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Pushy Mothers - Q and A with Judy DiFiore

Whether you're finding it hard to lose weight you put on when you were pregnant, or you'd just like to tone up and get some more exercise, it can be hard to find the time when you've got a young family. Even if you manage to make a space, there's childcare to be sorted out and it may all seem too complicated. That's where Pushy Mothers comes in, as it gives you the opportunity to exercise with your baby in tow, as co-founder Judy DiFiore explains.

The Pushy Mothers Buggy Workout is a one-hour outdoor exercise class with no childcare concerns - mums bring their baby in the buggy. Designed specifically for postnatal mums the workout aims to

  • Burn off excess 'baby fat' with lots of cardio pushing intervals
  • Tighten and tone muscles with resistance training
  • Improve core stability for a healthier back and flatter abs
  • Condition the pelvic floor so you can sneeze with ease!

Why did you set it up?

Rachel Berg and I set up Pushy Mothers in 2006 after many years specialising in pregnancy and postnatal exercise. There is a great deal of incorrect advice out there and we wanted to provide new mums with the most up-to-date, safe and specific guidelines for getting back into shape.

Having taught indoors classes for years the concept of exercising outdoors brings a new and more sociable dimension to fitness and makes it accessible to all. Our programme aims to make mums feel good and empower them with the strength to cope with the challenge of motherhood. We also hope they will make new friends and share tips and concerns with other mums in the area.

Whatever the weather our instructors are out there to motivate and educate new mums, improve their fitness and make their day!

How do you think exercise helps women after they've had
a baby?

Specific postnatal exercise aims to restore good postural alignment by retraining muscles affected by pregnancy changes. Exercises to strengthen weakened muscles and those required for baby care, together with stretches for muscles that have tightened through postural change will help to realign the body and reduce aches and pains. Good posture is the essence of abdominal and pelvic floor recovery and at Pushy Mothers we focus on the importance of this to improve functional stability and flatten the tummy.
Cardiovascular exercise of the correct speed and type will aid weight loss, improve circulation and improve energy levels.

Mums should take care when selecting a suitable class as the majority of fitness sessions do not cater for postnatal women and are often inappropriate. Very few instructors have an ante or postnatal exercise qualification and this means they will be unaware of the risks involved for a new mum in a mainstream class.

How soon can women join a Pushy Mothers class after giving birth?

New mums need to have their postnatal check up before attending and be at least eight weeks post-Caesarean section. Mainstream classes are not suitable at this time so Pushy Mothers provides the perfect solution to a stronger, fitter new body trained in a controlled setting before mums return to more strenuous exercise. This applies to the fittest new mums too.

Do they need any special equipment or clothing to join a class?

Any sturdy buggy will do although this does depend on the terrain - a light weight design may not fare well on a woodland path. A buggy with an adjustable handle height and storage space underneath for bags is recommended to ensure correct posture can be maintained; pushing with bags hanging from the handles will distort posture and compromise gait.

Comfortable, layered clothing is recommended, rather than a heavy coat, with a good support bra. Study, supportive footwear is essential - preferably trainers, definitely no flip flops or wellies!

There is a lot of pressure on women now and sometimes they can feel that they ought to be losing any extra weight gained within weeks of giving birth - what is your view on this at Pushy Mothers?

It is totally unrealistic to suggest that new mums will zip back into their pre-pregnancy jeans within weeks of delivery but with media images of celebrity mums doing just that, there is an expectation that others should follow.

At Pushy Mothers we want to change these attitudes and stop piling the pressure on new mums. We want to celebrate motherhood and empower women to respect their post-baby bodies.

It takes nine months to make a baby and we believe mums should allow themselves the same length of time to recover. Correct exercise combined with a healthy balanced diet is the best way forward. We are leading the way by providing safe and specific exercise information that mums can trust.
Rushing back into shape or doing the wrong type of exercise increases the risk of long-term physical problems to joints and pelvic floor muscles - it's just not worth it. Our motto is 'Push don't rush to get back into shape!'

Do you have classes across the UK?

We have 41 instructors operating around the UK - some areas are better served than others.

As all the classes are outside, does that mean that you have to cancel sometimes due to the weather?

Pushy Mothers is an outdoor exercise programme and we continue to push whatever the weather. Babies are warm and dry in the buggies and as long as mums have the appropriate clothing and shoes the class can continue. Sessions are only cancelled in extreme weather or dangerous conditions

Could women get just as much benefit from going out on a long walk with a buggy rather than joining a class?

This is recommended in addition to attending the class. The one hour structured programme focuses on correct pushchair posture and gait which is something most new mums need to learn as the buggy changes the way they stand and walk - Dads need coaching too! Many hours are spent pushing the buggy so it is important to find out how to do this properly and have technique corrected if necessary.

Pushy Mothers is more than 'just a walk in the park'. Our carefully structured programme is packed with exercises and drills to get mums back on track physically together with the additional social and emotional benefits of exercising in a group. The opportunity to meet other new mums in a non-threatening environment where they can have a chat as they push the buggy briskly along provides much needed support and an invaluable social network. Our fully qualified instructors encourage group interaction and instill so much fun into the session that mums keep coming back for more!

If women have a toddler and a baby, can they join a class with a double buggy?

Yes of course, as long as mum is feeling strong enough to manage the additional weight, although our instructors are on hand to help with the hills! The main consideration is whether the toddler is happy to stay in the buggy for the hour; for safety reasons it is inappropriate for a toddler to be walking alongside mum as the session involves some faster paced pushing (we never run with the buggy) and group activities with the buggy parked.

What about women who are pregnant - do you offer anything for them?

We have many mums who continue to push into their next pregnancy providing everything is progressing well and they have GP approval. The focus of a Pushy Mothers class is functional exercise so the majority of moves will be suitable to continue during pregnancy and extremely beneficial. All our instructors have undergone extensive training and will be able to offer adaptations where necessary.

And how long can women carry on coming to the classes after they've had their babies?

If mums don't have to return to work, there is no cut-off point. They can continue to push for as long as baby or child is happy to stay in the buggy - and that's very individual. We have three year olds still coming to some classes!

For more details and to find a club near you, go to www.pushymothers.com

 

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