While operating an online studio, it's been wonderful to see an influx of pregnant women and new mamas join our classes. Whether on-demand or live, virtual workouts are perfectly suited for parenthood. Convenience without the commute is appealing when you don't have a lot of extra time (and no babysitter needed!). To make sure you're safe in virtual classes, it's important to keep a few things in mind. First, always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Once approved, reach out to us. The pre/post natal specialists on our team can guide you on the precautions you should take when exercising while pregnant or after giving birth. In the meantime, learning how to properly engage your deepest ab muscles is a skill for a lifetime.
Core Work is Key
Whether you're a mama-to-be, a new mama, or an old one like me, lol, proper core engagement is key. Your goal is to train a mindful connection to your abs to readily engage core support throughout daily movement and during Straightline classes. The exercises below target your deepest abdominal layer, the transverse abdominis (TVA), which functions like a corset and helps stabilize the core.
Do these Exercises to Activate Your TVA
Start with the first exercise and once you master that, progress down the list. Perform each move for 10 reps, adding more reps as you gain strength. These exercises can be done laying on your back, seated, or seated leaning against a ball, which is a really useful tool for training your abs. (Note: Pregnant ladies, after the first trimester, should do these exercises seated or at an incline by leaning against the ball or your forearms.)
Deep Abdominal Breathing: This action is the foundation for the other exercises that follow. Sit tall or lay on your back, knees bent, with the arch of your back pressed down (flat spine). Hold the ball above your belly and breath in. Exhale, contract your abdominal muscles, and pull your belly button away from the ball. You should feel your navel go closer to your spine and your rib cage soften and close a bit. This action is the foundation for all of the other exercises to follow.
Toe Taps: Lie on your back and lift the knees over the hips. Make sure the knees do not come any closer to the chest. Place your hands on your tummy or at your sides, wherever it’s comfortable. As you exhale, on foot down to the floor and tap your toes. Lift the leg again and lower the other leg down to tap. Exhale as you tap. Keep your back to the mat at all times. Modification: Come to your elbows.
Heel Slides: Lean against a ball (or lay on your back knees bent). With back flat and belly tight, extend one leg by sliding your heel against the floor. Drag the heel back in, keeping your abs held in and exhaling.
Make Modifications and Take it Slow
It takes time to rebuild core strength after having a baby, your body is designed to go out and back in--you just have to guide it. These exercises take a lot of mindfulness, not a lot of extra force. Once you're comfortable with being able to hold your belly in and stable, and you have approval from your doc, come to class. This could take days or weeks, don't rush it. Once you return to Straightline classes, be mindful of your alignment and core activation--keep your hips and shoulders square while keeping your belly in during exertion (not just in ab work but throughout the entire class). While your ab muscles are growing back together, omit moves that lean or twist, which encourage abdominal separation. During the ab section of a class, feel free to opt out and perform the exercises above. This will help you be safe while you build up to a regular class.
Wondering which Straightline class to start with? Our signature Barre class is a safe, low-impact option and will help you build stamina, strength and endurance. We can't wait to see you on Zoom (and hopefully in person again in the near future)!