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Pilates for Pregnancy & Post-partum Recovery

Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to where you are today?

I actually first spent 7 years working in Fashion and PR and it wasn’t until I moved to New York that I turned my passion for Pilates into a career. I was lucky enough to have an exceptionally good instructor as my first boss and she inspired and mentored me to focus on pre and postnatal pilates. After I had my first daughter and experienced first hand pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal recovery, I truly realised the huge benefits of Pilates and how it can support women during this special and challenging time.

Why are you so passionate about pilates and what is different about your studio?

My love affair with Pilates where do I begin. I love that pilates is grounded in anatomy and that the goal of our sessions are to create balance, harmony and space throughout the body. I love that you can do it every single day and still not ever have to do the same workout twice. At Bodylove we focus on the mindful burn – you workout hard for sure, but we are not just challenging you physically but we place a lot of emphasis on strengthening the mind-body connection to the movement. The body can be incredible strong, but if the mind is strong too you can be limitless.

 Why is Pilates so important for pregnancy and post-partum recovery?

The female body is amazing and the changes it goes through over the course of a pregnancy, birth and recovery is mind blowing. The wonderful thing about Pilates is it addresses these changes, whilst also preparing you physically for the challenges ahead. Postnatal recovery can begin almost immediately after birth and is specifically focused on reactivating the deep core muscles that have suffered varying degrees of trauma during the labour. Pilates is key to this initial and crucial first step after you’ve given birth.

I had a ten centimetre stomach separation, is that genetic or could I have done something to prevent this?

Almost every woman will have a degree of separation postpartum. It is called Diastasis Recti and refers to the separation of the abs as the belly grows and the stretching of the connective tissues that joins our two sides of abdominals. Deep core strengthening throughout your pregnancy – I’m talking daily – is the best prevention and 100% does work and will ensure a speedier postnatal recovery.

 Let’s talk about those pelvic muscles. Do the exercises whilst sitting at the traffic lights really work or do we need to do more?

The Pelvic floor muscles are thinking muscles – you don’t actually have to move to make them stronger. Instead you need to find a mind-body connection to the action of the muscles. This means the more you think about activating them the stronger the neural pathways become, the stronger those muscles. So yes – sitting at the traffic lights will help but thinking about them first before you enage any other muscle when exercising is better!

After two babies, I sometimes sneeze and a little bit of pee comes out, is this my new reality or can I improve my pelvic floor and start jumping on trampolines again?

I get asked this a lot – this is not your new reality. I want more for you and all postnatal women. We can 100% work on this and must. Incontinence is just one symptom but it tells us that there is dysfunction in your pelvic floor muscles and this may cascade to include other symptoms as seemingly unrelated as neck pain.

If there was one at home exercise you would tell every mother to do daily. What is it and can you explain it?

Just one..mmmmmmm – learn to breathe correctly. The breath is so important and key to correct deep core activation.

About Ali Handley

Ali received her certification at Pilates Academy International – training with the co-founders at their flagship studio on 5th Ave. Soon after, while instructing at Erika Bloom Studios on the Upper East Side of New York and in the Hamptons, Ali discovered her true calling lay in pre & postnatal Pilates, and quickly made that her focus of discovery and education – working with women throughout their pregnancy and rehabbing them upon their return to fitness and strength.

“I love working with these women, it’s both rewarding and challenging at the same time. Being pregnant and then postnatal is such a personal journey and I feel so lucky to be able to help guide women during this special time.”

Working with countless prenatal & postnatal clients over the years Ali experienced a real desire in these women to learn more about their changing bodies, what was safe exercise and how they can workout at home on their own to look and feel better. From this, the idea for BodyLove Pilates was born.

Find out more about Body Love Pilates here