September 10 2020 – Gabrielle Austria
For Daub & Design
By Roxy Menzies
Roxy Menzies is an advocate for optimal Women’s health throughout every phase in life using the tools of Yamuna® Body Rolling, Dance, Gyrotonic® and Pilates. Her curiosity for life and movement led her to live, perform and teach around the globe. She’s returned to Toronto full-time as a new mom with her daughter Jazz and shares her postpartum journey thus far. Please check out her 2 previous blog posts with Daub & Design.
Don’t let the stroller fool you -- this short and sweet Pilates Barre sequence is for everyone!
Especially for those of you working from home and/or sitting quite a bit. You can do this anywhere using a chair, table, counter top or even the wall. For the new mama’s you can use your stroller and add this to your walks. We're going to target the back body: specifically the butt and hamstrings. The beauty of Pilates is that, even if we’re focused on a specific area, the whole body is working: stabilizing and elongating.
Ask any new mama and they’ll tell you it’s a balancing act, everything from figuring out what you’re doing with this little person to body changes, self care and more if you’re still working. Add the ‘new normal’ of lockdown and COVID protocols and phew… mama’s are in a whole new category.
For me (and a lot of moms I talk to) the hardest part of COVID has been the isolation from real-life mommy baby meet-ups. Getting outdoors is great for both mama and babe so I designed a low impact stroller workout for myself. Within 2 weeks I felt the difference. Carrying my 20lb baby (who needs a kettlebell?) up the stairs or for longer periods became easier along with a sense of support and reconnection with my body. Now that’s functional movement at it’s best!
This particular sequence targets your butt and hamstrings and is great for combatting the effects of too much sitting. Too much sitting tightens up the front of the body, cuts off circulation to the legs and can lead to hip and low back pain as well as aid in pelvic floor dysfunction. For mama’s, whose hormones are still fluctuating (up to 2 years after birth) keeping our butt strong helps to stabilize our hips and support our back and pelvic floor. Remember, whether you’ve had a baby or not it’s a great idea for every woman to see a good pelvic floor physiotherapist periodically throughout your life, especially if you feel any pressure, pain or heaviness.
Give these 3 exercises a try and aim for 2-3 sets of each leg. Enjoy!
Keep the arms long, place them on your stroller handles, counter, chair or press them up against the wall. Keep the space between your ears and shoulders and imagine you’re squeezing a tennis ball at your underarm. Make sure you have ample space behind you and take your torso to a low diagonal or parallel to the floor in a flat back position. This means you’re not hunching over nor tucking or arching your low back.
Imagine you’re wearing a belt, and as you exhale, gently draw your abs in and up, up towards your chest. (we don’t want to overdo it and squeeze so hard that it’s hard to breathe nor do we want to create any downward pressure on the pelvic floor).
Take one leg straight behind you touching the floor with the supporting leg bent. Feel your supporting leg pushing down into the ground with a little more emphasis on your heel. The knee shouldn’t pass the toes.
Your body is already working, engaged and stabilized by holding this position.
LOWER & LIFT
The key to really feeling this sequence is to keep the back long and don’t let it drop or arch as the leg comes up. This requires that abdominal engagement and the leg won’t go much higher than parallel to the floor. Think quality over quantity and more subtle (until it burns that is).
Starting position: Exhale - keep the abs drawn in and up. Keep the leg straight and long, both hips face downwards to the floor, supporting knee is bent. Now lift the leg without arching the back.
Inhale - with control, slowly lower the leg and tap the floor. Raise leg back to starting point, keeping hips square, standing leg bent slightly and back flat.
Repeat 8-10 times with the same leg and hold it up on the last one to lead into the 2nd exercise.
Keep the leg up, back long, abs in, knee straight, keep elongating the leg back.
From just under the butt, small pulses upwards. You should feel this in your side glute.
Repeat 8-10 times and keep the leg up to lead into the 3rd exercise.
HAM CURL PULSES
Keep your leg up, back long and abs in, bend the knee without lowering it, flex the foot.
From that bent knee position do little pulses (without arching the back) sending your heel to the sky.
Repeat 8-10 times, hold for a moment, straighten the leg and gracefully bring it down.
Stand up, shake it out and repeat all of that with the other leg.
Check out this video to follow along with Roxy:
You can find Roxy on instagram @roxyspiral and check out her website www.roxymenzies.com to subscribe and learn about the release of her 4 week Stroller Pilates & Barre workout as well as the launch of her blog ‘The Pregnancy and beyond Chronicles’; a positive, helpful and humorous blog for women seeking a positive and uplifting pregnancy, birth and beyond.