Athlete Profile: Lauren Koemans

Making gains at Chuckwalla, 12 months post delivery.

Lauren Koemans is a coach at Chuckwalla CrossFit and something I adore about her is her dedication to pregnant and post-partum mommas. As I mentioned in my previous post, Chuckwalla is hosting its second Pregnancy & Postpartum Core Connections workshop on August 26 {Register} with El Jefe CrossFit. Lauren is leading part of the workshop and has recently blogged about #CrossFitandPregnant advice.

Not only is she doing great things for mommas, she’s also a thoughtful coach who takes time and attention to make sure all her athletes are pushing their limits safely and properly.Team Leatherman is so thankful to have her in our corner!

She hails from Missoula, Montana and has been CrossFitting for four years. She and her husband Jason are also big runners, and have competed in several Ragnar Relays.

Welcome to the world, sweet boy!

They welcomed their son Kyrie in May, 2016. Here’s her story:

Why I started CrossFit: I was an athlete growing up and have always enjoy a friendly competition and challenge. When I discovered CrossFit I knew it was just what I wanted, little did I know it was everything I needed!

What did your spouse/partner think of you CrossFitting during pregnancy? He loves to see me enjoy CrossFit and running, but did need some consolation that it really was safe for the baby if I continued those activities.

Training for Two!

My goal in CrossFitting while pregnant was: My goal was to maintain my fitness level and not to lose my conditioning/strength.

What exercise advice did your doctor provide you? Did you follow it? My doctor(s) – I moved mid-pregnancy – didn’t have much to say beyond limiting activities with risk of contact (I wanted to go downhill skiing! She said no.) and that if I did it before pregnancy I could continue doing it.

CrossFit-themed baby shower from CrossFit 2 Serve

CrossFit and pregnant, where do you find support? I find support in the CrossFit community around me. At first I was in Nevada at CrossFit 2 Serve and then mid-pregnancy we moved to Arizona and joined Shamrock CrossFit [now closed] (where there were two other pregnant mommas and all of us due in a five week window!). A couple months after my son was born I found Chuckwalla CrossFit. The community at Chuckwalla is especially amazing. I will never forget the members who held my newborn baby so that I could get a workout in! And of course, my husband Jason is my Number One.

Mommas of Shamrock CrossFit

CrossFit and pregnant, where do you find inspiration? I was inspired by Lindsey Valenzeula, a CrossFit Games athlete, who was due with her first baby (also a boy!) the same day as me, and continued to CrossFit her entire pregnancy. She has since returned to CrossFit to qualify for Regionals and finished 11, at almost exactly one year postpartum. The other moms in my box always inspire me, too.

Since doing CrossFit while pregnant, I’ve learned: There is a much better answer to “how to work out” during pre/postpartum than just “listen to your body” and “do what you did before.” And I learned that seeing the doctor at eight weeks postpartum and being “cleared for [any] exercise,” does not mean to jump right back to what I was doing, but to slow down and build a foundation first. I have been studying Julie Weibe (DPT), Brianna Battles (MS, CSCS, USAW), Jessie Mundell, Jennifer Campbell, and a few others who are making waves in the pre/postpartum exercise world. I have learned a strategy to take into my future pregnancy(ies) and began implementing it postpartum. The strategy is more than just modifications, and it teaches me to use my core and pelvic floor in a way that prevents, heals or minimizes any pelvic floor/core dysfunction. I have learned that the postpartum symptoms that are common – such as leaking/incontinence, diastasis (separation of abdominal muscles), painful intercourse, low back pain, etc. – are not “badges of motherhood” that have to now be lived with, but there is hope for healing AND for exercising in the way you love. As a postpartum mom, implementing the piston science strategy and managing my symptoms, I am actually becoming STRONGER than before my son!

10-11 weeks pregnant

Biggest CrossFit and pregnant challenge I’ve faced: At about 10/11 weeks pregnant, I ran Ragnar Las Vegas (Nov 2015). I had been signed up for the ultra (which would up have been up to 40 miles) prior to finding out I was pregnant. My husband, who would not claim to “enjoy” running, actually swapped places with me and I ran on the regular team, still covering the most miles out of the 12 legs for about 20 miles total! My joints hurt SO BAD I didn’t run much during the rest of my pregnancy. The other challenge for me was to embrace the changes in my body during pregnancy. I (think) I will be much more accepting next time around…

Do you follow a particular eating lifestyle? I guess you would call it “whole food eating.” Low crap/chemicals matter to me more than low carbs/calories!! While I do end up eating some processed foods, I try to eliminate them as much as possible, also watching added sugar and artificial ingredients. (Although I’m sitting here realized I had two different kinds of Goldfish today…maybe I need to revisit the limit on processed foods…) I try to incorporate fruit and/or veggies in every meal, with lots of protein and healthy fats. I drink mostly water but of course I have at least one (usually iced) coffee a day, and I do enjoy La Croix/sparkling water or iced tea. And I do love me a lot of dessert, so I do best if I don’t keep it in the house, but when I do partake in eating desserts I do it guilt-free.

Best CrossFit and pregnant tip or secret you’ve discovered: Mommas are strong, fierce and determined, and pregnancy/postpartum doesn’t change that. The question isn’t “Can I do this workout/movement.” The question is “SHOULD I?”

What have you found most valuable about CrossFit while pregnant?: CrossFit is valuable for pregnancy the same way it is valuable for life – the discipline, strength, confidence & mindset you grow as you accomplish hard things, makes you able to keep accomplishing even harder things with a positive attitude.

Modifications you’d like to share with others: What is better than a modification is the strategy of alignment (ribs over hips, butt untucked), piston breathing (managing IAP by engaging your pelvic floor and core to be coordinated with your breath) and lack of symptoms. That strategy allows you to determine if an exercise is appropriate for you at the phase you’re in. If you can’t maintain the strategy or if you experience symptoms, then the best way to modify is to bring things back to center, closer to your core, with smaller movements. Gravity (prone positions like plank or push-ups) traditional ab work, and high impact activities (running, jumping) increase the chance of not being able to maintain the strategy, so pay extra attention to those types of movements.

Lessons learned: I have become so passionate about making sure all moms get the information they deserve about pre/postpartum exercise because it is something most medical/fitness professionals DON’T talk about (often because they aren’t trained in it.) A mother’s body is AMAZING, just to carry, grow, labor and deliver and sustain the life of a tiny human. The changes her body goes through to accomplish such an incredible feat are mind blowing. I want each momma to have the support they need to slow down, embrace the process, and exercise in a way that is healing and restoring instead of damaging.

Some of the Chuckwalla CrossFit mommas

If you could do it all again, you would: I have learned so much about pre/postpartum exercise. I am excited to be armed with better information during my next pregnancy, so that I actually know what my body is telling me! I will be more intentional in my exercise, especially with higher risk movements. I also want to embrace my body more for the amazing feat it is accomplishing, and take more photos during my next pregnancy.

Favorite quote: You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3

Favorite girl WOD: Nancy is my favorite girl WOD because I enjoy running and OH squats are a good challenge.

Three words that describe me: I couldn’t decide, so I asked my husband: “Tough, thorough, beautiful.”

When I’m not in the box, you can find me: If I’m not at home with my busy little one-year-old, I’m probably at a coffee shop or Target.

Kyrie. Year one in the books.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Lauren! Join her August 26 at the workshop or contact her at Chuckwalla CrossFit.

xoxo

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