Tag Archives: pregnancy

Pelvic Floor 101

If I were to ask a room full of people ‘what are kegal exercises?’ I’m sure it would be all the women’s hands that would shoot up.

For those of you who don’t know, kegals are pelvic floor exercises that women are advised to do during their pregnancy to help avoid embarrassing ‘leaks’.

Embarrassing leaks are not confined to women who have had children, cosmetic companies spend a lot of money targeting women in general, which sweeps under the table the fact that men can suffer too. So although this is a pregnancy focussed health and fitness blog the below holistic approach could apply to anyone.

The pelvic floor (or pelvic diaphragm) consists of muscle and tissue that covers the area below your hips, keeping lots of your important bits separate. It also has important functions during childbirth helping the fetus navigate through the pelvic girdle i.e. helping contain the baby until the head is ready to engage.

So what right?

Well when I first had my first few mid-wife appointments I was told I should be doing my kegals if I wanted to say fit “down there”. This never seemed right to me and I never bothered doing them. I felt that I would be much better served by performing squats regularly and working on posture and body awareness.

Whilst pregnant I had no problems with those embarrassing leaks I was warned about and have no issues presently so for me,  I am glad I did not waste time with kegals.

I have since read a great article which further confirms my doubts regarding kegals.

According to recent research published by Rehab Management, pelvic floor incontinence has been linked to postural alignment and weak glutes. Interestingly the act of squeezing and releasing the pelvic floor (the simplest way to explain kegals) adds to the tightness of the muscle and neglects the length. Over time you tighten the muscle and by doing this reduce optimal length-tension relationship. When the pelvic floor is not functioning adequately the result is an inability to control your urge to ‘go’ or the frequency with which you need to do so, and at worse cause infection.

From a training perspective a shortened pelvic floor are key factors in stress incontinence (imagine sneezing or laughing and a bit of wee coming out! That’s stress incontinence) and is a worry when added intra-abdominal pressure is increased. I was starting to put together a picture of someone who cannot control their lower back, bad posture and a weak bottom, frantically doing their kegals without success.

The research continued to highlight a holistic approach to pelvic floor health looking closely at posture and core strength rather than isolating the muscle itself. As a CrossFitter this makes perfect sense as to we get strong by working the whole body as one unit.

Where does this leave me with kegals? In a healthy active pregnant lady I wouldn’t prescribe them.

I would look at the bigger picture, addressing posture and body awareness to the developing changes in her body. I would recommend squats regularly both with weighted resistance and without. My response is simply squats over kegals – they provide a much better and more natural way for the pelvic floor to do its job the way nature intended.

Please be aware that past 37 weeks pregnant deep squats are not advised as they can cause an early rupture of the membranes (early sign of labour).


Sally Dixey is a Personal Trainer @ Crossfit London in Bethnal Green


Should you drink Protein Shakes while Pregnant?

Interestingly when I researched this topic almost entirely the sites found were US based.

What does this say about our side of the water?

Either we use protein supplements less or as a much less active island the question to shake or not to shake while pregnant just doesn’t come up on UK Mum networking sites.

Anyways here is the best answer I could find.

A pregnant lady requires roughly 71 grams of protein a day more if carrying twins. This works out at about 10 grams more then usual give or take.

While I believe we should be getting our protein intake from whole foods some struggle eating meat and protein rich foods.

Some choose the supplement route, using brands such as Maxi-muscle and MyProtein. If you have taken them before pregnancy it may not occur to take a look at the labels to see if they are OK to take during pregnancy.

Often there will be a disclaimer on the label stating not recommended and that is for a good reason.

A lot of these products are combined during manufacturing with added vitamins, minerals and herbs, some that are not appropriate for pregnancy.

It is also worth noting that artificial sweeteners are also not very desirable during pregnancy

Some studies have even shown these to contain heavy metals although they were within the safe guidelines. I think it’s prudent to ask your doctor for alternatives they could recommend.

You could however make your own shake up using a low fat yogurt mixed with peanut butter or fruits. You could throw in a tsp of flexseed oil for good measure -(this is of-course providing your not on a paleo diet)

I found this site quite useful for further information on the subject.


