Monday, April 22, 2024

Work that pregnant body

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YOU CAN CALL Renee Crichlow a fitness buff and you would be on point. 

She has been involved in fitness for several years, playing netball, doing track and field and even representing the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI). But her decision to focus on prenatal and post-natal exercising came recently.  

“I actually thought about it during my last year at UWI while I was doing information technology,” she said. “Since I am a woman’s fitness specialist I am interested in helping all women. I know that there’s the whole body image with women who are pregnant.”

For Renee the desire to do this was so strong that she completed the certification last year through an organization called Dancing Through Pregnancy in conjunction with Yale University.

“The tutor is actually a lecturer at Yale University, so I had to go up there to do the practical,” Renee said. “But before that I did the American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer course so that was my basis and from there I expanded up.”

Working with women, particularly pregnant women, has been a dream come true for Renee.

“When you call me to train you must be cleared by your doctor first because I’m not going to let you in the class,” Renee said.

“A lot of women were surprised that you could actually exercise through pregnancy, and some would say, ‘I am glad something like this is happening in Barbados’. Some would say that their doctors would just tell them to walk, but there is so much that pregnant women can do. It is really to prepare your body for all the changes that it will go through and preparing you for labour as well.”

According to Renee, during pregnancy a woman’s whole centre of gravity shifts, bones are going to go out of alignment, so there are certain areas that become weak like the upper back, thighs, hamstrings and glutes.

“They become weak because you’re tilting forward in a way and then the lower back has some issues,” she said. “So the class is supposed to address all those issues as well.”  Renee’s classes also look at pelvic floor muscle function.  

“A lot of women don’t realize that you should be doing Kegel’s [exercises] to help strengthen those muscles, but still making sure that they’re not too tight because that would cause problems for the baby to come out,” Renee said.

Many trainers like Renee know the benefits of exercise during pregnancy because it helps strengthen your muscles, and helps your body cope better with the aches and pains of pregnancy.

“I like to see that pregnant women are still moving and they’re not limited by the growth of the baby or anything like that,” Renee said. “I find that they respond to dancing very well. They like it. I had a client who stopped two weeks before delivery. I had another client that did the prenatal class and now is doing the post-natal because she means that she has to get her body back in shape.”

According to Renee, some women don’t realize that even after they have a child their body has to recover from the pregnancy.

“Everything has to go back down. If you have a cut it has to heal and sometimes your ribs might stay expanded for a time,” she said. Renee says that there is still stigma attached to pregnancy in Barbados and she would like to see women’s attitudes change.

“I think there is the thinking that once you’re pregnant you’re not supposed to do anything, you are to eat for two – which means eating everything,” she said. Renee says that she learns a lot about childbirth and child-rearing from her clients and she is eager for the class to grow and expand because she feels that this is a good thing for pregnant women to be doing.

“I would like for it to come to a point where doctors ‘prescribe’ this for their patients,” Renee said. “I want it to be like a community type thing where we are encouraging the growth of each other, starting a lot of friendships and a lot of bonds.”        

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