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

Chuckwalla’s CrossFit Momma Program

One of the reasons I/we love Chuckwalla CrossFit so much is its focus on family – FREE childcare, community events that are tailored to families (swim parties, bounce houses, gluten free goodies, moms groups) … need I say more!?

Most recently, Coach Lauren has developed a pregnancy and postpartum exercise program, focused on supporting mommas through all phases of motherhood and maintaining a strong core.

The next workshop is Saturday, August 26. I encourage YOU to join the conversation and register for the event! Here are ALL the details:

WHEN: Saturday August 26 from 11am – 4pm (with 30 minute lunch break)

WHERE: El Jefe CrossFit (8110 W Union Hills Dr, Suite 250, Glendale)

*Taco truck on site, lunch available for purchase*

WHO:

  • Any woman who has had a baby (postpartum is forever!), is pregnant, or thinks she might have a baby someday (core & pelvic floor strength starts now!)
  • Any fitness or health professional (i.e. health advocates, physical therapists, medical staff, fitness professionals, coaches, or instructors) who work with women
  • Anyone experiencing core & pelvic floor dysfunction (leaking/incontinence, diastasis, painful intercourse, low back/hip pain, etc.) because it’s not just a pregnancy or postpartum problem

COST: $70 ($55 for Chuckwalla Members with code MEMBER)

REGISTER NOW and share with mom’s you love!

WHY: There is a lack of guidance out there about pre/peri/postpartum exercise strategies and a lack of awareness about the core and pelvic floor relationship, causes & signs of dysfunction, and treatment/healing options. Leaking urine during exercise (or any other time), painful intercouse, pelvic/back/hip pain, diastasis (separated abs) and other postpartum issues get written off as “badges of motherhood,” but we want moms to know there is hope! These postpartum
issues might be common but they do NOT need to be normal and are NOT something moms have to live with. Moms deserve to do the exercise they love in a way that prevents, heals, or minimizes core and pelvic floor dysfunction. Even if a mom doesn’t lift weight or have dedicated exercise, she is lifting and moving all day long. Her movement should leave her strong from the inside out, not be enhancing or creating her dysfunction.

Join us to learn the key components of finding strength from the inside out and then how to apply these strategies to daily living and your choice of fitness, whether that is pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy or returning to exercise postpartum. Learn strategies to help prevent, minimize, or heal diastasis recti and pelvic health concerns such as painful intercourse, urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Discover the optimal nutritional needs for supporting pregnancy, breastfeeding and beyond. All women deserve to feel healthy and strong, especially moms.

Objectives:
– Understand the anatomy & relationship of the core (including pelvic floor & diaphragm)
– Understand the changes to the core & body during pregnancy, labor & postpartum
– Understand the signs & symptoms of core & pelvic floor dysfunction (especially incontinence, diastasis, & pelvic organ prolapse)
– Understand that there is treatment and healing for core & pelvic floor dysfunction
– Have an exercise strategy for pre/peri/postpartum based on breathing, alignment & mindset, which will minimize or heal core &
pelvic floor dysfunction
– Practice alignment, umbrella breathing & piston science strategy (core, breath & pelvic floor connection)
– Practice applying the strategy to (your favorite form of) exercise through discussion & hands on teaching of the squat, deadlift & pull-ups
– Know how to determine if an exercise/movement is “safe” for your body during pre/postpartum, how to modify, and how to progress volume/load/intensity
– Learn (and practice!) how to lift & carry the baby and perform activities of daily living with optimal alignment and breathing
– Learn how to properly fuel your body for a healthy and strong pre/peri/postpartum season
– Take home a folder of the presentations and handouts so all of the material is accessible
– Have local contacts for pelvic floor physical therapy, exercise guidance and nutrition coaching

PRESENTED BY
:
* Breann Fox, mom to one, PT, DPT, PRPC, physical therapist specializing in pelvic & visceral health. Former D1 collegiate soccer player.

* Sarah Backus, DPT, physical therapist specializing in pelvic health; interested in core & pelvic floor stability in the female athlete. Avid CrossFit & PowerLifting athlete.

* Lauren Koemans, mom to one, CF-L1, ACSM CPT & Chuckwalla CrossFit coach; passionate about connecting moms with the support they need & helping women find strength & confidence through exercise. Loves running & CrossFit.

* Ashley Nowe, of Get Mom Strong, a mom and certified nutrition health coach specializing in helping moms regain their strength through nutrition, healthy living & functional exercise

Red, White and BBQ

Stars and stripes and so much fun … our Micah James is ONE!

This year has gone by way too fast. I feel like I didn’t do a good job capturing everything, but I know I’ve been savoring my moments with our Dude. He’s the sweetest and best baby – great eater, better sleeper, goes with the flow and wears a smile 24/7.

