Listen to Your Body Podcast 356 Body Neutral Fitness w/ Dara Bergeron

Body Neutral Fitness w/ Dara Bergeron

When a woman has a child, society forces immediate pressure on her to get her ‘pre-baby body back’. These conversations can be difficult to navigate, and it takes some adapting to learn how to embrace your new body and a new phase of life. If you are struggling to understand how to welcome strength into your life as a new mom, this is the episode for you.

Listen to Your Body Podcast 356 Body Neutral Fitness w/ Dara Bergeron

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Key Takeaways

If You Want To Have A More Body Neutral Approach to Movement, You Should:

  1. Create a habit of unfollowing people on social media that do not align with your goals or make you feel bad about yourself
  2. Remember who you are outside of your identity as a mother or someone who looks a certain way
  3. Find movement patterns that work for your new body and phase of life while addressing your unique symptoms 

Movement and Mindset for Mothers

Dara Bergeron is a veteran trainer and movement educator specializing in body-neutral movement and mindset for mothers. Through her coaching and online programs, Dara teaches women how to weed diet culture from their movement ethic and parent themselves around exercise, focusing on functional strength, mobility, and core & pelvic floor awareness.

Taking Back Your Worth

For many women, giving birth is the first time they feel their physical appearance compromises their value. Who can blame them when the patriarchy and society place a premium on your ability to procreate and how you look. Dara is on a mission to disrupt this mentality and help moms focus on bringing back parts of their identity that have nothing to do with either of those things. By reconnecting with other parts of your identity and discovering who you are outside of motherhood, the importance of your appearance begins to shrink, and in turn, you can stop wishing you had a different body and start enjoying the one you have.

Mom Bod Love

Being a mom requires a lot of physical labor. Mom bods have to be ready at a moment’s notice to jump into action when needed. This is why it is so important to use movement and strength training exercises to prepare yourself and avoid injury. 

You don’t have to spend hours at the gym to achieve this either. All it takes is understanding how and why your movements matter and finding a set of exercises that work for you, your pelvic floor, and your symptoms. By creating movement patterns that work for your schedule and your new body, you can include a more well-rounded version of fitness in your life and get back to doing what you love most.

Are you ready to embrace your mom bod? Share which of Dara’s tips you are going to try with me in the comments below.

In This Episode

  • How to navigate the minefield that women and new parents are told about their bodies (8:32)
  • Dara’s response to those who are desperate to get their ‘pre-baby body back’ (13:23)
  • Comparing ‘dad bods’ and ‘mom bods’ and how to find ‘mom bod love’ (18:41)
  • The three core pillars of mobility, pelvic floor connection, and full-body strength (22:40)
  • Tips for integrating compound movements during your home workouts (33:54)


“I just decided that I wasn’t okay being on the side of the line that was encouraging bounce-back culture and postpartum fat loss and that sort of thing. So I began shifting my own focus and my own fitness and how I worked with clients to a more body neutral approach.”  (6:39)

“There is so much more to us than just that we can procreate and that we look a certain way.” (17:02)

“There is some real physical labor that a ‘mom bod’ has to be prepared to do, and it doesn’t always come up at a time when we are prepared or thinking about it. So my belief is when we are engaging in smart strength and mobility and core and pelvic floor connection work, then we are going to be prepared for those things. And it also allows us to be better parents and more active and confident parents.” (21:02)

“It can feel a little weird to think about treating that area with a professional or working with a coach on that area, but as with all aspects of your health and your body, it’s not just about the pelvic floor.” (29:13)

“The sensation of connection to the pelvic floor is feasible for everyone. And dealing with symptoms is feasible for everyone. It’s just about how you create the routine for you and the patterns and cues for you that help you feel confident.” (32:19)

Featured on the Show

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Dara Bergeron Website

Belly Bootcamp Website

Mama Reset Website

Follow Dara on Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | Pinterest

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Related Episodes

LTYB 334: How Strong Women Can Lift Eachother Up with Molly Galbraith

LTYB 262: How To See The Value Outside Your Body & Overcome Self-Doubt with Summer Innanen

Body Neutral Fitness w/ Dara Bergeron FULL TRANSCRIPT

Steph Gaudreau

We spend a lot of time talking about fitness and lifting weights on this podcast. And there is a very special population who needs some extra support with understanding how to welcome strength into their lives, and that is moms. If you are a parent, you’re a mom, you are someone who has birthed a child, and you’re wanting to welcome lifting into your life, or adapt your lifting to your new body and a new phase of life that you’re in then today’s podcast is for you. My very wonderful podcast guest today is going to walk you through some of the things you need to know in order to parent yourself around exercise. The Listen To Your Body podcast is all about helping women who lift weights get stronger, fuel themselves without counting every bite of food, performed better in and out of the gym and take up space. I’m a strength coach, nutritional therapy practitioner, and certified intuitive eating counselor Steph Gaudreau. This weekly show brings you discussion about building strength, without obsessing about food and exercise, lifting weights, food, psychology, and more. You’ll learn how to eat, train, recover, listen to your body, and step into your strength. Hit subscribe on your favorite podcast app and let’s dive in.

