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Experience Pilates’ blog can be considered as a virtual store of everything Pilates!  We have lots of information about Pilates and how it can benefit your life.

There are post for my class participants – including video homework, weekly news letters and offers just for them!

My private clients also have access to many forms of information – some specific to them and their reasons for coming to Pilates.

Pages for my Private clients and class participants are password protected – so only you have access!  If you ever forget your password, let me know and I will email it to you,  It’s that simple!

However,  most of the blog is accessible to everyone and is FREE. Use the ‘search’ box at the top of the page to find what you are looking for, or use the categories or ‘tag cloud’.

Happy reading and let me know what you think!

Yours in health

We don’t have to join a gym to exercise – there is enough space outside and inside our homes to workout.  But if you are expecting then you should consider carefully the following top 5 tips to make each session enjoyable, safe and effective!

1.  Get Support – #1

As well as friends and family who are supporting your mental and emotion needs, your physical needs supported as well – we are taking bosoms!  Any type of fitness/activity you undertake requires that you have a good fitting and supportive bra.  You may have noticed that your breasts have increased (and you feel they will never stop!), and need more than the bra’s you were wearing previous to pregnancy. Sports bra that fasten at the back with over-the-shoulder/cross-over the back straps are best.  Just make sure the bra you choose has enough support!

2.  Keep Drinking

Your body needs to be kept cool – see here for more information

You might not feel thirsty but you should keep sipping at least 1/2 litre for each hour you exercise.  Yes, that might make you go to the loo more, but you already do that!

3.  More support – your feet – #2

You might have noticed your feet and ankles swell (especially in hot weather or if you have been on your feet a long time).  This can be troublesome, but it is only temporary and should go after baby is born.  They can swell so much you can’t get your normal shoes on!  This can last till after the birth of baby, so consider buying a pair of trainers that fit you now, when you are pregnant?

There are many styles of trainers, but make sure that the one you get suits your activity.  Go for function rather than appearance -your feet and legs will thank you afterwards!  Arch support and ankle support should be on the top of your list, not just the colour!

You may also find yourself walking differently – with your knees turned out (a bit like a duck waddling [sorry!]), and your previous trainer would have worn in different places.

4.  Wiggle and  reduce back pain!

If you haven’t got one already, consider buying one!  It can help reduce  back pain and can also help during labour.  Just be being sat on the ball can will challenge your core muscles.  Try and sit on it for about 1– 2o mins per day.

See here to make sure you get the right size of ball for you.  pre natal advice stabilty ball

5.  Support #3 – your bump! 

I know you will be doing your Prenatal Pilates to help strengthen your bump, but an abdominal support can also help.  We are referring to the ‘belly bands’ that can be bought over the internet and in shops, not the ones prescribed by your midwife/physio to help with pelvic girdle pain.

It is also a very practical addition to your wardrobe – especially if you might bend down at work and don’t want to show your back or bump.  They do give some support to the pelvis and abdominals, but don’t rely on it totally for your abdominal support – use your tummy muscles!  They are also very useful to keep your wardrobe functional for that little bit longer – keep your buttons open and where the band over the top!

Top 5 must haves for working out when your are pregnant!

We regularly hold small group Pilates for all mums-to-be, but what happens in our private Pilates sessions, held in our home studio?

Hannah is 27 weeks pregnant, so nearly at the end of her second trimester.  She is demonstrating various pre natal Pilates moves using various equipment we have in the studio.


The Bosu is a very versatile piece of equipment.  It can be used for support whilst you lie semi-seated and also to prop yourself up when performing side lying movements.


Using the Springboard and an inclinded back support we can perform many exercises in semi-sitting that are not possible whilst lying on the floor.  After about 16 weeks it is inadvisable to lie flat whilst exercising.  However, using the Springboard and back support we can deliver a safe and effective workout.

The Springboard is also wonderful when used in standing and sitting and there are a wide variety of exercises that can be performed…

Pilates Power Gym

The Pilates Power Gym is a small and compact piece of Pilates equipment that is perfect for all mum-to-be’s!  Its gliding board can be elevated so you are lifted and supported throughout every trimester of your pregnancy.  There are no worries about being led flat on your back – it can be adjusted to suit you perfectly.  For your workout comfort there are a wide variety of positions you can use the Pilates Power Gym – seated, standing, on all 4’s and side, lying… There’s a position for everyone!

Pilates Chair

Often called the ‘Wunda Chair’ , it is a  box (or frame depending on model) with a padded seat, a foot pedal, and has 2 to 4 springs attached for a variety of resistance. Pilates developed over 50 exercises for his Chair. You can sit, stand, kneel, or lie on this multipurpose apparatus, developing upper body strength, stabilizing the torso and performing a number of lower body and feet exercises.  We can use all positions (except the lying position!) to exercise your whole body!

Baby – Check!  Support bra – Check!   Trainers – Check!  Running … hang on a minute!!!

It’s my experience that regular runners  (both before and during pregnancy) want to get back to running as soon as possible after baby is born.  However, do so with great caution…

Going back to (or even starting) a running programme isn’t recommended for at least six months after baby has been born, and possibly longer if you are breast feeding or have had post-pregnancy problems.

