I love a play fight. A spontaneous, innate wrestle to bundle each other, avoid or supply a tickle, or to try to get my own way.
Not a euphemism for anything kinky – honest; it’s not easy to quietly play fight anyway. So all above board when the baby is awake (ahem!), and plus my fam is likely to read this so yeah…
I love the struggle to push and pull; the wrangle and tangle of limbs. The huff and the puff, the grunt and the scream, the force, the grapple to succeed. The calories burnt, the muscles engaged, the core strength to overturn the opposition.
As long as the opponent knows when to really stop of course – there are moments when they won’t give in. A stronger force needs to know the rules, respect the signs when to relent, catch a breath, before Round Two begins.
Love the laughs, the moments where I can’t breathe either for laughing ’til I could burst, or being pinned down and unable to move. An extreme game of Twister, that extra level of tussle to intensify the workout, ok, a bruise here and there, but the feeling of euphoria at the end.
The bond the play fight forges. A patch over an argumentative moment or blasting away the stresses of the day. You can’t beat a play fight to boost the happy feels and each one rolls out every time in its own unique way.
I had to write about play fighting like this. It’s something that always astounds me. The restorative nature from a tense moment as two people, or maybe even parent and child, push the concept of play. It may not be for everyone, and there may not be a suitable (or worthy) opponent to hand. A recovering post-natal body should probably take it easy, and their opponent needs to be clear that ‘stop’, ‘ouch’, or the agreed equivalent is understood, as is the agreed level of force. And definitely no kicking, punching or biting allowed (just a nibble perhaps)! It’s such a natural instinct we see with other mammals – dogs, cats, monkeys – they play with each other frequently, but it’s something we tend to lose as human adults. A full body work out of short bursts of intense play can surely burn serious calories. I don’t know the stats, but would be interested to know, and in addition to the laughter it’s a good all round mind and body workout. Go on – find that inner child and find the Power Of Play!
This is hilarious – the How To guide to Play Fighting with your girlfriend. Take note!
There’s even an organisation promoting mindful play fighting!
Just had another massive realisation on my Pilates course today – many things I thought I knew about my body are verrrry different now in comparison to my pre and post-natal body. Whereas previously I would have considered myself having good bodily awareness, it took the Pilates instructors’ corrections today to tell me my body alignment has changed, my core is weaker and my proprioceptors have lost their compass as my ‘new’ body needs to be re-tuned.
I’m thinking like a lizard changes skin! I’m renewed and it’s a gift to me as I’m going to also be teaching beginners and may be able to recognise the point of view of others who may rarely workout and are not accustomed to physical activity, or indeed other athletes and dancers who are recovering themselves from pregnancy or injury. So back to the basics I go without regret but with vigour.
That said I’ve just bombed it up the long escalator to catch my train, got to the top without stopping and still managed to engage my core and zip up my pelvic floor as I went… not entirely lost it. 😉
I heard a really relevant joke today:
– How many dancers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
– One to screw in the bulb and the rest to say they could have done it better.
…for now I’m the one reading the instructions for how to screw in the bulb.
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The best purchase by far was a pilates ball…not originally intended for pilates or my post-natal fitness routine – I bought this as I was planning a home birth, and all sorts of bouncing and hip rotations on the ball are supposed to induce birth. Not for me – sitting on the ball during labour just didn’t have the desired effect…but that’s another story. However, post birth and we discover that aforementioned bouncing on ball whilst holding baby not only gives a mini work out, but also helps to send Baby-O to sleep!
During my pregnancy I really worked on my posture. When I slouched everything squished inside too much and I got indigestion easier and couldn’t breath so well…I thought that by sitting without too much support at my desk at work or in the evening at. home etc. would stand me in good stead post pregnancy. Not to be as my back muscles felt weaker. I assume due to everything starting to shift back into place. I also now really notice that following long periods of breastfeeding, and sleeping whilst feeding for long periods of time (I just can’t stay awake!), the top of the lumbar region of my back is really struggling and I’ve now started physio for it.
