Why you MUST exercise your Pelvic Floor!

Do you do bother with Pelvic floor exercises or even know where the pelvic floor is? Many women don’t BUT it is a key muscle of your body as it not only does it provide bladder control, it has a pretty important job in your private sex life too! Now I’ve got your attention..!


Your ‘pelvic floor’ is a muscle and one you may not have thought too much about before your pregnancy. The pelvic floor is made up of three layers of muscle tissue that attach to the pubic bone, tailbone and sit bones.

Unlike the obvious changes that happen to your stomach muscles, you can’t see how much it changes after pregnancy and childbirth! And boy it does, especially if you have an episiotomy.

To give you an idea, your pelvic floor lies relatively flat before pregnancy. Then the additional weight of the growing baby bears down on it, weakening it and causing it to sag. Imagine a hammock lying flat, then someone lying in the hammock – it drops to the pressure – the same as your pelvic floor. Add to that any tearing during childbirth and hey presto, this poor muscle really takes some beating. To add to that as you get older, just like your other muscles, the pelvic floor ages and becomes even weaker.

Symptoms of a weak pelvic floor:

  • Leaking urine when coughing, laughing, sneezing or during exercise or physical activity (even walking upstairs or long walks).
  • Leaking urine before reaching the toilet

  • The vagina feeling ‘lax’ or sagging

Did you know?

  • 1 in 3 women leak urine when they laugh, cough or sneeze.
  • 1 in 3 women suffer incontinence problems 5 years after childbirth
  • Only one third of women seek help for their symptoms
  • In the USA 50% of women aged 55 or over suffer one or more of the problems caused by pelvic floor dysfunction

Pelvic Floor dysfunction isn’t something you have to live with, just because you’ve had children! It doesn’t just spring back to strength, unfortunately, but it can be treated with specific exercises. These are really important to do as these exercises, known as ‘Kegels’, (after Dr. Arnold Kegel, a gynaecologist who created them) are the proven and only way to treat, repair and strengthen your pelvic floor. The great thing is you can do them sitting, lying or standing – without getting out of breath or sweaty and without a gym.

Find your Pelvic Floor!

The reason many women do not do pelvic floor exercises is they have trouble identifying with the muscles. One way to ‘get in touch’ with your pelvic floor is to try this:

The Posterior (back) Pelvic Floor

  • Sit or lie down – your thighs, buttocks and abdomen should be completely relaxed.
  • Imagine you are in public and feel the need to pass wind, you would pull up and tighten the ring of muscle around the back passage.
  • Then relax it. Practice this movement several times until you are sure you are exercising your Posterior (Rear) Pelvic Floor Muscles.

The Anterior (front) Pelvic Floor

  • Pretend you are trying to stop passing urine – mid-stream by pulling up the muscles of the vagina, then relax.
  • To help imagine an elephant’s trunk stooping down to pick up a peeble and you’ll get an idea of what I am talking about.

Your must – keep your buttocks or any other muscles relaxed and keep breathing though-out.

The other way is to purchase an EPI-NO pelvic floor trainer, (as in Episiotomy No!), the idea is that is helps prevent episiotomy and tears during childbirth. It is recommended to use this three weeks before your baby is due (not before). It can also be used after the birth, even if you have had an episiotomy. Read more.

Easy, do anywhere exercises to tone your Pelvic Floor

Long Holds

  1. Tighten and draw in around the vagina and the rectum together. It’s a lifting action.
  2. Try to hold this contraction (but not with force) as you count to five then release and relax, with a definite feeling of ‘letting go’.
  3. Repeat the ‘lift, hold & relax’ sequence again. Then rest for about 10 seconds. If you find it easy to hold for a count of five, try to hold for longer – up to 10 seconds.
  4. Repeat this as many times as you are able up to a maximum of 8-10 times.

Tip: To check if you are doing it correctly, place one hand above your pubic bone. When you tighten and pull up you’ll feel the muscles lift and shut. If your stomach bulges out you are holding your breath, which you want to avoid, so try counting out loud.

Quick Flicks

1. Now squeeze, lift and let go quickly (as if you are flicking the muscles).
2. Do five to ten short & fast contractions.
3. Repeat this as many times as you are able up to a maximum of 8-10 times.

