My Body is Such A Privilege. Kettlebells and a whole lot more…
“My body is such a privilege”
This statement is so much more than words spoken to me when I recently interviewed Haley Shevener in the latest *Presenter Connect Series. This is the idea that embodies everything that Haley writes on her Instagram and Facebook. It is obvious in how Haley moves and why she is motivated to fly to Melbourne (even though flying gives her anxiety) and share her wisdom and her love of kettlebells to the folk attending the Women’s Health and Fitness Summit .
The more I learn about women’s health, the more I understand is the huge breadth of diversity. I started off over 10 years ago thinking that the biggest issue for postnatal women was a weak or compromised pelvic floor. This was because I was viewing the world through my own experience of pelvic floor dysfunction.
It took me a few more years to get a better understanding of prolapse, and hypertonic pelvic floor (when the pelvic floor muscles are too tight and also can cause leaking), which can lead to vulvodynia and vaginismus. And more recently about levator avulsion, (which is often as a result of a birth injury) and explained in very readable terms in Sue Croft’s blog here; right through to the effects of mesh surgery.
By far my biggest take home has been discovering the diversity of what women CAN do with various pelvic floor dysfunctions. There is certainly not one rule for all. That means that as a fitness professional, I must listen carefully each time my client works with me… and not make assumptions based on their prognosis. I must also be very conscious of limiting women by words I use.
The power of words
It is outside my scope of practice to “diagnose” and “fix” pelvic floor dysfunction… but it is essential that I understand as much as I can about these conditions, so that I am able to empathise and listen to women who share their stories with me.
These conditions dramatically affect a women’s life. From how she moves to what she thinks about on a (sometimes) minute by minute to a daily basis. When the mind is unable to see a way out of the issue, then the body is sure to follow. Therefore the language of any practitioner working with women in any capacity, needs to be thoughtful and enabling.
“When I was diagnosed with prolapse I felt like my movement related world was over.
I said I just wanted to swing my kettlebells at some point”
These were the thoughts of Haley after experiencing prolapse post the birth of her son. And like many fitness professionals, it is not just about stopping movement… but also about the ability to work again.
What happens if a woman feeling in a delicate broken space, then has this language communicated back to her?
“You have prolapse, you can’t do this now”
“You should only engage in this (insert here one option that may or may not be to her liking) now”
or the words that were said to me:
” You need to STOP doing exercising otherwise this (next bad thing) will happen”
It is not usually at the point of delivery do the real questions come. But usually in the space when the shock subsides. And they are the questions that I am often asked.
“How long will this last for?”
“Will I never be able to (insert preferred physical activity) again?”
“Am I broken forever?”
And of course I do not have the answers. However, in my experience sharing words like:
- our bodies are amazing at adapting and healing (if we allow them)
- nothing ever stays the same
- it will be a journey of part self-discovery, and
- greatly enhanced by educating yourself as widely as you can to make the best informed decisions moving forward
These words go a long way in enabling the looping thoughts that can darken the outlook in life, to lighten and allow positivity to leak in.
The Japanese, who are obsessed with perfection and balance, have a beautiful practice called Kintsukuroi. This is the mending of broken pottery with melted gold and the effect is beautiful. So instead of a broken bowl diminishing the bowl’s appeal, the repair brings a new sense of vitality and resilience. As the bowl now becomes more beautiful for having been broken. And the linked Japanese proverb says that “The true life of the bowl began the moment it was dropped.”
My Beloved Kettle Bells and a whole lot more
Haley has been in those dark places, but like many women has risen above and beyond. And in one of my favourite parts of this interview, Haley said:
“I have been able to go back to my beloved kettlebells and a whole lot more.
I love to swing around heavy objects and making them feel weightless.
There is a moment at the top of a kettlebell swing called the float, where the kettlebells are essentially weightless. This a metaphor for how I feel when I am using them.
I want to gift women a set of strategies that they can apply to when they use kettlebells and any other type of training.”
I believe that the combination of our empathy, understanding and support for women is the gold that can allow them to be beautiful because they are now empowered and resilient.
But how do we become this kind of coach?
Learn from others. This is education that is not offered at any other event in Australia, other than at the Women’s Health and Fitness Summit. Hayley’s session “A Female Specific Approach to Kettlebells” we believe is the first of it’s kind in the world. And spaces are filling fast.
If you have not yet got your ticket – then do so now via this link today.
And be sure to watch the full interview below. I am filling in for the very talented WHFS Ambassador and Presenter Connect Series Host – Kylianne Farrell, and it was my absolute pleasure to do so.
Interview with Haley Shevener
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