Running is categorised as a ‘high impact’ activity (where both feet are off the floor at the same time), much like jumping, hopping and even hopscotch!   It is a form of cardiovascular (CV) exercise which means it has a host of benefits – but there are some considerations…

The desire to get back to ‘your old self’ and the longing to lose the baby weight, plus the ease and accessibility of running make it a popular exercise choice.  However, even an experienced runner needs to tread cautiously when returning to fitness.  If you are not a natural running and have not run before – now is not the time to start!  Leave it till you feel absolutely back to your old self!  However, walking is excellent for everyone!

Benefits of CV exercise

If your CV workout is at the right frequency, intensity, type and for the right time (FITT), it is valuable in helping with post natal recovery:

  • increase circulation promotes blood flow through varicose veins and aids reabsorbtion of excess fluid as a result of pregancy,
  • the improved efficiency of the hear and lungs to transport and utilise oxygen
  • the increased endurance of the leg muscles will make everyday tasks easer
  • may be helpful for reducing weight gained during pregnancy
  • therapeutic to help deal with stress and anxiety by assisting dispersal of the hormone adrenalin.

Joins and relaxin

The hormone relaxin  continues to affect the body post natally and as such makes exercise choices somewhat limited during the early months of being a new mum.  If you are breast feeding, these effects last longer.  Low impact exercises choices are available (where one foot remains on the ground – walking!).  Excessive movement around the pelvis, especially during weight bearing exercises may stress your SJ joints or your pubis symphsis (your pubic bone) which can aggrevate existing conditions or cause a new problem to develop.

The Q-anlge (the angle between your knee cap (patella) and the front of your hips (ASIS)) is greater in new mums, which means the pelvis is a little wider and can predispose a new mum to anterior knee pain and other syndromes. Knees are particularly vulnerable to injury and misalignment with the repetitive action of stepping and cycling; the length of time exercising has to be balanced with the amount of physical activity you expend during the day – just by being a new mum!  Ankle stability is also at risk due to the quick lateral movements and directional changes that can occur in many ‘aerobic’ activities.  Correct posture and technique are important throughout every exercise session.

High impact exercises are extremely stressful to the pelvic floor and are associated with pelvic floor dysfunction.  Decreased support form the ligaments that support the pelvic organs and muscle imbalances increase the risk of prolapse!


The abdominals  have been stretched and weakened and will reduce the stability of the torso and spine.  The muscles inside need to be working (contracting) first before limb movement (which is exactly what Pilates can help with!).  Moving limbs whilst the abdominal and back muscles or not contracted can lead to long-term problems.


High impact activites are unsuitable for breast-feeding mums; the breasts are heavy and may leak with excessive movements.  Any movements what bring the arms closer to your chest will need modification (think of the arms swinging during the running action!).  Breast milk is not affected with moderate-intensity CV work –read here for more details.

Weight loss

Easy one in principle – use more calories than you take in!  However, if it was that easy, then we would all be slim!  Exercise is often used to help with weight loss, but food intake also needs to be considered.  However, if you are breast feeding you need extra calories! Perhaps a sensible choice would be to wait after breast feeding to begin a weight loss programme?

Putting exercise into your’s and babies routine…

Daily walks with baby in the pram are most suitable as an introduction to exercise.  If it will form a regular part of your routine, then 10 minutes at a time is a good starting point.  If you can’t manage daily walks, then increase the duration when you do go out (to get the same benefits of daily exercise). Every new mum should follow these suggestions as the risks far outweigh the benefits.

Try to walk at a pace that means you are able to reach 4-6 on the rate of perceived exertion scale (see here for more details)

How to improve your post natal posture

pn better posture 2010

A most welcome addition to your routine during pregnancy is massage! 

We all know how touch can make us (and baby) feel – how many times a day do you stroke or touch your tummy?  Massage and gentle touch can be used to help support your body during its pregnancy changes and birth, and is a most welcome adjunct to help with baby bonding.

Massage supports your body as it goes through the physiological changes that happen to your body, especially in trimesters 2 and 3. It is especially useful if you have swollen ankles during your pregnancy.

Ankle swelling can be indicative of a more serious condition called pre-eclampsia but a certain amount is normal during your pregnancy as you body naturally retains more water and your circulatory system  is under increased pressure.

Lymphatic drainage is a specific form of massage that includes very gentle, light touch massage that improves the efficiency of the lymphatic system – the body’s waste disposal system.

Read here for more information about the lymphatic system.

One of the main differences between a mum-to-be massage and a regular massage is position.  After the week 16 it is suggested that lying flat on your back should be avoided, so positioning for your comfort is paramount.  There are many options to choose from: inclined therapy couch, side lying, floor, chair and also the stability ball.   Your back and abdominal muscles need special care so we make sure that you are adequately supported throughout.

The massage need not end with the session – we can show you and your partner to continue to massage at home – so you can always feel relaxed and pampered!  Simple techniques are shown to both mum and her partner to encourage bonding with baby.

Mums-to-be massage  Contact  Cath@experiencewellness.co.uk to book your relaxing session!

We also offer post natal massage – and baby massage.

Here is your workout for the third trimester…

T3 workout