Try to get into the habit of doing these exercises 2-3 times every day. To help to get into the habit and routine stick post -it notes with ‘PF’ (secret code!) around the house as reminders. Alternatively, do them at the same time as washing-up, feeding the baby, talking on the phone or sitting in traffic.

Soft ball squeezes with Kegels

You’ll need a soft ball (football size) and Fitness ball to sit on

  1. Sit on a fitness ball and place a soft ball (football size) in between your knees.
  2. Turn your toes in slightly
  3. Draw in your belly button slightly, imagining it’s coming in towards your lower back.
  4. Squeeze the ball between your knees and lift and hold both your vagina and your rectum.
  5. Do the quick flicks and the long holds


Why salt is actually VERY important in pregnancy

Steph, our guru nutritionist has found some important information out for pregnant ladies!

Your probably didn’t know this but new research has shown that sodium (salt) is now very important during pregnancy. Sodium is needed to regulate blood plasma volume, which increases in pregnancy. Increased blood volume occurs as you gain weight with the growing baby but also as blood is the first way your body receives nourishment, so you produce a greater amount to accommodate the baby nourishment’s needs too.

In the past they used to recommend women reduce their sodium intake, especially if they had high blood pressure or odema (swelling), but the dangers of doing that have been found to be a risk to sodium regulation and can in extreme cases alter the course and outcome of the pregnancy.

So good advice now is to add salt just ‘to taste’ – Steph recommends you use a multi-mineral salt that gives you plenty of other minerals as well as the sodium for example, Himalayan rock salt – which can be found in most health shops.

Prenatal exercise is also key – exercise improves the circulation and the better your circulation, the more nutrients and oxygen your baby gets so the healthier it will be!

The Secrets to Flatter Abs Post Baby (a generic Personal Trainer will NOT know)

Vicky Warr, Specialist Pregnancy and Post Natal Master Fitness Trainer, gives her secret insight and dispels the myths on achieving a flatter tummy after babies.

help_20stomach2_0A female body goes through dramatic changes when you have had a baby, no matter when you had the baby. As the baby grew inside you, your abdominals stretched and weakened across the midline. After a natural birth, your pelvic floor would have had some loading and you may leak when you laugh or cough, jump or run. If you had a c-section you may have suffered adhesions, have some scar tissue and quite literally your abs will feel numb as the nervous system shuts down from communicating with the muscles.

The lower abdominals are a part that most women dislike and struggle to flatten. In a bid to try to lose the baby weight, shape up and tone up the stomach, many hit the gym and knock out the stomach crunches, planks and pound on the treadmill.

Recently I’ve been contacted by several women who are worried about the appearance of their tummies. They may have lost the weight but their tummy still looks ‘domed’, wrinkled or they have some sagging skin in the lower part. There are also a lot of women struggling with leaking of their pelvic floor during lifting, jogging or coughing and laughing. Some women I hear from have been working with Personal Trainers or attending buggy bootcamps or’ killing it’ in the gym. When I quizzed them as to the type of exercise they had been doing, it involved crunches, skipping, running around the park, the treadmill.

What you really shouldn’t be doing and why..

Stomach crunches can increase abdominal separation due to the forward flexion of the movement. Coupled with the tendancy to ‘dome’ or pooch out the stomach when doing them means you will have quite the reverse effect that you want!

Running too soon. Each time your foot makes contact with a hard surface or pavement, up to 7 times your body weight goes through your pelvis, joints and pelvic floor. Think about the fact that this part of your body has already taken a pounding with the baby (even with a c-section) and you are adding to the pressure. Be sure to strengthen your core and pelvic floor first before starting to run.

Personal Trainers and Gym instructors without the research, experience and through knowledge of the implications of pregnancy and childbirth prescribe their clients these kind of exercises, in an effort to get their clients to lose weight or tone up like many of their other clients who haven’t had a baby (or may be men). The extra loading of running and the forward flexion of crunches cause even more ‘intra abdominal pressure’ on an already weakened abdominal and pelvic floor structure. Basically, this pressure causes the ‘pooch’!

So, we have to take care of our abs again and coach them back from muscle amnesia.
Post Natal exercise should be mindful exercise, reconnecting, re-educating and taking a holistic approach to repairing the whole ‘core’ of the trunk – all the muscles that help flatten the tummy. The ‘whole core’ involves the lower abdominals, the pelvic floor, multifidus (lower back muscle), and the respiratory diaphragm.

