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Pre- and Postnatal Training

Client: Michelle

Personal Trainer: Matt Browne, owner, 4th Coast Fitness

Location: Stillwater, Minnesota

Fit for her family. Personal trainer Matt Browne was first introduced to Michelle by a mutual friend in 2012. The two shared a hometown connection and immediately traded anecdotes about growing up in the small river town of Winona, Minnesota.

The conversation eventually shifted toward personal training. Michelle, 6 months pregnant at the time, expressed interest in some fitness and nutrition guidance. She didn’t want to complete a marathon or become a figure competitor, recalls Browne. Instead, the soon-to-be mother of four children simply wanted to be a better caregiver and role model for her family.

Browne was all in.

Knowing the whole person. After obtaining clearance from her doctor, Michelle met with Browne to go over some of the necessary details of the training process. They discussed her previous exercise history, health history, past injuries and exercise preferences.

“Before developing a program, I put Michelle through a movement and exercise performance assessment to gather information pertaining to movement restrictions and efficiency, spatial and body awareness, mobility, strength, and muscular and cardiovascular endurance,” explains Browne.

Browne wanted to gain a better understanding of Michelle as a person. “I wanted to get to know her likes, dislikes, hobbies and interests,” he says.

Truly personal training. Throughout this training period—which took place in Michelle’s home—Browne maintained keen awareness of exercise intensity, duration and frequency, and he often amended each variable for safety purposes. Room temperature and hydration were also monitored.

“I made the decision to implement extended warm-ups and cool-downs and kept an eye out for any risk factors or exercise contraindications,” says Browne. For example, he avoided exercises that were high-impact, were performed in the supine position or required long bouts of standing.

“As we moved closer to her due date, we continued to reduce exercise intensity and duration,” recalls Browne.

He adds that he also relied heavily on his client’s feedback and self-awareness. “[As this was] her fourth pregnancy, Michelle was very knowledgeable about her body and her exercise limits,” he notes.

They discontinued training at about the 34-week mark.

A partnership reborn. Eight weeks after the birth of her daughter, Delaney, Michelle reached out to Browne to resume training. “The first consideration following Michelle’s pregnancy was to gain clearance from her doctor,” says the trainer. “The next step was to allow Michelle to feel like a strong, powerful, fully functional woman. I wanted her to feel great in her postpregnancy body!”

Though Michelle was eager to get down to business, Browne was careful not to move too fast, too soon. “Our motto at this point was to progress slowly and to keep the exercise intensity low,” he says.

“We avoided exercising to the point of excessive fatigue, and we maintained adequate hydration levels. I avoided plyometric exercises, high-level core activation exercises and exercises performed in the prone position.” Instead, they began with low-intensity exercises such as dead-bug progressions and light core contractions.

Multitasking. Aside from contraindications and pre- and postnatal considerations, Michelle’s greatest struggle was her busy schedule. Yet Browne admits that he was often surprised at her determination. “Amid children playing and dogs wrestling, Michelle singlehandedly managed to complete countless squats and presses, all while preparing the night’s dinner and helping with the latest math homework,” he says.

He believes that his client’s success rests on self-awareness and on a solid partnership with her husband—who also prioritizes physical activity. “Knowing what she needed for her own personal health and well-being, she stayed the course and remained diligent in her efforts.”

Browne adds that he couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding experience. “Michelle’s continuous dedication to training has had a huge, positive impact on her family,” Browne says. “Almost every [workout] session features an additional member of the family! Words cannot express how proud I am to call Michelle my personal training client. She embodies the definition of a great mother and is a model for strong women everywhere.”

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