Steph Gaudreau
What’s going on my friend welcome back to the podcast. I am so glad that you’re with me today I am welcoming a very special guest with me to talk all about movement and mindset for mothers. Before we jump in, and I introduce her to you, just a quick reminder first is to hit subscribe on your podcast app please. As always, this makes such a difference. The second thing is that if you’re looking for some group support to get your strength nutrition on track if you’re active lifting weights and you want to know how to get stronger, have more energy, and perform better in and out of the gym, then go ahead and jump on the waitlist for strength nutrition unlocked. This is my group program and when you’re on the waitlist, I’ll let you know when the next round is coming. Okay, so today’s very special guest is Dara Bergeron. She’s a veteran fitness trainer and movement educator who specializes in body-neutral movement. We’re talking about what that is today on this episode. She’s also the creator of the belly boot camp and the CO creator of the mama reset. She teaches women how to weed diet culture from their fitness life, and how to parent themselves around exercise. So today on the show, we’re talking about you know, why? Why is there so much pressure on moms to quote-unquote, get their pre-baby body back? How do we even navigate those conversations, she’s sharing with you her three part or three pillar focus for moms who want to get stronger, and to include a more well rounded version of fitness in their lives. And she’s also sharing some of her favorite exercises to do at home. If you have very little time. I’m so excited to introduce you to Dara. And on that note, let’s go ahead and jump into the show. Hey, Dara, welcome to the podcast.

Dara Bergeron
Hey, Steph, thanks for having me.

Steph Gaudreau
I’m so happy to have you. We were talking previously to actually recording the show. And I think you might win the award for the person who’s been on the podcast who I like we’ve kind of connected like on social media the longest ago, you’re telling me something like 10 years and I was just like, Damn, that’s Yeah.

Dara Bergeron
You’re one of the few nutrition accounts that I have followed or you when I met you, you were you had a nutrition account, you’re one of the few hands I stayed with the whole time. As I was going through my own journey, I was kind of pruning my feed and getting rid of influences that didn’t feel good, but yours always was, was a good part of my feed.

Steph Gaudreau
I appreciate that. I feel like you know, it’s when we talk about especially as folks who use social media as part of our business or to connect with people. There’s also pressure sometimes that we have to stay the same. We can’t ever change you can’t ever evolve. And so as you’re talking about sort of pruning and unfollowing accounts that don’t feel right, first of all, that’s so important. And I feel like so many times we don’t do that we’re just like, oh, I hate following this person now and like the IRS, or whatever it is, but you know, why did you Why were you making those changes at you know, tell me a little bit about your journey. And sort of how things have changed for you in that space?

Dara Bergeron
Yeah, so that the changes in my like career and my work as a fitness professional, like really have coincided with the time that time that I’ve been following you so, so around 12 years ago, I had my second baby. And it was at that time, I decided to really dive in headfirst into working with moms in particular, and specializing kind of in pregnancy postpartum and now that my babies aren’t babies anymore, I do focus a little more on kind of old farms. But um, but yeah, I came up in the fitness industry, like a lot of fitness pros is something I think we should talk about more publicly, I’ve come from a place of disordered eating, I was on my way to law school and personal training was a part-time job that I picked up because I was a gym rat. And, and then, over the over the years, I realized I had a talent and they enjoyed it. And when my career plans kind of got a bit derailed, I jumped into it, and it became my career. It masked my disordered eating and my exercise obsession for a long time. And then when I became a mom, I took a couple of babies. But by the time I had my second round, 12 years ago, I was becoming aware of the fact that I had to kind of pick a line on how a side of the line rather, in terms of how I was going to deal with women, and postpartum and postpartum people and mothers. And I just decided I wasn’t okay being on the side of the line that was encouraging kind of bounce back culture and postpartum fat loss and that sort of thing. And so I began shifting my own focus and my own fitness, and then how I worked with clients towards a more body neutral approach. And a lot of that, for me was changing the influences I had in my social media, like from a nutrition and fitness perspective. And that’s like a process of all it’s always ongoing process, isn’t it? Because sometimes you pick things up thinking, Oh, this person’s influential or, you know, I should follow them or what have you. And maybe even it’s someone you know, personally. But when you experience their content on social media, or you interact with them, you’re left with kind of this like hollow feeling, or this like, comparative feeling. And to me, that’s always a red flag that that person shouldn’t be. You know, the first thing you see when you take a pee in the morning.