Sally Dixey is a Crossfit London Personal Trainer in Bethnal Green


One Girls thoughts on Recovery

I think I must bore some of you Crossfit junkies with all my baby and pregnancy blurb. It’s funny because when I completed the business side to my personal training certificate, my business plan actually revolved around pregnancy so I guess this was inevitable.

I will try to keep this short…….

It is my personal mission to encourage and promote healthy active pregnancies and post-natal recovery so when Snoop is sleeping or distracted, I trawl the net. On one of these occasions I came across this article. I have copied an excerpt but the basic gist is that the athlete is reflecting on her return to training, and more to the point, competing after the birth.

My recovery and return to training took 5 months – is that too long or slow?

After reading this I think I made the right decision.

Go on have a read……..

“Finding the right boundaries for postpartum training was more difficult. “I probably returned to CrossFit a little too quickly after giving birth,” Richards-Lindsay admits about her return to training two-and-a-half weeks after giving birth.

“I tried a few push-ups, squats, and plank holds the week I returned from the hospital. I decided that it felt pretty good and knew that my ultimate goal of making it to the Games was only possible if I got started right away,” Richards-Lindsay says.

Finding the Limits

Although her workouts were “scaled and modified” to her comfort level, Richards-Lindsay explains that even those light workouts may have demanded too much from her still-healing body.

“I simply underestimated how much healing really needed to take place … I had diastasis recti [during pregnancy] and it still isn’t healed to this day because I didn’t give my abdominals a chance to heal and come back together,” Richards-Lindsay says.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Diastasis recti is a separation between the left and right side of the rectus abdominus muscle, which covers the front surface of the belly area.” It is common in newborns and pregnant women, and usually heals in the months following birth.

“I needed to give my pelvis, hips, abdominals, and back some time to strengthen and adjust after something as taxing as nine months of carrying a child and 24 hours of labor,” Richards-Lindsay reflects. “I had lied to my doctor on my six week check up, saying that I hadn’t been exercising yet. Obviously if there’s a timeframe set, there’s a reason.”

Throughout her post-birth training, being a “good mommy” was always her priority. “Sometimes I just didn’t want to leave her, so if I got three workouts a week, oh well,” Richards-Lindsay (Full article)

I can totally see why she wanted to return so soon. You all know why….because as crossfitters a competitive streak is part of our nature: we want to strive to push ourselves. We are invincible!

But competition aside we need to humble ourself to the true impact and cost pregnancy has on the female body.

Hormones that have made pregnancy possible don’t just go away when the baby is born! You need the same caution to impact, movement and intensity as you did for the 9 months you were pregnant.

When I say Cost, it doesn’t mean cost forever, as I stand I am living proof give yourself time to heal and you can build yourself strong again.

After Snoop was born the motherly side of me was wrapped up in being a good Mum but the Crossfiting side to me was dying to get back in the gym. It was like having a two little voices in my head.

I guess this is a perfect point to add that officially whether natural or not you should abstain from exercise for the first 6 wks. This allows your abdominals to return to there natural position. Any attempts before this could result in permanent damage!

I had the most extreme and most invasive type of birth and fully aware of the risks I had to ignore that little voice crying out for a hectic metcon!

The most obvious starting point for me begun looking at my everyday tasks.

I found myself finding even the simple job of closing a heavy drawer a huge strain on my tummy and operation site. I realised I was stooping as I moved, and even lifted myself out of bed differently!

Pelvic floor exercises and a short walk was about my limit, as even standing around for too long (probably related to posture also) was extremely uncomfortable. I needed to be proactive and correct my stance and posture for everything if I was going to get any where! Washing up dishes became a workout, opening and closing my heavy drawers were a test of ab bracing!

Slowly I began to feel a little more ‘normal’, time for a test I think………so I joined Andrew’s Friday lunch class and although I got through it I was uncomfortable, unstable, weak. I found myself holding back because I think I knew deep down that I wasn’t really at full health. It was only 3 months since the birth. Sound like a long time to you??? I challenge you to watch a video of a c section and then come back to me and tell me it’s too long!