It’s not only about the right kind of exercise for a women who has given birth but using the right technique and training your abs again to optimal fitness.

Through a combination of the following plus following a specific, quality post natal programme you’ll achieve flat abs again.

TheBeezKneez protocol is for contouring, restoring function and achieving ultimate flat abs is based on the following:

Checking every client’s abs. It’s called the ‘rec test’ and provides an indication of core weakness at the start, the extent of any abdominal separation and the strength of the soft connective tissue in between. We also show our clients how they can check this for themselves. I also check for bulging or doming of the abs and whether they are connecting and recruiting the deep abdominal muscles.

Breathing. The right kind of breathing is critical (especially as we do it all the time!) and is essential to pelvic floor health and flatter abs.. Pushing out the belly or belly breathing increases the downward pressure on the pelvic floor and abs. so you want to avoid that. I also coach ladies away from the shoulder shift and chest lift style of breathing, which starts to occur during pregnancy. Instead I show a style where you let go of the stomach and instead open the bottom of the ribs on the in-breath.

Posture. An instant way to discover, feel and flatten your abs is to address your posture. By standing tall and ‘zipping’ up pubic bone to navel whilst drawing your hip bones away from each other encourages a tightening in the lower abs.

Pelvic Floor! Not many do their pelvic floor exercises or realise that it is the most important muscle group of the body. You just can’t see it, so it gets ignored in the exercise process. Start with ‘lifting’ your pelvic floor muscles or tightening your back passage whilst lying down DAILY! Then progress to movement based pelvic floor exercises that are more functional and effective. I use core training balls and bands to encourage effective pelvic floor exercises.

Vicky Warr is founder of and specialist trainer at TheBeezKneez Pregnancy and Post Natal Group Fitness Programmes and Personal Training and Ambassador for the Foo Foo Fun Club in West London. She is also pregnancy fitness expert for Mothercare. The specific pre and post natal class programmes run in 6 week cycles with masterclasses, information can be found at www.beez-kneez.co.uk.

How much weight should you gain during pregnancy?

“Go on have another biscuit, you have an excuse!” or “Now you can eat for two’” are common things that work collegues, friends or family may say to you if you’re eating with them or eating out!

Being pregnant isn’t a licence to eat for two, appealing as it may seem! It will result in excessive weight gain, especially if you are not exercising or physically active and is difficult to shift post baby.

A pregnant woman actually needs about 300 calories more a day. Now consider that this is equivalent to just an egg sandwich from Marks and Spencer so it may not seem that much.

However it is enough to support the growth of the fetus and the changing body of the mother and to give Mum the extra energy she needs. Some pregnant ladies eat much more than that and coupled with not doing much exercise during pregnancy or sitting on the sofa for nine months, then too much weight gain is inevitable! Plus, if you are overweight pre-pregnancy and it’s down to poor nutrition, portion control and lack of exercise and you start to over-eat during pregnancy the result can be a pretty hefty body!

That said Diets are a no-no when you are pregnant. It’s all about eating smarter to give your body and your babies development the best chance of being healthy. The food that you eat needs to contain plenty of vitamins and nutrients, essential to growth, repair and optimal functioning of the living cells inside baby and mother.

So how much weight should you gain?

For women of a Healthy Weight (BMI of 19.8 and 26 pre-pregnancy). a weight gain of about 25 to 35 pounds (1 stone 11lb – 2 stone 7lb) is considered good. Underweight women (BMI of below 19.8 pre-pregnancy) should look at gaining more – 28 to 40 pounds.
Overweight women (BMI of 26 to 29) should aim for between 15 and 25 pounds.

If you are short (5 foot 4 inches and below) aim to be at the lower end of the recommended weight gains. If you are taller than 5ft 4inches and above look at the higher ends of these recommendations.

How much should I gain each week

During the first trimester, usually 3 to 8 pounds of weight is normal.

Women with a healthy pre-pregnancy weight should gain on average one pound a week during trimesters two and three.
If you are underweight pre-pregnancy aim to gain slightly more than one pound a week and if you are overweight, aim for slighty less weight gain (just under a pound).

