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  • Exercising During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

    Exercising during pregnancy offers numerous benefits for both the mother and the baby, including improved mood, energy, and posture, as well as reduced signs of depression, anxiety, stress, and back pain. However, it's crucial to approach exercise in pregnancy safely. Consulting with a doctor and a professional trainer before starting any pregnancy workout, including low impact exercises, kegel exercises, and prenatal yoga, can ensure that both mother and baby remain healthy and safe throughout all trimesters. Tailoring workouts to include the best exercises for pregnancy, such as strength training, stretching exercises, and pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy, can lead to significant benefits. It can help manage gestational diabetes, reduce the risk of prenatal issues like vaginal bleeding, and enhance overall self-confidence. Nonetheless, recognising when to modify or pause exercise during pregnancy, especially in early stages or when experiencing discomfort, remains paramount to exercising safely during pregnancy. It’s about finding a balance to reap the pregnancy exercise benefits while maintaining safety throughout. Understanding the Myths vs. Reality Debunking Common Myths Myth: Exercising causes back pain and injury to the baby. Reality: Proper exercise can actually strengthen back muscles and decrease pain. Training during pregnancy is not only safe with the right precautions but also beneficial, as it does not harm the baby when done correctly. Myth: Pregnancy means giving up on core exercises. Reality: Strengthening core muscles through safe, tailored exercises can facilitate easier delivery and reduce back pain, debunking the myth that core training is unsafe during pregnancy. Myth: Pregnant women should stay inactive and avoid lifting weights. Reality: Moderate weight training and staying active are encouraged unless medically advised otherwise. These activities support better physical health and can lead to a smoother pregnancy and recovery. Addressing Exercise Misconceptions  Myth: Exercise leads to increased back pain and gestational complications. Reality: Regular, appropriate exercise during pregnancy can lead to reduced back pain and a lower risk of gestational diabetes, contributing to overall cardiovascular health and stress reduction. Myth: It's impossible to return to pre-pregnancy weight and shape. Reality: With balanced exercise and nutrition, many women successfully return to their pre-pregnancy weight. Exercise also improves post-delivery recovery, making it easier to regain fitness. Impact of Exercise on Pregnancy  Positive Outcomes:  Regular prenatal exercise contributes to shorter and less complicated labor. Enhances mood and sleep, reduces stress, and boosts overall energy levels. Strengthens the pelvic floor, which can improve the childbirth process and recovery. Understanding these realities helps in overcoming unfounded fears, such as the risk of miscarriage from exercise, which predominantly stem from misinformation. As confidence in the safety and benefits of prenatal exercise grows, so does the likelihood of a healthier pregnancy experience. Benefits of Exercise for Mother and Baby Exercise during pregnancy is not only beneficial for the mother's health but also plays a crucial role in the baby's development. Engaging in regular physical activity helps manage weight gain throughout the pregnancy, ensuring both mother and baby maintain a healthy weight. This is vital as it reduces the risk of gestational diabetes and hypertension, common concerns during pregnancy. Physiological and Psychological Benefits Strengthening Muscles and Joints: Regular exercise strengthens the mother's muscles and joints, which can alleviate back pain and improve posture. This is particularly beneficial as the body undergoes significant changes to accommodate the growing baby. Enhanced Cardiovascular Health: Exercise improves blood circulation, which is crucial for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the baby. It also helps in maintaining the mother's cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of hypertension. Mental Health Improvements: Physical activity is known to boost mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. For expectant mothers, this is especially important as hormonal changes can affect mental health. Benefits for the Baby  Optimal Weight at Birth: Babies born to mothers who exercise regularly are more likely to have an optimal birth weight, reducing the risk of obesity and diabetes later in life.  Improved Stress Response: These babies often show better stress tolerance and advanced neurodevelopment, attributed to enhanced placental growth and function from maternal exercise.  