Steph Gaudreau
We’ll talk right there.

Dara Bergeron
When we pee, okay, but yeah, it should not be who that should not be the face that you see when you wake up, you know?

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s really important to do that self-check-in and to make those edits to your feed and who you’re following. And, you know, ultimately, we are the ones who click the Follow button or town Follow button, and we have that power to unfollow and it’s okay to say, this, this just isn’t working for me anymore. Like, we’re gonna kind of go our separate ways. I think that’s really, really crucial. You mentioned something earlier, you said bounce-back culture. And so anyone who listens to this show knows I’m child-free. And at the same time, I have friends like my siblings, have kids. I hear from so many women in the community who are struggling, you know, we talk about body image and things like that a lot. But there’s this like subset of that with how do you? How do you navigate the minefield? That is all of the shitty things that women, new parents, etc, are told about their bodies with those changes that they’ve, they’ve experienced, they’re unhappy, they’re uncomfortable? How do we even I don’t know, like, how do we even begin to start with making way through that minefield?

Dara Bergeron
Yeah, it is a really big question. I’ll come at it from the perspective of the person listening to this, who isn’t a fitness person, you know, professional. And where I, this is where I think that the, that the promise of body positivity or body like self love can fall short. And I think obviously the state that body positivity is a much bigger movement than you know, is intended to make a postpartum woman except her stretch marks, let’s say, but I think when we only have the options of like, hate your body or love every aspect of it, there’s like any dichotomy, it’s not going to work for 99% of people. And so what I’ve really coached towards and what helps me in my, what’s helped me in the last 15 years since I’ve become a mom, is body neutrality. And that’s something I see kind of echoed in your ethic as well. And it is sort of a coming up to it and just letting it land and saying like it let’s number one, let’s be a little more vocal about the fact that bodies change from birth to death, there is no stagnant period of a body over that if we’re lucky, 80 years or whatever it is. And this idea that we should be frozen in time as women between the ages of you know, 18, or 19, and 45, or 50.

Dara Bergeron
As if we are a tool to be used by men for procreation for coveting before the marketing of products. That’s the problem, right and so for many women, the first time they come up, if they haven’t dealt with disability, if they didn’t grow up, in a larger body, if they didn’t grow up with visible visible disabilities, or especially if they grew up like a middle class white woman in North America, this would be the first time they kind of come up against feeling that their value has been compromised by their physical appearance. And so I think we need to have some empathy for the women going through that put it in a little bit of perspective, that of all the transformations to go through really this is it’s major in your life but in terms of how you’re valued in society that that’s something you get to negotiate on your own terms with the people in your life and and with yourself. And I think neutrality to me is the path to that and there’s a path back to having a positive relationship with exercise. Having a more positive relationship with your body I mean in that you’re not constantly picking it apart you’re not constantly punishing it because we could just let it be what it is and we could focus on the behaviors the habits the hobbies, the things that bring richness to our life and be curious about what does my body feel like and when I do this What does my body look the same? Does it look different? Doesn’t matter in the end? Not really because it’s going to look different five years from now it’s gonna look different five years from then and so on right.

Steph Gaudreau
Hmm, yeah, it’s really hard to accept that fact when we’re sort of fed a dominant narrative that doesn’t allow for that change I mean, I think Gosh, and I’m dating myself here we grew up we didn’t have cell phones you know now there’s this culture with young people especially where there’s I mean the comparison is constant and the pressure is constant and Instagram and Tiktok and social platforms have now there’s pressure on it has increased beyond what it was on young girls and then it’s like well we need to fix our bodies for our wedding and then we need to get our post our pre baby body back and then we need to fix our menopause body and it’s…

Dara Bergeron
not look like your middle-aged like look like you never yeah age has 39 forever you know.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, it’s like it never it never ends right it’s just the never ending yeah I have a lot of empathy for for you know moms especially who are feeling like they need to get back to that pre baby body I mean it just breaks my heart it really does Yeah, when I get those messages what you know if somebody messaged you and said Gosh, I like this I just want to get my pre baby body back How would you answer I know there are a lot of different answers that people tend to have but you know, what would you personally say if somebody was like I just want to get my pre baby body back?