Where pregnancy weight gain comes from:

Baby: 7.5 pounds
Placenta: 1.5 pounds
Amniotic Fluid: 2 pounds

Breasts: 2 pounds
Uterus: 2 pounds
Body Fluids: 4 pounds
Blood: 4 pounds
Maternal stores of fat, protein and other nutrients: 7 pounds
Total: 30 pounds!


Delicious Baked Fish

Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Soak a pinch of saffron in 2 tbsp warm water.

Slice 1 medium potato per person into 1cm slices and par-boil for approx 6-8mins. Drain and layer them across the bottom of a roasting pan, big enough to hold a sea bass/ sea bream (for 2) or any white fish.

Clean the fish and slash it several times each side and then season.

Lay the fish on the potato slices and scatter 2 red peppers, 1 courgette and 2 large handfuls of cherry tomatoes either side of the fish and pour over the saffron water, a glug of stock and cover with several sprigs of thyme and/or parsley. Drizzle over 4tsp regular olive oil and season.

Cover with foil and bake for approx 1hr or until the fish is cooked through. Serve with a handful of leaves and some olives.

Recipe courtesy of Stephanie Ridley, Nutritional Therapist.  info@beez-kneez.co.uk or www.nourishtoflourish.co.uk

Fit and fabulous in 2012, Top 10 easy and fail proof ways to get into great shape

So this January you are going to lose weight, get toned up and lose the baby weight. After having trained over a hundred clients this year,  we found that there are ten key factors which guarantee your success. They are easy to follow but it’s important you employ just two or three at a time rather than trying to incorporate all ten. Have a fit and fabulous 2012!

  1. Nutrition first! Exercise alone doesn’t work, focusing on nutrition combined with exercise does. Those who know this get into shape far quicker. To help get a nutritionist on board to write you meal plans or sign up to a pure package, who deliver delicious, healthy meals to your door.
  2. Have a big motivator. A holiday, an awards ceremony, going back to work following maternity leave.
  3. What have you got to lose? If you don’t get into shape or feel your best what are the consequences?
  4. Choose a structured exercise programme that has proven results or testimonials. Ever wondered how celebrities personal trainers help them to look so amazing so quickly? They follow structured, varied, tried and tested programmes and we can help you to achieve exactly the same results. Our post baby belly blitz programme consists of specific post natal abdominal and whole body exercises that have got clients losing up to 3 inches off their waistlines.
  5. Take one small action a day. Something is better than nothing.
  6. Chose actions you know you can do. Can you really suddenly eat 7 portions of vegetables a day? Would 3 be more realistic and then gradually build up to 5 and then 7 over a few weeks.
  7. Have someone you are accountable too. A home personal trainer turns up to your door, and records your progress or sign up to a group exercise class. We check in with all our clients at the end of each class to see how they are doing.
  8. Focus on ‘doing’ rather than the outcomes. Rather than “I want to lose 8 kilos” aim for “I am going for a run today and abdominal exercises tomorrow”
  9. Have a trainer track your results. In home Beez Kneez personal training works as our trainers keep a record of client’s measurements or exercise achievements. Progress keeps you motivated.
  10. Get a support network. Get fit with a friend or in a group. We provide childcare options with our small group home personal training where our trainers come to your home.

Pregnancy Fitness and Yoga Fix

Discovering you are pregnant is one of the most exciting moments of your life. However, maintaining your fitness and health routine and preparing your body for birth can be a little confusing. People tell you to ‘put your feet up’  and ‘take it easy’. Others tell you to swim and do yoga or pilates.  But what about when you come to have the baby? Your baby may be 4kgs and you have to lift, bend and carry your baby around with you all day long on not very much sleep.  So being mentally and physically prepared and fit to do your new job as a Mummy helps get through those first months (trust me I know, I had my second baby 7 months ago!).

We have the solution to help you prepare in pregnancy and feel fitter during and after the birth. We’ve teamed up with Yoga West, London’s leading private yoga and pilates provider, to offer an exclusive pregnancy fitness and yoga course designed to support a Mums to be fitness and birth preparation.  The course consists of 1 x week yoga class and 1 x week fitness with core conditioning class over six weeks. The best of both worlds – yoga to relax , release tension and improve suppleness.  Fitness with core conditioning to tone your whole body, strengthen your core and avoid excess weight gain. It aims to give mums to be the confidence to keep fit and maintain a healthy routine. It strengthens  pelvic floor, improves hip flexibility, helps maintain tone and cardio-vascular fitness and teaches breathing techniques to help through labour and birth.

