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Music & Movement After Childbirth: A Conversation with Beth Learn of Fit2B, LLC

Music & Movement After Childbirth: A Conversation with Beth Learn of Fit2B, LLC

By Kathryn Brunner, Founder of Musik & Home, LLC

It is a delight to share this interview with you! I have learned so much from Beth Learn through her amazing fitness website, Fit2B LLC. Here Beth shares wisdom to help us learn how to protect our core and move safely through Musik at Home classes with our little ones.

It's true, pregnancy and childbirth dramatically change our bodies. It's important not only to be aware of these changes, but to find that "new normal" for safely moving through the routines of every day life. 

Kathryn Brunner:  Welcome, Beth! Thank you for joining us here at Musik at Home today! 

When it comes to educating women about what to notice in our bodies after childbirth, your work is at the top of the fitness industry. That’s why I’m thrilled to have you with us here today! 

Musik at Home classes involve a lot of movement. I want to make sure all of our music-making mamas are super aware of how to move through our classes safely while holding their little ones and while simply moving from a seated to standing position.  

Before we get into those great questions, I’d love for you to introduce yourself to our Musik at Home Moms!  

Could you tell us a little more about yourself and why you love fitness?

Beth Learn: Absolutely! My family lives in the Pacific Northwest on 7 acres that feed 15 chickens, 5 barn cats, two dogs, 4 goats, and one very fat pony. I was drawn into mainstream fitness at age 16 when I took my first step class at high school. I love exercise for how it makes me feel strong and capable in my own skin. I like to move to a beat, and I've taken as many certifications as I can over the past 20+ years to learn it all from kickboxing to water aerobics, yoga to spin cycling. I love watching women get stronger so they can do more for their families, communities and world! 

Kathryn Brunner: That is incredible, Beth! Because you specialize in "tummy safe fitness," you focus much of your attention on helping women understand Diastasis Recti. 

What is diastasis recti and how can women check to see if they it? I'm guessing there are other women like me who have never heard of it.  

Beth Learn: Diastasis is a thinning and widening of the connective tissue holding the two sides of your abdominal wall together, allowing a trench to form and leaving your spine unsupported and your organs unprotected. It is typically blamed on pregnancy and linked to "mummy tummy," but it's really one big brand of a very large tree rooted in deep core dysfunction. As a fitness professional, I was taught a method of checking that yielded false negatives, so I didn't know I had one until 2011 when I went through rehab with The Tummy Team. Now I work closely with them to help women rebuild their strength with correct movement strategies. 

Kathryn Brunner: Thank you for pouring out your passion to help women like me. This topic is very near and dear to my own heart. 

When I was healing from my daughter's birth, I was completely unaware of this thing called diastasis recti. I took a one-off pilates class 6 months postpartum, and the instructor felt my tummy and told me I had a 3.5 finger diastasis. I was shocked and troubled all at the same time. She recommended I do more pilates to heal, but I knew I couldn't afford the time away from my daughter and the cost of weekly pilates classes at a private studio. When I found you online and discovered what you were doing to help women heal, I was so excited to find an affordable option I could easily incorporate into my life at home with my daughter.  Your help has been invaluable to my whole body healing.

So, let's get practical! 

Does having a diastisis affect our ability to carry our little ones around?  

Beth Learn: It sure can! Moms are great at pushing through and ignoring pain, but that low back ache you have after piggy backing your fussy toddler? That little leak that keeps you from jumping around with your kids? Those are symptoms of a weak core and often connected to a wider than normal abdominal separation. The midline of our abs is a major myofascial meridian and tension transmitter, so when it is weak, thinned out and dysfunctional, it impacts things up and down the whole kinetic chain of motion!  

Kathryn Brunner: Wow! I had no idea a weak core could transmit tension to the entire body. That explains a lot for me. I have a lot more work to do to strengthen my core! This is all so fascinating. 

When carrying our little ones, what can we do to make sure we are using our core muscles correctly and not compensating for a lack of strength in our core? My own core has been transformed by what you teach about simple belly breaths. Can you tell us a little about belly breaths here as well? 

Beth Learn: Alignment is huge, and so is breathing. If you lifted weights at the gym, you'd be sure to use good form and breathing strategies, right? Well, kids weigh something... In fact they weigh a lot more than most dumbbells I see ladies picking up at the fitness center, and our children keep growing! 

One thing that moms can do when lifting carseats and kids is get low: Squat down with knees wide, wrap your arms around your child or pull the carseat close to you, then exhale to lift and engage your core as you lift and stand with that load. I teach proper lifting form in several Fit2B workouts.

If a mama of a little baby or toddler is participating in a Musik at Home class, what is your recommendation for how to safely move from a seated position on the floor to standing position, and how to safely move from standing to a seated position on the floor while holding a little one?

Beth Learn: This is such an important question. If we move well and with good form while "exercising" but then fail to implement good strategies when lifting ourselves {and our kids} off the floor, we can undo a LOT of work and risk injuring ourselves. I teach multiple strategies for getting up and down off the floor, and the stronger we get, the more we can explore these motions and get more out of them.