Dara Bergeron
Well, I think this is where we see the difference between like a trainer and a coach and or fitness influencer and a coach. And as a coach my understanding of this and from my own personal experience is my understanding of this discrepancy between where they feel like they are now and where they feel like they should be often is going to come down a lot more to what’s missing from the rest of their lives. And so when a woman comes to me and says, I just hate my body, I don’t feel like myself whatever. Typically, as you know, like in especially in private coaching, so many things come up in the scope of well being your relationship with your partner, your relationship with your family, your relationship with your job, you know, and what kinds of other inputs there are in your life and I think for so many women you know, these days especially like you said, there’s like the inputs of social media which are creating this like, you know, web of kind of comparison there’s always going to be someone who’s skinny or richer, you know what I mean more popular than you and we don’t tend to follow the ones who are less we don’t tend to that’s not how we use social media, we don’t go you know, we maybe we should more proactively, I think to follow people whose bodies look like ours who have a similar, you know, socioeconomic station, etc.

Dara Bergeron
But we don’t, so we tend to like aspirationally, use social media, and that creates a really big, like, distorted lens of what’s actually out there in the world. And then, when you become a mom, it’s so all-consuming. Like, just literally in terms of the fucking tasks you need to do. In a day, when you’re a new mom, you get the hang of it, for sure you don’t go from one kid to three kids and like, you’re still like, you know, you are to a certain extent, but it’s that first baby, which is usually when you start hearing from women who are like, what I didn’t know that you know, this was all going to happen is like what’s going on in the rest of your life, you know, and that’s, that’s where I tend to steer the conversation. Because I think when there’s very little else going on, or when we are not connecting with things, like ways that we used to be creative if you think back to, I mean, as a person who has multiple children, it’s like, my time for hobbies is somewhat limited, you know, there’s this 20 year period, where I’m gonna have a little less time for the things that light me up, because I’ve made a choice to devote more time to raising kids. But in my 20s, before I had kids, I used to have time for this and that and the other. And when I think back to how many of those things I’ve let fall away, it can be really easy for me to convince myself that my only two identities are my only two places of value are in being a mother and in the way that I’m perceived by men the patriarchy and for my appearance, in particular, on social media.

Dara Bergeron
And so if that’s all you have, then 50% of your value, you know, or whatever it is, is in how you look. And so when we start to add that back things in that are part of your identity, like the sport you used to play at whatever level that’s appropriate for you and postpartum. You know, you like cross stitching, I started cross stitching again, as the strip could be anything the dorkiest thing used to do, painting your nails once a week, reading instead of note reading before bed, instead of getting like, it seems like nothing, but it’s so not because those are the little bits of your identity, and the little bits of connection to the world that goes beyond and supersede how we look in a bikini, how we look at our workout gear, and even how we interact with our children, you know, that can inform those things, but there’s so much more to us than just that we can procreate, and that we look a certain way. And so my experience is when we start to push those things back into a pull those things back into our lives, it does take the time we have to be patient and postpartum. Because mothering is time-consuming, especially with an infant that we start to fill in those little gaps. And then the importance of our appearance necessarily and intentionally is smaller. And so that to me, is the that’s the first step I say to mom, because like I said, it’s not the answer they’re looking for when we say that, when they say like, I hate my body, I don’t know what to do. They don’t want to hear well, I think you should go back to karate, and I think you should meet your friend for a walk once a week. And I think you should not from an exercise but like, what the fuck did you use to do with your time? Like, where’s the human there, find that human, and over time number one, you may find that you feel and look a bit different because you’ve been engaging with the world differently. And number two, you may find you just don’t give a shit as much about whether you look like you did when you’re 19.

Steph Gaudreau
What an amazing answer to that question. I was like really beautiful and deep and I love that sort of connection back to self and like, Who else you are outside of those identities, right? Because we all have intersections of different identities, and it’s about sort of honoring those things. I would love to ask you this question, which is Ben, I wanted to ask you because seriously, for so long, you know, we hear the term dadbod a lot. Yeah, social media, especially and celebrities and things like that, what is a mom BOD? What is mom bod love?

Dara Bergeron
So, Mom bod love was not my handle until a couple of years ago, but it was a hashtag I had been using and at that time it wasn’t populated now if you look for the hashtag Mom bod l love, you’ll find lots of stuff. So this was This, to me was just a term referring to the transition from a pre-baby to a post-baby shell, you know. And, to me, it infers also some specific needs not just like an appearance but some specific needs around some court which really all in it’s amazing, to be honest as someone like yourself who is childfree and who doesn’t cater to a parenting audience. It is amazing to see finally things like breathing and pelvic floor awareness, etc. Going into the mainstream in terms of lifting and, and for runners and for all kinds of people. But there’s definite importance to the core and pelvic floor awareness when you go through childbirth and postpartum healing. So that’s implied to me in the term mom bod and also implied is a little bit of the lack of time like we discussed, a little bit of being stuck at home a lot. And probably also dealing with some common mobility and strength issues that come up from repetitive patterns. of parenting. And the reality that most of us are working at a desk to between nine and five.

