenatal fitness, but for different reasons. More babies are born in late summer/fall which means January is the perfect time for a soon-to-be mother to start joining a specialized fitness class that will get them ready for the demands of birth and parenting. Not to mention, more births during the summer means more babies and mothers (partners too) in your stroller fitness class!


Getting Started with Your Pre/Postnatal Fitness Training:

Baby & Me Fitness has been certifying Pre/Postnatal specialists for 30 years and are known as the original Pre/Postnatal Fitness Certification. We take the idea of being a specialist very seriously and focus all of our time and energy on creating the next generation of experts in the pregnancy and parenting market. That is ALL we do, and we think it is important work!

Our certification ensures you are getting the most well rounded certification available. Not only do we make it easy for you to modify and adapt your current fitness services, we help you create programs that are exactly what this market is looking for. Yes, we want your clients to stay strong, safe and healthy throughout their pregnancy, but they will also be going through some major life changes and will come to you looking for advice and support. We will make sure that you feel 100% prepared to: be the support that they need; be able to answer the questions they have; and feel confident to identify yourself as an expert in this field.

We also want you to feel supported and have all of your questions answered as you move through the certification process. Your training is all online to make it easy for you to go at your own pace and your instructors are never more than an email or phone call away. All your videos, notes, slides and final exam are all available for you on an easy-to-use personal website designed just for you!

To get started you can sign up online here or you can contact info@babyandmefitness.com if you have more questions!

 

Pre and Postnatal Certification for Fitness Trainers – Why & What to Expect

Untitled design (22)

It all started with the birth of a 10 pound baby boy in the basement of my childhood home. I had no idea how profound the birth of my nephew would be and how it would change my life. Looking back I am beyond thankful that my sister is the “crunchy/granola” woman that she is because that simple little home birth opened doors for me that I had never expected to open, in fact I didn’t even know that they existed.

I had been a fitness trainer for years and I loved every second of it. I would get up at 5am, teach two early morning boot-camps on the beach and ride my bike to ‘my day job’. It was pure joy and a nice helping of exhaustion sprinkled in there. Teaching fitness was in my bones and I wanted to grow my fitness business large enough so that I could leave my day job and teach full time.

Why specialize in pre/postnatal fitness?

When that little guy was born, it was like a lightbulb went off in my head. I had been helping my sister maintain and modify her fitness level throughout her pregnancy and had spent the better part of 9 months doing as much research as I possibly could about pregnancy and birth. I needed to know more, I needed to know everything I could, I needed to specialize in pre/postnatal fitness, I could just feel it!

Fast forward a decade and here I am. A birth doula, birth doula trainer, pre/postnatal fitness specialist and co-owner of Baby & Me Fitness. In hindsight, I can now see that my intense desire to create a speciality in my business has a name. It is actually called ‘niching’ and it is a hell-of-a good business move! At first it seemed scary; would I be hurting my business by narrowing down who I would work with? Would I lose clients?

Turns out the opposite was true. Creating a specialty made it easier for me to connect with my clients, made it easier for them to find me, and made it easier for them to find exactly what they were looking for. I became an expert in pre/postnatal fitness and the word spread like wildfire. ‘Oh, you’re expecting? You gotta try Natasha’s class!’. And finally, I was able to quit my day job!


How do you get certified?

I’ll be the first to admit that there are so many (maybe too many) options when it comes to fitness certifications and it can be such a challenge to decide who to put your trust in. After my nephew was born I searched high and low for the best pre/postnatal available and finally landed on Baby & Me Fitness. At the time they had been around for 20 years, they were the first pre/postnatal fitness company in Canada and they truly SPECIALIZED. Pre/postnatal fitness was what they did, they lived and breathed it, and you could feel it.

Baby & Me Fitness also shared the same values as me and our alignment was a huge selling feature for me. Their mission was to create support and community for women about to go through this incredible change; pregnancy and birth! A place for new mothers to get out meet other new mothers, to do something good for themselves and their babies. To be healthy, to be heard, to find their tribe!

I wanted to be a part of that!

There are certifications out there that offer pre/postnatal fitness, as well as just about every speciality you can think of. Even my own certifying body offered pre/postnatal fitness but I wanted to be trained by those who truly specialize, those who have dedicated years to working, researching, and caring for this population. I needed their experience and their stories and I needed to be with people who were as passionate as I am!


Baby & Me Pre/postnatal Fitness Certification

Baby & Me Fitness first opened its doors in 1987, and at the time their existence was a revolution.

Stroller fitness? What the heck is that?

Prenatal yoga? What?

Now it’s 2016 and women maintaining their fitness throughout their pregnancy is the norm. Prenatal yoga is the next thing you sign up for after you pee on a stick and see those 2 lines. Pre/postnatal certifications are everywhere now too – and Baby & Me Fitness is still going strong!

Baby & Me Fitness still lives and breathes pregnancy birth and postpartum, creating support and community. In 2013, my business partner, Bianca Sprague and I bought it to add to our pregnancy and postnatal business, bebo mia inc. We still dedicate our time to creating the most up-to-date/evidence based certification for trainers who want to specialize in this amazing field and become the expert that everyone talks about.

If you are interested in taking your fitness business to the next level and you love everything to do with baby bumps and birth then you should join the Baby & Me Fitness community and get yourself certified as a pre/postnatal fitness trainer. The program is all online so you can go at your own pace, you will have us and nearly 30 years of experience to support you as you learn!

It was the best decision I ever made!