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Gemma Folkard from Pilates Barne

Naomi Raybould

Gemma is wearing the Laura Jumpsuit

Tell us a little about yourself and Pilates Barne?

I’m Gemma, a mum of 2..nearly 3 (eek) and a Pilates instructor. I’ve lived in London for the past 13 years, but grew up in Bucks. Currently I live in between Peckham and Dulwich which I love, it really feels like I’ve found my ‘spot’ in London. Pilates Barne is the name I came up with for my small Pilates business...which is just me! My partners surname is Barnes, and even though we’re not married, I liked the idea of having my own Pilates barn one day, so there we are, no massive rational about the name, and now it’s stuck! I’ve been teaching for around 3 years, and before that I had a long career in online advertising. I knew I needed a more flexible job when the kids came along, so here we are...

  

Gemma is wearing the Laura Jumpsuit

What is it about Pilates you love?

The escapism and the results. There are six principles of Pilates - breath, control, precision, concentration, flow and centering. With all this going on there is no room to think about the mundane tasks of everyday life, or any anxieties you may have. Plus in my many years of working out, I’ve never had better results from that of regular Pilates. But that’s just me and my body, everyone is different! Lastly, I love how universal it is, from rehabilitation, to pregnancy, to hardcore sweaty reformer sessions, it’s for everyone.  

How can busy Mums incorporate Pilates into their everyday/weekly routine?

I could give you a load of exercises but for parents that’s just unrealistic half the time. I normally say to my Postnatal clients, don’t think of Pilates as something you do once a week, it’s a lifestyle - think of the principles and add little things into everyday life. So whilst you’re holding your toddler, maybe switch hips so you don’t get lop sided, or whilst you’re pushing the buggy, roll your shoulders back. During those long baby rocking sessions, check out where your pelvis is, is it swinging way forwards, can you bring it back over your ankles and protect your lower back? Or maybe it’s as simple as some shoulder and neck rolls during a feed, with some deep wide breaths to help with your pelvic floor. And of course going along to a class once or twice a week where you have fun and work out safely would be advisable!

What are the benefits of practicing Pilates when pregnant and postnatally?

How do I keep this brief?! There are so many benefits. 

  • Movement = blood flow to you and baby
  • Destress: pregnancy is complex, and often comes with a level of anxiety.
  • Back pain: keeping the spine moving can help to relieve back pain which is so common as your bump grows, pulling your pelvis forwards and compressing your lower back - and Postnatally due to postural changes e.g hunching over to feed and rock. 
  • Strengthening: you need a hell of a lot of strength for labour, but also beyond when there’s a growing human to lug about! Particularly protection of the hips, pelvis, and back muscles to promote good postural alignment.
  • Pelvic floor - the dreaded words! It doesn’t have to be a chore, for me the key is posture and breathing. Hunching over will compress the lungs and diaphragm, which work in unison with the pelvic floor. So keep your spine long and your pf happy! 

What are the 3 moves that every pregnant lady should incorporate into their daily routine?

This is tough as daily should be about relieving pressure and general aches and pains, so I would say daily it’s mostly spinal movement -

Side stretch

Spinal flexion and extension

Rotation 

Basically lots of wiggling to keep compression of the vertebrae to a minimum. In general, throughout pregnancy, strengthening and stabilisation of the glutes and pelvis would be ideal, as well as maintaining strength in the arms and back.

Gemma very kindly shared three short videos with us with you can follow along for antenatal pilates.

Disclaimer: Please take note of the following precautions before following these short videos. Please consult your doctor before beginning this or any exercise programme as all exercises are not suitable for everyone. This, or any other programme may result in injury. If you experience any pain or discomfort, stop immediately. Use good judgement and common sense.

Video 1: Gentle Spinal Articulation

This short session is designed to alleviate back pain during pregnancy or even after sitting for long periods of time at a desk.

Video 2: Take A Stretch: back, calves & feet

Particularly in the second trimester our calves and feet can feel really tight. Here we move the spine, stretch the calves and take mini fascial stretch through the feet. Remember everything is connected, so taking a holistic view of movement is always most effective.

  

Video 3: Side Work: Strengthening legs, glutes and abs.

It's important to maintain strength during pregnancy, particularly the muscles that support the pelvis and spine, so we're talking glutes and abs! Side lying work is an effective and safe way to activate both. 

 


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