I was trying to use the ball on a daily basis to start strengthening my back again and now trying to be more mindful when I’m feeding – e.g. not slumping back into the sofa, or slouching down or over towards baby. I’m trying to focus on drawing my shoulder blades down my back as much as possible and getting myself comfy before feeding. I’ve noticed this is hardest when LO is in a screaming fit and I’m trying to get boob to mouth as quickly as possible before she completely melts down. As I got into month two I took the (rare) moments of screaming in my stride and put myself a little bit before her needs to make sure I’m properly set up before feeding. Besides what’s two extra minutes when I’ve got to look after my health to get stronger again for her?
- 25 bounces, squeezing up pelvic floor and buttocks as I go
- 25 hip swings side to side – I think pendulum, squeezing either side of the body at the waist as I contract to tone my waistline, and a little bounce through centre, working the legs a little too.
- 25 pelvic isolations forward and back – as I tilt my pelvis forward squeezing buttocks, and working lower back muscles as I tilt backwards
- 12 smooth pelvic circles round the clock each way without bouncing, and then with a gentle bounce at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock pelvic tilts
- 25 standing ‘preparations’ – these are similar to the action of the initial moment of standing from a seated position. With momentum a bounce rocking backwards on the ball and then a bounce rocking forward and pushing up as if about to stand. I have a rhythm playing out in my head bounce, back, bounce forward with these 3 variations:
I’ve actually found the last one helps when I’ve finished feeding the baby last thing at night, she has fallen asleep, and I need to do that ninja move of standing up from the sofa without changing the sleeping position of this light sleeper whatsoever to take her to her crib. The unique talent of standing without the heave ho action, nor needing to push up with my hands. Yes. I have got skillz.
I checked the correct ball size to suit my height and got an anti-burst ball – the knees should be lower than the hips when sitting on it. I also found an electric pump easier to blow the ball up – it came with the birthing pool pack(!) if you can get your hands on one.
Here’s a little video of the pilates ball at work (sorry it’s a bit dark – it’s the late night low light to help Baby-O to sleep!)…
I’ve just been swimming whilst Baby-O was being looked after by grandparents for the first time. My partner and I have been a bit lazy on getting Baby-O looked after without me there, so my partner usually comes swimming to look after her in the baby pool whilst I do my lengths in the lane pool. Well – they’re getting their bonding time whilst I get my fitness back! Today though I felt like I was getting some ‘Me Time’ and could (almost) completely switch off!
I’ve loved swimming since I was a kid for many reasons:
- it helps me to relax and wind down both physically and mentally;
- I get a really good sleep after swimming, when baby allows of course….zzzzz;
- it’s good therapy, almost like meditation – I just zone out and count my lengths;
- I love the almost instant feel of all over muscle tone;
- it’s low impact on the body, so minimises risk of injury when I need to be gentle on my body – or when I’m feeling a little delicate!
A welcome non-weight-bearing swim when I was preggers as a fairly competent swimmer – I managed 40 lengths at a time, still sticking to the slow lane (I’m usually a medium pace-er). Here’s how I coped with swimming whilst pregnant, most of which I’m going to build on with more intensity now…
Still moving both limbs and legs with trepidation – as much as my core would allow – I mixed these variations below of breastroke with lengths of backstroke and front crawl. I try to do 10 lengths of each style with a stretch in between each set.
Breaststroke (Warm Up):
Variation 1: power in arms and less work in the legs
Variation 2: squeeze butt as I close the legs
Kicking on back (skulling arms if it helps balance!):
Variation 1: power from the backside with straight legs, pointed toes
Variation 2: bend from the knees to kick
Backstroke/Front Crawl: I found back stroke took the pressure off my stomach, whilst front crawl gives the cardio workout;
Variation 1: lying on my back and kicking only (no arms) or just using arms to help power along for front crawl; then
Variation 2: try to only work the arms without legs moving.
Each length I focus on emphasis on a different muscle group (arms, bum, hamstrings etc.) and for all the above there are further variations in how I do the movement:
Variation 1: kicking as quickly as is comfortable to get a bit of cardio going; or
Variation 2: kicking in smooth, slow action for a more toning action.
A bit of competition
I’m not the competitive type but I like to find someone else in my lane who’s serious about their swim…so I step up to their level too! It’s not always about speed – I’m talking about durability. There’s always the one who keeps moving and it motivates me to keep going too!
For the less serious swimmer and if I had time – a toning workout
There are usually non Lane sections of the pool. Suggestions for the shallow end of the open swim lane:
Warm up: 5 mins walking the length/ width of the shallow lane is a really good gradual build up – try at varying speeds to gently increase heartbeat. Or a gentle swim if you can.
