Keeping Fit Whilst Pregnant and After Giving Birth.
American dancer and mother-of-three, Laura Western, is a renowned yoga teacher in Dubai and she is also a Balanced Body Pilates master instructor trainer. Laura has been teaching Pilates since 2004 and moved to Dubai in 2007 where she has been based ever since. She’s certified dozens and dozens of Pilates trainers, particularly in the GCC and the UAE.
Laura’s been doing private reformer Pilates classes with me since 2021 in her home studio in Al Barsha, Dubai. I was first attracted to her because I had heard through various healthcare professionals that she’s great with postnatal Pilates as well as prenatal Pilates. I came to her a few months after I gave birth to my second child. At that point, I felt weak, my body was not in great shape, my pelvic floor and core needed strengthening and I wanted to feel mentally and physically fit again. Whilst doing postnatal reformer Pilates, I notice a drastic change in my body and my energy. I became stronger, particularly in my core, and I was more toned and defined in my arms, back, glutes, thighs, and legs. I felt it was a good way to train my body again with low impact, strengthening exercises.
Fast-forward 20 months later and I’ve just given birth to my third child. Thankfully, Laura has been a great support with my postnatal journey, and she has really helped me engage with my pelvic floor and core. I feel lengthened, less stiff, more flexible and I’m beginning to feel positive changes both physically and mentally. It’s worth noting that it’s important to check with a women’s healthcare specialist before you start exercising, which is what I did.
Laura often does annual training courses adding more certified teacher training strings to her bow. She frequently teaches groups and individuals to help them get their Pilates certifications. I totally see why students travel from far and wide; she’s approachable, warm, and personable and very knowledgeable of human anatomy. I’m even hoping to do a teacher training certification with her in the future. There’s a lot to learn from her so if anyone is looking for a Pilates trainer get in touch with her at www.lauraweston.com .
Q: Tell us a bit about your background with fitness and Pilates. How long have you been teaching prenatal and postnatal Pilates?
A: I have been moving my entire life. I was a dancer as a child all the way up into my twenties. Then, I found Yoga and soon after Pilates. I started practicing Pilates in 2000 and I've been going ever since. I am a certified teacher trainer for Carolyn Anthony’s programme The Centre for Women's Fitness.
Q: What are the main concerns for women – prenatal and postnatal – and how do you think Pilates benefits pregnant and postpartum women?
A: For prenatal, I believe that most women would like to have a healthy body to provide a healthy baby growing inside. For postnatal, I think it depends on how the birth went (whether it be a vaginal birth or a caesarean birth) along with how the baby is adapting to life and connecting with his or her mother and family. I definitely feel Pilates helps in all areas of Life. Simply breathing and moving your body with a balance of the Pilates principles really helps to feel good.
Q: Do you recommend women start Pilates before pregnancy? What are the benefits? Would it be difficult for those to start it once they are already pregnant or for postpartum recovery?
A: Yes, women would benefit by starting a regular Pilates practice at least six months prior to getting pregnant. Then she may continue with their Pilates practice when her doctor has also given her permission to do so. The benefits are overall wellbeing and posture: with strengthening, stretching, balance, peace and a mind, body spirit connection.
Q: How long should a student wait to start Pilates after giving birth naturally or after a c-section?
A: They should have their doctors' permission before returning to their Pilates practice. With caesarean, usually six to eight weeks minimum. With a vaginal birth, she may be able to start sooner, but it also depends on the circumstances. If there was any interference during the birth, then also six to eight weeks.
Q: To get the best results postpartum, how often should one do Pilates?
A: Start slowly with one session per week. Practice the breathing and foundational movements everyday as homework. Gradually increasing to twice a week when the teacher feels it is time and then possibly to three times a week.
Q: If a client was interested in doing a teacher training programme with you, what would be the first steps to be a certified teacher?
A: It always helps to have good Pilates practice and knowledge of one’s own body while practicing the Pilates exercises. That way when they go into teacher training, they will already have good awareness and will be able to teach from experience as well as what they learn on the course. I am a Master Trainer for Balanced Body. The program takes a while for full certification; however, each person will receive a certificate after each module to show that they have completed this part.
Q: How has Pilates benefited your life and lifestyle?
A: Pilates has changed my life for the BEST!! I have scoliosis and Pilates has helped to keep my body strong, flexible, and feeling amazing! I feel it is a part of me and is just as important as sleeping and eating a well-balanced diet.