Tag Archives: postnatal fitness

The Pain of Motherhood

I hope all of you moms had a happy mother’s day.  I had a delightful day with my brood– there was breakfast in bed, games of Skip-Bo, a nap with my daughter, running around at the playground, time to sew my oldest a swimsuit, and a nice dinner at a restaurant with tablecloths.

I am reminded that my body contributes to my mothering in so many ways, even now that my gestating and nursing days are over.  Like many of the women I work with, I have nagging minor pains from being pregnant and/or nursing for much of the last decade.  Being mindful of my posture and body mechanics helps me go through my daily activities with greater ease.

If you are a new mom or expecting a baby soon, paying extra attention to some of the repetitive motions of your caretaking can help you avoid some common pains of new motherhood.  Whether you have tightness in your neck or shoulders from nursing or a strained back from carrying that darn bucket carseat around, there are ways you can protect your body.

A few years ago, I was interviewed by journalist Peggy Bourjaily for an article in Pregnancy 360 magazine that addresses the common pains new moms experience.   Take a look for my tips and tricks to keep yourself healthy.  There are some illustrations of simple exercises anyone who has strained muscles from  childbirth and newborn care.

Please do take care of yourself, Mom.

Good health and happiness to you.

(I’d be grateful if you’d take a second to scroll down until you see the TOP MOMMY BLOGS button on the right and give it a click.  Grazie!)


Mama Power


I spent some of my Saturday at MomCom Austin today, and I’m all abuzz.  It was a gathering of 150 women for a mix of discussion, learning, listening to speakers, sharing, eating, and general chilling out.  There was some pretty fabulous energy in that room.

I was there as a representative of Cheer Up Buttercups, talking about all the awesome services available to support new parents through the preschool years.    As anyone who has ever met me can attest, I love talking.  I really love talking about healthy parenting.  I super really love talking about ways we as a community can do a better job helping each other navigate the early years of parenthood.  As you can imagine, it was all pretty fabulous.

Despite spending most of my time behind the exhibit table, I was able to meet the beautiful brains behind local companies such as Great Moments in Parenting, Olive You Nanny Services, Striped Shirt, TX MILK, and Mamashine.  It was really exciting to hear the passion of each of these entrepreneurs, animated by talking about doing work that they love.

As parents we all face decisions about work-life balance.  I am fortunate to be doing something I love and still have so much time with my children.  I have a lot of irons in the fire regarding my business growth in 2013, and after being at MomCom, I’m even more fired up to go out and be awesome.

Now you go do the same.  Good health & great happiness to you.

None of the companies mentioned in this post asked me to blog about them.  I just thought they were cool women, and as a mama and a business owner, I like to support cool women.  Simple.

The ABCs of Pre/Postnatal Exercise

As a personal trainer with a specialty certification in pre-/postnatal fitness, I’m often asked about basic guidelines for exercise during the childbearing year.  Incorporating information from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and my certifying body The Cooper Institute, here’s a handy reference list:

  • Aerobic exercise benefits everyone—including your growing baby—so long as you are having a healthy pregnancy.
  • Keeping your balance and maintaining good form are key to pre/postnatal exercise.
  • Be consistent with regular exercise—3 to 5 times per week—during pregnancy.
  • Drink extra fluids.  Water is best.
  • Don’t exercise to exhaustion, and avoid becoming overheated.
  • Stop when fatigued; get plenty of rest and sleep.
  • Resume previous exercise level gradually following delivery.
  • Hold off on beginning a completely new type of exercise program during pregnancy and in the first three months postpartum.
  • Reduce the level of intensity and duration of exercise as the pregnancy progresses, as indicated by your body’s cues.
  • Become familiar with normal changes in the body—such as joint laxity, swelling in the lower extremities, spinal alignment, and weight distribution.
  • Kegel, kegel, kegel!
  • Know your limits—when exercising and when stretching—and listen to your body!
  • Modify exercises to fit your level of development as the pregnancy progresses.  Individualize your exercise program to your fitness and energy levels.
  • Proper nutrition is healthy for you and baby.  Be aware of the need for approximately 300 extra calories/day when pregnant and 500 extra calories/day while breastfeeding.
  • Be aware of decreased oxygen available for aerobic exercise during pregnancy.
  • Pelvic tilts can help relieve the lower back stress felt as the uterus grows and your center of gravity changes.
  • Look for qualified, knowledgeable instructors and classes that are scientifically based.
  • Participate in breathing and relaxation exercises.
  • Supine (on the back) exercises should be avoided in the second & third trimesters.
  • Avoid all types of exercises that have increased risk of trauma to the abdominal area, such as basketball, skiing, or horseback riding.
  • Be aware of unusual changes in your body such as severe nausea, vomiting, swelling, or inadequate weight gain.
  • Visit your prenatal care provider regularly throughout your pregnancy.  Keep her/him apprised of your exercise program.
  • Warm-Up and Cool-Down periods of 10-15 minutes each help your body safely transition to/from exercise.
  • Regular eXercise can energize you while pregnant and give you positive eXpectations of life with baby.
  • Pre/postnatal yoga is great for muscle tone as well as breathing and relaxation exercises.
  • Now is not the time to be a zealot.  Good sense and moderation are important for fit mamas!

