Meet the Brits promoting pilates to UAE mothers

Meet the Brits promoting pilates to UAE mothers
Exercise offers wide-ranging benefits to expectant mothers. File/Getty
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Updated 30 March 2022

Meet the Brits promoting pilates to UAE mothers

Meet the Brits promoting pilates to UAE mothers
  • Exercise offers wide-ranging benefits to expectant mothers 

DUBAI: “The body is always changing, whether it’s working hard to grow and nurture a baby or conquer everyday life,” said Ellis Harwood, a pre and postnatal pilates specialist, doula and co-founder of the “Mother Tongue” podcast.

Harwood and her co-host Maryanne Ellis, who are both from Britain and now call the UAE home, founded the inclusive podcast to support expat mothers across the region and create unity between moms who might be away from their families and friends.

They also offer non-judgmental advice, covering topics such as traveling with babies and the products they swear by, as well as dispelling common pregnancy myths.

Ellis Harwood and Maryanne Haggas. Supplied

One such misconception is that women should not train or exercise while they are pregnant.

However, according to Ellis, there are plenty of benefits to be reaped from staying active while pregnant, including reducing backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling as well as boosting energy and sleep quality, preventing excess weight gain and promoting muscle tone, strength and endurance for labor.

Other possible benefits include a lower risk of developing gestational diabetes, potentially shortening labor and reducing the risk of requiring a cesarean section.

But some mothers are not interested in running or strength training. Ellis has an alternative: Adding pilates to their workout regime.

Ellis, who is a pre and postnatal pilates instructor at MyCore, a studio in Dubai’s Science Park, believes it is never too early nor too late in your pregnancy to start introducing pilates — even if you have never done it before.

“Pilates exercises have several variations that can be scaled up or down depending on experience and competence, in which your instructor will judge and guide accordingly,” Ellis said.

There is a great variety of pilates classes available, so finding the right one for you can sometimes be tricky to navigate.

“First and foremost, I would encourage everyone to start with mat pilates to ensure the fundamentals of pilates are understood and practiced before exploring equipment classes such as reformer,” she said, adding: “Not only are the results better but the risk of injury is significantly reduced. I believe the energy and expertise of the instructor play a huge role when choosing a class. I love teaching upbeat and high-energy prenatal mat pilates ensuring I provide my clients the knowledge and comfort that everything they are doing is completely safe and adapted for pregnancy. 

“Finally, it’s very important to check that the instructor is pre and postnatally trained in order for safety not to be compromised.”

She also warned that many people do not understand that prenatal pilates can help with labor as it focuses heavily on pelvic floor engagement, strengthening and also release, which is hugely beneficial in labor.

See below for Ellis’ top tips for getting back into exercise after having a baby: 

Don’t underestimate the importance of seeing a women’s health physio to check both your pelvic floor and diastasis (abdominal separation) before exercising.

Take it slow, you can do more harm than good by rushing into high-impact movement.

Prioritize movement, not just for the physical benefits but more for the mental improvements. Hormones, lack of sleep and motherhood challenges can seem a whole lot lighter after a little exercise.


To listen to “Mother Tongue,” visit:

To book a class with Ellis at MyCore, follow this link: