Monday, May 6, 2013

Prenatal and Postpartum Exercise

I have mentioned before about the incredible women I am meeting through Rochester Area Birth Network. Colleen Flaherty ranks high among them. This is exactly the kind of forward-thinking, high-energy youth that Rochester needs to keep this city progressive and keep labor and birth here natural and low-risk. Anyone who has met her knows that the future holds great things in store for Colleen. At just 26 years old, she has recently started a business focused on prenatal and postpartum health and fitness. What an awesome resource for women in our area!

What is the name of your company and what is its philosophy?

Baby Bump Academy

Every woman deserves the opportunity to be her strongest self.

Where is BBA located?

Currently, I train in Physikos in Village Gate Square.
(302 North Goodman Street, Rochester, New York 14607)

How did you get the idea to start this company?

I thought it was cool to see a pregnant woman 8,9 months pregnant in the gym with their big bellies waddling around lifting weights. Granted, it was a very rare occasion. So I researched it. And I was hooked. I've always been obsessed with learning how things work. I just question everything. So when I learned that the human body is able to grow another human and train at the same time it was like a light bulb. I knew not many women exercised during pregnancy and I knew how I felt being an avid gym junkie and athlete; I made it my mission to inspire women to feel fabulous at any stage. Being in the weight room since I was a teenager has given me so much confidence. Looking back, I've learned a lot about society and stigmas being one of a couple girls in a male dominated arena. No wonder more women weren't training during pregnancy. It wasn't a 'normal' thing to workout in the first place! I'm not one to go with the flow. As soon as I saw there was no one in Rochester supporting pregnant women, Baby Bump Academy was conceived. (pun intended)

What kind of training have you yourself received?

I am a AFPA Certified Prenatal Exercise Specialist, a NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, a NSCA Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, and a NYSW Certified Soccer Coach.

Why is health and fitness so important to you, personally?

When I was younger, probably because I had to be the best. I played soccer. I was fast. I was coachable. I was good. And I always wanted to be better. That work ethic is part of me and it showed in athletics. So when I tore both my ACLs in high school - I went to a dark place. It took me a while to figure out how I could be the best without being an athlete. As I've aged, training is something I can always go back to and I know how it's going to make me feel. It's going to make me feel like Super Woman! It's going to make me more alert, energized, and sexy. It feels incredible! It's addicting because our bodies naturally crave movement to thrive that's why you feel SO GOOD when you do it. Your body is saying, "ooooh, that's the stuff!"

What makes your company unique?

BBA is the only business in Rochester focused on purposeful movement and nutrition of women before, during, and after pregnancy.

What need does your company fulfill in our community?

Sure, there are prenatal yoga classes and birth classes, but there aren't birth strength classes anywhere in Rochester. The need is so great! What about women after birth? Where are the post-birth classes? BBA trains women in every stage. As a woman, I feel a draw to empower other women to be their strongest self. We all deserve it. We selflessly do so much for others - we need this one thing for us. Exercising, I call it 'training', is more than just iron and machines in a weight room with sweaty dudes. As hot as that sounds, every workout is an accomplishment. You just tortured your body to make it better. You challenged your mind to be quicker and more coordinated. There is so so much more to training then just looking good naked. That's just the result! It's about the pride after a great session. It's about growth and adaptation. It's about being a better person for yourself so you can be there for your family.

What makes you so passionate about the health and wellness of pregnant women?

Oh man, I could literally talk about this topic endlessly. I began BBA as a business move, finding a niche that no one else was capitalizing on. But when I joined Rochester Area Birth Network, met so many inspiring birth professionals, and mothers, my job became more clear. I was and am still like, "holy wow, I was meant to be in this role". Every day there is this fire that grows inside me to advocate for my fellow woman. There is so much going on in the world of birth; politics, education, resources, emotions; I am driven to help women FEEL strong and ready to take on anything. Cassie, a registered dietician, works along side me to provide women nutritional guidance because adapting a healthy lifestyle starts with what you put in your body.

How do you plan on connecting with your pregnant clients even though you yourself have never been pregnant?
Great question. And honestly a fact that I fear the most. It's a disadvantage. It's something that I don't want women to hold against me but I definitely acknowledge that it could be a deal breaker. Everyone is entitled to feel safe and connected to a professional they are seeking guidance from. At the same time, a lot of women seek the support of professionals that haven't gone through what they're going through; a male OB/GYN or wedding planner who's never been married, for example. I know the human body. I know a pregnant human body. I know women. As with any professional, my knowledge will grow with my experience and I hope the good things people say about training will be enough to convince women they should give me a shot.

What can a woman expect when she comes to one of your classes?

To be sore the next day. In a good way obviously! To answer the question another way - one on ones and group classes run pretty much the same way except in private sessions women get the added benefit of asking me all their questions, I can watch their technique more closely, we build a respectful relationship more quickly, and the workout is created for her needs. I like interchanging circuit training with timed rounds, mini sets, long sets, certain equipment, & more!

Describe your instruction style in three words:

1. fun
2. interactive
3. educational

What's the difference between a woman exercising at home by following a video and a woman coming to the BBA to exercise?

It's a million dollar business selling pregnancy workout DVDs and magazines. Those DVDs are for women who can hold themselves accountable AND know what they're doing. This is the second most important reason as to why I created BBA. I want to be the real life, 3D person women can come to. Women band together in joint efforts and companionship. We go to the bathroom in groups! I want to hug them, welcome them into a safe training space they can call their own, talk with them, answer all their questions, and support them in any way I can. Can a DVD do that for you?

What do you think is the number one reason that women put fitness on the back burner?

#1: Selflessness
#2: Education
Women do so much for other people that we forget to put ourselves first. A lot of women are uneducated or misinformed when it comes to how they should be moving their bodies. More so when it comes to working out during pregnancy and postpartum.

If you could give only one piece of advice to pregnant women about keeping fit during her pregnancy, what would it be and why?
Never underestimate the power of your breath. It will help you through resistance. It will calm you. It will play a huge role during your birth. Practice belly breathing - it will help keep your core strong. 

Any last words?
Women need to stop being afraid or hesitant to invest in themselves. Starting something new is scary. But when we're uncomfortable, changes happen. Everyone finds time to watch TV or get drinks with a friend. Everyone spends money on a new phone or slimmer TV. Only a few invest the time and money into bettering the ONE body they will have forever. Every woman deserves to feel unstoppable. Every baby deserves a healthy womb to grow in. Every kid deserves a mom that can hug, and jump, and run around the yard.
You can really feel her passion. And let me tell you, this is actually what it is like to speak with Colleen. She truly believes in this mission. What a gift to have felt such a calling so young. I encourage all moms and moms-to-be to check out what the Baby Bump Academy has to offer!

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