Shorter and Easier Labor: Mothers who engage in exercises like pelvic floor workouts and prenatal yoga often experience shorter and less complicated labor, benefiting both mother and baby during the delivery process. Regular exercise, under professional guidance, ensures that pregnant women can enjoy these benefits safely, promoting a healthier pregnancy and a smoother transition into motherhood. Safe Exercises for Each Trimester First Trimester: Foundation and Adaptation During the first trimester, the focus is on establishing a safe exercise routine that accommodates the body's changing needs. Core training, including kegel exercises and wall sits, helps in strengthening the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, which are crucial for a healthy pregnancy and delivery. It is advisable to incorporate low-impact aerobic activities, aiming for 150 minutes per week to maintain cardiovascular health. However, exercises that involve overstretching or high impact should be avoided to protect the weaker ligaments and joints during pregnancy. Second Trimester: Strengthening and Maintenance As the belly grows, modifying exercises to maintain balance and avoid strain becomes essential. Utilise stability balls for seated exercises and side-lying positions to support the back and align the spine. Continue with strength training, focusing on lower body exercises like squats and lunges, which aid in easier post-delivery recovery. It's also beneficial to include upper body workouts using resistance bands to improve posture and reduce back pain. Always ensure to monitor the heart rate and avoid overheating. Third Trimester: Preparation and Adjustment In the final trimester, the emphasis shifts to preparing for delivery while maintaining fitness. Continue with modified core exercises such as the "hug baby"exercise, which safely engages the core without compromising the baby's position. Adjust planks to be performed on a box or bench to keep the body upright. It's crucial to listen to the body's signals more intensely during this period, reducing the intensity of workouts and increasing rest periods as needed. Pregnant women with specific conditions like sciatica or varicose veins should tailor their exercises accordingly, possibly wearing compression socks to alleviate discomfort. Adjusting Your Workout Routine Proper Assessment and Program Design A well-educated pregnant woman, under professional guidance, will have a training routine tailored to her needs. It's essential that the fitness program considers her pre-pregnancy fitness level and any health conditions. Trainers should design a comfortable and beneficial workout plan based on the woman’s fitness history and any existing medical conditions, ensuring that it includes: Proper Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs: An 8-12 minute warm-up and appropriate cool down period are crucial to prepare the body for exercise and aid recovery afterward. Hydration and Temperature Control: Staying hydrated and avoiding overheating are critical. Pregnant women should be mindful of their body temperature and hydration levels during workouts. Position Modifications: Exercises should be adjusted to avoid pressure on the abdomen and to accommodate balance changes. For instance, switching from a free bike to a stationary bike and avoiding lying on the back or stomach. Core and Balance Training Maintaining core strength and balance is vital during pregnancy. The program should include exercises that focus on the pelvic floor, abdominal muscles, and lower back to support the body as it changes. Recommended exercises include:  Kegel exercises  "Hug baby" exercises  Wall sits These exercises help in strengthening the core and can improve posture, reduce back pain, and support postpartum recovery. Gradual Progression and Consistency Post-delivery, it's important to gradually return to exercise, starting with gentle activities like walking and pelvic floor exercises, then progressively increasing the intensity and duration of workouts. This approach helps in regaining strength and mobility. Regular exercise should be a consistent part of the daily routine, focusing on:  Lower body exercises, such as squats and lunges, to enhance post-delivery mobility.  At least 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic training per week, spread over 3 to 4 sessions. Each session should be carefully monitored by a healthcare provider, especially before resuming high-impact or strenuous activities. This gradual and consistent approach ensures safe and effective adjustments to the workout routine during and after pregnancy. Recognising When to Pause or Modify Exercise Pregnancy is a time of significant change, and while exercise offers numerous benefits, it's essential to recognise when to modify or pause your routine. Here are key signs that indicate a need to adjust your exercise plan: Key Signs to Watch For Vaginal Bleeding or Leaking: Any occurrence of vaginal bleeding or fluid leaking should prompt an immediate cessation of exercise and consultation with your healthcare provider. Dizziness and Nausea: Experiencing dizziness or nausea during or after working out is a signal that your body may be overstressed or dehydrated. Painful Uterine Contractions: While some contractions are normal, painful or regular contractions could be a sign of preterm labor. Headaches, Swollen or Painful Calves: These symptoms can be indicators of blood pressure issues or deep vein thrombosis, especially if the calves are also warm to touch and red. Muscle Weakness and Chest Pain: Sudden muscle weakness or chest pain are serious symptom that require immediate medical attention. Sudden Shortness of Breath: Without exertion, if you experience sudden difficulties in breathing, it could indicate cardiovascular issues. Exhaustion or Breast Infection: Feeling unusually tired or having symptoms of a breast infection (like tenderness and redness) are also reasons to pause and seek advice. When to Contact Your Healthcare Provider  Immediate Symptoms: If you experience any of the severe symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, chest pain, or regular painful contractions, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Persistent Discomfort: For less severe symptoms that persist, such as mild dizziness, headaches, or nausea, schedule a visit to discuss possible adjustments to your exercise regimen. Safe Practice Tips  Regular Monitoring: Always monitor how you feel during and after exercise and adjust the intensity accordingly.  Stay Hydrated and Cool: Ensure adequate hydration and avoid overheating during workouts.  Follow Professional Advice: Maintain regular check-ups with your healthcare provider to adapt your exercise routine as your pregnancy progresses. Recognising these signs and responding promptly ensures the safety of both mother and baby during pregnancy. Always err on the side of caution and consult with healthcare professionals when in doubt. The Role of Professional Guidance Engaging with trained professionals is crucial in crafting a safe and effective exercise program during pregnancy. These experts are equipped to conduct thorough assessments, taking into account a woman's fitness level, pregnancy stage, and medical history. This ensures that the exercises recommended are both safe and beneficial, specifically tailored to the needs of the pregnant individual. Assessment and Customisation: A fitness trainer or healthcare provider should first. evaluate the pregnant woman's current fitness status and any pre-existing health conditions. This assessment helps in designing an exercise regimen that accommodates her specific trimester and physical or psychological changes, ensuring safety and effectiveness. Monitoring and Adjustments: It is vital for trainers to continuously monitor the progress and well-being of the pregnant woman throughout her exercise program. They should provide guidance on staying hydrated, managing body temperature, and adjusting exercises to maintain balance and prevent strain on the centre of gravity. Modifications to the routine should be made based on the woman’s comfort and. any new symptoms she may experience. By following professional advice and undergoing regular checks, pregnant women can maximise the benefits of exercising while minimising risks to themselves and their babies. This professional oversight is instrumental in navigating the complexities of exercise during pregnancy. Conclusion Throughout this article, curated meticulously by Jana Saade, we have delved into the comprehensive benefits and safe practices of exercising during pregnancy, debunking prevalent myths and highlighting tailored workouts beneficial for each trimester. It is evident that with the correct approach, physical activities not only foster a stronger bond between mother and child but also significantly contribute to the emotional and physical well-being of the mother. Safe exercise during pregnancy, underpinned by professional guidance, promises a range of benefits from improved mood and posture to a decrease in pregnancy-related discomforts, underscoring the indispensability of incorporating regular, tailored exercise into one's prenatal care regimen. Moreover, recognising the cues from one’s body to modify or pause exercise, and appreciating the nuanced needs during each trimester, are pivotal in navigating this journey safely and effectively. The implications of such practices resonate not just during the pregnancy but extend into smoother delivery and recovery phases, making it a cornerstone of prenatal care. To ensure that every pregnant woman has access to the most beneficial and safe exercise plans, tailored to their unique needs and circumstances, joining SPARK can be a transformative step. Our qualified coaches are committed to crafting personalised programs that resonate with the information and guidelines discussed, ultimately enhancing the pregnancy experience while ensuring safety and health for both mother and baby. This article is authored by Coach Jana Saade from SPARK Athletic Center.