The course it taught at two locations in Chiswick, West London. Pregnancy yoga is taught at yoga west from 11-1215 on Thursdays. Fitness and core conditioning  is taught with TheBeezKneez at The Arts Educational School on Tuesdays at 7.35pm.

More about the classes….

Pregnancy yoga works to release deep tensions in the body and help you feel your best as your baby grows and your body changes, building your strength and suppleness. It is suitable for beginners or mothers with a developed practice, from 14 weeks until your baby arrives.  It weaves powerful breath work into the classes in preparation for labour, practice postures that are useful during labour and birth and end with a deep relaxation. The atmosphere is very welcoming, supportive and light hearted approach. The Yogabirth style has been developed over 30 years and is a safe and effective mix of Scaravelli style yoga and birth education.

The class is taken by Lulu Winfield. Lulu has been working around childbirth since the late 90’s.  She is a doula, reflexologist, childbirth educator and yoga birth teacher and trained for two years under Lolly Stirk and Yvonne Moore  – founder members of The Active Birth Centre and Movement. She has trained as a hypno-birthing teacher in the Marie Mongan method and currently mentors trainee Yogabirth teachers and doulas. Lulu infuses her classes with powerful breath work to draw the attention deeper within and uses cleverly adapted poses to reveal both the softness and strength in the mind and the body, essential in preparation for birth. She is a hugely popular teacher with a unique and joyful touch and is passionate about sharing the transformative power of yoga.

Pregnancy Fitness and Core Conditioning with TheBeezKneez.  Featuring modified pilates, cardiovascular bursts and pregnancy body sculpting exercises in a circuit style format. All exercises are specifically for pregnancy to effectively target those areas which get weak and flabby, strengthen the core and address the postural changes that can cause pain and stress.  Ideal for getting you fit for pregnancy, avoiding excessive weight gain, improving your core and strengthening pelvic floor and postural muscles to alleviate back ache.  The class is fun to upbeat music and shows you how you exercise safely and effectively. Suitable for trimester two and three and if you are carrying twins or more.

The class is instructed by Joanne Martin, who has over 12 years experience at teaching group fitness classes. She has specialist qualification in Active IQ Level 3 Award in Designing Pre and Post Natal Exercise Programmes and also instructs Post Natal classes both outdoors and indoors.  She instructs not only at The Beez Kneez but with other health clubs in West London and is a very popular well known instructor for inspiring Mums and Mums to be to exercise during pregnancy and beyond. A mum of two herself, she has first hand experience of pregnancy and childbirth.  In her classes she shows top conditioning moves which are a fantastic way of maintaining fitness and giving energy a boost prior to the arrival of your baby.  Her experience and The Beez Kneez specialist programmes created by founder Vicky Warr with Jo’s input show you the many benefits, ultimately helping you to maintain body shape and tone throughout your pregnancy.


Yoga West: 02073811673
The Beez Kneez: 020 8 354 1583 or www.beez-kneez.co.uk

Baby Steps

Exercise is a very important part of everyone’s lives, if you don’t exercise it leads to an increase in fatigue and a greater chance of obesity and all the demons that come with obesity, like heart disease. But I’m not a doctor so I’m not here to lecture you. One thing I learnt recently is that exercise isn’t just something for adults and teens, it’s actually important for children and babies too! Since there has been a rise in the how much time children spend watching TV, there has been less time spent playing around like the good old days. Studies have shown that if a child grows up with exercise as part of their daily regime, they are less likely to become obese as they grow up. Now I’m not saying you should get your child to drop and give you 20 push ups, what I mean by exercises are just fun and playful physical activities.

If you’ve got a newborn you can’t do anything rigorous with them, but them simply being around you doing exercise, or taking them for a walk in their stroller will demonstrate healthy habits and get them used to the nature of physical activity and encourage them to be more active.

