I just shared about how I'm trying to care for myself more, even in the busyness of parenting. One of the aspects I'm working on is fitness, not so much for aesthetic reasons or weight loss (which isn't the best thing now that we are more than halfway through pregnancy number 4!), but because I wanted to strengthen various muscle groups to prevent all the usual aches and pains that I suffer from, as well as prepare for childbirth. Running was out of the question, since my knee injury prevents me from any high-impact exercises, and it was hard to be consistent with swimming because the nearest pool isn't exactly very accessible (and now the haze makes it even harder!).
Friends have shared with me about the benefits of Pilates, thus, I went to read up about it. I've suffered from various aches and pains since becoming a mum: severe back pain during and after the second and third pregnancies, bad posture partially due to scoliosis, and creaky knees that hurt with exertion, so Pilates seemed like the perfect activity to sign up for, since it strengthens the muscles and helps with posture.
I read that Pilates also focuses on the core muscles, which would help in my issue of diastasis recti (ab separation), which was a problem since the first pregnancy. I usually get really big during each pregnancy (everyone tends to comment that I look like I'm carrying twins, or ask me if I'm due when I'm just 20 over weeks!), and because of diastasis recti my tummy remains pretty large post-birth. I was hoping that the Pilates exercises during this pregnancy might help to reduce this problem, and help to speed up recovery post-birth.
|Pretty decor in the studio.|
Anyway, I went hunting for a suitable Pilates studio that offered classes for pregnant women. My criteria was simple: I didn't want to travel too far for classes, and I was hoping for something with a smaller class size, since I am quite the klutz, and would probably have difficulty following instructions if the class was bigger. My search brought me to Breathe Pilates, which had a studio in Novena Medical Center, which was a few MRT stops away from home. Even better, that studio was just opposite the hubby's workplace, so I was able to meet him for dinner before class, if he was able to get off work on time. Breathe's prenatal classes are small, compared to other studios that I checked out, with a maximum capacity of 4, and there were many time slots I could choose from.
They were more or less perfect, so I wrote in to inquire further, and was given the chance to try their package for new clients, which consists of three private sessions and five group sessions. The folks at Breathe Pilates encourage all new members to sign up for a few private sessions first, since that introduces you to the basics of Pilates, and allows the instructor to assess you and advise you on what classes you can take. You then usually move on to join group classes.
During the sessions, I was introduced to the various equipment that are used in Pilates: The tower and reformer (pictured below), the stability/exercise ball, and the weights and flex bands. These equipment would be used during exercises, which are done in repetitive sets, to stretch and strengthen the muscles in the body.
|The tower and reformer.|
The reformer was one of the most frequently used equipment during the classes. It looks something like a bed, which is actually a moving platform that moves back and forth along a carriage. This is used to provide resistance for exercises, and the resistance is provided by your own body weight, as well as springs. The springs allow you to adjust the resistance to suit or challenge your own strength.
|The springs on the reformer.|
Using the reformer (and sometimes the tower, which is the black standing structure attached to the end of the reformer), we were taught to do various exercises. Prenatal Pilates aims to strengthen the pelvic floor and back muscles in preparation for childbirth, and the reformer is commonly used to target train these muscles.
|Some of the balls used during exercises!|
The only issue I had with the use of the reformer was that you can't do those exercises at home. For Pilates to be really effective, I think it would be best to do the exercises a few times a week. However, being able to leave the kids with my parents for one session a week was already considered quite a luxury, since the kids don't go to school and are usually with me 24/7. Hence, I was quite glad that most of the instructors that took the time to introduce other exercises using equipment that we could use at home: the flex band (a long elastic band, which I ended up purchasing from here), stability ball, and small hand weights. The flex band was particularly useful, since it's pretty cheap, and you can replicate some of the exercises that are done on the reformer in the comforts of your own home.
Thus far, I've enjoyed the classes over at Breathe Pilates. The private sessions were enlightening: I learnt about what was wrong with my posture, as well as exercises I could use to help stretch and tone various problem areas. The group sessions were enjoyable too, since I could meet and chat with other expecting mums, while exercising at the same time. The instructors vary the exercises for each session, so that you don't get bored doing the same things over and over again, and usually you learn something new each time. I came out from each session feeling like I've worked muscles that I never knew existed, but without having to feel sticky and sweaty!
The studio is small and cosy, and I really liked how the classes are kept to a maximum size of four, which means the instructor is better able to guide you if you have difficulty following the exercises. Another thing that appealed to the germaphobe in me: They make it a point to wipe down all the equipment used after every session!
Even though I've not been consistent doing the exercises at home, the weekly sessions have helped: I have less aches and pains during this pregnancy, and the bad backaches have not come back to haunt me. I loved the classes so much that I ended up signing up for more sessions, and I'm hoping to continue until I pop, and hopefully after delivery too!
Anyway, if you do suffer from any chronic pain, or are expecting, I'd highly recommend Pilates. Some of the hubby's friends also swear by it, and claims it helped to clear up their back pain. For pregnant mums who would like to give it a try, do note that most studios only accept students after you have passed your first trimester, and it'll be best to get clearance from your gynae.
Breathe Pilates offers various Pilates classes, including pre and post-natal classes, as well as physiotherapy sessions. They have three studios, located at:
- 10 Sinaran Drive, Novena Medical Centre #09-33 Singapore 307506
- 1 Marine Parade Central, Parkway Center #13-02 Singapore 449408
- 1 Fusionopolis Place, Galaxis, #01-04, Singapore 138522
For more information, do visit their website and Facebook page, or call 9835 5683. Do follow them on Facebook or Instagram (@breathepilatessg), to be kept updated about their current events and promotions.
Breathe Pilates has kindly offered free trial sessions to readers of this blog! If you are thinking of trying out Pilates, or are pregnant and thinking of taking up prenatal Pilates sessions, these trial sessions are for you. (Note: These sessions can be regular or prenatal sessions, depending on sign-ups, so anyone can try out!) There are two timeslots available for the sessions:
- Wednesday, 12 pm @ Galaxis
- Saturday, 12 pm @ Parkway Center
All you need to do is "like" AND comment on this FB post, on which session you would prefer, and let us know if you would like to bring a friend or two along! We have 20 trial sessions to giveaway, and will close entries on the 12th of Nov, Thursday at midnight.
Disclaimer: I was sponsored some sessions with Breathe Pilates, after which I signed up for more sessions, which were paid from my own pocket. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.