Break a sweat with P&N!
New mamas and moms-to-be review the latest fitness gear and programs.
Program: MomBod Fitness ReCORE Program
Cost: $125 for a 6-week series
Fitness level: All levels
Reviewed by: P&N Associate Editor and mom of three, Rachel Reiff Ellis
I remember during my first pregnancy looking down at my stretched taut belly and having the thought that my poor, poor ab muscles would never be the same. Well. Now that I’m on the postpartum side of baby #3, my abs, they are definitely a-floppin’.
It’s kind of scary to think about jumping back into (or jumping into for the first time) an exercise routine that involves ab work after your middle has been through the childbearing gamut. In addition to that anxiety is the fear that your muscles have not healed correctly and that you might have what’s called diastasis recti—otherwise known as abdominal separation—where the muscles in your abdomen separate into right and left halves due to the stretching of the rectus abdominis. This was a side effect of pregnancy I had often seen in my prenatal reading, but I was never sure how to tell if I was dealing with a case of it, or if my ab muscles had just stretched the regular amount. This fact, in addition to my increasing desire for more control in my core muscles after my third baby, made me excited to try out theReCORE program from MomBod Fitness—a set of personalized exercises designed to help stabilize and strengthen a postpartum core and repair diastasis recti.
First things first, I began emailing with Celeste Goodson, the creator and owner, and she helped determine an exercise routine that worked best for my needs. To do this, I completed an assessment form so she could get a better picture of where I stood when it came to overall health, fitness level and body shape. I provided information about how many times a week I exercised and what kind I tended to do, documented my birthing history (C-sections, vaginal births, postpartum issues, etc.), and took measurements of my waist circumference both below and above my belly button. (More on those numbers later, when I show you my before and after shots.)
In addition, Celeste directed me to a video that showed me how to test for diastasis recti on myself. It’s a very straightforward and easy-to-understand video that I found very helpful, since it can be fairly confusing to know where exactly to look for that kind of thing.Though I didn’t have a separation far enough to be considered diastasis recti, I was still excited to see how my body would respond to personalized conditioning and ab work to help strengthen my core. I knew I was already using it much more than I was during pregnancy, since I was lifting my baby and more quick to sit up from a lying down position than I was before. And it needed work.
Before receiving my first set of exercises from Celeste, I received a package in the mail that contained a crucial element to the program—the FITSplint.
The FITSplint is exactly what its name suggests—a splint to help hold together your ab muscles, just like a splint on the ankle or wrist would stabilize the muscles in their respective locations, holding them in place so that they can heal from injury (or in this case, pregnancy) in the correct way. There is a helpful video to tell you how to wear the FITSplint, and it is suggested you wear the splint for the majority of the day, or about 8 hours.
Wearing the FITSplint definitely took some getting used to, and unfortunately for me, it was the middle of summer here in Atlanta, meaning that adding another layer under my clothing was pretty miserable. I often removed it at the end of the day and found a sheen of sweat beneath it, (You can wear it over a light tank or cami if you don’t want it to be right up against your skin, but like I said: Atlanta in the summer. The fewer layers the better.) but also? I found that my middle felt different—even after one day of use. On days when I forgot to wear it (I’ll admit there were a few—plus I hit the pool a few times!) I really felt the difference. I felt floppier and less supported under my clothing. I did have to adjust my clothing choices slightly—the FITSplint is not completely smooth under shirts that are form-fitting. (Although, who am I kidding, I wasn’t wearing form-fitting shirts anyway.)
I began wearing the splint before I even started doing the exercises, and it helped me feel like I was doing something without really doing anything, if you know what I mean. The perfect first step. Once Celeste had assessed my assessment, she began sending me sets of exercises—all of which had accompanying YouTube videos to show you exactly how to do them—each week. Once I viewed the videos one time, I could do the rest of the week without the visual cue. There were typically six or seven different kinds of exercises that she would suggest in sets of 2×20 or 4×30, etc., depending on the muscles being worked. I especially liked the moves she called the “Ab sets,” because they were designed so that you can do them anywhere—driving, breastfeeding, sitting at work, etc. This is a working mom of three’s dream, because time is something I am short on, so being able to work on my core while commuting was ideal. My only problem with the exercises was losing count! But concentration is not one of my strong suits these days.
Ultimately, the exercises were a perfect fit for me—a not-very-frequent-exerciser-before-or-during-pregnancy person. They start easy and increase gently with each week (there are even push ups included, which for me were easier than abs, since my chunky baby was almost 9 pounds at birth and just kept getting chunkier!) I started the program around 3 months postpartum and after the 6 weeks were up, the results looked like this:
Here is where the measurements come in. At the start of the six weeks, I measured my waist both at my belly button (32.5″) and two inches below (34″) and in addition, at the guidance of Celeste, I measured the separation in my ab muscles in finger widths (one finger both 1″ above and below my belly button and 2″ at my belly button). My circumference measurements changed a good bit, and though my ab separation stayed the same, I could tell a difference in the depth in which I could insert my fingers into the space, which indicates that the tissue is tightening up.
I’m pretty pleased with how I feel after completing the program, and can tell a difference in my core strength and posture, definitely. I would recommend this to any mom looking to ease back into fitness after pregnancy, and would also recommend it to anyone dealing with diastasis recti—it’s said to work for moms who are as far postpartum as 30+ years! The personalization and back and forth help from Celeste is a huge plus, as well. Celeste is eager and willing to help adjust the workout if it isn’t working for you in some way, and is a source of encouragement, too. Thanks for all your help, Celeste!