Flying-BabyAs your baby grows they will start to develop their own exercises, like grabbing for objects, lifting their heads while laying down, and kicking their little legs. In addition to this you can help your babies development further by playing with them in lots of different ways, a couple for example would be raising your baby in the air to “fly” while you support their abdomen, this is a fun game that we’ve all played but it also helps to strengthen your baby and is a great help to their development. Another exercise would be helping your baby to a sitting position, simply holding your babies hands and helping them get up. Other exercises you can do is just dancing with them, or moving their legs in a cycling motion while they’re laid on their back, letting your baby kick a beach ball or something similar. All of this is natural and what a playful little baby loves to do any way, so you’re not forcing exercise on them rather encouraging them to do what they like to do, there are even some gyms opening specifically designed for babies. It’s also a great way to strengthen the parental bond.

All it takes is about 1 to 3 hours of exercise a day and your baby will be on its way to a naturally healthy lifestyle as they grow and develop. It’s also important for you and your baby to get good a good rest because this helps your body and your babies body replenish and recharge. The right bed is really important for a good nights rest, silent night beds are available and they’re great after a day of play.


Getting Started: Recording your progress and measurements

Getting Started: Recording your progress and measurements

Before starting TheBeezKneez Fitness programme, whether it’s a group
fitness course or personal training here’s some vital steps to take to track your results and keep you very motivated!  

Take three full length photos of yourself: one of your front profile,
one of your side profile and a third of your back profile.  You need to
be able to see your body shape, so wear fitness shorts and bra,
otherwise you won’t be able to see your posture or true shape. 

Measure yourself and record on the table below. I always recommend to
clients to measure every two weeks, its really motivating as you start
to see results. You don’t need to measure more frequently than that, try
on some new dresses and jeans and check out how they fit you. Also
focus on doing your exercises in small manageable chunks!

body measurements table





Juices for Better Abs: Day One, Apple, Celery and Lime Juice

This is the first day of my Juices for Restoring, Strengthening and Flattening your Abs!
Due to all the vitamins and nutrients in Juice’s from the fruit and vegetables you throw in you can really cleanse, de-tox and help re-store and flatten your abs post baby.

I was always aware of the benefits of Juices but really came to incorporate them into my own diet and encourage our clients to make and drink them by Mairi Taylor, my inspirational Juice buddy at FAB fitness.

Juices are also excellent for your children and gives them loads of vitamins and nutrients they need to their growing bodies!

1. You can get your daily five in one quick scoop! Many struggle to incorporate 5 portions of vegetables (or even less!) into their daily food or meals. Juicing your veggies means you can do this. Plus you can ‘pop in’ celery, broccoli and beetroot and other ‘green’ foods that your children may turn their little noses up at and in the juice format, they will not turn a hair! Crafty!

2. A nourish, a cleanse. Due to all the luscious vitamins and nutrients they contain, they can be almost more of a meal or snack. Keeping sugar cravings at bay and nourishing your pregnant or post baby body.

3. So easy to prepare and make. A great ‘Dash out of the Door’ drink (or rather food – see point above).

4. You can be creative. What I love is that you can throw it all in and experiment a little to see what tastes good.

To save you the time in experimenting, I have conjured up, tweaked some existing recipes from the Juice Master, Jason Vale and will be sharing these with you over the next 7 days.

To save time you can do a large batch of juice and freeze them. Then you just pull out and defrost for your snack time or breakfast.

The Right Juicer!
This is key – you want one that is easy to wash, ideally the parts easily detach and fit in the dishwasher.
You also want one that will juice enough for more than 2 people, especially if you are making them for the whole family.
My favourite is the Philips HR1861 Whole Fruit Juicer, Aluminium.

Here’s the first Juice recipe, curtesy of Marie Paiser, one of our clients currently on our Post Baby Belly Blitz Programme. Marie has a 12 week old baby and is breastfeeding so she is finding Juicing perfect for her nutrient needs and also the nutrient needs of her growing baby.

Apple, Celery and Lime Juice

Apple, celery and lime juice

Serves 2
4 Apples – Golden Delicious or Royal Gala (go organic if you can), halve and remove core. No need to peel.
2 small sticks of celery.
1/2 lime – no need to peel.

Pop apples in first, then celery and lime. Then Juice.

Add a few sprigs of mint (chopped) if you have them.