Women In Wellness: Emma Bromley of The Bromley Method On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Eat clean. Oftentimes the mommy tummy caused by pelvic floor dysfunction is exacerbated by food related bloating. The most common bloating foods are dairy and gluten, but a food sensitivity blood test will also give you a better idea of which foods might be bloating you personally.
As a part of my series about women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emma Bromley.
Emma Bromley is a Pilates Instructor, Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialist, author of The Pelvic Floor, and founder of The Bromley Method, a highly effective Pilates-inspired method of pelvic floor conditioning and core healing that goes far beyond traditional kegels and ab exercises. She has taught hundreds of postpartum women both online and in person how to heal from common postpartum dysfunctions like diastasis, leaking, back and pelvic pain, intercourse pain and so much more, so that they can discover their true postpartum potential, and feel strong and confident again. Having experienced and healed from many of the aforementioned herself, she is passionate about educating women that these things do not have to be a part of our new normal as mothers, and that with the right healing exercises we absolutely can jump on a trampoline again without discomfort!
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I’ve been teaching and practicing Pilates for 15 years, but my truest journey didn’t get started until after the birth of my daughter nearly 7 years ago when pregnancy and childbirth wreaked havoc on my body, to the point where I came close to giving up teaching Pilates altogether.
Pre pregnancy I was in great shape, but post-birth I felt like my insides were falling out every time I picked up my child. My core squished out in all the wrong places when I tried any kind of sit-up/crunch movement. I still looked 4 months pregnant even at 2 years postpartum. Pretty much every workout made me feel worse. It felt like everything was unstable in my core and kind of squishing out in the wrong places. It felt awful and I didn’t feel strong. A year after birth I was still unable to feel my own abs, I still had a 4 finger diastasis (abdominal separation about as severe as it gets) and had been told by my doctor that the only way to fix it was with surgery! That did not sit well with me. Really?! There had to be a better way…
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
I had a very severe 4 finger diastasis (ab separation) at 2 years postpartum that I was told could not be fixed without surgery. But I did fix it. Completely. And I’ve helped countless other women do the same. We need to start trusting our own bodily instincts more, instead of believing society’s pre-written narrative for our postpartum bodies.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I spent the first two years post birth doing all the things that damage core function when done too soon. Even as an instructor, I didn’t fully understand the mechanism. At two years postpartum sex was still painful, I still looked 4 months pregnant, I still had a severe diastasis, and it was all affecting my self confidence.
I had this bulging “mommy tummy” and I thought if I could just eat less and do more Pilates 100s and Series of 5 that it would fix it. But it simply isn’t the case. The Pilates ab exercises just weren’t cutting it like they used to and no one had been able to give me the answers i was looking for.
I’m a fixer. I like to fix things. I like to fix people. That’s what I’d been doing my entire teaching career. But this had me stumped, and I can be stubborn when I put my mind to it. So in a last ditch effort to both heal my body, prove my doctor wrong, and hold on to my Pilates career, I turned to the teachings of some trusted physical therapists and finally found the missing piece of the puzzle — the core functions differently after birth and must be repaired before resuming regular ab exercises! I took myself on an incredible journey of learning absolutely everything I could from some of the best doctors and physical therapists in the Women’s Health field, whilst trialing and erroring new techniques on myself. Eventually I found the magic sauce — a series of low pressure ab exercises that actually HEAL the postpartum core, bring your abs back together again, restores strength to your pelvic floor, flattens your mummy tummy, stops you from peeing your pants when you sneeze, and just all round can make you feel amazing! This was too good not to share with more people than just my private clients, so I set out to create my very first online program to share this knowledge and it’s been a huge success. I have women all over the world taking part in the Postpartum Protocol which is so exciting! From Indonesia to Sweden, Jamaica to Australia, India, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, and of course all over the US.
Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Women are being massively let down by both the healthcare industry and the fitness industry. Being told “you’re in pain? That’s normal”,
“Can’t jump on a trampoline? Normal”,
“Pee when you laugh? Normal”,
“Mummy-tummy?, painful sex? All normal”.
What’s frustrating about these comments is that whilst all of these things are extremely common in women who’ve given birth, these do NOT have to be our new normal. We’re being led to believe these things, but it doesn’t have to be true. With the right knowledge and a few simple healing exercises, we absolutely CAN reclaim our cores post birth!
