Despite being best friends with our FHITfounder, Yul Kaseman had some initial hesitations when it came to jumping into her first HIT (high intensity training) class. Now one of our most dedicated 6AM FHIXers, Yul credits HIT sessions with helping her de-stress and building back her confidence after the birth of her two children. Keep reading to learn more about Yul’s journey and her advice to new moms about the benefits of regular workouts.
1) Tell us about your first FHIXperience. How did you feel before, during, and after the class?
I remember going to the 80th street location after it had been open for a while even though Kari, the founder, is my best friend!! I had my first kid when she opened and it took me until after my 2nd kid to get there. I barely knew what day it was and had not worked out for years! A friend wanted to start working out together and I said we MUST go to my friend’s studio because it’s supposed to be phenomenal.
I actually had butterflies when I first went. I made it through – I remember being a bit embarrassed because I couldn’t keep up, but I do remember the instructors being SO kind and encouraging. I felt like I could do it again. I definitely didn’t walk out saying, “Oh, that’s not for me,” which I have felt with some workouts.
2) How old are your children? How did pregnancy change your relationship with your body?
I have a 6 year old and a 4 year old. Pregnancy VERY much changed my relationship with my body. My body seemed like it existed for my kids only. After birthing and breastfeeding, I became very un-attuned with my body as something that functioned for me. I did some yoga during my pregnancies, but that was it, and after two C sections I had some minor complications as well as Diastasis Recti. I had been active my whole life, yet after pregnancy it was so hard to find that energy and confidence again. I was far from unhealthy, but I certainly wasn’t fit and didn’t know how to get back to my previous fitness level.
3) What is Diastasis Recti and when were you diagnosed with it? What are the treatment options?
Diastasis Recti is a separation of your abdominal muscles, and it’s quite common after pregnancy. I think the statistic is 1 in 4 women have it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was more because many women aren’t diagnosed. I joke that my 2nd child literally broke my stomach. I was diagnosed only because someone I knew mentioned they had it and I thought, “wait, that sounds like me.”
When you have diastasis you have little to no core strength. Lower back pain is common and was one of my main problems. The first time I went to Fhitting Room, I couldn’t hold a plank for more than 10 seconds and my stomach looked like it was falling out. Having this very definitive thing that made me look odd and feel bad was a huge bummer. Surgery is the only thing that can truly “fix” it. Muscles don’t reattach themselves. Corrective surgery is a huge cost and basically almost the same as having another C section in terms of pain and recovery time.
4) What did you decide to do to remedy your condition?
I was so frustrated I decided I’d get surgery eventually. In the meantime, I’d focus on working out. I had been going to Fhitting Room regularly for a year or so, but once or twice a week. I tried all sorts of other workouts too. Spinning, barre, other high intensity workouts. I did physical therapy specifically for my core problems. I kept coming back to Fhitting Room because ultimately I felt like it was making an impact, but also safe. At first, I felt shy about asking for help, but I became more proactive about asking and making sure I was doing things correctly. You will NEVER have a FHITpro not stop to help you when you ask for it. I really started to make progress in my core strength. I remember earlier this year being able to hold a plank for a full minute and not having a problem while a young guy next to me struggled!
5) What are your favorite moves you have learned at Fhitting Room? Are there any moves you think are particularly beneficial to post-natal clients?
I love box jumps because I’m oddly good at them and they make me feel strong and powerful! I think working with the straps is great for post natal because it’s body weight and if you are doing it right, you are engaging your core the whole time. Many of the moves at Fhitting Room require you to hold your core while you are doing them; weighted squats, kettlebell swings, weighted lunges and obviously planks. Any sort of sit-ups are risky for diastasis so FHITpros always adjust the program for me during this exercise.
I like that I’m strengthening my core by keeping it engaged during exercises versus doing straight core workouts, most of which are not suitable for diastasis anyway.
6) Who are your favorite FHITpros and why?
Hmm this is like picking my favorite food! I love all of them! I generally work out at 6 am so I see a lot of the same instructors, but I love all the FHITpros really. Everyone is quite different and I get a kick out of all their personalities. I’ve taken a lot of fitness classes and I’ve seen a lot of great instructors. I think Fhitting Room has many great instructors versus one or two star instructors.
7) What is the most important change you have noticed in yourself (physically or emotionally) since becoming a FHIXer?
I’m a very different person since I started prioritizing Fhitting Room. As I said, after pregnancy my body changed. I couldn’t do the same things I used to do, I gained a lot of weight I couldn’t lose, and in retrospect I lost a lot of confidence. Last year I had a very stressful situation happen that made for very difficult days. It could have gone really badly, but on the days when I had a great workout, I felt much better physically and emotionally. I started to look into it a bit and I’ll let people do their own research, but I am definitely a data point that supports that a high intensity workout can help with stress. It’s a virtuous circle. I worked out more, I got stronger physically, I became more confident and experienced mental clarity and stress relief.
I am fully reliant on my workouts now. If there are days when I have a big meeting, or a tough schedule, I make sure I get a FHIX in. I have tried getting more sleep, drinking more coffee, meditating – but it’s FHIXes that work for me. I have lost about 20lbs since having my second child; I have gone up 2 levels of weights since starting Fhitting Room and just ran a half marathon 14 years after my last one. I even ran faster than I had before. And I’m not having diastasis surgery by the way, because though the muscles are still separated, I have regained a lot of core strength and my abs have flattened a great deal.
8) How do you squeeze in FHIXes while juggling the responsibilities that come with being a parent? How do you talk about fitness and body image with your kids?
I am lucky that I can work out at 6am while my kids are still sleeping. My husband doesn’t work out in the early mornings so that works for our family. Do I wish I could sleep more? Sure. But as I said, for me, it works better than more sleep. I get more energy and it helps me with stress. I played sports my whole life, but it’s now that I really appreciate the importance of being fit. Having physically active kids is something my husband and I are very emphatic about. We go as far as saying that it’s not sports but fitness that we care about. Our kids seem athletic, but maybe they won’t find a sport they love. We still want them to always value a strong body and what goes into that.
9) What advice would you give to new moms who are struggling with body image issues and the after effects of pregnancy?
All I can say is, hey I was there, full on. I have a different body now and I’m not special in any way, I just started to show up once a week, then twice a week, then three times a week. I thought it was so hard, I thought it was painful, but wow, the rewards. I am so grateful I did this. Just give it a go. It doesn’t have to be Fhitting Room, but try something at some point. But yeah, do try Fhitting Room ; )