I wanted to do it right. And that could only happen if I took the foundations and made them solid and by that I mean work on my strength, I want to add confidence too! (I needed to feel strong again before I could let rip on a few wods)

I gave myself a few more weeks recovery during which time I discovered paleo and embarked on a 30 day challenge. You gotta eat right to train right!

I started first just messing around with some light weights – squats, dead lifts, overhead press. Then a couple of wods on holiday in Australia.

Then came the Hit List. My way of focusing my training and giving myself goals to work on. I am officially one of the geeks in the gym who records every thing religiously. And why not it saves all that faffing and guessing weights.

So far this journey is around the 9month mark……

What had I achieved……..

Pre -pregnancy squat and overhead press weights and 1 pull up!

I felt I was ready to add a few more wods into my training alongside strength.

Being careful about recording weights and training over the next two months paid off because I now have 6 pull ups, 2 ring dips and my dead lift is getting closer to my previous double body weight max.

When did I realise I was absolutely back on form?

Smashing through Karen (150 wall balls for time 6kg 9ft target) in 5 min 51!

I still have my weaknesses like everyone, but I officially can no longer use the excuse “I’m still recovering” that makes my total recovery time 11months!!

Did I take too long to get here? I don’t think so, ask yourself would you send a

thoroughbred to the Grand National when they were at risk of further injury or not on form?

I reckon your answer is no.

I wonder in hindsight how different Taylor Richard-Lindsay’s approach would have been if she knew what she knows now? Would she have driven herself so hard so soon? So what recovery took me 11months! 11 months is nothing in the grand scheme of things, I’m strong and wiser to boot and I wouldn’t change it one bit!

(I just want to remind you that I am talking here about my experience which was recovering from a c section, which is quite different and a longer process then that of a natural birth but although this is on the more extreme end of the spectrum it is important to remember the body will take around 12 months to recover fully no matter how you deliver. Before embarking on any exercise after birth you must consult your doctor or mid-wife)


Sally Dixey is a Personal Trainer at Crossfit London in Bethnal Green

Reflecting on old posts………..

Does the Baby Make me Stronger??  

It’s a question I have been asked a few times…does the pregnancy make you stronger? Does is make you faster?

I have mulled this over in my mind a lot over the last few weeks and I think I have an answer.

No it doesn’t make me stronger but it does mean I am more in tune with my body and have found that all the changes to my body have meant I have become more efficient at using my body.

To explain that a bit further.

My mid-section has quite obviously changed beyond recognition I don’t have the same mid-line stability as I did before, which is when I have to start making the way I brace really count. I need to make sure that I can call on the rest of my body and ask it to work that bit harder to make sure I am safe.

As for the pregnancy making me faster..well some days I am on form and others I am sluggish and tired. I am just really glad I can keep up some kind of routine.

I wrote this post on my site way back in August 2011 a couple of months before having Snoop.

Now a year late I want to add to this as Andrew asked me a very similar question………

“Sally to get stronger do you need to get up the duff?”

We all know Andrew is far from tactful at times but he had a very good point to his crud question.

Before I had Snoop I had a very ropey pull up, zero ring dips and even worse double unders…………

1 Year on and I have 6 solid pull ups, my first ring dip and though still hard work I can bang out some double unders.

For anyone looking from a distance baby = stronger.

I can assure you though that the reality is very different.

So what has made the difference………….

My focus……..

My time in the gym is limited. I need to make every session count as I now don’t have the luxuary of training as and when I want.

I have made a Hit List. This is a list of skills I want to master. Having them written down means they stay at the fore front of training sessions, which in turn makes my use of training time more efficent.

I keep a detailed training book with all my sessions and weights recorded. Although I used this before I was a bit sloppy at note keeping.

Doing it strict – I have made a vow to train in the strictest possible way. I don’t really care about the fastest time at this point. My concern is getting it done with good form and without having to use thick band support.

Paleo – In January I tried 30 days of strict paleo eating. In the begining it wasn’t so easy, not just because of my own excuses but because my husband is a pasta lover! Slowly I made changes to my kitchen cupboards and my cookbooks. I have founds ways of adapting old recipes and worked out how I am going to be paleo while eating out.

I have to say its getting a lot easier to stay strict pretty much most of the time. And what is the pay off from this change over. I feel better in myself, less bloated and tired and of course the gains in strength speak for them-self. What can I say I am a total convert!!!

