Looking back now I must admit that my first love wasn’t fitness. It was animals and in particular, horses that were my passion. I had competed in horse riding from a young age and at the time I really believed that it was the career for me. However, my dad told me I could work with horses when I had a degree and instead insisted I go to college.
I studied social care and I must have been the only person there who thought they preferred working with horses to working with humans. Over the four years of study my perspective did change. I actually liked working with people. It seems funny to write now that I’m a coach in the gym but at the time it was a shock.
The horses were left waiting for the time being as I began my career as a Social Worker. I grew to love working with people even more and it was around this time that I discovered another passion, fitness.
Over the next years I trained in a couple of different CrossFit gyms while keeping up my work in social care. A big change in life came in 2019 when I found out I was pregnant with my little boy, Luke. A big goal of mine became staying as fit and healthy as I could throughout pregnancy. Working out in the gym not only kept me physically healthy but it really helped with my own mental health. My body was changing and hormones were in overdrive but giving myself one hour a day to prioritise my body helped me to feel good about myself.
When Luke was born, I had this huge realisation that my body had completely changed. It’s hard to describe but it honestly reminded me of being abroad when I rented the smallest and cheapest car possible for a holiday with my friend Holly. I was used to my car at home and now had to get used to this smaller, rusty and less powerful car. It just felt weird to drive and that’s how my body felt after giving birth, it just wasn’t moving like it should.
It took time but during my maternity leave I eased back in by doing some at home workouts to slowly get back to myself. When my leave was up I returned to Social Care Work and decided to join a new gym in Wicklow Strength and Fitness. I LOVED this place. I can’t stress enough how impressed I was by the gym having been a member of a few different gyms over the years.
The coaching staff team were so attentive to each member and their knowledge and coaching skills were beyond anything I had experienced in any CrossFit gym that I had been a part of.
It couldn’t have been better timing, I was so happy to be back exercising and rebuilding my body with the support of the team here. I remember scrolling through Instagram and seeing that Liam was advertising looking for new coaches. As much as I loved working with people in the social care system, I did wonder what it would be like to marry my two loves in fitness and working with people.
At first I dismissed the idea until I got a pep talk from my friend Holly, (yep the girl I rented the shitty car with) she had worked with Liam in the past and gave me the push I needed to put my name forward. The horses were made to wait again.
Liam may regret his decision now as I’m quite fond of annoying and slagging him but he took me on and put me through all the training I needed to become a coach in the gym.
Fast forward a few months and I couldn’t stop thinking about my own pre and postpartum experience. The knowledge I’d gained and how much exercise helped me get my body and confidence back. I began studying in depth with Dr. Sarah Duvall for several months and more recently I’ve been working with Liam to think of different services we can provide to help both pre and postpartum ladies.
There are a lot of misconceptions in these areas and I’ve always believed in raising the standards of women’s health and fitness. If I can help just a few women feel empowered and strong throughout and post pregnancy then it’s all been worth it. I’ve been there and I know the challenges so I want to help other people be stronger and more confident versions of themselves.
The horses will be left waiting for another while yet.
Benefits of Pre and Postpartum exercise
- Some people can have a misconception that exercising or lifting weights while pregnant can be dangerous for the baby. However, research has shown that exercise during pregnancy is in fact extremely beneficial.
- Exercise during pregnancy has been shown to reduce the likelihood of C-section, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, hypertension, urinary incontinence, depression, low back pain and overall fatigue.
- Exercise during pregnancy has also been proven to improve weight management, foetal development, blood glucose levels, psychological well-being, labour time and reduce Postpartum recovery.
- The combination of my own experience of exercising during pregnancy and the research that has gone into exercising Pre and Post Natal, I feel that I can safely say that one of the best things that you can do for you and your baby, is to stay fit and healthy through safe exercise.
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Szumilewicz, A., Kuchta, A., Kranich, M., Dornowski, M. and Jastrzębski, Z. (2020). Prenatal high-low impact exercise program supported by pelvic floor muscle education and training decreases the life impact of postnatal urinary incontinence. Medicine, 99(6), p.e18874.