If you’re looking for group exercise classes just for perinatal women, come join me on Monday nights!

Let’s Get Fit, Mamas!

Join us for a fun and fantastic cardio and strength workout tailored for each stage of pregnancy and postpartum. Women of all fitness levels are welcome provided they have their health care provider’s clearance.  The classes are led by a Certified Pre/Postnatal Fitness Specialist who will modify exercises to suit each woman’s needs.

These circuit training classes provide a safe and effective workout as well as a venue for meeting other pre/postnatal women.  Come on out and do something good for you and your growing (or new) baby.

Class Info:
February 6, 13, 20, 27
6.30 – 7.30pm
Get Babied!
1825 E 38 1/2 St. Austin TX 78722


Please bring a yoga mat & a water bottle

Mama Abs “Rehab”


Join Certified Personal Trainer and pre-/postnatal fitness specialist Karen Shopoff Rooff for a postnatal class to restabilize the pelvis and strengthen your core muscles.   This class is for anyone who has been pregnant and given birth who wants a better understanding of how her abdominal and back muscles work together to make you mama strong.

With acceptance of the postnatal period as one of change and progression, a properly designed fitness plan allows postnatal women to effectively strengthen the abdomen and back. By learning how these muscles work together– and how they were affected by pregnancy– women learn to incorporate stabilizing work into daily life. This class will include handouts and homework between sessions so participants can continue to apply the concepts at home.    While attending all four sessions will give the most comprehensive understanding of how to rehab your abs, even one session can lay foundation work that you can build on outside of class.

Please have your care provider’s consent to take this class. Although there are benefits for moms who are ‘mature postpartum’ (more than one year since giving birth) can still reap benefits from this class, brand new moms (less than one month) can do more harm than good.

Class Info:
February 6, 13, 20, 27
5.30 – 6.15pm
Get Babied!
1825 E 38 1/2 St. Austin TX 78722


Please bring a yoga mat & a water bottle– see you and your mama abs there!

Stay Healthy Through the Holidays

Calling all pre-/post-natal women in Austin who are looking to keep fit through the holidays!

My group exercise class for pregnant and postnatal women will continue to meet through early January. Come out and join us for a great cardio and strength interval workout. All exercises can be modified to suit different stages of pregnancy or the new mom’s new body and its needs. This is a great way to keep a focus to your fitness during the weeks of parties, big meals, and endless treats.

Mondays, December 13 – January 3
6.15 – 7.15pm
Evolution Fitness
3309B Hancock Dr, 78731

The four-week session is $40, or you can pay a drop-in rate of $12/class.

Contact Karen of Balance Personal Fitness Training if you have any questions.
You are welcome to join our community of fit mamas!

Mummy Tummy

I hear it all the time: “I love my kids, but I *hate* my stomach!”  I’m frequently asked about the hows and whens and how much-es of abdominal exercises by moms, regardless of the age of their kids.  I have several tips I like to share.

First, stop and think about the amazing work your body has done if you have gestated and birthed a baby.   Be mindful of the awesome changes that your body undertook to sustain a developing new life.  Be grateful for the power of your body to labor and birth your baby.  Once you give your body the respect it deserves, you can work from a positive starting point.

Next, you must acknowledge that ab flab has two components: one has to do with fitness, and the other has to do with nutrition.    You can do all the crunches you want, but until you’re giving your body the proper nutrition, you’ll likely have a layer of fat over your gorgeously toned abs so that you can’t appreciate them.

As for ab exercises, moms can begin nearly immediately after delivery doing work to tone their tummy.  By taking a deep breath and then hissing on the exhale, the deep abdominals contract.  Just watch out you don’t make yourself light-headed!  I like to encourage new moms to do the hiss and compress each time they sit down to feed the baby, about 10 repetitions per set.

It is essential for new moms to test themselves for diastasis recti before beginning any type of crunch.  This separation of the abdominal muscles is quite common, but with proper technique and the right exercises, it can be lessened and neatly repaired.  Once you know you’re not at risk of causing further separation, crunches and other traditional ab exercises can be resumed. 

 The key to effective abdominal crunches is to pull the navel in toward the spine with each contraction.  This is not natural for most people, who forcefully exhale (and push the belly out) as they crunch.  But by moving the navel toward the spine, you teach the muscles to pull in as well.  If you’re going to do crunches, you may as well do them so you achieve the results you desire!

While you may not feel bikini-ready this summer, by changing your mindset, refining your nutrition, and performing a few simple exercises, you’ll gain a new appreciation for your powerful body.

Good health and great happiness to you.