So back to the question at hand….

Do you need to get up the duff to get stronger?? ……..No but getting organised and focused goes a long way.


Would you like to get Stronger?

You can learn how to lift weights with confidence at one of our Wonderbar Events.


Sally Dixey is a Crossfit London Personal Trainer in Bethnal Green

15th August -My New Years start now………………..

I am always so relieved when the last week is over. It’s like the beginning of a new year for me and everything is measured from that date. Now it’s over for another year I can begin with writing again.

The first thing I need to share with you is the most epic healthy breakfast ever!

I can’t claim this as my own invention, I watched the Hairy Bikers and nabbed it from them.



Beats any fry up!



Rocket and watercress


Balsamic vinegar

Baby tomatoes

Salt and pepper



Make a bed of rocket and watercress while heating up a pan of water.

When the water has heated to just below boiling add the egg for 20 seconds. This cooks the whites a little and makes for an easier egg to poach.

Fry the bacon in a pan and add the tomatoes. When done lay on the bed of rocket and watercress.

Crack the egg and gently add to the water and watch it poach to perfection.

When it’s done (I like the yolk to be runny) place the egg on top of the bacon and the tomatoes.

Finally drizzle on some vinegar.


This is a good alternative to a fry up.

As well as cooking I did get in some training sessions……


I am in the fourth week of juggernaut. I am doing it over two days with Sundays reserved for a hardcore met con and some accessory work on my shoulder and ring work.

I have really noticed some awesome strength gains and found that spending less time working in the top end of a working max has meant my form has been consistent and have had next to no bad lifts!

From an injury perspective this is awesome as it makes for less injury and better recovery.

I could try and explain the Juggernaut method but I would probably get all muddled up and not explain it well. It’s quite a complex method but well worth a read. You can find the juggernaut e-book by clicking!

This will explain it much better then I could.

I have had a huge break through with my pull ups. Let me share the story so far……

So while in Australia I had my first ropy chin up since pregnancy. On my return I decided to dust off my power bar and attach it to the bathroom door. I started with that 1 ropy chin up and practise it every time I washed my hands (which made for a lot of practise)

1 chin turned into 3. Whoop

Now I had my 3 chins without a band or support it was time to start practising some strength.

3-7 reps 5 sets rest about 2 minutes between sets.(this can be followed by using support also but try to use as little support required)

The first time I did this I could only manage 3 sets with no band and used a very light red band for the remaining sets.

Next I was able to complete 4 sets with no help and on the final set Chris spotted/helped with the last rep.

A week later I didn’t need any help finishing! Whoop.

Now to turn these into pull ups. (the difference with a chin to a pull is the way you grip the bar -a chin is easier as more bicep is used)

So at home I started to practise a pull up grip every time I washed my hands!

All my hard work has paid off because yesterday I was able to complete 5 sets of 3-4 pull ups with absolutely no help!

I just need to keep working at it and make sure I continue to improve.

My next goal is toes to bar and ring dips!

Alongside the final stage of the 10’s wave (realisation phase of juggernaut, for a detailed explanation of this refer to the above link to the e-book) I fitted in a Sunday meet with Kate.

We are still making our way through the Crossfit Games wod’s.

This Sunday was the turn of the dreaded wall ball amrap.

150 6kg wall balls 9ft target

90 double unders

30 muscle ups

In past posts I have shown images and clips of double unders and muscle ups, you can find them by search my site or looking further on google.

A wall ball is a dynamic move which sees you thrusting the wall against a wall and catching it. This move gets tiring very quickly!

I would love to say I got through the whole thing but with a cap of 12 minutes I only managed to get the wall balls done, with 45seconds to spare.

Yeah I could have made a start on the double unders but I was so wiped out by the wall balls I probably would have got all tangled up in the rope.

I want to add I was using a 7kg ball as we only have one 6kg that Kate had bugsied. Not that I’m complaining! Lol.


Sally Dixey is a Crossfit London personal trainer in Bethnal Green


Reaching out for some assistance please!!

Hey Gang I am calling out to pregnant ladies and exercising women alike.

