Personal trainer at TRX, Charlotte Tooth, started out as a professional dancer before trying her hand at being a Barre master but is now certified to do pre- and post-natal workouts to expectant or new mums.
Some people obsess over when celebrities will be working to shift their baby weight as soon as they’ve given birth, but Tooth thinks that’s a negative expectation and that women should return to exercising only when they feel ready.
Tooth explained why it’s completely safe to workout whilst pregnant, as long as you get the all clear from your doctor to do so, spoke about why new mothers should embrace their new body and reveals why she wanted to be pre- and post-natal certified.
How and why did you get into personal training?
I became a personal trainer during my years as a professional dancer. I wanted to know the human body inside out and to help people with injuries. I watched many dancers struggle with coming back from an injury and I was fascinated with the process. I have always loved movement and the mental health benefits that come with it, so I wanted to assist other people in finding a love for movement!
Personal training is a lot about coaching the person in front of you, getting to know them and what they care about. It is about helping them to find themselves, setting great habits and accountability. I love meeting new people and working with an understanding of their psychology to get the best out of them.
Is personal training what you always wanted to do, or did you ever consider another career path?
I actually managed to do a great deal of side 'gigs' during my first years as a personal trainer. I was a Barre Master Instructor, teacher trainer for TRX and of course, a professional dancer. However, I always knew I wanted to help people with coaching in some form.
It wasn't until I went into the world of group fitness that I realised that personal training was perfect for me. I would have conversations with clients after class, give advice to those struggling and help them undo their pre-conceptions of exercise, and it always left me feeling great! That is when I knew, it was for me!
It is such a fantastic job; I am not sure I would choose anything else in hindsight. I have met the most incredible people, watched my clients thrive and improve all areas of their life. After all, when your training is on point, life is simply easier!
Why did you want to become pre- and post-natal certified?
I became pre- and post-natal certified because a great portion of my clients were female, aged 20-60. I wanted to ensure I could help them through all stages of life and provide support when they needed it. Being pregnant is such a beautiful time for a woman, but it comes with its challenges. I wanted to be well-rounded in my knowledge of the physiology and the psychology of pregnancy, so I could be a vessel of good quality information and assistance during and after these challenging months.
Is it safe to workout while pregnant?
Absolutely! Of course, you will always need the all clear from your doctor/physician, but once you do, the benefits of exercising during pregnancy are endless.
Your body is going through some incredible changes, and it is physically, a lot of hard work. Challenges such as carrying the extra weight of the baby, a changing posture and centre of gravity, plus the months after birth where you will need strength to manoeuvre a young infant around.
It is important to ensure you work with qualified professionals and only choose a workout that feels right for you. Resistance training can help with maintaining strength and postural support. It is important that you focus on breath work and pelvic floor awareness too, as the months leading up to pregnancy can help with the birthing process.
TRX Suspension training is my go-to for pre- and post-natal because of the support the straps provide and the ability to load/unload movements provide a safe environment to work in.
How long do you have to wait after giving birth to start exercising again?
I don't believe in giving a blanket response to women about when they should start exercising again postpartum. The birthing process is incredibly challenging physically and mentally. Reach out to your network of professionals to ensure they are happy with your healing process prior to commencing any activity (approximately 6-8 weeks but it depends on the person).
Having a new-born child and healing from childbirth are two consuming activities which will require almost all of your attention, so I recommend new mothers to focus on their overall wellbeing before considering anything else. If you want to go for a walk, do gentle activity or take part in something for your mental health, this should take priority over a designated workout to get 'back in shape'.
How do the pre- and post-natal workouts differ?
Pre- and post-natal workouts can often look very similar. The emphasis is placed on the breath, joint stability and postural support. The main areas of focus are the pelvis/deep core, the back muscles and strength in the limbs. The idea is that prenatal workouts help the expectant mother to maintain her strength for childbirth, placing emphasis on the deep core, legs and back. This will be accompanied with breath work which can help with childbirth and pelvic floor control postnatally.
And your focus in on keeping healthy, not the stigma that women should get rid of their baby weight as soon as possible?
The idea that the media presents to us that you can 'bounce back' from childbirth and lose weight is both unsafe and unrealistic. Giving birth is one of the most strenuous activities you can possibly do as a human. We need to normalise giving women space and time to heal. I often hear clients say 'I want to get back to my pre-pregnancy body'. I try to highlight to them that your body is a brand new, beautiful body. A body that was capable of the incredible task of giving birth. Embracing change and being kind to yourself should be the emphasis.
If you are in the inner circle of a new mother, give her support by way of asking what she needs, rather than insisting she goes to the next HIIT class.
What would you say to new mothers who are still adapting to life with a new-born to encourage them and give them the motivation to do a workout if they’re ready?
Prioritise your sleep, take gentle walks outside and look after yourself. Everything else will come but this requires patience and kindness to yourself. When you feel ready, seek out a professional who can support you in getting back to training safely. Giving time back to yourself will be crucial in the first few months post-natally.
Words by Lucy Roberts for Female First, who you can follow on Twitter, @Lucy_Roberts_72.