Unfortunately the information available to the general public about how differently the core functions after birth is very often conflicting and confusing. The severe lack of information regarding just how important the pelvic floor is to core strength, and for keeping things like leaking, poor posture, pelvic pain, diastasis etc at bay is extremely disappointing. I’ve even been told by other fitness instructors “don’t talk about the pelvic floor. People don’t care”. This needs to change. Because in order for the core to function correctly after birth, the pelvic floor must first be retrained. And I’m not talking about kegels here. The pelvic floor was not designed to function independently from the rest of the core. The core is a complex pressure system, but the healing exercises are actually quite simple when done correctly.
I firmly believe that this information should be being taught in fitness classes in middle school. I hear so many women after having had 3 children saying “I wish I’d known this sooner!” We all do. This method of pelvic floor training has been completely life changing for me.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
1. Stop doing Kegels and/or crunches and learn how to train your pelvic floor and TA (wraparound abs) properly. Your pelvic floor, your TA and your diaphragm should all be working synchronistically, instead of trying to isolate your pelvic floor for a Kegel.
2. Eat clean. Oftentimes the mommy tummy caused by pelvic floor dysfunction is exacerbated by food related bloating. The most common bloating foods are dairy and gluten, but a food sensitivity blood test will also give you a better idea of which foods might be bloating you personally.
3. Use heavier weights. I always recommend using as heavy as you can without compromising form. My own Pilates practice really improved when I started incorporating heavier free weights into my own workouts. For postpartum women, a combination of Pilates, Physical Therapy and Strength training really is the magic sauce.
4. Unfollow social media accounts that don’t serve you. If you’re watching other people on social media who cause you to feel jealous or like you aren’t good enough or skinny enough or strong enough or whatever it is, hit that unfollow button. It really is so freeing!
5. Move more, sit less. One barrier to lack of movement is often “I don’t have enough time”. To which I always say, don’t think about trying to fit in a one hour workout. Just start with the intention of doing what you can. Because if you get called away after 5 minutes, 5 minutes is better than 0 minutes. And very often, you’ll end up getting through more of the workout than you thought you would once you start. So just begin.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
“The Proper Pelvic Floor Movement!” Very few women actually get the intended results from doing ‘Kegels’. If you did, I consider you one of the lucky few. Constantly “clenching” the pelvic floor without connecting to diaphragmatic movement can actually cause pelvic floor dysfunction in varying different forms. It can also cause the pelvic floor to become too tight which can be extremely painful and cause more issues. Pelvic Floor Dysfunction is an umbrella term for all sorts of pelvic related issues such as incontinence, diastasis, prolapse, dyspareunia etc. And aside from the physical effects of these, it can also negatively affect self confidence and quality of life. It should be a right of passage to be able to jump on a trampoline with our kids without peeing our pants.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1. Listen to your OWN body, not someone else’s. No two bodies are the same
2. Learn how to PROPERLY strengthen AND lengthen your pelvic floor. Just as with every other muscle in the body, it needs both strength AND flexibility in order to function efficiently
3. Don’t try to figure everything out yourself. Knowledge builds knowledge. Seek help. Seek second opinions. But ultimately trust your gut.
4. Just start. Whether it’s your workout, your pelvic floor training, your to-do list, your work project. Whatever it is that you are procrastinating about, likely won’t be as hard as you thought it would be once you start. So just begin. And figure out the rest later.
5. Rock your bikini on the beach no matter what postpartum phase you’re in. Everyone else is far too absorbed with themselves to be worrying about what you look like in yours. The only person holding you back from having a good time on the beach this summer is you. So go rock that bikini!
Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental health. Postpartum Depression is so much more common than we realize, can be debilitating, and is treatable. I know far too many women who suffered greatly in the early days of motherhood, not realizing what was happening to them, feeling like they were failing and being dismissed as “hormonal”. It’s not something we talk openly enough about and that needs to change so that mothers and partners can more easily recognize the signs early on and get the support and treatment they need.
What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?
12 week postpartum program: https://www.thebromleymethod.com/postpartum-protocol
Strong Mamma program: https://www.thebromleymethod.com/strong-mamma
Free training: https://www.thebromleymethod.com/pelvic-floor-training
Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.