One of my favorite ways to sit - and it easily transitions to standing - is with my legs folded to one side, as in the mermaid position from Pilates. I can switch back and forth, giving each set of obliques a break while practicing sitting long, lean and lifted. When it's time to stand, I pull my feet in close, roll to my knees in a high kneeling stance, step forward with one foot, place my hands on that thigh if needed, and then lunge to standing. The "Get Up {And Down} Routine" on Fit2B teaches a flow of various transition moves, making them a workout that applies to real life. 

Kathryn Brunner: This is super helpful, Beth! It's easy to move from one position to the next without a thought about how well I am supporting my core. Yet, it's so important to incorporate those belly breaths and intentional motions. 

Is your recommendation for how to move from sitting to standing different for a mom who has a diastasis recti vs. a mom who does not? 

Beth Learn: It's more about strength which definitely plays into the severity of a diastasis recti. A person with a wide and deep DR will typically also have low core tone and corresponding difficulty getting up and down off the floor without pain and holding onto things. In the Fit2B routine "Align It Flat" Feed Your Skin - 15% off first purchase plus free shipping over $30 - 728x90 I take members through a series of motions that help them practice good alignment during transitions from standing to laying to sitting that honors any core limitations they may be protecting.

If we stand and rock our little ones with a swaying motion for any length of time, what kind of attention should we be giving to our core muscles? 

Beth Learn: The most important things to be mindful of while standing and rocking a baby are to: 

  1. Not shift the hips forward in front of the toes. Keep your weight in your heels and your toes fluffy.
  2. Keep the bum untucked without over-arching the lumbar spine. Line the pubic bone up with the frontal hip bones.
  3. Switch the weight of baby from side to side occasionally to create balance, or hold the baby near your center.
  4. Avoid rounding your shoulders protectively when there's no danger. We curve ourselves around our children naturally, but we do it too often. Open and broaden your collar bones and stand tall, mamas! We have some fun "Mommy and Me" workouts that teach this.

Can you tell us a little more about Fit2B and what your routines offer?

Beth Learn: As the world's premier provider of family-friendly TummySafe Fitness, moms in over 30 countries around the world utilize us as their main resource for home workouts that won't break their budget or their bellies. We've built a massive library of workouts and resources that educate and empower women from the inside out.

Fitness is more than sweating your way into a bikini body. It's about sustainable movement choices that translate into stronger arms and legs to carry our kids and grandkids.

Kathryn Brunner: Last question just for fun!

What was your favorite thing about the toddler years with your kiddos?

Beth Learn: My favorite memories are of those long summer evenings in the backyard with them running nekked through the sprinkler into the kiddie pool, giggling and shouting... The way they'd crawl into bed with me in the morning and snooze in my ear... The way they'd come running to me with every hurt and anxiety and how a kiss and hug seemed to solve most things. They're 9 and 12 now, and I love these ages too for how helpful and logical they are. My daughter plays clarinet in her school's marching band, and my son has learned piano and is starting guitar lessons. I feel like these are the golden years, and I'm so grateful to all those who support Fit2B so me and 3 other mamas can be home with our kids and not miss a thing!   

Kathryn Brunner: Yes, I totally agree...Every moment we have with our children is precious. It's awesome to hear your kids are playing instruments now! And, I'm so glad you can do what you love as a work at home mom!

Thanks for talking through all these questions with me today, Beth! Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Beth Learn: That's all for now ;) All the best to every mama making music and moving with your littles at home. Thanks for having me here, Kathryn!

Kathryn Brunner: An absolute pleasure! Thank you for sharing your wealth of wisdom with us. 

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That was amazing! I want to encourage every Musik at Home mama to incorporate Beth's movement advice as you go through our classes. Taking care of ourselves and sustaining our energy for our days with our little ones is so very important.  

Have you checked out Fit2B? If you're looking for a way to stay fit, but can't afford a gym or don't want to leave your child behind in order to get a great work out, FitB is your answer! 

Beth Learn is the Founder of Fit2B Studio. Fit2B is an online gym in the form of a massive library of workout videos and nearly 100 exercise routines including pilates, yoga, pre-natal, weights, tabata, functional cross training, stretching, ball workouts, relaxation, and more! Fit2b specializes in “TummySafe” workouts for those healing from abdominal trauma yet ready to exercise without undoing their groundwork. Being tummy-safe does NOT mean they don’t work the core. Every single one of their total-body routines is simply fashioned in a way that integrates the tummy safely into the larger motions so that they don’t reinjure you.
A safe body today equals a stronger body tomorrow. -Beth Learn

Comments

  • Thanks for this article! I’m not a big fitness guru, but I do try to prioritize my health. I had a difficult experience acclimating to motherhood because my body always felt weak. I’ve incorporated long walks into my everyday life to build strength. I do feel stronger but I haven’t thought much about building my core strength like this. Thanks for making me aware of the need to focus on that. And BTW, my son absolutely loves your music classes. A win all around.

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