Gin & Zin

How to build a strong body & mind- Interview with Karen

Meet Karen~

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Hello, I am Karen Pledger. I am a 55-year- old mother of two, my son Michael is 33 and my daughter Nicky is 30 years old. I am soon to be a grandma and I am so excited!

Professionally I am a STOTT Pilates Certified Instructor and an Etsy Store Owner. Searching and rummaging through estate sales has become one of my joys.

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taken at a recent desert trip with her spouse, two children and their spouses

One of my priorities as a mom was to allow my children the freedom to develop into themselves. That is to say, that my hope for them was to develop into fearless independent people who enjoy life to the fullest. I tried to lead by example through adventure type activities. We spent a lot of time out doors at lakes or rivers. I took Michael backpacking early on in his life. Nicky didn’t seem to be interested in this so it became one Michael’s and my favorite activity together. Nicky and I enjoyed (and still enjoy) hiking together and spending time at the river lounging and swimming.

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In nature with her two children Nicky and Michael

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Michael continues to be outdoorsy

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gorgeous photo hiking as a young mother

I believe sharing the beauty and importance of time in nature with my children is one of my greatest strengths as a Mother.

Can you describe your pregnancies and deliveries?What did you do to prepare physically for labor?

I was a young mother. I had my first child, Michael, at the age 23. For me, labor and delivery was going to be “all natural.” Natural childbirth was the typical norm for the 1980’s. Unfortunately, prior to the 80’s, labor and delivery were fear driven and based on horror stories from past decades. With preparation and a positive attitude, the outcome of both of my natural deliveries was a wonderful and unforgettable experience.

I learned many valuable tools and lessons during childbirth and pregnancy that I continue to practice today. My husband and I attended a series of wonderful childbirth classes known as Lamaze. The breathing techniques and positions I learned through Lamaze were critical to the successful outcome my partner and I both experienced.

In addition to two fabulous birth experiences, I also learned how to meditate and I truly feel that this was vital in getting me through the labor and delivery without trauma. I also learned the importance of physical fitness. Prior to pregnancy I attended Jazzercise classes to stay fit. Because aerobic cardio was viewed as slightly dangerous for pregnancy, I researched and discovered a pregnancy fitness class through Parks & Rec. This is where I met my sweet friend Cindy Mittelstadt. Cindy was the fearless instructor, who also happened to be pregnant. This class kept me physically strong throughout both of my pregnancies. I believe that the strength and endurance I acquired through this class helped in both of my natural deliveries.

 When you are working with pregnant women, what do you focus on in your Pilates sessions?

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Nicky in her mom’s studio

I still use some of the techniques I learned through my own pregnancy and birthing experiences while teaching pregnant women. The first thing I teach is the focused breathing process. I have my clients feel their breath moving in and moving out of their body. This breath work continues throughout the workout and facilitates relaxation. In addition, Pilates helps pregnant women connect mentally with any pain signals in their body and adjust accordingly. Pain usually implies that body alignment is off and needs to be corrected to prevent injury. I believe that this mind body connection sets the foundation for a more pleasant labor and delivery. Pilates is an excellent exercise program for pregnancy and beyond.

What are common structural changes women go through as they age? What do you feel helps prevent injury?

My body has changed a lot since I had my babies. I have noticed the changes even more since I entered menopause. I realize that I am not the average American older woman, since I have chosen to pursue fitness all of my adult life. I have made it my profession to create opportunities for myself such as gym memberships etc., also to set a good example to my family and friends. This is the reason I notice less postural deterioration and sagging skin than other women my age, who have chosen not to stay fit. I am not talking about just my face. In this case, I am also referring to my arms and legs and other structural parts of my body. I count on my strong muscles daily as I work in my garden and continue to hike and enjoy my adult children and the outdoors.

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I have found that through a weekly exercise regimen I can maintain my muscle strength at a satisfactory level for my activity needs. In order to be successful at this I schedule myself workouts on the calendar and stick to it. I work out alone twice a week and take a class once a week. I often change the class as well as the workouts to keep things challenging and fun. I enjoy challenging and fun activities that move my body.

Could you recommend 3 things for women to do to maintain their strength and fitness levels? 

For mom’s at any stage in life I recommend scheduling personal time for activities that allow you to breathe deeply, move your body, laugh, cry, pray, and meditate. This will help you to stay in touch with the beautiful being that YOU ARE and were born to be. Never forget, that you were once the precious child in your parent’s life. Loved as much by them, as you love your children.

You are LOVE, know that, and share it.

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What is your favorite muscle, and why!

LOL!!!

My favorite muscle in my body would have to be, hands down, my heart. Thank you for asking, until now, I had not clearly identified this. Isn’t life grand?

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spider lake love doodles

Blessings and Love~

If you’re interested in an amazing pilates session with Karen,  here’s her studio and contact information~

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Her Etsy Shop featuring vintage clothing and household items can be found HERE. It is always changing, so check back if you are into vintage items!

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Thank you Karen for inspiring us to fit in fitness as well as sharing the vision that as moms,

we are LOVE.

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