BL: I became curious about fitness and working out in high school when I took my first step class. I showed up wearing a dress, that was how little I knew. That class was so much fun, though, I was instantly hooked and convinced my entire family to join the local athletic club so I could do more and learn more. That same club is where I was first hired at age 16 to work in the "Kids Klub" while parents exercised. Thus began my career, and by age 18, I had completed my group fitness certification through AFAA and was and headed to Oregon State to study Exercise and Sport Science.
KT: So many moms tend to prioritize themselves last. How have you been able to integrate staying fit and healthy with becoming a mother?
BL: My firstborn had some MAJOR health issues when she was born, so remember how I said that my first job in the fitness industry was working in Kids Klub? I had always thought I'd become the same kind of mom: happily dropping my kids off to go teach a step class or lift some weights ... but my daughter was diagnosed as "failing to thrive" at 6 months old due to Vesicouretal Reflux, a genetic defect that mutated her ureters to the point that she had chronic kidney infections. She was one sad little baby girl, and I was one anxious mama!
Needless to say, I was suddenly a bit boggled about balancing fitness with her need for me. Like many moms - even though I had the head knowledge to PROVE that I needed to take care of myself if I was going to care for her - I began to let myself go. All she had to do was whimper, and I'd hop off the treadmill. All she had to do was fuss, and I'd wonder if I should take her in for a urine test as opposed to working out that day. My husband was great about giving me breaks, but by the time he got home, I was in no mood to even get out for a walk, let alone go teach a class!
KT: Tell me about your innovative approach to fitness online! How does it work?
BL: It was during a big time of crisis after having my second child and dealing with a bout of severe anxiety and baby blues, that I finally realized that my situation really wasn't unique. What made me different, and what kept me "slightly" more in shape than other moms, was that I used some of my sane free time to exercise because I knew what to do. My friends were turning to me for advice on what they could accomplish in 15 minutes or less, and so when one of them suggested that I put my workouts on video and start a website, my mental wheels started to turn.
However, the idea of an online fitness site where frazzled, busy parents could find workouts that would help them relax, heal, stretch, and strengthen seemed like it had been done already. Then I found out that it had NOT been done yet. No one was truly catering to REAL parents. Oh sure, there are sites with perfectly toned models wearing little more than their underwear, and we've all seen plenty of frenzied, lengthy "turbo" workouts that promise to rip and shred us ... but my friends were saying those workouts hurt them and left them feeling disillusioned and depressed.
So I set out to be different, or rather, to be myself. To be a real mom working with real moms. To film real workouts in real homes that were all lengths and levels, so that any mom could get a non-intimidating workout at any time. But it's not just that, I set out to help moms heal from their births and the break-down of daily motherhood. Because what good is a "buff bod" if your back aches too much to lift your sick child?
KT: Tell me about diastasis recti. How is this related to back pain and pelvic floor issues--and how do we fix it?
BL: According to this research study, nearly every pregnant mom develops a separation in her abs called a diastasis recti. It's what our belly muscles do to make room for a baby. The ghastly part is that women don't know about it and think they need to do crunches or planks or mountain climbers to rid themselves of the "poochy mummy tummy." Those exercises make it worse, though! When moms skip those exercises and focus instead on tightening their transverse abdominus, that when magic happens: the transverse is directly connected to the lower back and pelvic floor, so focusing on it will heal the entire core!!! It's amazing! Here's a video showing how to check your belly.
KT: What are your best suggestions for fitness during pregnancy, and to support a healthy, safe delivery?
BL: I've written many articles on my blog about exercises that benefit women during birth and the post-partum period, but my two recent favorites are My Top 5 Non-crunchy Ab Moves and Three Exercises for a Strong Birth. But my four biggest pieces of advice are: Walk a lot because it strengthens your whole body, don't sit on your tailbone because it shortens your pelvic floor, avoid crunches and planks while pregnant no matter what, and get your belly into ab rehab right after you have your baby. My site has a specialized section for pregnant and new moms, containing diastasis-conscious workouts that are safe for all stages of pregnancy and right after the birth. My free workout that people get when they sign up for my newsletter is something that pregnant moms can do, and a c-section mama can do it 10 days after surgery, and a vaginal-birth mama can do it right away! Come sign up today!
KT: Sounds great. Thanks, Bethany!
For more about Fit2B.us, Bethany, and healing a diastasis recti, go to www.Fit2B.us. You can also find Bethany on Facebook here, and on Twitter @fit2bmama.