We caught up Jo Miller, a London-based personal trainer who is working hard getting her figure back post pregnancy. Take it away Jo!
Hi, my name is Jo. I’m a personal trainer working in South East London. Prior to my own maternity leave I was working with lots of clients, male and female, all with their own unique goals focusing on training which would enhance current performance, prepare themselves for events as well as those new to fitness.
In addition I’m qualified as a pre & post natal trainer which was great training for my own special delivery and how to approach the hormonal & physiological changes going on as well as keeping fit & healthy throughout & now post pregnancy.
My fitness journey
A little bird tells you us, you are a new mummy? Congratulations!
Thank you. It’s been an incredible adjustment, but has really made me have a new appreciation for how incredible our bodies are. How they are designed to go through such physiological and hormonal changes, the trauma to the body that happens in labour but how the body knows what to do and its power to recover. Women rock!!
Getting back into shape
For once I had to follow my own advice and take the 6 weeks post partum recovery time which we advise our clients lead by the healthcare professionals. This is something I found tough but I walked every single day with Riley to keep myself moving. I had trained right up until 3 days before he came but under a massively reduced load and volume, so I built up the time I was walking with him for the first 6 weeks. I am now 1 week into training again.
Time is the biggest constraint & while my pelvic floor is fairly strong, my joints are a lot looser & in particular I can feel that the hips have been affected by the stretching occurred pre labour from the relaxin, so I’m focusing on core & pelvic floor recovery, back & hip opening & strengthening. Aside from that I am building up strength with shorter circuits with body weight to begin with & will start adding the weights back in gradually. Park bench workouts with Riley in his buggy or sling will be the way forward!
Returning to personal training
I’ll take a few clients sessions around evening or early morning when Riley is a little older, but I also want to enjoy being a mum & enjoy time with him. I will go back in January but with a reduced workload. I spent a lot of time focusing on pre and post natal training last year with clients so I felt confident I knew the safest way to recover myself, but having gone through it in person you have a deeper understanding of why our bodies can feel weakened post partum & how the crazy changes when you are pregnant affect your strength & muscle tone, and even your balance.
Getting into teaching fitness
In a former life I was actually a senior fashion designer. It was all I ever knew & while I enjoyed playing & watching sports growing up I was very much more about the creativity as I didn’t show natural flair for the sports. After 14 years in a pretty all-consuming environment I had my midlife crisis & realised I had lost the same drive id had years before & that my escape of training myself with a PT had taken over as a passion. It was in fact my personal trainer who encouraged me to consider personal training to put that passion into helping others transform their fitness and sense of wellbeing as I had done myself working with him.
Importance of fitness
I started training when I was 31, after my twenties spent drinking & partying like many people. I found myself at my largest at 31, & needed an outlet away from the long hours and endless travel I was doing at work. I hated it to begin with and for me it started as a battle to lose weight. It was slow progress or so I thought then I started to notice additional benefits such as increased energy, I was sleeping better, got ill far less. I also noticed increased strength & weight loss. I was going through a tough time at work & in my personal life. I threw myself into the running & weekly training sessions in the gym & found it was exactly what I needed to fight the depression & anxiety that was setting in. This is why I am so passionate about my fitness levels. It has long since been about my weight & much more about enjoying what my body will do even though my shape has changed going through pregnancy, it has made me appreciate how powerful our bodies are & that strength & wellness are the primary importance in my life (aside of course from my family & friends)
For me I love working with clients of varying abilities and goals- that is what is so unique about people & no 2 sessions are the same, nor are any 2 clients. If I can help inspire others to enjoy the benefits of fitness, then I will remain happy in what I do. I am fortunate that I am based in South London in a private studio as well as having the ability to train with clients at home, at work or wherever works best for the success of their continued sessions- tailoring it to their individual needs makes it easier for them to focus and hopefully achieve their goals. The studio is great as it allows me to mix up strength &
conditioning, cardio, body weight as well as the pre & post natal using variety of equipment. I tend to favour mixing up weights, plyometrics & love the diversity of kettle bells and the TRX as well as a bit of pad work which I find clients tend to love as enables them to let off a bit of steam.
I try not to subscribe too heavily to the cheat food with clients & instead encourage them to consider the importance to their training of a varied balanced diet – saturated fats don’t need to be the enemy & nor do calories – if they are of good quality. However, pregnancy and post pregnancy has given my formerly savory palette anew indulgence for cake! 7 weeks post partum I’ve had to stop that- it’s not easy as I’ve got the sugar craving now! PT’s are human too.
For me (particularly with pre and post natal clients) the key to a good strong posture is really considering the core muscles & remembering that they are the key our stability & strength. The core is so much more than your abs – most people don’t even consider their glutes and the relationship that the pelvic floor muscles have. Start with considering your neutral stance – how do you stand when you’re on a bus or a train – do you put your weight on one side of the body? A strong neutral stance & engaged core is about not sticking the bottom out or leading with the pelvis – it’s in between. Stand tall, pull in the bottom and consider pulling up from the pelvis (in other words, don’t stand like Donald Duck, or the Pink panther – somewhere in between). This is the stance you should adopt before any exercise – the base of all that you do. This is what you hear when trainers queue you to “engage your core muscles”.
What do you to exercise when not working?
Over the years I’ve been passionate about running but after persistent niggly plantar fasciitis injury I switched my focus across sprint triathlons to see how I would fare mixing up the impact across 3 disciplines. I loved it & this is my goal for 2017 post partum training – I was at my strongest, fittest & happiest with my training last year mixing in the swimming & cycling with the running. Aside from that I love that feeling of working on my strength training & seeing the gains through lifting heavier & the progression this gives me for the running or triathlons.
Getting into fitness & benefits
I’ve found a huge shift in the last year. A lot of potential clients who approach me are interested in getting stronger rather than the focus being just on weight which is fantastic. I would encourage people to get into fitness to enjoy how much in can empower your life- keeping you feeling strong and being able to deal with the stresses of life, & less as an outlet “just for weight loss”. When clients are wanting to train solely for weight loss I make sure that they understand the nutritional side of things goes hand in hand & may of them, like I did soon discover the additional benefits of overall “wellness”
What’s the most satisfying part of your job? Seeing the psychological transformations in people- more so than just the physical. Many clients lack confidence or see PT as a necessary evil but once they start to feel stronger, you see a shift in their enjoyment & by virtue the results they enjoy. When clients enjoy the training they tend to be far more committed- it shouldn’t just be about punishment (that being said I don’t go easy on anyone).
I started training in ZAAZEE late 2014, when I found them on Facebook. I connected with them & both myself and clients love training in the items. The colours and fit are great – and I love how the pieces work together. It’s such a great feeling to feel supported and in great flattering fit with breathable fabrics when you train- much better than an old t-shirt & sweats.
My focus now is on strengthening myself having had my baby 7 weeks ago. For the first 6 weeks post partum women need to try and recover- child birth is a huge trauma on the body. I hugely benefited from knowing the best way to stay in shape & I trained safely throughout my pregnancy – doing my last swim 3 days before he was born. I trained my core & pelvic floor throughout the pregnancy which has helped speed up my recovery. I will continue to focus on this, and try and build up the strength as well as find the muscle tone again…. with a view to going back to triathlons next year.
We hope Jo and Riley continue to have fun on their adventures together and we hope the piece above might also inform, encourage / inspire and help you think about and appreciate your body.