"Let’s get in a circle and put our arms around each other."
This is not how most weekend seminars start. In fact, this was not how any seminar I’ve been to started. But, this wasn’t at any seminar...I was at BirthFit. They deem themselves the meeting point “between hippy and science” when it comes to the entire birth journey (pre-conception to postpartum). After seeing CEO and Founder Lindsey Mathews speak at the 2017 Power Athlete Symposium, I knew the information would be top-level so, when I found out a spot at one of the seminars was on the Not-So Silent Auction for Wade’s Army, I jumped on it!
I went to the coach’s seminar in Nashville, TN on April 7 & 8; they have an additional seminar series for healthcare professionals with an interest in women’s health (PT, Chiro, OB/GYN, etc.). The seminar I attended was specifically geared towards working with pregnant women in a fitness setting...or that’s what I though going into it.
The reality is, anyone could benefit from what they have to offer. I came away with plenty of knowledge that I can apply to any of my athletes. Here are a list of 5 knowledge bombs I took away from the BirthFit Coaches Seminar.
“The map is not the territory.”
As coaches, we see a lot of athletes who are at similar points in their athletic timeline. But, as this quote reminds us, they didn’t all get there the same way. Get to know your athlete’s history and you’ll have a better understanding of how they got to where they are, which will allow you to coach them more effectively.
“Slow is fast.”
Just because your athlete can perform a movement, should they? Will a high school freshman jump higher and get stronger if you throw them on Triphasic? Almost guaranteed! But, is it the most prudent (read: minimal effective dose) choice? Probably not. Take your time with the basics so you can get the most out of the advanced stuff, when your athlete is ready for it.
Unf*** your breathing
Listen, so far you’ve gotten some of the philosophical components to BirthFit, but there were plenty of applied takeaways. None of which were more impactful than the importance of proper breathing mechanics. Full disclosure: my breathing mechanics are horrible. I know this because of how wrecked my trunk was after day one of the seminar. While I might not be Rudy Reyes, I hit my deadbugs and side pillars on a regular basis, and I’ve got decent trunk stability. But, rolling through their functional progressions (see below) while focusing on proper breathing technique wrecked me. Like, “took a walk outside to throw up my lunch” wrecked me. So forget how big your lifts are. If you're not breathing properly, you're not getting better.
At Power Athlete, we talk about the importance of hitting the seven primals in order to effectively stress the three planes of motion; they are considered primal because they are needed in every movement a human can make...assuming the human knows how to walk. But, before we learned to walk, we learned several motor patterns that helped form our neuromuscular network. Just because we are up on our two feet now, doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to gain from reinforcing these earlier movements. You’ll have to tap in to their seminar or programming to see these progressions but I’ve been implementing them in my dynamic movement prep and have seen some positive benefits.
“Train for game day!”
By itself, this wasn’t a knowledge bomb. This is Power Athlete, after all. But, approaching the delivery of a baby with the same “season planning” that we use with our athletes was an idea I hadn’t thought of. If you look at labor through the lens of a coach, it’s a seriously intense athletic event. First, you’ve got an event that could span days (endurance) with the requirement of repeated 10-15 second long maximal bouts (contractions). You’re losing fluids (blood, sweat, tears) and your body’s being stressed physically, mentally, and emotionally. Thankfully, you’ve got a nine month long pre-season to iron out proper fueling, training, and recovery to make sure you can peak at the right time. But you’ve got to be training specifically for this event. Sure, you could complete a marathon without having run anything longer than 5 miles...but are you going to win it? You need to get your mom-to-be to train, not just exercise, for this ultimate athletic endeavor.
These were just five points of a weekend jam packed with knowledge bombs! If you are in any way associated with someone who is going to be or has been pregnant, this seminar would be well worth it. If you’re not convinced, think about this: If you have an athlete come to you fresh out of ACL repair surgery, there is a detailed list of exercise and activities they should and shouldn’t do for the next few months. An elaborately detailed timeline of rehab. If you have an athlete who just gave birth, they show up to you after six weeks of rest with nothing. How are you going to get them to return to play? As written by the Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi in The Book of Five Rings, “once you know the way, you will see the way in all things.” There are many characteristics unique to pregnancy, but the principles of athletic development can still be applied.
On a personal note, I’d like to thank Lindsey and her army of BirthFit coaches for a very informative and enjoyable weekend. Working through a growth mindset I decided to attend the seminar but was worried that I might stick out like a sore thumb. They created a very welcoming environment with plenty of challenges causing me to grow as a coach and a person.
Don't wait until the next BirthFit course to learn from Lindsey, check out her presentation from the 2017 Power Athlete Symposium now!
Currently, Ben is finishing his PhD while serving a clinical faculty member at the University of Louisville, molding the minds that will be the future of strength and conditioning coaches. He also helps support the Olympic Sports side of the Strength and Conditioning Department there as a sports scientist.