I hope this finds you well. Every now and again I get an email from someone who says that they want to do exercises to help heal their Diastasis Recti but they’d also to do a Pilates or other group exercise class.
So, can you do a Pilates or Group exercise class when post-natal?
Just one of the potential problems.
As always the answer really is “it depends” but I would say No. Most group exercises classes are completely unsuitable for people with Diastasis Recti or pelvic floor issues. Even most Pilates classes are not suitable even though they claim to be “good for your core” as a generic Pilates class won’t help you fix your Diastasis Recti at all.
This is not because the classes themselves are terrible, most of them are fine for people without any health issues. But almost all classes have the following problems;
Too many people attending the class.
This is the main reason I don’t teach Post-Natal classes.
And I can’t do Zumba because I don’t have the hips for it.
If you have 10+ people in a class it is impossible for even a good instructor to give special attention to someone who might need a bit more guidance. Considering how delicate the recent Post-Partum body is you really need to make sure you do every exercise properly. Focus on your breathing, contracting the correct muscle etc.
There is a lot more money in instructing group exercise classes than there is in PT and this is the reason gyms and clubs offer them. A half decent instructor with a popular class can make $150-$250 an hour doing a class whereas Personal Training is just 1 on 1 and that pays significantly less in most areas.
Your group exercise instructor is rarely qualified to deal with specific Post-Natal issues.
I know several group exercises instructors and they are all excellent instructors. However they don’t know how to deal with someone with Post-Natal issues. They might run “baby-buggy bootcamps” or “fit mama classes” but just because they cater to people with kids it doesn’t mean they know how to fix Diastasis Recti, specific back problems etc.
To be fair to them, the instructors I know mainly market to people ” wanting to lose that baby weight” and don’t claim to be able to help with any issues. But clients do tend to infer a certain level of competence where there isn’t necessarily one. So make sure you ask your instructor!
In the UK the qualification system goes; Group exercise instructor = Level 2. Generic Personal Trainer = Level 3. Specialised PT is advanced Level 3 or indeed Level 4.
And that’s assuming your instructor or trainer even has any qualifications. The system in the UK is completely unregulated and there are more internet qualifications kicking about than you can shake a stick at.
It is virtually impossible for a group exercise instructor to adapt every exercise and make it safe for everybody.
Imagine you have a class of 15-20 people who all have varying levels of capabilities. Your instructor can show you how to do an exercise the easy way and a tougher version thereof. Say a half press up and a full one. They won’t have time to mention 4-5 variations all the time. This problem goes especially for systems like Yoga and Pilates which are more “flowy” than a circuit type class.
I love Yoga and employ an excellent Yoga instructor at my corporate client. But Svitlana does not have time to adapt her classes to each individual member. She aims to make the class fun, accessible and tough for everyone in the class but she can’t adapt everything for everyone with a bad back, hip problems, frozen shoulder, unresponsive core, diastasis recti etc. So we make sure everybody doing the class knows that when they have an injury or weakness they can not attend the class without first having had an assessment. This is just for their safety. I don’t want people walking out of a class feeling like they’ve been ruined for another week.
We have shot 3 Yoga Videos for your entertainment, number 1 with Svitlana above, but are very clear that they are not suitable for those of you with no core engagement or very severe Diastasis Recti.
Group exercise classes are great, they definitely serve a purpose. If your goal is losing a bit weight, getting a bit of exercise, feeling a bit healthier, getting out and about and meeting new people etc. I highly recommend them. Just fix your Diastasis Recti, and other issues, first. It really doesn’t take that long.