  • Weight Loss and Fitness Tips for Women

    For many women, fitness and weight loss can be a challenging journey filled with unique obstacles. At SPARK Athletic Center, we understand these distinctive challenges and have tailored our approach to address them effectively. In this comprehensive guide, we will debunk common misconceptions around women's fitness, provide effective dieting tips, exercise recommendations, and strategies to build confidence and self-love in your fitness journey. Understanding the Unique Challenges Hormonal Changes Women undergo multiple hormonal changes throughout their life, including menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause. These changes can impact metabolism and appetite, often causing emotional eating. At SPARK, we are equipped to help manage these fluctuations proactively. Lifestyle and Social Pressures Busy work schedules, familial responsibilities, and societal gatherings can significantly affect a woman's ability to prioritise her health and control food intake. Our highly educated and experienced coaches at SPARK design routines and nutrition plans tailored to accommodate these busy schedules while achieving fitness goals. Medical Conditions Medical conditions like thyroid problems, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and injuries can lead to physical and mental fatigue, hindering the fitness journey. Many of our coaches at SPARK have a physiotherapy background and wellness knowledge to work with these health issues. We require a medical report to tailor a fitness plan to your specific needs. Debunking Fitness Misconceptions Quick Results Many women desire to see results within a few weeks of starting their fitness journey. However, it's crucial to understand that each person's fitness journey is unique and varies in length and difficulties. At SPARK, we strongly discourage extreme dieting methods and focus on safe, sustainable progress. Motivation Special Events Events like weddings or engagements often motivate women to take their appearance more seriously. At SPARK, we strive to help our clients reach their goals, encouraging them to maintain their fitness journey beyond these events. Peer Influence Seeing friends, family, or colleagues lose weight can also be a strong motivator. We aim to transform this external motivation into internal drive, making the fitness journey a personal and enjoyable process. Social Media Social media posts promoting positive body image, healthy lifestyle, and transformation stories can be powerful motivators. We encourage our clients to follow credible sources and are open to suggestions regarding new exercises. Health and Injuries Sadly, some women only take steps towards a healthier lifestyle after being diagnosed with serious health conditions. At SPARK, we have experienced coaches specialised in nutrition, physiotherapy, corrective exercise, pilates, yoga, and swimming, ready to help our clients deal with health issues and injuries. Diet Tips for Weight Loss Minimize sugar intake and switch to healthier options like fruits and nuts. Avoid late-night snacking and ensure at least 6 hours of quality sleep. Stay hydrated as dehydration can often be mistaken for hunger. Eat smaller portions frequently. Always leave a little room in your stomach after each meal. Consult with a nutritionist for a personalised diet plan. Top Exercise Recommendations Start with simple bodyweight exercises. Join group classes or book a consultation with a coach for basic movements. Invest in personal training sessions. Incorporating Fitness into Everyday Life 20-minute circuit with 5 bodyweight or machine exercises targeting different areas, 15-20 reps each, with a max of 20 seconds rest between rounds, repeat 3-4 times. Participate in group classes that are short but intense and effective. Opt for stairs instead of elevators. Increase walking pace from slow to power walking. Building Confidence and Self-love Stop comparing yourself to others and appreciate your uniqueness. Practice gratitude. Take good care of your body. It's the home for your soul. Celebrate every small progress. Overcoming Self-doubt and Negative Self-talk Practice positive self-talk. Give and accept compliments. Use healthy jealousy as a motivator. Inspire and be inspired by others. Remember, at SPARK Athletic Center, your goal is our goal. We are here to support you in your fitness journey. Don't hesitate to contact us for any inquiries or to schedule a consultation. This article is authored by Coach Marta Brzezinska from SPARK Athletic Center.

