It can sometimes be easy to forget why you turned your passion into your career. Pilates was something which I loved so much during my career in marketing. It provided me with ease, strength and tone in my body but also space and calm in my mind. That’s why after many years as a Pilates Class regular, I decided to train with Polestar Pilates, initially just to learn more, and subsequently my love grew and I ultimately turned it into my full time career and my own studio which is soon to have 2 locations and 12 teachers.
But like many passions that you turn into your career it can be all too easy to forget the reasons why you really loved it in the first place. Luckily this never really happened for me. I have kept up my movement practice which I still love and feel inspired by, plus I get to be one of those people who really does love their job and I literally feel like I never work a day in my life. I think I get more out of teaching that my clients get out of being taught!
But every now and again I’m reminded of just how amazing the power of Pilates is and this happened just last week in a big way. Now in my 40th week of pregnancy with my second child I’m all too aware of the changes that a woman goes through during pregnancy, which whilst an amazing work of nature, doesn’t mean that your body doesn’t scream at you, sometimes a little and sometimes a LOT during those 40 weeks (or in my case a little longer!).
This is my second pregnancy and also having a 16kg 2-year-old in tow who also needs carrying really has taken its toll on my body. There were times where I thought I had developed SPD, having almost identical symptoms and pain, when in fact the opposite was true. My body was actually struggling to give, to open and to find and feel comfortable with it’s newly imposed posture.
Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) is a group of symptoms that cause discomfort in the pelvic region. It usually occurs during pregnancy, when your pelvic joints become stiff or move unevenly. It can occur both at the front and back of your pelvis. SPD is also sometimes referred to as pelvic girdle pain.
If you’re reading this and you’re pregnant you’ll likely be all too aware with how quickly your body feels different, maybe even not even feeling ‘your own’ as you learn to share it with another life. It really is doing an amazing job to find balance but how can you even be certain where your centre is anymore to feel 'balanced' from?
This is where Pilates and in particular the Pilates Equipment has been invaluable throughout both my pregnancies. The feedback the equipment provides really does help you find movement and space inside a body which are rapidly being taken up by your growing baby. I have been able to continue to find strength in areas where I wanted or needed it. But also as the baby grows I really did start to feel squashed, not only in your organs (hello midnight and 3am toilet trips) but also in the space between your joints which can lead to aches, pains and even the pressing nerves which can send shooting, searing pain through your legs, your tummy and more.
The equipment also provides incredible support. So if like me you need to hold a movement to be able to allow your breath to create some internal space, the equipment can help you find this comfortably so you can hold a position and encourage some space in a safe and functional way. Or if you are someone suffering with SPD, the equipment can allow you to find movement but with the support required to help you find some strength to support your weakened pelvis.
Everything you do in Pilates incorporates the pelvic floor muscles (you don’t need to just specifically do kegals to work these muscles) so by keeping your breath open, moving your joints, finding strength and release you will also be working your pelvic floor - both learning how to strengthen these muscles but also to how to open them and really learn about having a functional pelvic floor. Not only will this aid a smooth labour but it will also put you in a strong place for the post-natal journey for you to safely recover your body, your posture and your strength.
In my experience, and this applies to literally every human (not just pregnant ones!), the body craves movement. And when pregnancy or an injury or an illness means we can feel too weak, too tired, or simply too sore to move this is where the Pilates Equipment comes into its own. It can provide you with a pain-free movement experience which, in my experience and supported by all the evidence you read about chronic pain, is literally the best pain 'medication' you can take.
So back to my experience last week. At 39 weeks pregnant I attended a Pilates Equipped class at lunchtime. These classes can easily be adapted to include any of our pregnant clients and I just did what felt good on each piece of equipment, basically having my own personal class experience supported by one of our wonderful teachers who used tactile cueing to guide my body into a place of comfort and ease. It really was bliss. Following nearly 3 weeks away from the studio due to Christmas, my body had been sedentary for a long time, despite my regular dog walks and some bouncing on my birthing ball! I had thought this rest would help me feel better but in reality it hadn’t. I used the equipment to try and find movement in my spine. To stretch through my legs (those night cramps where really taking their toll). And to find length through my sides, through movement, holding and breath work. At the end of the 45 mins I literally stood there and thought “damn I forgot quite how amazing Pilates can feel”. I had energy. I could breath properly. I felt centred and balanced through both sides. I had felt for myself where the restrictions where in my body and could use the equipment’s springs and shapes to find some release and ease. I really did have an experience where I thought “wow this is why I opened Soul” as we aim to help everyone have these amazing moments from a movement experience.
If you’re pregnant you are very welcome to join any of our Pilates Equipped classes at Fundamentals level (or Evolve if you’re already a regular attendee at this level).
If you’ve never attended a Pilates Equipped class you do need to attend a 1:1 as a prerequisite to the classes, but then you are free to attend any of our classes. You can purchase your first 1:1 and 4 classes for £99 which provides a large saving.
By Nic Lenny, Studio Founder (and currently 40 weeks pregnant!)