Sarah Thomas’ decision to become a certified pre and post natal fitness instructor was born out of a desire to help her friend stay fit, healthy and happy.
Although originally from Shropshire, in the United Kingdom, Sarah has spent the last seven years – apart from a year in Kuala Lumpur – working as a personal trainer in Bangkok.
“I’ve been a PT for over 10 years but about six years ago that all changed,” explained Sarah.
“One of my clients in Bangkok became pregnant and wanted to continue training but she didn’t have anywhere to go. At that time there were very few places offering prenatal classes or anything like that.”
So Sarah took the decision to go back to the UK to train and got her YMCA (UK) pre and post natal fitness instructor qualification. She explained that although such classes are a relatively new concept, its benefits and reasons for attending are likely to be shared by most pregnant women.
“A lot of women become more interested in health and exercise when they are pregnant. They want to take care of their body shape and ensure they are healthy, even more so because it is now carrying their baby.
Sarah officially opened her Phuket gym, Studio 3 last month and hopes to do the same with her unique brand of exercise for expectant mothers and also mothers and their babies as she did in Bangkok.
“It’s more than just a fun way to stay healthy, it can also act as a great communal activity where women can come and talk together about things. Often during or post pregnancy, women can feel ostracised or have low self-esteem. The social aspect of these classes can be a very positive thing,” Sarah said.
Three regular attendees of the prenatal class who are enjoying the social aspect are Hanako Shanbur from Japan, Mile Tatis from Columbia and Sophie Crichton from the UK. All are at different stages of pregnancy, with Mrs Shanbur, at 32 weeks, the most advanced.
Mrs Shanbur said she was enjoying the classes and had not felt any discomfort doing the exercises and therefore would continue right up to the point that it was safe to continue doing so.
Sarah said that the point, as is the level of exertion during the classes, much depends on the actual students themselves, “Some do it right up to just a few weeks before and then after. In fact it’s a great way of preparing the body for labour, as it builds up the necessary muscles.”
The design of the classes themselves has been an amalgamation of the experience Sarah has garnered over the last 10 years. She added that after many years of trying different exercises and routines, she had now managed to create a good and most importantly safe system that worked no matter the woman and no matter how advanced her stage of pregnancy was.
“I talk with every client before they start in order to find out their health record etc and the stage of their pregnancy. Certain exercises like abdominal muscles for example can be done in the first trimester but not their second or third.”
Sarah’s classes include a lot of gentle lunges, tips and squats and various forms of step aerobics and that the number of reps, how hard the woman pushes herself and also the regularity that they attend is again largely down to the woman herself.
“Women can attend the classes relatively frequently, perhaps three to four times a week, but I would suggest having a day off inbetween sessions.”
Sarah also runs rather popular baby and mum classes, where mums with their babies can attend and get fit, “The mums can use their babies as free weights up to 20 weeks when they’re below 15 pounds,” explained Sarah. When the babies become too heavy, Sarah assigns a space in the corner of the gym where they can play while their mother’s exercise.
This again provides a much-needed communal service and one which she has not ruled out providing for fathers on the island, “Sure, I don’t discriminate, maybe in the future I can to a class for fathers and babies.”