I want to start this post by saying that this is not a paid endorsement for AB-EZE. I wrote this blog post because I genuinely want to share with you something that’s worked wonders for me.
I know Pilates instructors are supposed to have strong abs. It’s one of our main claims to fame. I did have a strong core before having my two sons, I’ll have you know, but afterwards… well, I felt like a Pilates imposter. My core was NOT the strongest part of my body anymore.
Until I started training on the AB-EZE, I had accepted that I’d never get back to my pre-kids core strength. I saw this loss of strength and tone as a by-product of being a mom.
During my second pregnancy I developed diastasis recti. This is when the outer layer of abdominal muscles (the rectus abdominis), separate from each other due to being stretched too far during pregnancy. After my second son was born, I had an abdominal separation that was 7 fingers wide! Picture that. It’s a pretty big space to have between muscles that are normally connected.
I felt like I basically had no abdominal strength and my abs hung down in a pooch. The loose skin around my belly button looked like it had gone through a meat grinder.
I remember learning about diastasis recti in my Pre & Post Natal Pilates Instructor training, and thinking that I wasn’t going to have to deal with that because I knew what to do to avoid it. Wrong.
My first son was small, just 6.8 pounds. I assumed my second son would be around the same weight, despite the fact that my extremely large belly suggested otherwise. Months before my due date, people were stopping me on the street, telling me I looked ready to pop, and asking if I was having twins. I was noticeably much bigger than with my first son.
When my second son was born it was a long, painful labour. I had midwives and wanted to have a natural birth just like I had with my first son. My midwives were amazing, and birthed my 9 and half pound boy naturally (I’ll spare you the gory details), though when he came out the midwife joked that my son had a “C Section” sized head.
The end result for me (other than having a beautiful new baby!) was that I lost pelvic floor strength and had the large separation in my abdominal muscles.
As a Pilates and fitness instructor, it feels like in some ways your body is your resume. I felt like like a complete failure. Not only could I not do half of the Pilates repertoire, I was also extremely weak. I was frustrated that I couldn’t “fix”my body through Pilates.
I felt like a mess. The midwife explained to me that people who are more fit and have tighter abs are the ones who are more likely to have a bigger separation. She used the analogy of stretching a tight piece of gum… once it stretches too far it snaps.
So I went to see a pelvic floor specialist who taught me all the different kinds of kegels one could ever do. I started doing simple pelvic floor exercises, pelvic tilts and static hold abdominal exercises on the mat. I didn’t do any flexion (like abdominal curls) because that makes diastasis worse.
I eventually added in most exercises from the Pilates repertoire, and over 6 years got my abs almost back together to a one finger separation.
So, one day when I got a message from Ashlee of Pilates With Ashlee asking if I wanted to buy an AB-EZE and join her new Instagram group AB-EZE connections 2019, I was skeptical. What could this new piece of equipment do for me that I hadn’t already done with Pilates? I had tons of props in my studio and wasn’t sure I needed one more.
Still, I went to the AB-EZE website and watched the video demos and read about Missy, the creator. I learned that she had four children and that the AB-EZE had helped her regain her core strength afterwards. So I thought, what the heck, I’ll try it.
I spoke to Missy on the phone and she told me that the AB-EZE could really help me find strength in my TVA (transverse abdominus, the deepest layer of abdominals) again. At the time she was running a 6 week Get Waisted group on Facebook, with daily videos all designed to strengthen the abdominals and pelvic floor.
I joined the group, eager to see how it could help me. I took my measurements at the start of the group, and a picture of my abs. I didn’t expect to lose inches; I was only hoping to gain some feelings of strength back.
I started with a waist measurement of 29.5, and a belly button circumference of 32.5. By the end of the 6 weeks my waist measured 29 inches and my belly button measurement 30.5. I lost 2 inches around my belly! The belly button measurement is key because that’s exactly where my abs protruded from being separated!
So what is it about the AB-EZE that got me this two inch loss around my belly and this pulling together of my abs?
I think the main reason I saw a change was when working on the AB-EZE, no matter what position I’m in, I am not able to cheat and use other muscles to perform the movements. I have to use my pelvic floor and ab muscles!
The suspension aspect of the AB-EZE really helps me pull up from my deep pelvic floor without any cheating or allowing my glute muscles to take over. The supportive hold of the loop belt also helps to release any tension in my lower back and lengthen my spine. The spinal traction feels amazing.
The AB-EZE allows me to work against gravity in a supported position. So I’m forced to find my deep abdominals, deep spinal extensors, and glutes without compromising my spine.
I’ve created a video here for this post, as well as on my Instagram account, highlighting some of my favourite core strengthening exercises. These are the most effective AB-EZE exercises I found to strengthen my TVA and pelvic floor. After doing these exercises consistently, I not only lost inches, but felt stronger and was better able to perform Pilates exercises on the mat.
At the end of the day, the strength I feel in my abdominals is what makes me the happiest. Being able to perform Pilates exercises that I thought I’d never be able to do again is empowering. It’s nice to lose the pooch, but gaining real strength is what brings me real joy.