I would like you to inspire me with your stories and questions regarding exercise and pregnancy, in order to build up an inclusive content for my workshop.

What I would like are stories and accounts of training from ladies who trained through pregnancy, how accessible you found information and advice out there, were there any bad experiences.

I don’t just want to hear from pregnant ladies but also from well trained ladies who at some point in their life would like to enjoy a healthy and active pregnancy.

How do you feel toward training and pregnancy? Do you have any burning questions?

Maybe you’re a guy reading this and have your own reservations about your lady training while carrying your baby.

Any question, stories and comments are most appropriated

Please either make a comment or email me directly @ sally@crossfitlondonuk.com


Sally Dixey is a Crossfit London Personal Trainer @ Bethnal Green

26th July – Pushy Mother Alert

Pushy Mothers! You know the type I am talking about.

The Mum’s you see dragging there kids from football practise to ballat to claranet lessons. Lessons after lesson, practise practise practise!

The type of mother who is re-living her life through her offspring!

All through my pregnancy I never thought I would resemble anything like a pushy mother………………

I wouldn’t say I am quite at that level yet but some of you out there may laugh at my latest folly.

It all started one day while training.

Andrew Stemler my boss rocked up to the gym and as usual me and Chris fall into conversation about this and that.

In typical proud mother stylee I decided to show Andrew, Snoops latest achievement, which was standing with no support for a few moments.

Awesome said Andrew but can he hang from a bar?

I don’t know was my response, there is only one way to find out!

Ok so this may sound rather dangerous but if I can explain before people reach for child line!

We lowered a bar on one of the racks so it was about mid thigh height for you and me.

I stood with Snoop by the bar while Andrew held on to the bar showing Snoop what to do.

Babies are great mimic’s and naturally want to copy you as they want to fit in with the community they are a part of.

I then held him under the bar and in an instant his little arms shot up to find the bar and take grip!

He then beamed at Andrew with his bestest smile looking for approval.

I had my hands supporting him before you freak out!!

We did 3 short holds on the bar and were even surprised to see Snoop trying to pull himself up.

Andrews last suggestion was to find his hands on the floor like a handstand but with me holding him.

This will then take us nicely into a forward roll then he is ready.

All a while Snoop was laughing and smiling at us. I don’t feel I was making him do something he didn’t want to do, so I think that all the time he is enjoying his mini gym classes I will continue to show him (with Andrews help).

Who knows I may have a future Olympian on my hands or a Crossfit Champion

(I don’t advise that anyone copy what I have been up to with Snoop unless under supervision)


Sally Dixey is a Personal Trainer with Crossfit London @ Bethnal Green

22nd July -What a great way to start a Sunday!

Me and Kate (my homegirl from Crossfit London and host of Wonderbar) have made a vow to work our way through the 2012 Games Open Wod’s.

For Kate this is her second stab at them and naturally wants to beat her scores.

Me, I am trying them out for the first time so here hoping I can get through them.

8.30am is a crazy time to be up and training on a Sunday but when the sun shines like it did, jumping out of bed is less of a challenge.

The plan was to get through 2 of the 6 WOD’s.

First up……..

30 Snatches @ 20Kg

Followed by

30 Snatches @ 35Kg

Followed by 30 Snatches @ 45Kg

Oh and you only have 10 minutes to do it in.

The first 30 were some what easy. We both smashed them in around 2 minutes.

35Kg felt a little more hard work……. nay a lot harder if I am honest.

When I tackle reps like this I always break it into bite size targets.

By tackling them in sets of 5 I was able to complete all 30 reps but with only 30 seconds left I had no time to add more weight and start on the 45Kg.

Kate did equally as well. beating her previous score. Nice one Kate.


To round up the morning Kate wanted to try the Burpee Wod!

7 Minutes to do as many burpees as possible with a reach bar 6 inches above your highest reach while standing on the floor.

You must tap the bar with both hands on each rep for them to count.

Again Kate broke her record while I racked up 71, which I was happy with.

Considering where I was just after my pregnancy I am quite proud of my progress.

Watch out next year I might even do the Game Opens and register!


Sally Dixey is a personal trainer @ Crossfit London in Bethnal Green


19th July -Strength and a Met Con

Just before I let you in on my met-con joy for today I just wanted to point out to you all that I have added a search box and Facebook Like. Thanks Steven for helping me out.

