We interview Niki Rein, Founder of Barrecore, on exercising during pregnancy and post-birth
Has motherhood changed your relationship to exercise?
Being a mother has changed a lot of things in my life, as you can imagine, and exercise is definitely one of them. I have always been active from an early age and have had the luxury to workout whenever I wanted to for however long I wanted to. Since our daughter’s birth that has changed dramatically! I completely underestimated the flexibility and autonomy of the ‘me time’ I had before becoming a parent. I used to train 6 days a week often right upon waking, taking the time I wanted. That number has now come to as low as twice a week and can be as short as 30 minutes depending on when I can squeeze it in. When, at first, this seemed like a huge compromise, I learned to maximise my workouts more than ever and my body has actually felt better for it. I probably leaned more towards exercise addiction in my life before parenthood so this has created a very healthy and surprising balance that I didn’t even realise I had needed.
Barrecore is my sole form of exercise due to its incredibly efficient and effective nature but I now find that I am more mentally connected during workouts to ensure no moment is wasted which has, no doubt, increased my results. Now that I am currently 7 months pregnant with our second, my workouts and exercise mentality have shifted once again. With this pregnancy, I have different niggles than I did with the first and I am FAR more tired (with a wild toddler running around) so I am taking a more nurturing approach this time. I do my best not to push myself too much and changed my mindset to use each workout more as an endorphin and tension release as well as maintaining my strength.
What made you want to launch BarrePRENATAL? And what can mamas expect if they come to a class?
BarrePRENATAL was created to encourage prenatal women that pregnancy is not a disability and that it’s okay to move their body and experience intense exercises in a safe and positive way for the growing bump. Classes are formatted in a way that not only educate on the importance of staying strong through pregnancy, so labour is hopefully smoother and recovery can be incredibly quick if maintained, but also teach each client modifications they can take with them into any of our classic SIGNATURE Barrecore classes. Clients leave feeling empowered to continue their strength training with non-pregnant clients whilst listening to what their bodies need day by day.
Is exercise something you would recommend for every trimester?
Most definitely! Of course, everyone should get the okay to workout from their doctor first but unless the pregnancy is high risk, every woman should maintain some sort of routine throughout the entirety of pregnancy. That said, not all forms of exercise are recommended for pregnancy and modifying each day as the body needs is an absolute must. High impact workouts (running, HIIT, jumping, etc) should be off the table immediately until the baby is 6 months old. This is due to the release of the hormone relaxin which loosens the connective tissue throughout the body during and up to 6 months postnatal making injury much more likely.
Plus, pregnancy and birth take a traumatic toll on the pelvic floor (even for those who have a cesarean birth) so focused rebuilding exercises are best for maintaining a strong yet supple pelvic floor as opposed to more downward pressure from fast paced pounding exercises. Barre fitness is actually one of the safest and best forms of prenatal workouts due to the low impact and pelvic floor based exercises. Our clients always comment on how great they feel during their pregnancy journey and how quickly they bounce back post birth.
How can it help mamas-to-be to prepare for labour?
At Barrecore, we use a lot of isometric contractions, these contractions are incredibly efficient at building strength and muscle endurance. They are also incredibly tough from a mental endurance point of view which actually changes the mindset to a more empowered state as strength and stamina build. During natural birth, the contractions/dilation phase can last many hours and the pushing phase comes at a time when the body has gone through the toughest workout in your life.
Birth contractions are isometric so having a regular barre fitness base is a massive help during labour from both a physical and mental perspective. We all know the hormonal swings that happen throughout pregnancy and beyond and because Barrecore classes are so empowering and uplifting moods stay more stable with regular classes.
And finally, what about other benefits, like mental health?
Barre fitness benefits are endless! Not only is barre great for fat burning, muscle building, mind clearing, posture rebalancing and mood boosting but it’s a form of exercise that is safe and effective for any age group and fitness level. There is increasing evidence that the main type of contractions (isometric – as mentioned) we use throughout our classes create more mitochondria in the cells which keep the body in an energy producing and fat burning state if done at least two to four times per week. I believe there will be a lot more research on why, not only barre fitness, but low impact, high intensity exercises are best for overall health and longevity. Stay tuned…
Why not read our interview with Olympian and mama Jessica Ennis-Hill?