Unbelievably, Jake is already approaching his half birthday, which also means I’m coming to the end of the six month postnatal Pilates programme from Dr Joanna Helcke. I had the opportunity to start the accompanying pregnancy side of the programme while I was expecting, but suffering from ongoing pelvic pain which made just getting around quite uncomfortable I felt that I couldn’t really do it justice, so I opted to join in after the little one arrived.
Joanna’s fully online programme is truly comprehensive, including weekly exercise videos to follow at home, targeting the key mummy-specific areas of the abdomen and pelvic floor to enable you to regain your previous core strength – and improve it in many cases I’m sure! Alongside the weekly workout videos there are additional mini exercises to do to complement the main one, and a wealth of extra advice and guidance on both Joanna’s website, and her forum and Facebook group. The focus is always on general health and wellbeing, not just about getting a flatter stomach (although that is an added bonus!).
I started following the programme at 5 weeks after giving birth, as due to a severe tear I didn’t feel close to capable until that point. I needn’t have worried though. Up until week 8, by which point hopefully everyone will have had their postnatal check with their GP, the ‘workouts’ are so gentle they are actually quite relaxing. I found the initial exercises to be easy to manage and were wonderful for having a good stretch and get a little me time. Each video throughout the programme lasts between 20-30 minutes, so they are easy to fit in while baby naps, and the mini exercises can be done anytime while sitting feeding or cooking dinner. Clench that pelvic floor!
Obviously as the weeks progress the exercises become more challenging, but at a steady pace, and Joanna never asks you to do anything you don’t feel comfortable with. As I have done Pilates classes in the past I found some of the moves familiar but Joanna explains everything so clearly that even a total novice would be able to participate with no problem. She tells you what you should and shouldn’t be feeling in each exercise and the emphasis is always on challenging yourself without hurting yourself. A bit of cardio is gradually brought in as the weeks go by.
I must admit to not following the programme religiously each week, if I have been unwell or just not felt up to it, but it is so easy to dip in and out as you can go back to previous weeks’ videos and catch up on what you may have missed. If you at least try to do the mini workouts each week you will not fall behind. Joanna is also on hand to ask for any advice and seems very approachable, so you don’t feel like you’re being left to your own devices.
Brilliantly, you can try out the programme, tailored to your stage of pregnancy or post-childbirth, by taking advantage of the two week free trial on offer. After that it will cost you £12 a month to continue, which I think is worth every penny if you consider how much you might spend going out to a class once a week. And Joanna’s programme means you can exercise in your own time when it suits you, and your baby!
Six months down the line I’ve lost a stone and a half in weight and am back in my pre-pregnancy jeans which I had no chance of doing after my first pregnancy. I’ve still got a way to go to fully tone up back to where I was, but I’ve had a fantastic head start, and I’ve done it in a safe and controlled fashion thanks to Joanna’s guidance.
I was given access to the Dr Joanna Helcke online postnatal Pilates programme for six months for the purpose of this review. All opinions of the programme are mine.