by Lisa Simpkinson
May 20, 2022

Women-centred Pilates and personal postpartum experience led The Mat App Founder Lisa Simpkinson to become a Whole Woman® Practitioner. Pilates is the exercise modality of choice for so many people because almost everyone can do it at some level, regardless of age, gender and physical ability. While it’s considered low impact, it can be deceptively challenging which is part of the appeal and what generates the wonderful mind-body benefits over time. 

Pilates To Support Women’s Health 

Women are unique in our biology and every woman is one of a kind. The Mat App ethos honours this with our classes that support women’s different stages of life and fitnesses with our pre and post-natal and women’s health classes.

While adhering to Pilates principles, we are continually innovating our approach to incorporate woman-centred knowledge into the Pilates framework.

The Legacy of Bad Advice

Historically women and girls have been taught to reject the curves and bumps in our developing and changing bodies. Suck it in. Tuck it under. Under no circumstances should our tummies or bums stick out. What we have now learned is that this results in shallow breathing and compressing of the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus and rectum). 

Consistently putting this pressure on the pelvic area in this way can cause repositioning of our pelvic organs and it’s a big contributor to why so many women, even those who haven’t had children, suffer from incontinence and prolapse.

The Mat App Founder Lisa Simpkinson experienced herself after the birth of her fourth child. In her healing journey, she began to see that while Pilates can and does rear amazing physical benefits, some aspects can be harmful and it needed adaptations to better support women during pregnancy, postpartum, perimenopause and menopause.

We Are Still Learning About Women’s Bodies

Understanding women’s health was hampered by fewer women in medicine (governed by social constructs) until the early 1970s when the women’s health movement began. 

Women were also excluded from clinical trials and research until 1993. That’s not a typo. The medical fraternity once considered women just a smaller version of men with different reproductive anatomy. However, by the same token, the rationale for excluding women was because our biology was more complex and fluctuating. Additionally, there is the ethics of excluding women mostly in drug trials in case of contravening future fertility.

Sucking in our bellies and the greater likelihood of side effects from prescription drug doses is the iceberg tip of the harms of male-centric medicine. Millions of women have experienced devastating consequences and long term implications from anatomical misunderstandings and omissions informing gynaecology, urology, oncology, and obstetrics.

Concurrently, Pilates, yoga, physical therapy and bodywork were developed by men for male bodies. Changes in these practices are necessary and long overdue for helping women.

Embodying Your Whole Woman 

As part of Lisa’s postpartum investigations for her incontinence and prolapse recovery, she found Whole Woman®. So inspired Lisa became a Whole Woman® Practitioner.

Whole Woman® is a holistic philosophy with the key principles of returning to natural posture and breathing, and exercises and movements to support this. Whole Woman® embodies acceptance, responsibility and understanding on a path to optimal health and personal growth. 

Whole Woman® aligns beautifully with Pilates principles and practice. Lisa is proud to be integrating the Whole Woman® teachings into her classes at The Mat App.