Thursday, March 8, 2018

Books, toys and more that promote gender equality. International Women's Day 2018

International Women’s Day
is a day to reflect on the past and present, honour the women who have paved the way, take stock of what still needs to be done, and commit to continue working towards gender equality. 

To recognize, celebrate and take action for International Women’s Day 2018, we went to social media and asked our Fit 4 Two® participants and alumni to recommend books, toys and other parenting resources that promote gender equality.  Here is the result.

A Mighty Girl  This website was recommended again and again.  We found out why.  It is an exhaustive collection of suggested toys, books, music and more.  Bonus: Everything is separated into age groups.  Let’s just say we are now frequent visitors. 

Books recommend by Fit 4 Two® Parents. We have included amazon links as this seems to be to go-to for most of our clients, but we recommend checking your local library and independent books stores as well. 

Feminist Baby by Loren Brantz

Girl Power - 5 Minute Stories (this is actually 10 books in one!)
Strong is the New Pretty by Kate T. Parker

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls

I like myself - Karen Beaumont and David Catrow

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

Toys Recommended by Fit 4 Two® Parents

GoldieBlox is the award-winning children’s multimedia company disrupting the pink aisle in toy stores globally and challenging gender stereotypes with the world’s first girl engineer character. They have since expanded their collection to include STEM toys that promote gender equality.  We found the best selection at in store and online.

If you have a suggestion, please share it in the comments below. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

5 ways your certified pre and postnatal fitness professional can help you have an active pregnancy

1. We can help you choose exercises that are SAFE and FUNCTIONAL for pregnancy, labour and parenthood.

2. We can connect you with other moms-to-be in YOUR COMMUNITY. We can’t begin to tell you how important this is.  Social and mental health are just as important as physical health.

3. You want resources? We have RESOURCES! Physiotherapists, doulas, massage therapists….we could go on.  Check out this awesome page of people ready to support you.

4. We can create a personalized fitness program to compliment your class schedule.  Ask your local Fit 4 Two franchisee about personal training.
5. We think we are pretty motivating.  We love what we do and it shows.  Come take advantage of our relentless positive energy.

New to Fit 4 Two? Please be sure to fill out our PREnatal intake form for your area here.
Ready to try a free class? Click here for more info.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Is your partner pregnant? This post is for you.

5 things you can do to help your partner have an active and healthy pregnancy

Did you know that exercise is not just safe, but strongly recommended during pregnancy? Would you like to help your partner have less aches and pains, reduce her chances of developing gestational diabetes, sleep better, have more energy, and develop stamina for labour and parenting? Do you want her to have optimal mental health during and after pregnancy? Well then here are 5 things you can start doing to help:

1. Join her! It’s a lot more motivating to exercise with a partner.  Invite your partner for a walk after dinner each evening.   Schedule a Saturday morning gym date. 

2. Take on more than your share of your home and family responsibilities.  This will free up time for her to exercise regularly.

3. Encourage her to find a prenatal fitness or yoga program led by a certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist so that she feels safe and supported while exercising. 

4. If you have another child at home, offer to take on a greater share of the bedtime tasks so your partner can get out to class or hit the gym after work. When Fit 4 Two aulum Nicole was pregnant with her second daughter, her husband (pictured above) would stay with her older daughter so that Nicole could come to classes and go swimming.

5. Make time for your own exercise too.  The healthier you are the more supportive you can be.  

Find a Fit 4 Two class in your community.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Why you need a pelvic floor physio in your village

Meet Village member Trish Gipson MScPT, women’s health physiotherapist at Envision in Vancouver B.C.  

Trish has a special interest in pelvic floor health and is one of our ‘go to’ people when we have questions.  Trish has helped numerous moms-to-be and new moms return to an active lifestyle. 

We asked Trish how she helps women to enjoy the many benefits of an active pregnancy. “As a pelvic health physiotherapist, my aim is to keep women active during pregnancy and help them prepare their body for delivery. If they are having aches and pains related to the pregnancy, I help them manage their symptoms and get back to their desired level of activity. If they are wondering what is the best type of exercise to do, I can give them advice on that. I like to teach them ways to maintain optimal posture and movement mechanics with the exercises that they are doing, and how to prepare their body for delivery and for the early post partum period.”

We also asked Trish what exercise advice she gives to pregnant women.  “In terms of pelvic health, the biggest piece of advice I can give is to remember that there are multiple functions of the pelvic floor muscles; they need to be able to contract (for support of the pelvic organs, to maintain continence, and to help with support of the skeleton), they need to be able to relax (in order to go to the bathroom, have intercourse, deliver a baby vaginally), and they need to be able lengthen with function (eg: the pelvic floor muscles need to lengthen while still maintaining support when you are performing a squat).

Historically most of the emphasis has been on the contraction part, and many women have spent a lot of time preparing for and recovering from delivery by doing pelvic floor strengthening exercises. I would argue that the focus should be, leading up to delivery, on learning to relax the pelvic floor muscles (though it is important to make sure that the muscles are able to perform all three functions well).

To work on relaxing the pelvic floor, try taking some deep breaths, focusing on relaxing the belly and the pelvic floor as you inhale (visualize the diaphragm lowering as you inhale, which pushes down on the abdominal organs, then the pelvic floor softens to absorb this descent), then exhale through an open mouth to try to maintain that relaxation. Take 10 or so breaths like this each night leading up to your delivery. (Read more about core breath and your pelvic floor here)

For the most individualized advice, it is best to get assessed by a pelvic health physiotherapist, as every individual and each pregnancy is different.”

At Fit 4 Two we also believe that all women should have a physiotherapist assessment postpartum.  We recommend booking an apt for 6-8 weeks after your due date before easing back into a postnatal specific fitness program.  If your goal is to run or do other high impact exercises, we recommend building your base of support at a postnatal fitness program for at least 8 weeks and then having a 2nd assessment by your physiotherapist to see if you need to correct any muscular imbalances before easing into a run/walk program. Our resources page is an excellent place to find physiotherapists specializing in women's health.

You can learn more about Trish Gipson and Envision Physiotherapy here.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Why you need a chiropractor in your village

In celebration of Pregnancy & Exercise Awareness Month we interviewed one of our favourite Vancouver chiropractors, Dr. Stephanie Bonn.  We asked Stephanie how she helps women enjoy the benefits of an active lifestyle during pregnancy?

"It is so important to stay active during your pregnancy, not only for the health of yourself and baby prior to the birth but also for the birth itself (it’s its own “marathon”) as well as your postpartum recovery so that you can care for your infant. Many women are affected by common issues in pregnancy such as back pain, neck pain, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist, heartburn and plantar fasciitis (foot pain). Several of these issues are due to the ligament laxity(looseness) caused by the fluctuating hormones of pregnancy, the increase in weight gain with the growth of the fetus and the shift in center of gravity.

Chiropractic care can help to decrease these symptoms which may be preventing women from having an active lifestyle during pregnancy. Activity decreases the chance of developing these symptoms and minimizes the risk of other serious complications of pregnancy such as preclampsia so it is integral to stay active. For our patients, we align their spines to minimize the stresses and strains of pregnancy which assists them in being more active and enjoying the benefits of activity. We also look at their ergonomic workstation, recommend specific exercises and prescribe supportive nutritional advice and certain supplements for a healthy pregnancy.

We then asked her for one piece of exercise advice she would give all pregnant women?

Focus on your core abdominal strength and pelvic floor throughout your pregnancy. Many of my patients experience Diastasis Recti which is a separation of the abdominals during pregnancy. This weakens your abdominal support and often contributes to back pain during and after pregnancy. The pelvic floor also needs activating to support the developing baby and also to have less issues following the birth such as incontinence. There are specific and safe exercises you can do in each trimester of pregnancy with the support of your fitness instructor or healthcare provider. It is more difficult to regain the strength of your abdominals and pelvic floor postpartum than minimizing the strain in pregnancy.

You can learn more about Dr. Bonn here. Find a Fit 4 Two class in your community.

What Physiotherapist Jaime Angus has to say

In celebration of Pregnancy & Exercise Awareness Month we interviewed Jaime Angus from Donna Sarna Physiotherapy in Winnipeg.
We asked Jaime how she helps women enjoy the benefits of an active lifestyle during pregnancy?

"Pregnancy is an amazing time in your life where your body undergoes significant change.  This is a time when we need to pay particular attention to our body’s new needs and demands to keep us healthy and pain free!  When thinking about health we need to consider all aspects, in other words thinking of the body as a whole. As a physiotherapist our role is two–fold.  We address any aches and pains that may occur during pregnancy to improve mobility to keep you active.   We empower women with knowledge of the right balance of relaxation, stretching and strengthening you need to have a wonderful pregnancy and delivery as well as postpartum transition."

We also asked Jaime for one piece of exercise advice she would give all pregnant women?

"Look after your pelvic floor muscles! Improve the elasticity of the pelvic floor muscles by perineal stretching and massage to reduce the incidence of tears and episiotomies.  Strengthen the pelvic floor muscles to assist in labor (effectively contract and relax the pelvic floor muscles) as well as prevent incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.  

Good pelvic health is important not only during pregnancy and postpartum but affects you for the rest of your life.  Looking after oneself during this time can significantly reduce the incidence of pelvic/back pain, incontinence, and prolapse as well as improve sexual sensation and function in the years to come."

Looking for pelvic floor guidance? Click here for a 5 minute pelvic floor routine.

What Dr. McLchlan has to say

Healthcare providers are an integral part of a pregnant woman's village.

Meet village member Dr. Donna McLachlan.  Dr. McLachlan is a well-loved family physician in Vancouver B.C. who specializes in obstetrics.  We asked her how she helps women enjoy the benefits of an active lifestyle during pregnancy. 

“I always encourage my pregnant patients to start an exercise program in pregnancy even if it has not been a big part of their lives in the past. On top of the health benefits I think it is so important to have a circle of women that are at the same age and stage in their parenting journey and to build a village."

We also asked her for one piece of exercise advice she gives to her prenatal patients. “My favorite go to exercise is just a simple supported deep squat...that is the position many women end up in in childbirth and it you have been doing them in pregnancy I think It helps you feel stronger and more comfortable in that stance in labour.”

You can read more about Dr. Donna McLachlan here.

Find a Fit 4 Two class near you