Friday, December 9, 2011

Building confidence through exercise

Baz Moffatt is a Personal Trainer and a recently retired World Championship Medallist GB Rower.

I had the very enjoyable and inspiring experience of working with Baz in developing the exercises which now appear in your Ready Steady Mums programmes.  She helped shape something practical, effective and safe for mums along their journey from right after childbirth to full fitness.

Baz has extensive experience of working with women to build up their confidence and start feeling good about their bodies again.

Here is what she says about getting started with postnatal exercise and building confidence.

Q: How does exercise effect self-confidence? 

Baz: Massively! The links between improved self esteem and physical activity levels have been proven time and time again. New mums are often very self conscious about how they look, exhausted from lack of sleep, and feel like their life is totally out of their control.  Exercise is a great way to tackle all three of these issues and it makes new mums feel good about themselves. New mums are often very keen to get back their pre-baby body and as they start to do so their self-confidence soars.

Q: What parts of the body do mums need to work on most?

Baz: Mums all come from different starting points, with varying previous fitness levels and experiences of birth. And all mums respond differently to the challenges of motherhood.  They may all have different physical activity and exercise goals, but in common they all need to carefully reconstruct their core so I always start there with my clients.

Growing and giving birth to a baby takes a lot out of your body and you need to build up your core strength and stability in stages.  Usually the pelvic floor and transverse abdominals have taken the biggest hit. You need to learn to switch on your deep stabilising muscles. Ready Steady Mums will show you how to do this, and will help you incorporate exercise into your new routine as a mum. It is also a good idea to start walking as soon as you can to build up your cardiovascular fitness. Get outside and walk up hills - in all weathers!

Q: What are your top tips for motivation?

Baz: It is very common for mums (and lots of others) to struggle with even getting started because they do not feel confident with their bodies and have a impossibly long way to go.  Here are a few ideas:

Baz with a group of her clients at Point 2
1. Involve a friend: You’re more likely to do it if there’s someone else joining in, you won’t want to let them down. So arrange to meet a friend for a walk or fitness session, or you could also join a "Local RSM" group.
2. Make a plan: What are you going to do in a perfect week? And then what are you going to do in a week where nothing goes to plan? The more specific you can be about your plan the better – so the when, where, what. And then factor in some what ifs - "What if baby has been up all night screaming and I’m exhausted and don’t like feeling being active? Then I tell myself that I know that exercise makes me feel better, so I’ll walk to the shops via the library which will add on 15 minutes to the journey".
3. ‘Anything is better then nothing’: One squat is better then no squats and the first bit of exercise is always the hardest, so once you’ve started you’ll probably do more.
4. ‘Little and often’: If you’ve not exercised for a while it is far better to do 5 minutes a day then a 40 minute exercise session once a week.  Incorporate exercise into your day, world and social groups so there are plenty of opportunities for you to get and stay active.

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