Most Trainers Don't Know How To Train Mums
This blog was inspired by a recent client who, like most of my clients, has a Diastasis Recti (gap between the 6 pack muscles).
She had been going to a gym, and following a programme prescribed by their personal trainer. When I asked her about the exercises she had been doing, she listed exercises that were completely inappropriate for her current condition.
She obviously hadn't been screened effectively and was subsequently doing exercises that were causing a LOT more harm than good!
I Was In Shock!
This woman has joined a gym, with the belief that it is the right thing for her. That they will help her lose that mummy tummy. When in fact, they were doing just the opposite.
A lot of trainers, when they first get into the fitness industry, are generalists.
Which is exactly what most gyms are too. Unfortunately they don't tend to cater to specific parts of the population, and this is where problems happen.
When I heard about what my client had experienced, it gave me flashbacks about my own journey into the fitness industry.
I began as a boot camp instructor in 2015, all bright eyed, bushy tailed and ready to train people hard and get them into shape. It's how I started getting fit myself and I absolutely love it.
It was perfect for me because I liked the accountability of a group, I was in my early 30s and I had no children. I had no contraindications to say that I couldn't do any of the exercises without a bit of practice.
While it was perfect for me, it's not perfect for everyone.
When I first became a boot camp instructor, I didn't know that.
My view was that if it worked for me, it can work for anyone, and train anyone I did.
A lot of my clients turned out to be mums, and I was perfectly happy to prescribe all the generic "core" exercises to help strengthen their abs.
Russian Twists! Go!
Sit Ups! Go!
Boom! Go Go Go! More More More! Faster Faster Faster!
Now my clients trusted me, as their trainer, to know what I was talking about.
They got on with the exercises just fine, and apart from the usual groans that come with a boot camp, nobody complained.
Unless they knew they had a problem, nobody said anything, and I didn't screen for it!
When I did screen my clients, it was the basic screening with the generic questions concerning heart conditions, high blood pressure, injuries etc
Never ever ever did I ask:
If they were post natal,
If they were newly post natal,
How they gave birth,
Whether their pelvic floor was functioning,
Whether they've got a Diastasis Recti
I didn't check for any of that, and most of my clients were mums!
Luckily I met a client who knew she had a problem, and became the catalyst for me to become the kind of trainer I am today.
This client came to me for a trial, and said "I've got a Diastasis Recti so I can't do certain exercises. It's OK though because I've done my research, and if there's something that I can't do, I'll just do a different exercise".
I thought OK great, you do what you need to and I'll carry on.
Up until that point, I'd never heard of it. It wasn't until I asked her a bit more about it at the end of a session, that she said "why don't you feel it?".
She lay on the bench and basically grabbed my hand and pushed it in between the two sides of the Rectus Absominus (6 pack muscles).
She grabbed my hand, pushed it in between her 6 pack muscles, and I felt her organs!
My whole hand went inside this woman's stomach and all I felt was soft tissue.
It Blew My Mind!
I was actually freaking out because for almost 1.5 - 2 years, I didn't know that this was a thing.
I just didn't know that women, when they're pregnant, have a Diastasis, and I definitely didn't know that it doesn't always close!
There are other things too. Which I'd never screened for! Ever!
I realised that I was doing a disservice to every woman I trained.
I needed to sort my life out!
That's exactly what I thought about the other gym when I saw my recent client too. This gym needs to sort themselves out!
Now don't get me wrong, I think it's wonderful that she's being proactive about her health and is exercising and trying to look after her body.
I think it's great that the gym is there, providing a facility and service, to help the general public get fit and healthy.
However, ignorance will not work when it comes to the post natal population.
If you are a trainer, and you work with mums, you need to get some kind of post natal qualification. You need to learn how to treat this population.
I live in New Zealand, with a population of approximately 4 million (4.794million) people.
Lets say for argument's sake that half of those are women, and lets hypothesise again that half of those women have carried and given birth to children. (Again this is a very crude approximation)
That's 1 Million People!
1 million people who we're just pushing through the general personal training, fitness system and doing damage!
That's assuming that all of these people go to the gym. Some do online training programmes (which I'll discuss in another blog) and other's just wing it or do nothing.
This wasn't taught to me!
When I did my boot camp certification, and subsequently, my level 4 personal training certificate, this was not addressed as a thing that we should look out for.
I think at the most, I had a chapter on pregnancy in amongst other demographics in a module on "special populations".
This is not enough and it needs to change.
So what I'm saying to you now is this:
If you are a personal trainer, the very least you should do, is visit www.continence.org.nz/ and sign up to their Pelvic Floor Focus Workshop
They are invaluable.
They will go through:
How to check for Diastasis
How to check pelvic floor function
What to do with those clients
How to refer them on to a Women's Health Specialist if that's beyond your scope of practice.
That's what you need to do first and foremost.
If you want to then progress, and do more, feel free to talk to me about my experience, and I can point you in the right direction.
I personally trained with Burrell Education and I think they're fantastic!
I am a Holistic Core Restore® Coach, again associated with Burrell Education. I believe that, short of doing a science degree, this is the best training out there for any personal trainer working with post natal clients.
If you want to talk to me about any of this, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I am happy to have a meeting with you to see what you need to do.
Invite Me To Your Gym
I'm also more than happy to come and talk to your trainers or members about the importance of proper exercise prescription and why it is so important.
If you would like that, please click here.
Again. Ignorance will not cut it. Clients trust us! Lets make sure that trust is not ill-placed.