As a part of our Healthy for the Holiday series, we’re excited to share this interview with instructor Fran Darnell of Dynamic Mama and Dynamic Core classes at Rooted Pilates on the Hill.

Dynamic Mama is an intimate group program that combines Pilates, mindful movement, and coaching to help mamas and mamas-to-be reconnect with their bodies, reclaim their strength, and gracefully move through the miracles of motherhood from prenatal to postpartum.

To find out more about upcoming workshops starting in January and April 2019 please check out Dynamic Core for information.

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What led you to this career?

Ever since I was young I have loved movement, and I have found that it is an incredible resource to help me feel uplifted, present in the moment, more centered, connected with myself, and capable of doing things with strength and grace. My mom was an occupational therapist and through witnessing her work I first learned that movement is healing. In college I studied dance and kinesthetic anatomy which lead me to realize that embodiment is healing. Now more than ever we need to become more present in our body, especially in today’s world we are often more up in our heads than we are engaged in our body. Right after graduating college I began my Pilates certification.

I was inspired to teach Pilates because I have found it to be a movement practice that supports anyone and every body. From focusing on creating healing and rehabilitation to strengthening and functional fitness, and any combination in between, Pilates helps you develop more strength and resilience. I am passionate about working with mothers through pregnancy, postpartum and beyond as motherhood is a truly transformational experience of body, heart, mind and spirit. Pilates is a powerful practice to help mothers mindfully strengthen their core, pelvic floor, and feel centered and connected to your new sense of self. I offer a holistic approach to wellness that combines Pilates, coaching, and energy healing to help women reclaim and restore the harmony of their dynamic core.

What do you enjoy most about work?

I really enjoy getting to help women feel more connect to the core of who they are and helping them to feel tapped into the strength and power they hold within their body. At whatever stage of motherhood we work together whether it is pre-conception preparation, prenatal, postpartum, or many years beyond the power of just showing up for yourself and feeling a commitment to your wellbeing is transformational in itself. I love seeing women shift from the inside out becoming more stable & strong as they connect to their core in a whole new level. Especially when working on managing diastasis recti or healing pelvic floor imbalances, it is so exciting when a woman feels a more whole and integrated sense in her core, when she feels aligned, and can sense her muscles responding. I love helping women build upon the strengths they have inside and out and feel even more capable to do all they want to do, and choose how they want to feel as they move through their life.

If you are a parent, how was your birth and postpartum?

I am not yet a parent, and very much look forward to making my own family. With over a decade of supporting women through pregnancy, birth and beyond I have seen women through so many different birth experiences. I trust my own journey will be a great teacher to me, and that this will deeply inform my work.

What resources would you want parents to have?

I would want parents to have a resource of breathing exercises to help release anxiety, feel more present and grounded. I also wish that all parents could receive a basic understanding of their anatomy & how the pelvic floor, abdominal muscles, back muscles and your diaphragm function together harmoniously- making up the core of your body. The knowledge of your body is a powerful tool to understand how some simple movements can help you feel stronger, let go of tension, and feel more supported from within. This can help you know how to carry your child accessing the strength within yourself rather than straining your back or overworking in yours shoulders and neck. Numerous times my clients have shared with me how they’ve taught their partner what we’ve been working on so they too can feel stronger and more ease in carrying and caring for their little ones.

What is one unique thing about your business that your customers/clients love?

My clients really appreciate my gift of active listening which allows me to tune in to the parts of a person where they need to foster and connect their mind with their body so that they can achieve what they are really wanting. They love how I am then able to guide them through a movement practice that helps them feel more strength, alignment, and a clear body memory of what it feels like to be tapped into their whole self.

What's one thing you think the world needs to do to improve the lives of new parents (or people living in our service area)?

One thing I think that needs to be improved upon in particular in the US is providing more integrated care for new moms. Too often women are feeling isolated and alone, tolerating pain, silently experiencing incontinence, sometimes not even realizing they have pelvic floor imbalances, instability in their core, or diastasis recti. Every new mother should be able to receive a women’s wellness visit with a pelvic floor physical therapist, receive therapy or some sort of emotional support, and feel the presence of community. There is so much connection and checking in preparation to bringing a child into your life. When a woman is expecting a baby there are frequent check-ins, and then after birth there is often only one checkup for the mom. Mothers need more support, and all too often have to advocate for themselves. We really need to expand upon access to maternal care for new moms.

What do you think is the hardest part of expecting baby or becoming a parent?

One of the hardest parts I see women facing in expecting baby and becoming a parent is letting go of control, or rather accepting that even with the best plans things may happen in a way that you can’t control. This is really true in all of life, it just gets magnified in a big way in the transformation of becoming a parent. This can lead to anxiety, and I find that movement and simply breathing is a powerful tool, to help you get present in the moment, accept what you can’t change, and be guided by your body’s wisdom and intuition to focus on what you can do, and how you can choose to feel as you move through it.

What products or services do you personally love?

I personally really love using therabands and the foam roller. These are two props that don’t take up a lot of space and are incredible for either stretching and massaging your body, or giving you some extra resistance or challenge to help you strengthen even more. These are the first two props I would suggest any client purchase, and the ones I personally reach for and the Therband is so easy to use on the go!

How do you start each day?

I start each day simply thinking how fortunate I am for waking up and how grateful I am for this day. I then take a moment to think of gratitude for my health, the love I share with my husband, our home, nourishment of food, and love from family & friends, and my gratitude for the work I get to do and all the incredible people I get to work with and support, I give my husband a kiss good morning and depending on my day the rest of my morning routine unfolds. On simple mornings I’ll dry brush, shower, have breakfast, and then off to client sessions. On more spacious mornings I like to choose any combination of what my body is telling me it needs from dancing to a song, journaling & meditating, my Pilates practice & reiki practice, drawing oracle cards, going for a walk outside, or sometimes a morning swim.

What's your favorite thing to do in DC?

My favorite thing to do in DC is take advantage of all the incredible access to nature and being active outdoors by using the bike share bikes to get around the city, visiting the arboretum to check out all the different groves of trees in bloom throughout the year, paddle boarding on the river, or hiking in any of the parks in the area.

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