  • Lifestyle Change for Lasting Weight Loss: 3 Simple Habits for Sustainable Results

    Introduction The journey to lasting weight loss is often a winding path filled with peaks and valleys, successes and setbacks. It's a quest that requires not only physical exertion but also a profound shift in lifestyle and mindset. In this article, we zoom into three core habits, as revealed by Coach Marta Matloch, that can bring about sustainable results in your weight loss journey. These habits touch on areas like diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, and more. Habit 1: Understanding the Psychology of Habits and Change The first step towards lasting weight loss is understanding the psychology of habits and change. According to the science of self-determination and motivation, when individuals comprehend the reasons behind their choices and the consequences of their actions, they are more likely to stick to their new lifestyle. Dr. Prochaska, a renowned psychologist, sheds light on the steps needed for long-term adaptations. The Science Behind Habit Change To achieve sustainable weight loss, one must break down the behavior that needs changing, examine the consequences of change, prepare for the change, and be realistic about the outcomes. It's also crucial to ensure the change is enjoyable and admirable. Small changes in behavior can lead to significant long-term success and boost self-esteem and confidence. Habit 2: Making Reasonable Adjustments to Diet The second habit involves making reasonable and long-term adjustments to your diet. It's about identifying what you can replace, reduce, or remove from your current diet that isn’t serving your health well. The Impact of Diet Adjustments on Weight Loss Making dietary adjustments is a powerful tool for achieving lasting weight loss. It's not about radical changes but rather about sustainable modifications that you can live with in the long run. Habit 3: Incorporating Enjoyable Physical Activities The third habit is the inclusion of enjoyable physical activities in your routine. This could be anything that raises your heart rate above resting levels and brings joy and satisfaction, such as walking, sports, or active hobbies. The Benefits of Physical Activities in Weight Loss Physical activities are crucial for weight loss as they help burn calories, improve metabolism, and enhance overall health. Most importantly, they can be enjoyable, which is key to maintaining the habit in the long run. Challenges in the Weight Loss Journey The path to lasting weight loss is often laden with mental and physical challenges. Some of the mental barriers include self-belief, confidence, and attitude. On the other hand, physical challenges might involve a perceived lack of time, resources, and social influences. Strategies for Overcoming Barriers Overcoming barriers on your path to achieving personal goals, especially in areas like fitness and health, requires a multifaceted approach. Recognizing and understanding these obstacles is the foundational step in this process. Here are some strategies to help you navigate through these challenges effectively: Recognize and Understand Barriers Acknowledge Impacts: Understand that feeling discouraged or tempted to give up is a natural response when immediate results are not visible. Recognizing that real change takes time is vital for maintaining long-term motivation. Utilize Support Systems Seek Support: Engaging with a support group can significantly enhance your ability to maintain healthy habits. Whether it's like-minded friends, a coach, or a dietician, surrounding yourself with individuals who encourage and guide you can make a substantial difference. Identify Your Motivation Understand Your 'Why': Delving deep into the reasons behind your desire for change is crucial. Knowing what motivates you and why you want to achieve certain goals can provide a strong foundation of focus and motivation, particularly during tough periods. By adopting these strategies, you can effectively overcome the barriers that stand in your way and make meaningful progress towards your objectives. Remember, persistence and understanding are key components of success in any journey of personal improvement. This version aims to provide a clearer and more structured approach to overcoming barriers, emphasizing the importance of understanding challenges, leveraging support networks, and being clear about one's motivations. SPARK Athletic Center: Your Partner in Weight Loss SPARK Athletic Center provides a comprehensive range of programs and classes to complement your weight loss journey. Our experts can guide you through your journey, providing feedback and helping set new goals. Why Choose SPARK? At SPARK, you will be surrounded by like-minded people who will celebrate your presence and support your progress. You will access activities that you enjoy the most, making your weight loss journey fun and fulfilling. Achieving lasting weight loss is not about quick fixes but sustainable lifestyle changes. It's about understanding your habits, making reasonable dietary adjustments, and incorporating enjoyable physical activities into your routine. Overcoming the mental and physical challenges that come your way is equally important. Ready to embark on your weight loss journey? Sign up at SPARK Athletic Center today and let us help you achieve your weight loss goals. Coach Marta Matloch is the author of this article. She draws on scientific research and her expertise to provide this insightful guide to lasting weight loss.

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