Lower body: Use the side of the pool to stabilise yourself either back to the side with elbows on the side, or both hands on the side on your front and kick with variations as above with the lanes. I’d also do
- Breast stroke legs
- Sideways leg raises
Core: Slow smooth Twisting with knees bent up towards chest, back to the side of pool. Some may not feel comfortable to twist, so only take this gently, or not at all if it doesn’t feel right.
Cool down and stretch: as per warm up, decreasing speed / intensity. Make sure you gently stretch arms and leg muscle groups.
Now I’m off to collapse!
2017 was a BIG year for me in many ways. I gave birth in June. I’ve had a baby (life-changing), and I’ve gone from having lots of endless energy pre-pregnancy to feeling like an 80 year old post pregnancy. Ok, so that’s nature, but here’s my reason for writing: I’m a dancer and dance teacher.
For someone so accustomed of jumping to life when I hear the beat, of throwing myself in the air and then directly flat out to the floor in a contemporary class without a thought, or to sweating it out through high octane jazz dance rehearsals, at 7 months post-natal, that still doesn’t feel so possible. I’ve decided to document my journey from physically wild ‘soloist’ to careful, conscientious vessel carrying a mini passenger, to now: the little one has disembarked, I’ve got her in tow and I am trying to get energy, motivation and routine back.
Where It Began
My first three months of pregnancy felt like a licence to slow down. Shouldn’t I be protecting my foetus from shock by ‘not over-doing it’? The advice from the midwife; if you’re used to a very physical fitness regime then continue until it doesn’t feel comfortable. Week 10, and it didn’t feel comfortable. So early on? Maaan! My effort in my usual high impact all over again body workout contemporary dance class felt half hearted as I became suddenly extremely aware of my core. It felt weak. Well not so much weak but again – like I needed to protect my centre from sudden movement or for example anything involving floor work, bending forward, plank or ‘cobra’ style action.
So there I was. Jan 2017. 5 month countdown until baby arrives and it was going to get harder. I know; the cliche of new year, new me, new routine, New Years resolutions to try swimming regularly, blah-di-blah – obviously that didn’t last. Baby-O arrived in June and time to myself was far from my grasp. It would just take some time and independence training for her to be looked after (for her and me!), so I could get to the swimming pool, a dance class, rehearsals or just go to a club dance event.
To start a walking ‘network’ to reintroduce my body back to fitness with baby by my side and, in the meantime, practise Baby-O independence, building up again to higher impact training!
I know I will be more motivated if I have a commitment to others, to help me stay focussed, I am going to create a forum over on The Love of Dance Facebook group, aimed at women like me, who are used to physical, powerful fitness regimes, who want to sustain as closely as possible their strength and healthy lifestyle during pregnancy, whilst protecting the growth and wellbeing of the delicate baby cargo, and then to try to recuperate once baby has arrived.
So what now?
In my experience as a dance teacher, alongside that of health and fitness experts, I want to investigate:
- the most effective and safest fitness plan that can be practically maintained, with the understanding that this will need to adapt to a changing body;
- different forms and methods of exercise in conjunction, of course, with a healthy diet and mind-set,
- focussing also on mental and physical preparation for the birth;
- and look at techniques to manage fitness time with and without baby by my side;
- all working hand in hand with a holistic journey to a healthy pregnancy helping baby’s development,
- and ultimately so I can get quickly back into shape post baby popping out!
I’m writing from the POV of a:
37 year old;
Previously full time office worker with no routine in addition to dance teaching;
I have no routine that I can stick to (trust me, I’ve tried. I stick to anything I have a responsibility or incentive to stick to – e.g. Rehearsals for the incentive of chance of performance or where I have to answer to someone if I don’t turn up…or where I’ve paid for the course. Fickle right?!);
My aerobic training mostly used to happen at music events – mostly house music or jazz fusion events happening in the early weekend evenings. Most attendees go to these events to dance AND SWEAT IT OUT ON THE DANCEFLOOR, not to drink. Perfect for happy feel good vibes, getting a workout without really noticing, and doubly perfect if you’re preggers…but not so perfect for baby’s sensitive ears…so what’s next to get my workout fix?