From the Studio
Twins and Twins Again! The Pilates Dream Comes True
by Anastasiya Goers
Being pregnant is one of the most natural events in the life of a woman. However, being pregnant twice with identical twins is definitely a less common event… actually, 700,000 times less common. I definitely consider any pregnancy a blessing, but this blessing can also take its toll on a woman’s body.
I was a fitness instructor living in Ukraine when I got pregnant the first time. I’d heard about Pilates from a friend of mine who had gone to the US on an entrepreneurial scholarship. She returned with a million fitness ideas I’d never heard about and one of those ideas was Pilates. She shared with me the exercises she’d done in her mat classes. Even with just a small taste, I was immediately intrigued by this new fitness modality. It felt so natural to my body, so refreshing; it was an intelligent form of movement that both my mind and body enjoyed.
I started researching Pilates and gulping down any bits of information I could find. There weren’t any Pilates training centers in Ukraine so my education came from articles, the Internet and a limited number of DVDs. For seven years, I taught fitness and “amateur” Pilates at local gyms in Ukraine.
Pilates and My First Pregnancy
Even the primitive knowledge of Pilates I had at the time helped me get through my first twin pregnancy. Three weeks before my daughters were born, I taught my last class and was put on complete bed rest; two of them were spent in the hospital. Pilates turned out to be a life-saver. After years of building awareness of my body, I was able to pick exercises that relieved common pregnancy discomforts, without putting me in danger of preterm labor.
I had a very fast natural delivery and the girls were born healthy and with no complications. However, the hard work started once I got back home. Even though I gained only 40 pounds — a normal amount for twins — during my entire pregnancy, I had zero control of my core. I was petrified when I realized that I couldn’t do a single roll-up. And my stomach looked very weird when I tried to do crunches.
I soon discovered that I developed a diastasis recti with a separation of 3.5 cm. I was not ready to accept the fact that I would look chronically 5-months pregnant for the rest of my life. Slowly but surely I started rebuilding my abdominal wall by doing modified Pilates work 15 minutes every day.
Moving to the US
Just 6 months later, my husband and I moved to the US. Now I could truly pursue my dream, goal and heart’s desire: to get certified as a Pilates instructor. Knowing I had only scratched the surface of the genius of this method, I was craving a deeper understanding and more knowledge.
I had some difficulty adjusting to the new culture, but thankfully, my husband was from the US and helped me get acclimated. But I still felt like a fish out of water. I felt that Pilates would be my way to fit in. Once we settled in Murrells Inlet, SC I started taking Pilates classes at a local studio. Soon I found out about a Balanced Body training in Charlotte, NC and immediately signed up for the course. I got a chance to train with Jennifer Gianni of Fusion Pilates. She was a wonderful mentor and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start my professional Pilates journey.
Realizing My Dream
Since English is my second language I had to work hard to learn proper cueing techniques, but I got a liberating joy from sharing my Pilates passion with clients not only in my area, but also online. Finally, I found my place in this new culture!
My teaching took off… but my husband and I had another surprise in store for us. I had just gotten my first Reformer to train a couple of clients from home, when I found out I was pregnant. Just one baby this time, though! We were relieved and thought a single pregnancy would be a piece of cake.
I knew that once the baby was born, I would have to take a break from teaching. Wanting to keep my Pilates spark alive while on maternity leave, I set out on a journey to create an online resource — something that I’d always dreamed about since I first started looking for Pilates advice years ago. My idea was to create a Pilates community website that would bring Pilates professionals and potential students together, share Pilates news, as well as different approaches to teaching and practicing the Method. That’s how www.PilatesBridge.com was born. It was my baby of Pilates love.
In the meantime, it was time for my 20 week ultrasound. My husband and I were excited to find out the sex of the baby.
Once the lights were out and the slimy gel was on my tummy, the ultrasound technician started looking at the baby. Even in the dark, I saw her face getting pale. She started looking intensely at the ultrasound picture that looked like a jumbled mess to me. I was getting worried. Is everything okay with the baby?
“Congratulations,” she said finally. “You are having twins and they are identical twin girls!”
I had tears of joy and utter surprise fill my eyes. It was an unexpected miracle. My doctor was very cautious with this pregnancy and at 26 weeks, I was put on strict bed rest to keep the babies from coming too early. I was so thankful for having my Reformer at home, because my body would have completely rebelled against me if I had completely stopped moving. With some good advice from Jennifer Gianni and Carolyne Anthony of The Center for Women’s Fitness, I was able to create a Pilates program suitable for my body at that precarious time of my pregnancy. To everybody’s surprise I made it to 37 weeks and my doctor scheduled a C-section. I was a little nervous.
Through Delivery and Diastasis Recti
Armed with my Pilates knowledge, I got ready for the surgery. I practiced my Pilates breathing to stay calm during the C-section. As soon as I got the feeling back in my feet, I started moving my toes, then sliding my legs. The first couple of days were painful, awkward and very uncomfortable. But I kept it up.
I spent almost 2 weeks at the hospital with the babies, and practiced my pre-Pilates exercises to reconnect my body and mind. Needless to say, I had zero connection to my core. Yet basic Pilates moves, with the concentration on Pilates principles, was my way of not losing myself in this joyous, yet trying, time of my life.
I had no doubt that after the pregnancy was over I would have to deal with an even worse case of diastasis. After gaining 35 lbs during this pregnancy, the majority of the weight concentrated in my tummy, I had a 4.5-5 cm separation of the abdominal muscles. I could palpate my internal organs through the stretched out tissues around my belly button. I admit, I was worried about my looks, but I was even more concerned about regaining the function of the abdominal wall.
I knew that if I had any chance of pulling my midsection back together, I had to be vigilant about my Pilates practice. Any time that I had a free minute — and trust me, there aren’t many of those when you are a mother of four — I did healing Pilates exercises for my abdominals. It took me about four months to regain the strength and minimize diastasis to just 1 cm, a price I’m quite comfortable paying for the birth of 4 wonderful girls!
Pilates was, and still is, a true life-saver for me in more than one sense. It gives me energy, an invigorating sense of inner calm and a way to express myself through the power of creative teaching. My goal in life is to share my Pilates passion in every possible way.