Achieving your pre-baby body is no mean feat, but with tailored guidance from experts and some scheduled you-time, a tighter, leaner body can be closer than it feels. Sydney based mother, author of How To Love Your Body As Much As Your Baby and fitness expert Jen Dugard created Body Beyond Baby to put the woman back into the mum in a safe and enjoyable community. Sarina Zoe caught up with Dugard to find out what it takes to get a post-partum body that is strong, fit and healthy.
Finding the time and energy to exercise after having a baby can be a struggle, especially when it feels like you’re giving every piece of yourself to a little person. Yet Dugard’s philosophy is, You cannot be the best mum you can be if you do not take time out to get moving again.
Her passion for helping mothers regain confidence with themselves and their body is what drives the success of Body Beyond Baby, which runs classes around Sydney. A huge love of mine is watching the mums around me find themselves again through health and fitness. We help to put the woman back into the mum – and when I watch somebody find themselves again and achieve both fitness and personal goals I feel so proud.
Despite a background in gymnastics and personal training, and maintaining good health and fitness during her first pregnancy, Dugard didn’t like the changes to her body after her son Marley, now six, was born. She began writing a blog when Marley was three months old to share her journey with other mothers. She soon realised there was a community of mums who also wanted to get back into exercise, so Dugard refocused her own training around postnatal fitness and was soon leading outdoor training sessions for groups of mothers.
Body Beyond Baby creates an environment where mothers are trained by fitness expert mothers and can exercise close to their little ones while they are minded by nannies. This is designed to reduce the stress of finding a babysitter, while mums enjoy an uninterrupted workout.
Dugard explains that these group sessions are not a one-size-fits-all scenario. The group sessions are composed of one-on-one tailored workouts. In any one class you may have a number of variations going on at any one time. It is our goal to provide as individual a session as possible within the group environment and to educate all of our mums so they have an awareness and can look after themselves in any other exercise situation.
Dugard also emphasises the importance of finding out what is happening inside the body after having a baby before getting back into any exercise. Investing in an appointment with a women’s physio at this time is invaluable. Dugard continues, I would go as far as to say you cannot train a mum properly without this support from another health professional.
Dugard’s three key tips for getting a pre-baby body:
1. Before you commit to any kind of exercise routine you need to know what is happening with the parts of your body that you cannot see. See a women’s health physio to make sure you know what’s going on with YOU. Find out if your pelvic floor is working well and if you are doing your activations correctly.
2. Once you know where you are at and all is well, make sure you start with creating a good strong base with simple movement patterns – this is the first port of call. We spend time moving through core, postural and pelvic floor muscles, along with your cardio and strength, making adaptations for anyone who needs it.
3. Prioritise yourself. Energy creates energy, and day-by-day you will start to feel “normal” again.
Dugard believes that taking time to recharge and refocus on the body is not only beneficial to the health and wellbeing of mothers, but has a positive knock-on effect for little ones. “I think as mothers (and parents) we need to lead by example, so by you prioritising your own health and fitness your children will also see this as normal.”