Entrepreneur and mother Chrissy Stergios talks about how finding Studio Anna Mora and continuing her regular Pilates practice has kept her fit and sane in her daily life – before, during, and after pregnancy.
Portrait of a Dedicated Pilates Practitioner
Chrissy Stergios manages in-house creative teams for large companies. She started her own business in January 2017 and gave birth to her first child in the spring of the following year. And Chrissy Stergios has been doing Pilates for 16 years.
Pilates really clicked for Chrissy. “It’s kind of a long game,” she says. “You need to keep doing it. Then the benefits just pay back and pay back and pay back.”
Chrissy began with classes in London. After moving to The Netherlands, a tip from a co-worker sent her to Studio Anna Mora, where she has been happily ensconced ever since. Chrissy has enjoyed Pilates before, during, and after pregnancy and was happy to share her experiences.
Pre Pre-Natal Life
Before a baby was even in her thoughts, Chrissy did Pilates twice a week, both Reformer and mat classes. Other than the usual walking/biking around Amsterdam, she sticks to Pilates to keep fit. Other exercises, like jogging, TRX, and yoga, are not for her. Chrissy likes the relaxation and meditative state she gets into from the deep concentration of doing the Pilates exercises correctly.
You can come if you’re not feeling that great, because you will feel much better afterwards. It’s gentle enough that you will come out the other end energized.
“Pilates is the kind of thing you can come to with a hangover. You can come if you’re not feeling that great, because you will feel much better afterwards. It’s gentle enough that you will come out the other end energized. You won’t feel like you need a lie-down, as you might after some boot camp class.”
Mat vs Reformer Classes
A lot of people think the Reformer, a piece of equipment that looks a bit like a medieval torture rack, must be difficult or painful to use. Chrissy explains how the Reformer is actually easier than mat classes, how it helps you understand and learn Pilates exercises correctly and with greater ease, and how it gets quicker results. Reformer classes at Studio Anna Mora involve only 4 students so you get lots of personal attention. They are also good for those needing extra help recovering from injuries. Chrissy continues, “It’s also really enjoyable feeling the motion of the machine.” On the other hand, it can be more difficult to the get the exercises right in mat classes, and when done correctly, mat classes can provide a more strenuous workout. If you do the Reformer first, you remember movements when you do the mat classes. Mat classes are a bigger group and great for seeing if you can do the techniques yourself.
Chrissy took prenatal Reformer classes up to her 32nd week of pregnancy when she had to stop exercising because of pelvic displacement. She went on to have an emergency c-section. She credits her Pilates work for easing pregnancy and helping her make a quick recovery.
Pre-natal Pilates classes at Studio Anna Mora focus on the areas of the body needed to carry the weight of a baby. “It was really empowering to exercise well and build-up strength while pregnant,” states Chrissy. “Because you are really preparing for something you have never done before that requires great stamina and breath control, it’s good to have a class where you are really working.”
“Hi Body – You’re New”
Chrissy couldn’t wait to get back to doing Pilates after pregnancy. It took about 6 weeks to be ready. Then she began with two private assessments to get advice on where to focus. She says that Pilates really helped her reconnect to her changed body after the birth. “It’s crazy. So much changed. Things I didn’t even know changed until I got back to my Pilates to notice.”
Fitting in Fitness with a Baby
Chrissy is committed to sticking with Pilates, though it is not as easy now with a baby. She spends 10-15 minutes at home every morning and attends one class per week at Studio Anna Mora. Her trainer sends home specific goals for the week and gives tips on how to do the exercises with a baby. There is a great incentive not to collapse from a position when you know your baby is face up on the floor underneath happily gurgling up at you!
Chrissy never really understood the concept of “me-time” until she had her baby. Now, her partner spends Thursday evenings with the baby while she gets a much-needed night out. First, she heads to her post-natal Pilates class at Studio Anna Mora from 18:30-19:30. After that, she might have dinner or drinks with friends.
It’s very much about your health, about balance, about finding ways to be fit within your lifestyle.
“With all the teachers at Anna Mora, it’s not focused on losing weight, or looking great, or toning up for the summer. It’s very much about your health, about balance, about finding ways to be fit within your lifestyle.”
Strengthening the Core
Pilates is all about strengthening core muscles but it can also strengthen your core community. Chrissy has kept in touch with many of the mamas in her pre-natal Pilates classes. These friends are the ones who now join her for post-natal classes. “We love to do the work. And now it’s also just so much fun to talk about our babies!” Chrissy also loves the community of Studio Anna Mora. Though some teachers come and go, there is a steady team of long-term teachers that you get to know and they get to know you.
A Life-long Practice
Chrissy has kept up with her Pilates practice through breakups, a serious neck injury, the physical changes of pregnancy, recovery from a c-section, and now, new motherhood. She says Pilates is a life-long practice for her and Studio Anna Mora is like an extended living room, comfortable and welcoming. For Chrissy Stergios, “Pilates is the one thing that I will always take the time for and spend the money on. It’s a no-brainer.”
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Lori Evans is a writer and musician/piano teacher from the USA, in her third year in the Netherlands. She lives with her techie husband, her delightfully grumpy 16-year-old son, and two mellow cats that seem not to have noticed their transatlantic transplanting.
Video credit: Studio Anna Mora