ever since i started teaching pilates several years ago, i've had the great fortune of having a very high client retention rate. i've seen my clients move through major life stages, i.e. getting a dream job, sending kids off to school, wedding planning, etc...and one of the more fascinating physical examples of these stages is pregnancy.
being pregnant might be just one of the most powerful processes in which one can find and truly understand the mechanics of one's core. sorry fellas, we might have ya on this one! the muscles, joints and bones that are at a woman's core go through some very drastic changes and its conditioning is the key to making this process as pleasurable as possible.
my teacher jill cassady of the pilates technique has referred to this work as training to keep the endurance up for the marathon of labor. the exercises we do during pregnancy build on the conditioning done before conception and work to maintain the pliable strength of the core muscles as well as protect the changing architecture of the joints. during labor, the transverse abdominus, the innermost muscle of the abdomen that surround our waist, is a prime mover to "squeeze" the baby out. the diaphragm is the key muscle for breathing. the pelvic floor learns to dilate. click here for jill's dvd on pilates for pregnancy!
this picture shows a practitioner doing an exercise on the wunda chair that strengthens the shoulder, core and leg/gluteal muscles by forcing core stability with a dynamic push-up like movement in the upper body along with simultaneous hip & knee flexion in the lower body.
the multitude of safe exercises done during pregnancy include isometric, resistance-based, cardiovascular and active-static techniques that not only condition key core muscles, but also condition the stabilizer muscles of the shoulders, hips and back so that the body remains adaptable.
pilates is amazing for pregnancy. not only is it ideal for core conditioning and healthy joint mobility and stability, it keeps endorphins flowing so that one can stay positive and confident about her ever-changing body. it helps maintain good posture, keeps the body as free from aches and pains as possible and reduces risk of injury, swelling and edema. and of course, the delightful prize (second to the gift of a magical newborn!) is that recovery is that much quicker after delivery!