There are some important aspects of FitRight that make it different to other options for women in the childbearing years.
#1 – Low impact and Pelvic Floor Friendly
FitRight fitness classes are pilates and low impact HIIT workouts developed by specialist Women’s Health & Continence Taryn Watson, and are conducted by her team of physiotherapist instructors, many of whom have post graduate qualifications in this specialty area.
In our generation of childbearing women, it is the norm to be exposed to very high load and high intensity exercise options that in previous generations would have been the domain of only high level male athletes.
With the popularity of exercise options such as Cross Fit, F45, Boot Camp and the widely accessible Les Mills classes, women are being exposed to heavy weight training, high impact HIIT training and gymnastic-style workouts. These high load exercise options can have many benefits for women, such as improved cardiovascular fitness, bone density and strength. However, they are also often associated with an increased risk of pelvic floor muscle issues like incontinence and vaginal prolapse, and are usually not the best starting point in your postnatal rehabilitation.
As a Women’s Health Physiotherapist, my job is to treat pelvic floor muscle dysfunction such as this, and it was becoming all too common to see mothers of young children who had been given the all clear to return to exercise without having had their pelvic floor and abdominal muscles assessed, and then retrospectively realizing that their core hadn’t actually been strong enough to cope with the loads that they put on it.
I started FitRight to give women an option of an exercise class to do during the childbearing years that didn’t have to be modified for those with pelvic floor muscle weakness or abdominal muscle separation. The FitRight instructors EXPECT that the women in their classes will have these issues and therefore the class outlines, while still being challenging, are all low impact and have very graded options for abdominal muscle exercises.
The classes aim to keep women as active and pain free as possible during pregnancy, and then to gradually return postnatal women to a level where they can safely resume the type of exercise that they enjoy.
#2 – All participants must undergo a pelvic floor muscle pre-assessment
All participants are required to undergo an individual assessment with a physiotherapist who has extra training in the area of Women’s Health & Continence.
With an abdominal real time ultrasound, or more ideally a digital vaginal examination, the physiotherapist can assess your risk of prolapse and other pelvic floor related issues, and put in place a plan to manage and reassess you until you’re at the point where you can prove your readiness for various exercise loads that you wish to return to.
This is imperative to ensure that you do not engage in any exercise that may cause or worsen pelvic floor muscle problems, as research has shown that approximately 50% of women are not engaging these muscles correctly when verbally cued.
And there is no guess work to this approach – you will never hear anyone in the FitRight team give advice like ‘Just wait until about 3 or 4 months to return to running, and listen to your body’. We know that vaginal prolapse can get silently worse and that listening to your body doesn’t necessarily enable you to know when you might be making this worse.
The assessing physiotherapist will send a summary form back to FitRight, so that your FitRight instructor has all the information about what needs to be modified in your program and what exercise aims and goals you have. Together we can help you KNOW when you’re ready for different levels of exercise, not ASSUME that you’re ready just because a certain amount of time has passed or because you’re feeling ready.
#3 – The postnatal classes don’t stop when you’re baby is 6 months old
Unlike many other postnatal exercise classes, we understand that you aren’t magically ready for other forms of exercise when you git the 6 month mark. And you also may not be ready to put your baby in a crèche to exercise.
Our Baby&Me classes are suitable for Mums with babies approximately 8 weeks to 12 months old. In some cases it is also suitable to bring older children along to class with you too.
We have Toddler&Me class options too, with volunteers prepared to play with older children in the same room as you for kids aged approximately 1-4 years old. This class is great for Mums who can’t make it to evening classes and/or would like their children to see them setting an example of healthy living and exercise.
When you’re feeling stronger, the higher level Empower classes are a great option. These daytime and evening classes are for all women from approximately 6 months postnatal. This is simply a pelvic floor friendly, physio-led pilates and low impact cardio class for Mums. Night time classes have the added benefits include the possibility to go out for dinner and wine after class at the end of each course…!
#4 – Private Health Fund rebates apply
Because FitRight exercise and education classes are instructed by physiotherapists, they are rebatable on private health insurance.
Contact your private health insurer to ask them how much you will get back per class on the physiotherapist codes 595 (pregnancy) and 596 (postnatal).
#5 – Baby-cuddling volunteers nearby while you exercise
FitRight Baby&Me and Toddler&Me exercise classes have community volunteers on hand to look after the babies/children.
Volunteers are required to keep up to date with Working With Children Checks and whooping cough vaccinations. They are in the same area as you will be when you exercise, which means that you can easily see and hear if you need to stop the class to attend to them.