I’m so thankful for clients and companies who have supported me this year and welcomed M with open arms. I’m thankful to have such happy and healthy bebes. And I’m thankful for the community at Chuckwalla CrossFit, who have embraced all four of us

We’re celebrating with some family and friends in one of our favorite places. Beach time, park time, shorts and sweatshirts … feels a bit like heaven.

Happy birthday, sweet Micah James. May your new year be filled with adventure, health, love and growth.

xoxo,

Team Leatherman

Shout Out to All the DADS!

#CrossFitandPregnant wouldn’t exist without the dads (because duh, biology). So on this Father’s Day, we wanted to recognize the guys behind the barbells. Some of our athletes had their partner/hubs share what it was like to watch their lady, CrossFit while pregnant, go through birth and triumph post partum. Here’s what they had to share –

Dr. Leon Chang

Leon and I go back to my original days of CrossFit. He was part owner of CrossFit Elysium {now CrossFit 858 – Uptown} and is married to Dr. Alessandra Wall. They have two sons, Luca (8) and Rhys (5).

What was it like watching your spouse/partner CrossFit while pregnant? Inspiring. Doing “metcons” was always incredibly painful for me- I can’t imagine doing them with a gravid uterus just sucking blood flow and oxygen that your muscles desperately need! In addition, bodyweight movements have always been one of my strengths, and watching Alessandra’s gymnastics ability rapidly take a hit due to the pregnancies would have been more of a ego-blow than I could bear.

Leon & Alessandra

Since my spouse/partner CrossFitted while pregnant, I’ve learned: the human body is an amazing piece of machinery. Sure, women can and should take their foot off the gas pedal a bit during pregnancy, and will have to modify movements. But that doesn’t mean all movement has to stop altogether, and some degree of intensity can still be tolerated.

Advice you’d like to share with other new #crossfitandpregnant dads: As long as the facility and/or coach understands the demands of pregnancy and can scale work outs appropriately, there’s nothing you need to worry about. Just get out of the way, let the mom do her thing and be supportive! Oh, and don’t cry if she continues to crush you in the WODs.

Any advice you want to share? As a former coach, I’d advise pregnant women to just enjoy the journey. Yes, you will lose some capacity but you can gain it back rapidly. Don’t worry about “losing your muscle up” or anything like that- all of those challenges will still be there. Just recognize that you’ll have to scale, you won’t be “as fit” as you were pre-pregnancy, but you’ll get it back! Jason Koemans

Jason has only recently come into our lives and his wife Lauren’s profile is in my queue (stay tuned – Lauren is one of the awesome coaches at Chuckwalla CrossFit).

Three words that describe your spouse/partner: tough, persistent & beautiful

How do you support your spouse/partner in “getting her body back”? By allowing her time to recover before we have another baby 😉 Talking positively about her body and supporting her in the exercise she desires.

Advice you’d like to share with other new #crossfitandpregnant dads: A pregnant woman can feel her limits, don’t push her farther than she should go.

Chad Leatherman

Big shout to the Poppa of #TeamLeatherman – CHAD. “Watching Meghan during our first pregnancy was nerve racking and equally inspiring. I loved how bad-ass she was (is). We received a lot of recognition and kudos from other athletes. And any time Meghan PR’d, which was often during her pregnancy with Florie, I couldn’t help but think, ‘Oh, hell yeah!'”

His advice to other dads: don’t be scared, be involved. Encourage baby momma to listen to her body and scale accordingly.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to these three encouraging men and for all the Dads who stand beside their parenthood partners. Wishing you a year of active and healthy fatherhood!

xoxo

 

 

Turn It Up

10 months in to parenting two has caused me to be … quiet on here, but we clap our hands everyday!

Handclap is one of our favorite jams – great for dancing in the kitchen during dinner prep, or in the car shuffling from here to there. Everyone gets down!

Parenthood comes with a lot of hand clapping for all the “momma, watch me’s” and “poppa, looks!” we get from a highly active three-year-old. And at 10 months, our bebe is just getting this skill down pat.

CrossFit has a bunch of clapping and high-fiving, too. You’re seeing it during the Regionals competition today and in boxes around the world.

I’d like to do a bit of hand clapping for my team and co-captain on this crazy journey. We’re 20 days into our first round of Whole 30 and we (finally, embarrassingly) did our first CrossFit WOD in 10 months at Chuckwalla. Well, scratch that, the hubs did some killer workouts at our affiliate in Boulder, CrossFit Beat, so he’s a head of my curve.

Felt good to be sweating with others and just grinding away on an intense WOD. So, thanks Coach John, for making today a doozie! Good way to segue back.

Quick W30 takeaways:

  • Never thought I could drink black coffee, but here I am … enjoying it!
  • So much good food, but hard not having some convenience items to leverage with littles at home and a crunchy schedule. Fortunately, I’m used to meal planning and food prepping. I imagine this is very overwhelming for someone just beginning.
  • Sugar is in EVERYTHING. It’s honestly disgusting and gross to realize. It’s no wonder we’re all addicted. It’s almost impossible to get away from.
  • The non-scale victories (NSV): clear head, more energy, less bloat, less aches and pains, less hangriness.

