ALL ABOUT PRENATAL & POSTPARTUM FITNESS
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ALL ABOUT PRENATAL & POSTPARTUM FITNESS

Jude Jacob May 01, 2022

Katelyn Darkangelo
@katedarkofit

About me: I was born in Ann Arbor and now I live in Brighton, Michigan.  I have always been extremely fitness focused. I majored in Exercise Science from the University of Michigan and earned my Master of Management from Duke University so I could turn my passion for fitness into a real business. Both my husband and I now run our fitness company, FIGR (Fitness Is Getting Real), full time together. We help bring elite fitness to everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. Helping others live their best lives through fitness is what drives us every day!

 

Postpartum fitness

I got pregnant in April 2021. During my 3rd trimester, I became certified as a prenatal and postpartum fitness coach. It was great timing, because I was learning the information while going through that exact phase myself so I I could directly apply things to my own pregnant and postpartum body. This experience gave me a deep understanding of the needs of pregnant and postpartum women, and I think it shows in my programming. The course helped me fall deeper in love with this area of fitness.

 

FIGR - Fit is Getting Real

When I started FIGR, I used to physically print out my programs. Then, when my husband joined me in running FIGR together, we started doing one-on-one in person and classes. When COVID hit, we had to pivot and decided to launch the FIGR app so anyone, anywhere, could access our workouts!

"When I got pregnant, I realized there wasn’t much out there for pregnant women who were used to going hard in the gym."

When I got pregnant, I realized there wasn’t much out there for pregnant women who were used to going hard in the gym. And at the same time, I didn’t find any comprehensive postpartum programming that included both the rehab/healing phase AND the progressive overload phase to help women gain back strength and full functionality. So, programming for both pregnant and postpartum women became my focus. You can check out FIGR:Pregnancy HERE and FIGR:Postpartum HERE.

"Programming for both pregnant and postpartum women became my focus."

Women need to be aware that there is a difference between doing a proper pregnancy exercise program and trying to modify your typical exercise program for pregnancy. Pregnancy workouts should include focus on labor prep movements, should have a proper regression of overall intensity and workout difficulty overtime, should help ease pregnancy-related aches and pains, and much more. These are things that a normal workout program does not take into account.

Postpartum exercise is also incredibly important. Proper rehab, core strengthening, pelvic floor focus and progressive overload over time are all key to not just get you back in the gym, but to build a solid foundation for your entire fitness career. Just winging it is not an option here. Postpartum women need specific, structured exercises that strengthen their core and pelvic floor and gradually increase intensity over the duration of 3 months at minimum.

My advice for pregnancy and postpartum women

In the past, women were discouraged from exercising during pregnancy, but now we know that pregnancy workouts are the safest and healthiest thing you can do for your baby. Lifting and staying active keeps mom healthy and actually helps baby development. It's not just for weight management.

First trimester - everything is still on the table

Only take out high intensity sprints. Don’t overload your system. Be safe even though the physical changes aren’t so big right now. But you can do most of the exercises that you normally do.

Second trimester - the “honeymoon phase”

Many women are feeling better and want to go super hard. Most women don’t start to show till week 15 or 16. You should keep going, but scale back on some exercises. Take out core moves—I took them out at week 14. Maintain your normal fitness level for the rest of your exercises. During weeks 15-20, you should remove high intensity jumping and running from your workouts. If you feel good enough to run and jump, you can do a bit, but it’s better to stop before you feel you need to. You should avoid core flexion movements, push-ups and pull-ups.

Third trimester - time to make some modifications

This is where you’ll start to really scale back weights and remove movements that requires a change in form. For example, I would not recommend a barbell clean if you need to move it around your belly. To keep resistance high, I recommend adding a band to movements like barbell squats when you decrease weight to keep the tension strong. You should also be using exercise to prepare for labor during the third trimester. Some of my favorites are glute bridges, low squat holds, and child's pose.


Weeks 1-6 postpartum: move your body

Reconnect with your core and pelvic floor. Start with a 5 minute walk and build up to 30. Stretches and mobility work are important and to keep moving in general. This is the most exercise you should do until you are cleared by your doctor. When you get cleared, you have a foundation you can build on.

Weeks 6-12+: add weight and intensity

At first, focus on isolated movements; only work one muscle group at a time. From there, you can increase movement difficulty and start increasing overall intensity. During this phase, everything should be done in a slow progression.

The good thing is that you don’t have to figure this all out on your own. Simply subscribe to either FIGR:Pregnancy or FIGR:Postpartum to have all these workouts there for you! They are the exact workouts I did when I was pregnant and postpartum, so they are tried, tested and safe. If you need personal coaching or modifications, I’m available through the app!

 

All about my skin

I started using FRÉ in 2017 and my skin is the clearest it has ever been! I haven’t had any breakouts since then! Before that, I had normal skin but I often had small pimples that I would pick at. That was my own fault! But thanks to FRÉ, I don’t even get the small breakouts anymore.

"I started using FRÉ in 2017 and my skin is the clearest it has ever been!"

My daily routine

I wake up, splash my face with water and use  PROTECT ME. I use  CLEANSE ME in the shower, then I used to switch between  REVIVE ME,  I AM LOVE and  100% Organic Argan Oil. Now that I have  C ME, FRÉ’s brand new vitamin c facial serum, I normally choose that! I use it exclusively after my showers. It gives a lot of moisture and sinks in fast. It also feels great throughout the day.  RECOVER ME is my staple night-time moisturizer.
 

Rapid Fire:

  • Favorite exercise? Squats
  • What does sweat mean to you? Hard work
  • What comes to mind when you think of FRÉ? Silky pure skin
  • What are you most excited about in life right now? The potential to help thousands of women achieve their fittest pregnancy and strongest postpartum recovery
  • What’s something you’d still love to learn? A new language - Italian
  • If you were a hashtag, what would you be? #sweat
  • What’s the best advice that you’ve ever received in your life? Start your own business. This was advice from my dad. I started my business and became my happiest self. I love to help people and support my family.
  • What is an issue that you wish we spoke about more often? The fact that pregnancy workouts are safe, healthy and recommended. I've had a lot of Reels that took off with a lot of comments that I am selfish and concerned about my own looks and will harm my baby. In the fitness industry, there is awareness but pregnancy fitness but outside the industry there is still a lot of ignorance.
  • What does women’s empowerment mean in 2022? It means doing what you love and empowering and supporting others to do the same. There’s a lot of competition in the fitness space. Do what you believe is right, but support others if they think differently.

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