Dara Bergeron
And then we’re like, going into our parenting routines, which is if you think of the example of like a weekend, you know, he’s a weekend warrior, like someone who’s strapped to their desk, nine, you know, for like, 70 hours a week, and then they go and like, run 25 kilometers on Saturday, and you’re like, yeah, maybe not, you know, that’s kind of like, what happens to the Mamba, right, it’s like, she’s, she’s sort of in her regular routine, but then, you know, on the, you know, spin of a dime, she’s got to pick up a 50 pound kid who’s falling off of something, or she, you know, or she’s got a hoist, you know, there’s some real physical labor that a mom BOD has to be prepared to do. And it doesn’t always come up at a time when we’re prepared or thinking about it. And so my belief is that when we are engaged in some smart strength and mobility and quarry, pelvic floor connection work, then we’re going to be prepared for those things. And it also allows us to be better parents, more active, confident parents, right? So, again, I’m taking it away from appearance, I guess I realized that’s how I’m answering every question.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, I love that. I love that. I think you know, there is that tendency, again, to focus on the aesthetic, the appearance, the physicality, like the physical appearance versus the functioning. And I know that you’re really passionate about helping people function better in their bodies because like you said, you’re going to be picking up a heavy child or putting something heavy away and you know, oftentimes we hear especially that women should not lift more than five pounds or 10 pounds and and so like without fail every time I talk about this, then Tracy Anderson looking at you, you know, without fail, though, people in the in the community who are parents, for example, will will say things like, yeah, so I guess I’m not supposed to pick up my kid ever really. And it’s just mind-blowing, it’s mind-blowing, that we get those messages. Yeah, so you you mentioned you sort of have these three, three, I guess, focuses are pillars of the sort of trading that you do sort of like mobility, pelvic floor, and and the core connection, and then full-body strength, I’m wondering if you can sort of, give us the picture of, you know, how do these three components work together, for example, within a workout or within a day, so often, we are only focusing on you know, maybe the lifting part, but I know what you do goes beyond that. So how do those three components weave together?

Dara Bergeron
Yeah, so if we take like the average person who’s going to encounter the kind of programming that I do in my online stuff, or in classes or just like on social media, we’re typically not talking about really experienced lifters so probably speaking to more of a home workout audience and so their strength and mobility can really come a lot and kind of one bucket and that we’re not necessarily working on certain metrics or certain lifts but more on the sort of a total body like function and well being however a typical program for a client or program and whatever classes, etc will have will include some like focused core & pelvic floor work as well as focus mobility work especially on you know, as we all do, but like the shoulders and hips which are going to be where most of the stuff is gonna manifest. It’s like the lowest hanging fruit also, I think people feel there’s more understanding about the importance of those joints in particular get a lot of buy in, because they have hip pain or they already have neck pain or shoulder pain, like I’ll try it you know, and, and then a lot of very basic strength.

Dara Bergeron
So focusing on basic human movements and compounds because we’re always trying to save time for mom so we do more compounds probably than someone might who has, you know, an hour to spend at the gym, right? In terms of the core and pelvic floor, in my approach to the core and pelvic floor, there is some retraining required. So if someone comes to me or to my programs, and they’re at the stage of like, I don’t even know how to feel that area engaging, then we definitely want to do some retraining work and part of that is accessing if it’s available of pelvic physiotherapist to get an assessment just like you would go to a physiotherapist for any like an orthopedic physio for any, you know, they can palpate and they can release and they can do the same thing on the tissues of the pelvic floor. And to think that those pelvic floor tissues are not engaging, reacting and causing reactions in the external hip, as well as the torso, the legs, even down to the feet, you know, in those fashion lines is like a major misstep in any professional I think who’s like working especially with someone like a mom who probably has some compromise to their core and pelvic floor integrity. So we tend to weave it into the workouts in a more Like, can you understand how this exercise affects your core and your pelvic floor? So take the example of goblet squat, which probably most people listening would understand, or, or any squat?

Dara Bergeron
Let’s say, do we understand how we want to create a little bit of hip rotation? Sometimes it’s the first time they’ve encountered like, oh, there’s a tech, there’s a reason for this, right? Not just like, push your knees out, or whatever it is to run back. But, you know, can we create a little bit of like torque in those hips? can we can we draw the pelvis into, you know, an engaged position, can we understand why we might want to keep our head tall and not clap for it, and how that affects the way that the core is firing, and not just how your neck and back feels. So it’s a lot of education. So my hope is that they take the understanding of how the core and pelvic floor engage in, they know what it feels like inside their body when they’re when it feels right. And then they can transfer that to whatever it is they might doing, whether it’s like being out in the park and kicking a soccer ball and needing to find the stability to come on one foot and create an X, you know, like, send flexion at the hip, or is it picking up their kid off the floor and understanding that that’s basically a deadlift, you know, etc, etc. So there’s, so there’s a real-life aspect to it. And my belief is that core and pelvic floor as quickly as possible needs to be woven into those strength workouts. And as well as mobility work, you really need that buy-in, and most people don’t have time for multiple workouts or like to do the work for their physio and do their workout each day. And so if we can weave those together into one session, then I think we’ll get the best. Typically, people tend to stick to it better.

