MUTU Mamas: we've got more important things to worry about than the existence of a thigh-gap.

Back in November I blogged about a screening of Embrace which I attended, hosted by MUTU System. In their own words, “MUTU System is an award-winning medically approved restorative online exercise programme for women who want their bodies to look, feel and function better after having a baby - whether this was 6 months ago or 6 years ago.

Wendy (MUTU’s founder) offers expertise and guidance to mums who want to shift the mummy tummy, heal their core and pelvic floor, get strong and fit, and be truly body confident inside and out. Wendy knows how to make women feel better about, and in, their post baby bodies. She strongly believes that postpartum confidence starts with a body that works effectively and makes a woman feel good.”

At the screening, I was delighted to be gifted a MUTU programme, together with a gorgeous tote bag filled with a yoga strap, Pilates ball, mini-band and resistance band, to take home to trial. I’ve now come to the end of my trial, 12-week programme, and here are my thoughts.

What I loved about MUTU:

  • The ethos at the heart of the brand. MUTU believes that every woman deserves a body that functions properly and that, frankly, we have got more important things to worry about than the existence or size of a thigh gap. Hear, hear! There tends to be so much focus on – and pressure to – bounce back postnatally that I welcome wholeheartedly MUTU’s prime focus on function rather than outward physical appearance.

  • The focus on and approach to nutrition. The MUTU system doesn’t just address the fitness side of postnatal rehab, but the nutrition side too. It educates women on making optimal food choices and taking a balanced (and, I think, sustainable) approach to eating. MUTU is all about eating real food, an art that we have lost. Think good quality protein like chicken and fish, preferably organic; plenty of fruit and veg of a variety of colours; unrefined carbohydrates like brown rice; and plenty of water. In a society where different diets are thrust in women’s faces every week, I was encouraged by this sensible-not-sexy approach.

  • The education around diastasis recti. Since this is a very common (but not normal) postnatal condition which is not routinely screened for by GPs at the postnatal 6-8 week check, it is really fundamental that any programme targeting postnatal women addresses it, and MUTU does this well, in a way that empowers women to be able to check themselves (before they wreck themselves).

  • The tutorials on the fundamentals. Breathing and alignment are crucial in postnatal recovery, because pregnancy and modern lifestyles wreak havoc with both. I was pleased that that the early phases of the programme focused specifically on these, and that the learning points were reinforced as the programme progressed. The education around how properly to contract the pelvic floor is also a massive highlight, and necessary given that this is an area where women receive little education perinatally.

  • The programme quite properly signposts to women’s health physiotherapists. There is more to healing a diastasis recti than simply identifying it exists. For example, my own diastasis recti was exacerbated by my constant but subconscious gripping of my upper abdominal muscles, particularly during exercise. It took an appointment with a women’s health physio for me to have a moment of epiphany around this. As MUTU states: “No exercise program can, or should claim to, deal with every situation, and at MUTU System we know very well of the incidence of extremely severe diastasis or pelvic floor symptoms, hernia, pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic girdle pain and other abdominal and pelvic conditions which fall beyond our expertise or ability to diagnose or resolve without medical intervention.”

  • It’s accessible. For many new mums, barriers to fitness may include: feeling self-conscious in a mainstream gym environment; being short of time; being unsure of what’s safe; or the prohibitive cost. This home-based programme navigates the first three with ease - you don't need a lot of space to do the workouts, the kit is provided, and they don't take very long. Costing £146 for lifetime access when paid in full, it’s cheaper than hiring a personal trainer or joining a gym. I particularly liked the logs provided to recording your progress with the programme, as this is a really good motivator, too.

What I didn’t love so much:

  • Nothing beats one-to-one tuition, particularly with this specialist population. As a personal trainer working with this client group you may well say, "She would say that!" I do say it. I firmly believe that, for the postnatal client, no matter how carefully you read the instructions, listen to the cues or follow the demonstrations, there is nothing better than having a coach with you to give you tailored feedback, offer bespoke cues, and manually to correct your form where required.

  • The MUTU approach to nutrition perhaps doesn’t give the full story. Many women, postnatally, want to lose weight. I think it is fundamental that they understand that, to lose weight, they need to be in calorie deficit. I love the MUTU approach to nutrition as set out above; choosing wholesome, real foods is a fantastic starting point, as these foods have fewer – if any – ‘empty calories’ and will leave us more sated. But it’s only one part of the puzzle. Portion size and amounts consumed are relevant too. I think the programme could be bettered by addressing this elephant in the room head on.

  • There isn’t enough variety. By the half-way point I was started to get a little bored by the programme format and this then fed through into my adherence: I didn’t do the full complement of workouts I was supposed to each week because I wanted to do my own thing, because I found it more stimulating and more enjoyable. Yes, it’s a balanced exercise programme, but it’s delivered without much sense of fun and, as someone who exercises to feel uplifted, I really struggled with this.

MUTU isn’t a programme that offers a quick fix. I endorse that because quick fixes generally do not offer long-term, sustainable results. MUTU encourages a physical shift in the way we breathe and carry ourselves and a mindset shift in the way we make our food choices and think about our post-baby bodies. All of that is to be applauded. Thank you MUTU for banging the drum, and for giving me an opportunity to see what all the fuss is about.

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