Time changes when you have a baby. Everyone tells you ‘they grow up so fast’, which is true, but actually ALL time goes so fast. I went back to work on the 2nd January, and it was as if I’d been on holiday for a fortnight, not 13 months of maternity leave. It’s mostly because we’re having fun, and partly because life is so hectic. I think back to my pre-baby days, times when I used to think I was ‘busy’ and laugh. I would have 45 minutes to get ready, by myself, in the morning. I could have a 10 minute shower without anyone banging on a shower screen and demanding to be let in. I could eat a bowl of porridge without having to share half of it whilst trying to not get any on the sofa. Glory days, eh?
Now of course, I wouldn’t have things any other way. I don’t actually miss ‘me’ time, I’ve never been great at my own company, and having a little person to chat to all the time suits me down to the ground. The only thing I would like? Some time to do some exercise. I’m not a gym bunny, or any sort of exercise enthusiast under normal circumstances. But you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone – and I do miss being able to go for a run, or a swim, at the drop of a hat.
I spent a fair amount of time whilst on maternity leave trying to find an option for exercising that would suit a post-partum, baby-trailing bod. I wanted something I could do safely, and that I could sustain long-term. I tried all the options you can think of; mother and baby pilates, couch to 5k, pilates classes run by physio at the hospital, YouTube videos, going to the gym/swim when my partner got home (often after 9pm…). And while I enjoyed some of them at the time – there’s nothing quite like spending £13 to chase your baby on to a stage during a pilates class – they just weren’t for us. I applaud those that make them work, but it was clear that they were not going to fit in to our lives.
Then, in early January, an offer came up on a Facebook group, ‘Free 14 Day Trial with YourPilatesPhysio’. I clicked on the link and joined, mainly because I love a freebie. Having previously tried 3 types of face-to face pilates classes as well as YouTube videos, I was pretty skeptical. I started by trying the ‘Pilates Core Exercises’ for beginners – a 30 minute video which for us is do-able during a nap time. I enjoyed the video, it seemed well paced, and I could actually feel some muscles working. What I really didn’t expect is how I would feel the next day – I could FEEL all these core muscles that I hadn’t felt in well over a year. The stretchy feeling of the muscles having been used reminded me to keep engaging them all day. Now, it may be just that I’m that far post-natal that my muscles were ready to be re-engaged, but I can honestly say I haven’t felt that with any of the other exercise I’ve tried.
The videos are really easy to follow. The instructions are simple, yet effective. I haven’t yet managed to move on to an intermediate video (I’ll confess, I tried for the purpose of this review but man! They are HARD). But I can tell you that the beginner’s videos are perfect for someone returning to pilates after a long, long break! They’re also sustainable – if the baby wakes up from her nap early, then I can just finish the video early, without being rude or feeling that I’m wasting money. And the beauty is that you can pick up where you left off (if the baby goes back to sleep!) or save it for another day. At the beginning, I was incredibly enthusiastic (this is a pattern for me with exercise!) and managing to do the videos 5 x a week. 4 weeks down the line, however, I’m still managing 3/4 times a week, which for me is remarkable.
As well as returning my core to me (which is a pretty precious thing!) – they’ve also helped with my back pain. My daughter is a pretty hefty one year old who loves a carry and a cuddle, and I was beginning to struggle. Since starting the videos not only is my back pain improved, but I’m also more conscious of how I’m lifting her, and making sure I’m engaging the right muscles. Which is one of the key benefits to the videos – they are made by a registered physio, so you know that as long as you are following the instructions, the videos are safe. In addition, I’ve even managed to shift a little bit of stubborn baby weight. I don’t think I’ll ever quite achieve my pre-baby flat tummy, but we’re off on holiday next month so I’m pretty excited to feel a bit more confident on the beach!
The woman who runs the ‘YourPilatesPhysio’ platform is called Lyndsay. A few days after I started the trial, I had an email from her asking me how I was getting on. Now, I thought ‘there’s no way she’d actually read and answer unless it was to persuade me to pay to join up longterm’ – but actually I couldn’t have been more wrong. I replied to Lyndsay’s email explaining I was one year post-partum, and still struggling with rectus abdominus diastasis (RAD). Her reply was prompt, detailed, and thoughtful. She didn’t put any pressure on me to sign-up longterm, rather extended my trial and suggested I try certain videos.
When I was thinking about writing this review, I was really conscious that I need to try to give a balanced view. The problem? I genuinely don’t really feel that there are any downsides. I suppose cost could be one of them, but there is still the option for a free 14 day trial available, so you’ve literally nothing to lose. You receive a reminder email prior to the end of your trial, so there’s no worry that after the 14 days you might suddenly start paying without realising. My extended 30 day trial has almost expired, and I’ll be signing up to the option to pay annually which works out as £120 per year (£2.30 a week for unlimited videos). There’s also the option to pay monthly for £12.99 a month. This may seem pricey, but actually far cheaper than paying £13 per pilates class that I can’t engage in, or £30 a month a gym I never go to! In addition, you can use the code ‘emma25’ to get 25% off – what a bargain!
By Helen Lemon Davies