30 Oct, 2012

Women’s running

Women’s running


(Intro) You’ve been an athlete all your life and the only thing you ever really had to worry about is whether you’ve done enough quality training for the week. Then you make the big (and special) decision that it’s baby time! Suddenly, your training world changes, because while you would like to still fit in your sport, you also want only the best for baby. Being pregnant does not mean an end to training, but it does mean finding creative ways to keep fit. And you might just surprise yourself, because your body is capable of amazing things while pregnant… In fact, you will most likely end up a stronger athlete. Here’s how! – BY MICHELLE PIETERS


So there I was, trying to sit cross-legged with what looked like two chicken legs sticking upright in a sea of flexible yoga mums-to-be, all with flexible limbs flat on the ground. My first thought was that this class might just turn out to be more of a challenge than any run or triathlon I have ever participated in, especially since I have become quite inflexible over the years due to many running miles on the road, and probably not enough stretching. But I was up for the challenge, as I wanted to give baby the best possible start to life. So when I found out that specialist Pregnancy Yoga teacher Dominique Olivier lives in the same street, there was no excuse not to attend her class.


The first class was challenging, definitely not a gentle stretching class with lots of meditation. Every move had a specific purpose, with lots of poses to build strength. I was sweating, battling with some poses, and even a bit sore the next day. But over the next couple of weeks, each class became a little easier, though it is always a good workout with deep stretches and poses. There is also something about getting to know your body, and what it is capable of, on a different level to running and cycling until you are dead tired!


I am not saying give up your chosen sport while pregnant, but combining your sport with Pregnancy Yoga will definitely make you stronger. And though I am still the most inflexible in my class, I am so much more flexible than I ever was. I also believe I have built strength all over that will serve me well when I am back to my normal training schedule.



Dominique is one of the few specialist Pregnancy Yoga teachers around, and teaches in a way that not only makes you stronger, but also prepares you for labour, without you even realising it. As a trained Bikram Yoga teacher, she realised the need for specific Pregnancy Yoga classes when many of her students, who were either runners or triathletes, enquired about carrying on with Bikram whilst pregnant. This is not advisable, unless you are comfortably accustomed to doing Bikram, so Dominque decided to specialise in Pregnancy Yoga. “I realised there are a lot of extremely fit, strong women out there who want to stay fit without being told they need to slow down and relax.”


This, combined with her passion for all things pregnancy-related, prompted her to start with two classes a week. Within weeks she had up to 50 students at her sessions, and that without advertising once! She says she realises some women find her yoga classes too challenging, but also knows that there are just as many who want more intense yoga. “My classes are challenging, but at the same time there is no pressure if you can’t do something. I encourage students to only do what their bodies allow them on that specific day.”


Many athletes can benefit from yoga during pregnancy, because as relaxin is released into your body in preparation for baby, you become more flexible and can use your body in ways you never thought possible. “For that reason, I don’t advocate to my students to be careful when stretching. I rather advocate to stretch in the right way,” says Dominique.



Dominique also offers classes where you AND baby can join in, and you can join any time you are ready. The classes consist of some intense core work and lots of squats with baby, which means that in no time, you will be in even better shape than before baby!


Dominique’s passion for Pregnancy Yoga has also led her to open her own shop, the Ovenbun Shop, for which she sources only the best baby products on the market. For more info, check out, visit, e-mail or call 073 881 6525.

Running Power

As women, it’s important to feel safe and empowered in any sticky situations, whether to avoid a mugging, or faced by a stranger who is looking for trouble. And women need to feel like they can protect themselves – especially when running or training alone. – BY LAUREN VAN DER VYVER


You’re out running alone and suddenly hairs on your neck stand upright. Something just does not feel right about the approaching strangers, so you turn around and run back as fast as you can, but the lingering thought stays with you: Would you have been able to defend yourself if you needed to?


Mark Grobbelaar, founder and developer of the self-defence course WIP (WomenINpowered), believes that in any life-threatening situation, it’s not the moves learnt at a self-defence course that would save you. Rather, he believes your survival would depend on a simple, effective self-empowerment system designed especially for women to take charge and make a choice.


“It’s not about teaching women how to fight, it’s about giving women the mental and physical ability and technique to make a choice in a threatening situation,” explains Mark, who is graded to a 5th Dan in Karate, and drives home how important it is for women to feel like they can handle themselves.



Most of the time, women sign up for self-defence classes to be taught how to throw kicks and punches. Mark believes a self-defence course should be as much theory as it is physical. “I teach one move, one positioning, one result, and believe this way everyone remembers it and it lives with them.”


In one of Mark’s sessions, women take turns to punch through a thick wooden plank. Mark says women start out thinking that they’ll never break a wooden board, but eventually believe they can do it 100 times over. And in this lies the key to self-defence success. “You can master it in a short time, and you can take the power back,” says Mark. He compares self-defence to changing a car tyre: If you’re shown how to do it and do it once yourself, you can say you know how to do it. With defending yourself out on a run or bike ride, you may initially tell yourself that you can’t immobilise an attacker, but you can take steps to learn how to do so, and be prepared to take the power back if ever faced by that situation.


Radio DJ Koula has completed the WIP course and feels that all women need to feel confident and not scared. “We are so used to running in gyms because it’s safe, but once you’ve broken that plank, you feel confident, like you can do anything! Everyone needs to be behind the empowerment of women, and athletes need to know how to take care of themselves on the roads.”


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