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How to create safe and effective STOTT PILATES® programming for pre- and post-natal women

Pre- and Post-natal Programming

The best way to build confidence and improve your programming for special populations— like pre- and post-natal women— is through education, says Merrithew® Master Instructor Trainer Kim Kraushar.

“Any additional education will give you more tools to expand your creativity and build confidence in your skills as a Pilates and fitness instructor. Once you understand the guidelines and unique considerations, you will quickly feel comfortable creating appropriate and effective programs for the pre- and post-natal client,” Kim says.

“Furthermore, the female participant still makes up the majority of our clientele and having the tools and skills to work with an expectant mother are crucial for the success and longevity of their Pilates practice and your business.”

At the Merrithew Mindful Movement Symposium in Shanghai, China on Sept. 20-22, Kim will be teaching two workshops geared towards this group – STOTT PILATES® Pre-Natal Matwork with Stability Ball & Flex-Band® and STOTT PILATES Post-Natal Pilates.

Woman stretching leg lying on Mat

According to Kim, one of the most useful and powerful resources for pre- and post-natal clients is understanding how to leverage the STOTT PILATES Five Basic Principles.

“Understanding and communicating the essence of breath, alignment and inner core connection will help an expectant mother adapt to her changing body as the baby grows, creating a sense of calm in preparation for labor and delivery.

“And these principles will support her recovery by helping her reconnect to her core to build strength once the baby arrives. Appropriate exercises are, of course, very valuable, but the intention and detail STOTT PILATES trainers apply to all movement is where the true value lies.”

Along with the Five Basic Principles, Kim says instructors will learn how to help pregnant clients optimize their alignment to build strength to support their rapidly-changing bodies while minimizing unnecessary stresses and strains.

The Merrithew workshops for this population cover the physiological changes that occur in each trimester for a typical, healthy woman, such as breast tenderness, fatigue, nausea, joint laxity, increased respiratory rate and postural changes, and how those will influence exercise selection, positioning, modifications and execution.

Kim will also go over specific conditions like Diastasis Recti and Supine Hypotensive Syndrome, along with appropriate modifications.

Woman stretching while seated on Stability Ball
Woman seated on Pilates Edge

In Kim’s Pre-Natal Matwork with Stability Ball & Flex-Band workshop, participants will learn how to integrate these two versatile props into a customizable workout for their clients.

“For example, if sitting on the floor becomes uncomfortable for the pelvis, hips and low back, they can sit on the Stability Ball to provide relief to these areas, allowing them to still receive the full benefits of the exercise,” Kim says.

“The Flex-Band is a great tool for building strength in the postural muscles, which is particularly important during the postpartum phase as the mother spends many hours in thoracic flexion while nursing her new baby.”

As you adjust your programming, it’s important to communicate the reasons behind your modifications to clients. This builds the client’s confidence in their capabilities to perform the movements safely and effectively and it strengthens their confidence in their instructor to provide a high-quality, effective and safe fitness program.

“As instructors, we are often one of the first people to receive the exciting news of a new pregnancy. It’s such a great privilege to work with this special group as they are creating a new life while also choosing to honor and care for their own bodies.

“To play small role in supporting mother and baby through this process is a wonderful gift and I’m so excited to share my knowledge with the instructors at the China Symposium!”

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