Steph Gaudreau
When you’re talking, I think some folks listening to the show will probably know what you’re sort of talking about with the finer details of the pelvic floor work. But I think the first thing that comes to mind for most people is key goals. Yeah. And I know that that’s not just what you know that like, it goes far beyond that. So because I’m imagining that there’s probably some people thinking like, before I squat it to, like, do some key goals or something like, Are you talking about breath omission? Like, yeah, no, can you give an example of what that might entail?

Dara Bergeron
Yeah, so a great question. And it may be, it’s going to be different, depending on the degree to which we might be experiencing pelvic floor symptoms. So we take the example of to say someone who’s never had a child, and maybe has like done a, you know, decade or two of high impact exercise occasionally, and they’re a bit rundown, maybe they get a cough for a few weeks, they have a little bit of leakage, you know. And then we have the more extreme example of someone who’s been through childbirth as birth injuries. So those are, it’s going to be a spectrum. But for someone who’s not dealing with severe stuff, like a typical kind of person who’s engaging in exercise already, there is a learning period, that’s going to be focused a lot on things, the key goal really is just the contraction of the pelvic floor. Let me say that for anyone who’s not really familiar, the pelvic floor muscles are like a bath, they’re like the bottom of the basket in your pelvis. And they go in various directions and oversimplifying them here, but they cross over all the holes of the, in a female, the urethra, the vagina, and then the anus. And so they’re engaged as like sphincters.

Dara Bergeron
And like pressure control in that area, as well as dealing with your breathing muscles, your diaphragm, which is maybe the way that a nonchild nonparent might encounter them is how they engage in a breath. And so encountering them in the breath is the first is the science part. That’s the education, this is what they do. This is how they work. This is how they feel when they’re relaxed. This is how they feel when they’re contracted. And a lot of us are living in, always in a contracted stage, particularly due to emotional stress, or having to have maybe coping with daily routines and having good posture deviations that just cause tension and those muscles like the same way they would cause tension in your back and shoulders or your your hips or your ankles, you know, so it can feel a little weird to think about treating that area with a professional or working with a coach on that area.

Dara Bergeron
But as with all aspects of your health or in your body, you’re not going to it’s not just about the pelvic floor, right. So once we get past the kind of understanding how to connect the brain to it, and getting it firing on its own when we breathe so that when we inhale, typically it will naturally relax. And when we exhale, we empty the abdominal cavity and will naturally contract. And if you watch little kids, they do that breathing naturally, like everything fires like perfect, no. And then you sit them at a desk for 20 years, or they have a couple of kids and they sit at a desk for 20 years and things get out of whack. So after we get the understanding of just how to engage the pelvic floor, then we want to use particular strategies that work best for us in terms of managing symptoms. So to come back to the example of someone who’s maybe squatting, let’s say like a back squat. Not special friends, but I needed a full front squat. backbone. Anyone said they liked front squat better, but there is like a deadlift, a back squat.

Dara Bergeron
And if you’re not someone who’s doing like lifting in the gym, and maybe those terms are like, yeah, that’s not me. But maybe you might think of a push-up or a jumping jack or you want to get back to running. So anytime we there’s a force exertion, we need to have a better level of control a little so that some fast-twitch and some endurance and those muscles right just like in all the other muscles, so will depend a little bit on the exercises you engage in, in the sports you do. And for some people, there’s like some pre-firing ways so that we can sort of engaging the pelvic floor at the beginning of a lift, to give it a bit of a protective contraction. So an example of that back squat could be doing a quick and just pulling in those low belly and done pelvic floor muscles to kind of set that connection between the brain and pelvic floor create a base level of tension. And then as I inhale down, typically in my squat or in my push up, etc, I’m lowering that pelvic floor, but I’m not bearing down on to it. So I’m kind of keeping it in that in, you know, slightly contracted position the entire time. That’s one strategy that might work well for some people.