All that means is if you should like to search for words or topics you now have that option. If you like what you read you can click Like. (I would really love it if you did)Now on to the good bits.

I totally wasn’t ready for today. I was still sleepy and rushing now to be late, which always makes me flustered.

Rocking up with Snoop in tow, I could we Chris in his shorts. That could only mean one thing, a met con was on the board.

It’s not that I don’t like them, I fact I love that side to Cossfit. It’s just that since being back to training and spending time focused on repair and recovery I feel just like I did when I first started Crossfit. A bag of nerves till I start to lift the bar. Don’t ask me where the nerves come from, it’s probably performance anxiety.

Training is now going to have a slightly difference focus anyway.

Now I am as close to back to normal as I could have hoped for at this stage I am going to be favoring a few more met cons into my training.

With met cons for the time being I just want to be able to finish them with good form and technique rather then competing against the entire gym/class as is the usual way to tackle them.

Before the year is out I want to be doing multiple pull ups and ring dips with no band support and this is only going to happen if I chip away at it.

Right so I have babbled and make my pull up promise so what did I do today…………………..

Snatch Balance as a warm up!!! Awesome my favourite move.

I can quite proudly say I did more weight then Chris!!!

Ok so Chris is an animal where strength is concerned but when it comes down to a Snatch balance it’s all about how you change speed and direction to get under the bar. Unsure what the Snatch balance is??

We did 3 sets of 3 reps reaching 40Kg.

Coach Bergnener had it right in the video clip above when he said it gives confidence. Knowing I can get 40Kg in a Snatch balance will set me up from a full snatch.

Something Chris is a little better at was the next move a Sumo-deadlift.

4 sets of 8 reps. I used 50Kg on the bar.

(Remember weights that I use are not a prescription for everyone)

Finally we had to make a start on the met con.

1000m Row

3 rounds of- 10 Clean and jerks & 10 Chest to bar pull ups

800m Row

The rowing is like a sandwich around the 3 rounds.

And yes you read right the pull ups have to be chest to the bar not just the chin!!!!

I stuck 35Kg on the bar and worked on technique rather then killing myself.

I did this in 29 minutes 50 seconds.

It’s a start, from here on it can only get better!!

That was more then enough for today so homeward bound.

I am still working on my pregnancy workshop. I have had tones of great feed back and have just sat down with my doctor to pick his brain.

I will keep you posted as I go.


Sally Dixey is a Personal Trainer with Crossfit London in Bethnal Green




Look what my Mummy can do!

I have mixed emotions about what I am about to share.

On one side I am really proud to have clawed it back but on the other side I wish it hadn’t taken so long!!

Before I fell pregnant I had got my first few pull ups ever without a band. It had taken me over a year to get there working my way through the different band supports but eventually I got there.

When I came back after my rest during my first trimester, bang my pull up was gone and as my weight increased and the bump got bigger I gave up trying to win it back and just focused on having a healthy pregnancy.

That was all fair and well but as I watched my fellow Crossfitting females swinging from the bars I was determined to get it back as soon as I could.

With my return to training scarpered by the c-section I had a long 6 month wait till I was ready to lift some weights again.

And I am pretty glad I did allow myself to recover properly, though I am back in the swing of things I still don’t have the same feeling or sensation in the area and that’s a good 9 months after the fact. If the surface is still back to normal then going deeper is probably still mending too.

Any how back to my pull ups……..

My path to pull up heaven begun at home. As soon as I started training with Chris my pull up bar went back up!

Every opportunity I had I would jump on the bar and pull up as best I could. I did jumping pull ups negative pull ups and banded pull ups.

Every time I was in gym I would have a go at some pull ups till eventually while in Brisbane, Australia I gave it a go with no band and with a bit of a struggle I go there.

Whoop Whoop.

Back in the UK I proudly showed Chris my 1 pull up. Great he said now lets get a few more!!

So I will continue with my pull up plan and keep on at it till I am swinging like the best.


Sally Dixey is a Personal Trainer with Crossfit London in Bethnal Green

To see what I have been teaching at Crossfit London just click