Coach Spotlight: Evadne Woon
We caught up with Evadne (we call her Eva), one of our brightest coaches here at Level. We ask her about her pregnancy, how she manages to train while growing a human being inside her, and how she manages to coach others to their highest potential at the same time.
How did you get started as a Personal Trainer?
I always joke that i got “conned” into this role by Alex. I was hired to be the community builder for Level in 2018, and somehow Alex got me to join the Level Academy for trainers.
As I had a background in CrossFit and have been active all my life, I thought why not? I believe the pursuit of knowledge should never end. Once I had finished my 3 month stint at the academy, I got thrown into the deep end of the pool and started teaching group classes. It was daunting at first, but gradually I fell in love with coaching, and got the confidence to start taking up Personal Training clients. This gave me the opportunity to delve deeper and find out what they needed and wanted from the training sessions.
How did working at Level help that development as a fledgling coach?
The great support network, and diversity in training styles helped me develop my own style of coaching. I knew that I could always count on my colleagues if I wasn’t sure about programming or how to coach a particular movement. The diversity in Level’s pool of trainers also gave me the confidence to find myself as a coach and not just simply be a “copycat” without my own individuality.
Pregnancy and coaching? Pregnancy and training? What’s that all about? How did you manage the challenges (if any) or changes?
Let’s start with pregnancy and coaching. I was pretty lucky to have had a smooth pregnancy and most of my clients did not know i was pregnant till I was well into my 6 months. The first trimester I had to deal with bouts of being tired all the time and trying to juggle a full schedule of coaching and training, while managing my energy level was tough, but I prioritized coaching over my training as that was less draining on me.
Once I hit 24 weeks, I started informing my clients of the pregnancy. I wanted to prepare them for the eventuality of me being on maternity leave, and also to understand why I needed to run to the toilet so often!
Week 28 (the last trimester) was the most challenging, as movement patterns became more difficult to demonstrate. Thankfully by this time, my clients were more well versed in my expectations for movement– phew! In my group classes, I have my regulars demonstrate the movements while I explain the movement standards and scaling options etc.
Pregnancy and training! I love this topic, and it hits close to home as I am 4 weeks away from my due date and still training 3 times a week. In the first 2 trimesters I didn’t need to modify my training much, as I could do most of the movements without the bump in the way or being at risk. I definitely felt out of breath way sooner starting from 20 weeks onwards– our blood volume increases by 50% during pregnancy. It’s crazy how much harder your heart is working to pump blood through the body.
From week 28 onwards, I had to adjust my training and change certain movements, especially movements that put too much strain on my core, or movement that made me feel uncomfortable. No more toes to bar, no rowing, no box jumps.
What does your training look like across the different trimesters?
I will have to put a disclaimer here, every pregnant woman will have a different experience based on their pregnancy and training experience. There is no standard to follow, but listening to your body is key.
I did not know I was expecting, and was still free diving in my first trimester! I only discovered I was pregnant at week 8. I still carried on with CrossFit without much change, but as I started feeling more lethargic, I reduced my training to twice a week instead of 3 times.
The second trimester was really the golden trimester. Everyone says it, and for most pregnant women it is true. You find yourself being back to normal with renewed energy levels, and I was going about my training and life as per normal. The only thing I changed was to stop training for sailing or racing competitively, as there was an element of nature that wasn’t within my control. i.e. I could easily lose my balance and fall while sailing due to a change in wind/sea state.
The third trimester, which I’m currently going through, has been the one with the most modification needed for training. I started to feel heavier, and weigh a lot more! Body weight movements that used to be easy are now a struggle. Think weighted pull-ups!
I stopped most core movements that have a crunch or compression to the belly, no more box jumps as the risk of falling was too high. Surprisingly, I could still run and skip without feeling the urge to go pee midway through.
My takeaway from training and pregnancy is I had to learn how to listen to my body and remember that I’m not an athlete now. My focus is not to hit a new PR or beat my old timing, instead it is to keep healthy and active while growing a life inside me.
Should women begin training when they get pregnant or way before that?
I will say start training way before pregnancy, especially if you are planning to get pregnant. When you are pregnant, it is not the time to try something new.
Condition your body and make sure that you”re healthy and strong before getting pregnant. It will help in making your pregnancy smoother and more comfortable. Think no back aches, or running out of breath trying to climb a flight of stairs.
However, if you are currently pregnant and have not been training before that. Find a good prenatal strength coach to work with. You can always start with body weight movements until your body is conditioned before moving on to weighted movements.
At the end of the day, the right dosage of training can only be beneficial to your pregnancy journey.
How do you see yourself developing as a coach moving forward?
I feel super passionate about educating and empowering pregnant women to be strength training during their pregnancy as I have seen and experienced the benefits of it.
The common myths of, back aches during pregnancy is normal, carrying heavy stuff is bad for you etc, are not true if you have proper guidance during your training.
I have finished my pre and post natal coaching certification studies with Girls Gone Strong, but am taking my time to review what I have learnt before taking the exam. As I believe it’s not the paper certification that is important, but the knowledge and ability to apply it to my clients which is more important.
I would like to continue to pursue a niche in pre/post natal strength training and hopefully change the lives of pregnant women in Singapore!
Eva runs select Skill classes that are filled with people whose lives are changed for the better. She also specializes in prenatal and postnatal clients who aren’t sure of how to start or continue fitness as part of their new life stage. Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org to start your own journey in fitness.
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The last time we met Eva, she was a fresh-faced coach just beginning her journey at Level. She’s still fresh faced (good beige don’t age), but is now armed with a new son and a wealth of knowledge through working with clients and coaches who’ve allowed her to forge a path of her own.
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