The Central Athlete coaching staff has the gift of getting to know our clients on a very intimate basis, including their aspirations, their struggles, and the stories that both support and restrict their growth and development. The coaches walk alongside their clients as they navigate the joys, trials, and hardships of life. One of the beautiful things that the coaches get to experience is working with clients from preconception to birth and through the postpartum period.
It is Central Athlete’s belief that early prenatal care is not enough, and in many cases, it is too late. “Prevention, in order to be truly preventative, must be ante-natal” (1). All fertile women should receive the information they need to make informed decisions about their own health and the health of any future pregnancies.
One of the hallmarks of preconception care, outside of a medical setting, is to enter pregnancy in good health and stay fully informed about reproductive and general health. This does not just mean the absence of disease. Health is multifactorial and holistic in nature, with equal spiritual, social, physical, nutritional, emotional, mental, and environmental aspects connecting to a healthy individual.
While Central Athlete coaches are obviously not doctors, nor do they treat disease, they are experts in physiology and the science behind human adaptation. What inputs will create particular outcomes for individuals? Maintaining a healthy and resilient body and mind leading into pregnancy has been correlated with:
- Improved quality of life for the mother.
- Improved pregnancy outcomes by decreasing infant mortality and morbidity.
- Reduced probability of damage during organogenesis.
Women who are considering having children or expanding their family present their Central Athlete coach a beautiful opportunity. The Central Athlete mission is to empower people through fitness and behavior modification, in an effort to positively impact individuals’ and communities’ lives. If real change is to be made, it starts with the next generation, of which there is no better time than preconception.
Jenn Haley is a pillar of our community and someone that deserves not only recognition but also highlighting as a leader for mothers. She is not just one to emulate, but also to give hope to both existing and future mothers. Jenn has five kids and is 27-weeks pregnant with her sixth child. Let that sink in for a moment.
Being a mother is an emotional journey where you are somewhat forced towards becoming selfless. In fact, selflessness seems to be the ultimate virtue of a mother and a badge of honor. But what happens when selflessness loses its intention and the mother loses her individuality, societal relevance and degrades her personal health resources in the process? When the kids leave home, she’s left feeling small, purposeless, and depleted in her “empty nest”.
Jenn’s story highlights a paradigm shift for mothers, embodying a spirit that if your cup is full, you will have more to pour into others’ cups.
Jenn highlights the conflicting priorities that mothers face between honoring themselves versus honoring their offspring. Initially, she viewed this as a mutually exclusive scenario where she had to make a choice between herself or her children and ended up putting herself second. However, she was able to shift towards a mutually inclusive scenario where seeing fitness as a responsibility allowed her to be a better mother.
“I think many mothers (myself previously included), feel guilty leaving their babies to come to the gym because it feels self-indulgent. I felt this way during and after my third and fourth pregnancies and relegated my exercise to simply pushing a stroller around the neighborhood. Over time I lost upper body strength, could not tote my newborns, toddlers, and all of their gear without struggling, and most notably felt less physically prepared for subsequent labors from overall decreased conditioning. I have since changed my mindset and feel that it's not a luxury but a duty to maintain a structured exercise regimen so that I not only model staying properly fit to my family, but also so that I maintain the strength to keep up with the demands of the job. Motherhood is very physical.”
Jenn’s goals do not involve deadlift PRs or 2k row time trials. She merely aims to have impeccable consistency and to move with intention. She reflects on her biggest accomplishment since deciding to join Central Athlete.
“My greatest achievement has been honoring my commitment to myself and Central Athlete by keeping my word and showing up. I just consider it a non-negotiable: unless the house is on fire or one of my children is critically ill, I'm showing up to train 3x/week. Whether or not I "feel" like training that day is irrelevant. This mindset is especially important during pregnancy when constant bouts of nausea and vomiting could easily tie me to the couch instead of training. I remember one day it was so bad I had to reach down and vomit in a paper bag on my drive over to the gym. Still, I did not turn around. In fact, my nausea usually improved tenfold after just getting in my body and moving. If I need to adjust sets/intensity levels, no problem, but I have to prioritize getting here.”
The coach/client relationship has been a medium that she has not only appreciated but has connected with what she needs. Jenn was quickly able to see how Central Athlete’s North Star is the client’s experience. With any decision that Central Athlete makes, the coaches always zoom out and think, “How will this affect the client’s experience?” All of the Central Athlete coaching staff is here because they have a deep curiosity, prioritization, and experience with health and wellness.
“Initially, I felt that the financial commitment was a bit excessive, which is why I began with a four-week trial. But these coaches invest so much of their heart into these clients. It's amazing to watch. I felt like my long-term health was truly prioritized versus running people through the motions in a lackluster group class or a branded gym that focuses on hyper-performance to the detriment of sustainability and longevity. I thought the model of a custom experience was smart, and it proved effective in both keeping my interest and preventing fitness plateaus.”
Central Athlete stands as an entity that inspires and gives people hope in a world of uncertainty. Sometimes what we offer is a paradigm shift outside conventional wisdom. This comes with the fear of leaving the familiar, but oftentimes, the shifted worldview supports living a truly fulfilling life. Jenn is a pillar of our community and a woman that demonstrates that putting yourself first is not a luxury but your responsibility as a mother.
1. Manual of antenatal pathology and hygiene. Vol. 1. William Green and Sons, Edinburgh, U.K.1902