Pregnancy is unsurprisingly a time when fitness regimes can fall by the wayside, but for Sam Eastwood it was a wake-up call. “I usually have a fast metabolism, but with pregnancy came excess weight and the feeling of being unfit and tired, which I couldn’t bear,” she says. “When I had my daughter I realised that staying fit was of the absolute essence – not just for physical health but for mental wellbeing.” Eastwood had spent her twenties modelling and acting, and had always kept fit, but it was after she had her daughter that she decided to try Pilates. “My first session blew me away,” she says. “I realised I had lost a connection to my body, and Pilates in just two weeks reconnected my brain to my core and the rest of the body followed.”
Core and cardio
Eastwood blends the principles of the core-focused training with cardio to help sculpt lean physiques while preventing injury, and has worked with Rebecca Ferguson on Mission Impossible and the new version of The Mummy, due out this year. She says working with busy Hollywood stars has made her an expert at fitting in a lot into a short space of time. “Time is of the essence and I work hard to craft workouts that slot seamlessly into their busy lifestyle. When I’m working on set, sometimes my client will be called away for whatever reason and we end up with chopped-up sessions of 20 mins here and 30 there. It’s not ideal but it is all about grabbing time when you can, really.”
It’s all very well for A-listers, but new mothers also fall into the “time-poor” category without an army of personal trainers and chefs. And, even if you do get the time, if you’re sleep-deprived, sore and out of shape, the last thing you want to do is squeeze into some spandex and join a bunch of perky gym bunnies in a fitness class. So it was with “real women” in mind that Eastwood developed her new Get Set program – an online community to give you access to A-list workouts with the emphasis on good form and posture, and – you guessed it – convenience. She says that when her stars are on location they log in, but you can equally do it from your living room whenever you get a chance – and she says even a short session makes all the difference.
“From half-an-hour sessions to a quick seven-minute core workout, it offers short bursts of effective activity,” she adds. “If you think about exercise as part of a daily routine (in the same way you have to eat, walk your dog, or get the kids to school) it becomes part of your routine and is something you just get on with.”
Strong for life
It’s not just about weight loss either. Pilates, Eastwood, insists, will give you a strong body to cope with whatever life throws at you. “If you’ve ever pulled your shoulder or tweaked your back you know how frustrating it is to recover. Activating and strengthening your core through Pilates encourages the body’s bone rhythms and muscles to work in the same pattern all day long and every move will help to protect your body from injury.”
Eastwood may have carved out her career in LA, along with her husband, stuntman and Mission Impossible action director Wade Eastwood, but these days Richmond in south-west London is home. When not practising Pilates, she can be found trail-running in Richmond Park, or out and about with her husband and now six-year-old daughter. “Being with my family is a good reality check. They’re full of energy so it’s a different type of winding down – we love a long walk in the park.”
Benefits of post-natal Pilates
Is widely recommended as a great exercise for new mums as it is safe and not too taxing on the body after childbirth. The general advice is to wait six weeks after a vaginal birth or 8-12 weeks after a Caesarean section before embarking on a new regime.
Pilates is ideal for strengthening you in the right places, and conditioning the pelvic floor will help to alleviate some post-natal problems like incontinence or prolapse.
Pilates is not just about looking good – it helps you to reconnect with your body and how it functions, helping to build confidence.
Most Pilates exercises involve some kind of core engagement, which is great for firming up a “mummy tummy”, and also for helping improve diastasis rectus, or the separation of the abdominal muscles, which can happen in pregnancy. Not only that, core strength will protect you from back injuries when you’re lifting and carrying.