Dara Bergeron
For some people, it may not be feasible to just do certain exercises, some people may never deadlift, if they’re birth injuries, they may never deadlift, or they may deadlift only and say like a kickstand position, or they may deadlift from a platform, or they may deadlift, lighter weight than they did before. And it’s Can we come back again to that mom bod and that like acceptance of where you are at in this place in time. As we know, there’s really no exercise, you can’t substitute for something else. And if you’re focusing on a particular movement pattern, like a hinge or particular group of muscles, like your glutes and your hamstrings, you really are the limitations of the coach in finding an alternative for you and giving you the cues that feel right in your body. So I would say if you’re struggling with any of that stuff, whether you’ve had a baby or not, be really honest with your coach about what you’re experiencing, and feeling because they, the sensation of connection to the pelvic floor is feasible for everyone. And dealing with symptoms is feasible for everyone, it’s just about how you create the routine for yourself. And the patterns and the cues for you that help you to to feel confident.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, I love that I appreciate your, your full explanation of that. And really the encouragement that there is a way to modify or adjust. I know some people don’t love the word modification, but there’s a way to adjust and find an option that will work for you. It’s not like well, this is you know, get to avoid picking up you know your child or not lift a gallon of water or exactly, you know, the limitations that sometimes people are told and just say you can’t do that anymore. And if that person thinks, you know, I, I like doing these things, I enjoy it, like I find benefits in my life and my body and you know, not shutting those options off and just saying, we just have to find what works for you in your body right now as it is, I know that you’re a huge fan of home workouts, and you do a lot of this on your Instagram, which I always love to see what you’re up to. You mentioned earlier, you know, the idea of compound movements. And I’m wondering if you can just kind of really quickly let it like let the people listening know when you’re talking about that, you know, how do you think about organizing your conceiving of the work that you do at home because I know a lot of people think well I work out at home. So you know, I have to stick to I don’t know, like really isolation exercises or things that are super light or things like that I can’t normally organize and think about those workouts to really get the most efficient things done.

Dara Bergeron
Okay, so in working with moms, I would say the average person coming to us really, if you’re if I’m asking for more than like 30 to 40 minutes, then I’m going to stop getting those I did it. So I think I’m I super setting and probably most of your listeners understand that. But I’ll just explain quickly, like putting two exercises together that are either working on the same muscle group or complementary or opposite muscle groups or different muscle groups is a great time saver. I will often weave the mobility work right into classes and programs so that we’re using the downtime between lifts or rest periods for mobility. They’re not necessarily always going to mobilize the exact same part. There’s some interesting research, as you probably know, but like whether, you know, do we want to mess with that before do we want to like the timing of when we do things like releases, held releases, and mobility work. But those little gaps when you’re like efficiency is the holy grail of motherhood.

Dara Bergeron
And so anything we can pack in that half-hour without turning it into fucking cardio for 30 minutes, I’m like, let’s do it. So instead of putting, doing, you know, take downtime if you need it, but if the downtime you need is just to rest your legs, could you be doing some shoulder cars because we’re gonna go into overhead presses, for example, we’re going to shoulder rotations or whatever. So that’s one thing we do a lot of. And then in terms of compounds to go back to your first question, there’s stupid compounds, and there’s good compounds, there’s content, like there’s not gonna be any bicep curls, let’s just say that there’s no there’s no bicep curls, when you when you have limited time, we’re focusing on the big stuff, there is going to be you know, basically, some kind of hinge, some kind of a squat, some kind of a push, some kind of a pull those kinds of things. And then some targeted, typically some targeted core work at some point in the week, a couple of times, etc. So a compound we might do that might make sense, if we’re working, let’s say with a somewhat like, maybe they have a set of 20 pound dumbbells, can we do something like a clean to a push press can we do a clean to a reverse lunge or something like that, right. So just putting things together where we’re getting that full-body efficiency.

Dara Bergeron
And the other reason I like compounds is that when we’re talking about that core and pelvic floor connection, having to navigate both upper body and lower body at the same time or deal with even just like different placements of the weights like a front rack versus, you know, a suitcase or whatever, is going to change the way that we’re engaging with those core pelvic floor muscles. And it’s going to expose us to the need for different strategies for different movements. So I might do I have a different breath strategy, say for a push press or I’ve got a little bit of a bounce, or a jumping jack, let’s say where maybe I’m going to exhale. On the down phase, you know, to like counteract gravity working on my pelvic floor, maybe I’ll go when I jump out on jumping jacks, or when I dip in a push press and then another quick, when I actually press compared to how I would want to exhale on that reverse lunge where it might just be a straight-up, inhale, down, exhale, come up and engage the core. So the compounds make the core fire in a different way. And they’re also a lot more like what we’re going to do in daily life. So I love a strict I mean, I love a strict press. I love a bent row, I love a straight-up squat. Of course, like those, that’s what I want to do because I want mentally I want to keep it simple. So when I’m on my own, I’m like, I just want to do squat for three sets don’t want to do that. But the reality is when you think of the examples from parenting in particular, and there are examples in anyone’s life, but let’s say I’ve got to get a three-year-old out of a car seat, well I’ve got a rotation I hinge I’ve got a pole I’ve got all kinds of things happening in one compound movement. And so just training in isolation, I think it would be an oversight for a population that has to deal with like sudden random movements all over the time, you know.

