Miss A Columnist

Erin Gentry, while “not quite” a native of Nashville, has lived here for officially more years than she cares to admit to. Hailing from Alabama, Erin relocated to Music City to earn a Bachelor of Arts in English from Lipscomb University. She later moved down the boulevard and completed a Master of Arts in Teaching from Belmont University. Since these are both Christian-affiliated private universities, Erin enjoys making people either laugh or cringe by describing her educational pursuits as “switching brands of Jesus,” but it’s all in good fun.
Erin is a self-professed purveyor of knowledge, and if you manage to find her without her nose in a book (ok, Kindle), she is probably teaching adolescents, teaching Barre fitness, or wrangling small children. Her other passions include caffeine and wine (but not necessarily in that order).

Bella Bellies: Exercise Classes For Pregnancy, Motherhood And Beyond

Anne Martens: Planks plus baby (Photo Credit: Bella Bellies Facebook Page)

Anne Martens: Planks plus baby (Photo Credit: Bella Bellies Facebook Page)

Apparently, Kate Middleton has been staying fit and preparing to give birth by practicing prenatal Pilates across the pond.  And hey, if it’s good enough for the royal womb, it’s good enough for us, right?  If you are looking to reproduce like royalty stateside, or just to take good care of your body pre-, during and post-pregnancy, look no further than Bella Bellies.

When I sat down to talk to Bella Bellies founder Anne Martens, I couldn’t resist asking how Bella Bellies was “born.” As it turns out, Anne is apparently a super-human. While most women four weeks shy of giving birth are busy trying to figure out how to give the baby an eviction notice, Anne was finishing up a Pilates certification.

The short version of this story is that as a regular Pilates instructor who happened to be pregnant, Anne naturally attracted other prenatal clients. In addition, while Anne experienced a self-described “beautiful pregnancy” with now 7-year-old daughter, Raina, the prenatal Pilates exercises that had been recommended to her were causing abdominal separation and weakening, to the point where her doctors actually recommended surgery after the baby’s birth.

Bella Bellies Logo (Photo Credit: www.bellabellies.com)

Bella Bellies Logo (Photo Credit: bellabellies.com)

A conversation with another Pilates professional led Anne to the realization that she could modify exercises and not be forced to choose between surgery and future pregnancies and voila – the Bella Bellies program was born. Moms are welcomed into the comprehensive Bella Bellies community at any time – pre-pregnancy all the way through grandmother-hood!

Prenatal Pilates (Photo Credit: www.bellabellies.com)

Prenatal Pilates (Photo Credit: bellabellies.com)

Not only does Bella Bellies help mom prepare for labor and delivery (not to mention the physical demands of motherhood), Stroller Moves, one of the Bella Bellies offerings, helps her to bounce back after birth.  Actually, “bounce” might not be the best word to use since this low-impact workout helps mom to get a cardio-based workout without jeopardizing the healing pelvic floor and abdominal wall. And the great news? By design, this shouldn’t aggravate incontinence. While none of us particularly like to discuss leaking urine, all of us mommies out there know that it is a real issue. Light cardio can speed up the process of hormone and cardiovascular stabilization (which can otherwise take up to a year).  According to Anne, this sort of modified exercise is “imperative to mom’s health and well-being,” while traditional forms of exercise too often cause or complicate abdominal separation and pelvic floor dysfunction. And let’s be honest, new moms are trying hard enough to return to a normal functional level as-is!

Although Anne is based in the Northeast (along with Raina and her 2-year-old brother Liam), Bella Bellies instructors are located across the U.S., and even as far away as Jamaica and Hong Kong.  So for interested mommies elsewhere, email Anne at info@bellabellies.com; be sure to include your geographic area, hopes, and goals.  If you are interested in becoming an instructor, reach out to her at the same email address for in-person and distance options.

For all things Bella Bellies, you can follow the blog at Bella Bellies, on Facebook and on Twitter at #bellabelliesfit.

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