Brooke Cates, founder of the Bloom Method, explains why innovative core exercises can help expecting and postnatal women.
As a certified personal trainer and pre- and postnatal holistic health coach, Brooke Cates created the Bloom Method to “empower women through movement before, during, and after their pregnancies.” The protocol includes innovative core exercises to help expectant moms prepare for giving birth, as well as postpartum diastasis and rectus rehabilitation.
We connected with Cates to learn more about her model of coaching and what women can do to help their bodies during the early physical phases of motherhood.
Experience Life | What is the Bloom Method? Why did you create it?
Brooke Cates |The Bloom Method is a revolutionary fitness method designed to educate, empower, rehab, and train expecting and postnatal women in their journey into motherhood. We use innovative fitness techniques that help prevent and heal common pregnancy-related injuries linked to the birth marathon.
I wanted to redefine the way expecting and postnatal women exercised, moving away from the gentle aspect of training during this time and providing a thorough methodology that would not only challenge women during and after pregnancy but also provide them with new ways of connecting to their body that would last a lifetime and be easily transferable into any method of fitness.
EL | What do you think is wrong with the way women are being educated in pre- and postnatal fitness?
BC | I think there is an air of fear around being innovative with pre- and postnatal fitness education. For example, we’re still using guidelines that were established in the early 1980s, with no new studies or updating being done.
I also see a lack of true support when it comes to our larger birth communities; and by “support,” I’m addressing the failure to educate women on pregnancy-related injuries that are 100 percent preventable. At large, we’re still talking about diastasis recti, pelvic-organ prolapse, and incontinence as normal, and while they might be common among this demographic, they are not normal — and with the right education can be prevented.
Through the Bloom Method, I hope to invoke a shift in our birth culture in the way we talk about common injuries so that we can educate women appropriately and keep our moms feeling strong and empowered during pregnancy and well into motherhood.
EL | In what way does the Bloom Method address these issues?
BC | Even though we are a fitness method that at this time focuses primarily on group fitness, we are highly focused on education on all sides. Our entire methodology is built around educating while training, and our clients experience this in our detailed cues, specific techniques, and the way we build and teach every exercise in class. All of our foundational core techniques are designed to be used in exercise and in everyday life; we don’t simply address the exercise component of prevention and healing, we have a large voice in the importance of shifting and re-patterning the way we connect to our bodies in everyday, functional movements so that we can truly embrace the idea of corrective exercise and make it a lifestyle.
In addressing both the exercise and functional-movement aspects, we get a chance to educate our clients with practical ideas so that any modern mom can be successful at implementing the changes into her life.
My hope is that the women who choose us take what we teach home with them: into their births, on walks, in how they sit, and even how they breathe during their day. It’s like group fitness meets physical therapy and the most practical childbirth class you can take.
EL | What is unique about how you teach core and pelvic-floor activation and release in your programming?
BC | While there are a lot of layers and aspects to this, today I’ll focus on just one. In all of our workouts, we pair the movement of the core and pelvic floor with the primary muscle group that we are working on. For example, if we’re working the biceps, the inner-core unit (pelvic floor, TVA [transverse abdominis], diaphragm, and multifidus) works in the same way the biceps do. We create co-lengthening and co-contractions with each exercise, making every exercise we teach more effective and more supportive for our clients. The core is our driving force, and we pair its movement with everything we do.
EL | Do you think it’s important for women to prep their bodies with certain movements before becoming pregnant? If so, why?
BC | So much yes! Two words: core connection! If women could do anything movement- or exercise-wise before getting pregnant, it would be to ensure they are connected to their core unit. This doesn’t mean to do a ton of planks and sit-ups; it’s deeper than that. It’s about reconnecting with the inner-core unit through breath, functional movement, and correct activation and lengthening techniques, so that when a woman gets pregnant she has a strong foundation to build upon.
Pregnancy is not a time to lose core strength — even though the core changes the most during this time. It can actually be a time (and most of the time is, for our moms) to tap in deeper and strengthen the core in a whole new way. If we can create the foundation before the changes start to happen, the benefits are endless.
EL | What are your top fitness suggestions for women to focus on before, during, and after pregnancy?
BC | Breath and functional, everyday movement and how you connect to the core during these movements; the core and pelvic floor; and glutes, which are technically a part of the core.
EL | You recently launched an online studio. What does that involve and how can women who are trying to become pregnant, who are pregnant, or who are in postpartum use this studio effectively?
BC | Studio Bloom is like our in-person studio, just in a digital form. I tend to tell women that Studio Bloom actually allows women to dive even deeper into the method than our brick-and-mortar space does. Within the digital studio, there are 50-plus pre- and postnatal workouts, spanning anywhere from seven-minute to 40-minute formats. We add new workouts every other month.
You’ll also find nutrition guidance for fertility, prenatal, postnatal/lactation, and baby’s first foods. There are Mama Meditations, stretch sequences, and foundations videos that break apart our foundational core techniques and teach you how to implement both in exercise and daily life. In the fall, we’ll be adding in-depth workshops on topics like the pelvic floor, how to push during labor, and more, as well as a yoga element for our moms who want more than the average prenatal yoga class offers. We can’t wait to see how it evolves.
To learn more, visit www.thebloommethod.com.