Can’t wait to see the results now that CrossFit is back into our routine.

<Hand Claps!>

**I’ve had several pregnant mommas reach out to me during my blog writing hiatus. I apologize for not getting back to you – this has been mom guilt x200 for me. I would love to feature you, so if you’re still interested, drop me a note!**

2017. Already February?!

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Our friends at Chuckwalla CrossFit have been posting some funny CrossFit | Valentine themed memes on Instagram this month. Couple that with the excitement around the CrossFit Games and some recent #crossfitandpregnant scaling articles from CrossFit had led me to move my health and wellness off the backburner. Here are the articles:

I don’t know what it is, but I hit a slump with both babies in the 5-7 month postpartum range and end up packing on pounds again. It’s super annoying. Notably, it has been the holidays for both babies at this point, but regardless, it is frustrating to see the scale go up and down. I do love my body – it’s strong enough to bring two healthy, happy bebes into this world and feed them. BUT, I do miss wearing the gorgeous clothes in my closet!

Nothing like getting out the measuring tape to get your booty in gear, which is exactly what I did this morning. Despite my utter exhaustion and still battling flu symptoms from last week, I did a cardio workout today at home. Felt good to sweat, but I have a LONG way to go before I get back to a box. My endurance is shot.

To stay focused, the hubs and I are going to start training for some runs again. It’s something we loved doing together pre-babies and I miss that time and sensation of completing something together. And it’s perfect running weather in Phoenix right now, so we just have to pack the bebes in the stroller and ago. My second focus is fitting into a particular dress for a big work event at the end of March. Nothing like a killer dress to motivate!

Any tips from other mommas on what to do to stay energized, focused, and active?

xoxo

Introducing the Newest Team Member

Nothing beats July 4th in the Midwest

Nothing beats July 4th in the Midwest. Lake DeNeveu, 2014.

Our favorite place to celebrate Independence Day is in Wisconsin. The weather is perfect, the beer is cold, and the family and friends are in abundance. We’ve been spoiled spending many a July 4th at the lake where I grew up vacationing with family.

This year, we celebrated in the second best place ….

LABOR and DELIVERY!

Smiling between contractions

Smiling between contractions

We joyfully welcomed bebe #2 in the early morning hours of July 3. A little firecracker from conception … it’s just fitting his arrival landed the celebratory weekend! Hard to believe he’s already a month old and we can’t imagine life without him. Meet Micah James:

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Big sis | already so much in love

Big sis | already so much in love

Happy One Month!

Happy One Month!

Micah was late and his delivery was fairly quick, just like his big sister. My labor started in the afternoon with contractions that quickly progressed. We were admitted into the hospital at 10:30 p.m. and that epidural couldn’t come fast enough!

Special shout-out to our OBGYN team. Not only did the same doctor deliver both our babies (unheard of in our practice), but, once he was multiple days late, they also worked with us to make sure we had a holiday-weekend delivery, which is exactly what we wanted.

We love Dr. Mayer!

We love Dr. Mayer!

I did manage a CrossFit workout on Saturday, July 2 at Chuckwalla CrossFit. It was a good one with lots of jumping, running, and lifting. I think Coach John’s programming did the trick – THANKS JOHN!

And, don’t hate me for saying this, but my recovery has been simple. I’ve been up and about … doing my mom/consultant thing. And last week, I started some at-home conditioning; nothing crazy, even simple push-ups are making me sore.

We’re so thankful to the CrossFit communities of CrossFit Full Strength and Chuckwalla CrossFit in Phoenix. While I was nowhere near as dedicated or setting PRs like I did the first go-around, it felt amazing to lift some weights when I could.

Coach Luz coaching me through one of the CrossFit Open WODs at Full Strength.

Coach Luz coaching me through one of the CrossFit Open WODs at Full Strength. March, 2016.

As I’ve recently written, working out at Full Strength with Coach Luz, a two-time Olympic contender, has been inspiring and educating. I’ve been able to focus on improving the mechanics of my lifts – especially the snatch (which I was never comfortable with prior to pregnancies!) – instead of focusing on setting PRs. While setting PRs can give you a natural high, there’s also so much to be said for working through the details of complicated lifts and the feeling of success that comes with nailing it.

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Coach John is the best!

Coach John Hazdovac is the best … even if his WOD didn’t get my water to break during the WOD! ha!

This girl loves to test herself.

This girl loves to test herself.

More rings!

Different Day. More rings!

The few Saturdays before our delivery, we spent at Chuckwalla as a family. Chad and I worked out and FG played in the supervised kiddo area. It was awesome to do that together. We’re so appreciative to the Hazdovac family for making it work for us!!!

So, not our typical July 4th and subsequent weeks, but full of fireworks all the same. Welcome to the team, Micah. We love you so much already!

xoxo,

Team Leatherman

Both babies at one month.

Both babies at one month.