POPfit founder Stephanie Burrows reveals the exercises you should avoid soon after giving birth, and those that are safe to start with…
Mum-of-two Stephanie Burrows set up POPfit, a boutique fitness studio in London Fields, shortly after welcoming her youngest daughter, two-and-a-half-year-old Joni.
POPfit uses a method of exercise that works on strength, cardio and stretch and the only equipment needed is your body!
As a trained dancer Steph was keen to make POPfit fun and interactive while challenging participants in all the right ways. Fellow dancer and friend Antonette Dayrit was also on hand to help incorporate the core principles of Pilates into the work outs.
Speaking to GoodtoKnow she explained that the POPfit ethos is centred on seeing how much you can do with your body alone, and how far you can push it.
Steph’s ten-year-old daughter Chloe also likes to get involved at POPfit
Although Steph admits that her very active upbringing and career as a fitness instructor probably helped her get back into shape quicker than most people after having her children, but said being fit and active before and during pregnancy can be a big help in the recovery.
She said: ‘It massively helps, labour is hard and takes a lot of energy and work and everyone has a different experience with it but being strong in my body made a huge difference.’
The most important thing that Steph stresses is to take things at your own pace, and not to put any pressure on yourself. Like many new mums, Steph’s confidence took a bit of a knock after having children but the only way to build this back up is to start exercising again and once you take the jump it’s a lot easier.
She explains: ‘Your body goes through such a massive change [during and after pregnancy] so that no matter what you’ve been through, whether it has been straight forward or harder work for you, you just need to give yourself time. Once you get back into it again, it gives you confidence and energy.’
Steph working out with her youngest daughter Joni
When you are ready to start exercising again, Steph suggests taking it slow, and has an unusual tip for you to try.
She said: ‘This might sound really strange but I used to quite often sit in the bath, I guess maybe because it was a time where I was on my own and the baby would be asleep and a bit of me time. I used to quite often just sit in the bath and just really gently do some ab work.
‘Just by using my pelvic floor, drawing my stomach muscles in, breathing with it. Some very basic Pilates and just letting go and working on that. This just gently wakes up your muscles and is something really easy you can do at home. Those kind of basic Pilates, is the best thing ever.’
In terms of exercises to avoid, Steph says stay away from crunches and twisting. She explains: ‘A lot of women have diastasis [where the stomach muscles separate]. Some people are lucky and their stomach muscles comes back together very easily and quickly, but most don’t. It takes time. So, crunches and twists are a no go.’
She also stressed: ‘Don’t put pressure on yourself and do it at your own pace. You’ll get stronger a lot quicker, just by taking that pressure off.’
POPfit run mum and baby classes three times a week and have also started introducing family classes to get the whole family fit and active. Unfortunately there is only one studio in London Fields at present but a quick search online will help you find other mum and baby fitness classes in your area.
How soon after you gave birth did you start exercising? What tips do you have for new mums? Head over to our Facebook page to join the conversation!