Steph Gaudreau
Hmm, transitions, I love that.

Dara Bergeron
And like holding stability in one part well well there’s movement in another part right so that’s a lot of the time that’s where that really high-quality core and pelvic floor training comes in and that and, and that’s where I think a lot of the fit mom fitness and like a home workout. Stuff falls short to is like we can only get so far with a minibus. I love a minivan I love a minivan. But when you have a 30 pound 40 pounds 70-pound object you need to be able to get out you know, eat whether it’s twice a year when they get injured, or it’s twice a day because they want to be carried all the time. Whatever stage you’re at, you know, there’s going to be those moments of having to go under a sort of extreme exertion and push the limits of your strength and if you’re not already kind of pushing close to that anyway, then we’re really what we’re doing is saying Okay, let’s see, you know, when this year Am I gonna get an injury, right?

Steph Gaudreau
Mm-hmm. Absolutely, gosh, I love everything you said. I think you know, a lot of that applies even to people who are just without kids who totally have no time. You know, still want to get a workout in, you know, you know, I’m a huge fan of the five, the big five patterns, you know, really also making the connection for people like where do these things connect to daily life? Because when that happens, there’s that buy-in of like, That’s right, like this will make this easier for me or less painful or totally, I won’t feel as reluctant to do it because I’m not sure if my back’s gonna give out like, those connections and those buy-ins to like, why are we doing these things? It’s just so priceless. So the fact that you’re doing that, also for this population, who may already feel a little bit unsure of what’s going on in their bodies or just kind of wants to find that strength and connection again, is incredible. And so hats off to you for providing that I think it’s wonderful. That’s awesome. Okay, well we are out of time, which is crazy because this podcast has flown by. Let’s let the good folks listening know where can they connect with you? Where can they find out more about your your programs, your online classes and all the wonderful things that you offer?

Dara Bergeron
Okay, great. So the simplest way would be to come to me on Instagram, it’s Mom Bod Love, Mom.Bod.Love because someone somewhere has the Mom Bod Love and isn’t using it No. And from there, you can connect to my two kind of businesses. One is really Canadian focused, and in the Toronto, Ontario area, that’s BellyBootcamp.ca. And that’s our prenatal and postnatal classes, which are in-person and online. So you can access the online classes from wherever and the in-person classes are in the Greater Toronto Area. And then Mama Reset is the one that is all online. So we have a membership as well as online programs for core and pelvic floor rehabilitation. And then something we call the 28 Day Reboot, which is just to help moms get in the habit of doing a few daily movements, like 10 minutes a day, a full-body, as opposed to the idea that you need to do like 60 minutes. And then that happens, you know, once every two weeks or so those of you the best come to Instagram and ask me a question, and then you can connect to those, those programs from there.

Steph Gaudreau
Wonderful. I’m so glad that we finally were able to connect you to her in conversation. It’s been a long time and I really appreciate what you’re doing out in the world the perspective that you bring the greater why behind what you do. And you know all the things you talked about at the beginning of this episode. Yes, we can talk about squats and movement and all that stuff. But understanding the framing the why all behind all of that is so important. And I really appreciate you sharing that with with the community and with the world is so necessary. So thank you.

Dara Bergeron
Thanks Steph for letting me share.

Steph Gaudreau
Absolutely! That is a wrap on this episode of the podcast with Dara Bergeron. She is amazing. I’m so glad I asked her what Mom Bod Love is all about and I loved her definition. I think she is serving a community that really needs some straight talk and also empathy and care when it comes to working out and embracing this new body that you have or at least learning to work with it. And I’m just so grateful to her for sharing with this community. You can of course get the show notes for this episode at StephGaudreau.com. And that also includes all the transcripts of this entire episode. So if that would help somebody in your life or yourself to go through that transcript, please visit my website. You can also find links there to Dara’s programs and her social media. So if you want to check out what she’s up to in the world and follow her, her videos on Instagram are amazing. They are full of great ideas for making movement more accessible and making it more fun. So go ahead and do that. And if you liked this episode, please share it out on Instagram stories and tag both Dara and myself. It really makes a difference when you help to amplify the message of this show out into the world. It is such a small but powerful thing that you can do. Hit subscribe on your podcast app. As always, that makes a big difference as well. And that does it for this show. Thanks so much for tuning in. Have an incredible week. And until we talk next time, stay strong.




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Hi, I'm Steph!

Nutrition and fitness coach for women, Lord of the Rings nerd, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more, not less: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.


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