Working on strength, fitness and wellbeing at all ages and stages

November 8, 2018

Nicole Shand works with mums of newborns to help them regain strength and function after childbirth – but that’s just one part of the huge variety of work she does as a programme advisor at Sport Tasman.

Nicole, pictured above, develops and runs Sport Tasman’s programmes, all focused on the goal of getting more people in the community fit, active and enjoying themselves. This includes gym classes, pregnancy and postnatal fitness classes, walking groups for seniors, and sport and recreation programmes for school kids and homeschool groups.

Nicole has been keen on sport and exercise throughout her life, and as a registered assessor with Skills Active, she finds time on top of her regular work to support industry trainees completing exercise qualifications.

Being an assessor is a great way to get more qualified people into the world of community fitness and sport, and it fits in well around her family life and her job, Nicole says.

“It crosses over all of the different areas of my life, and it allows me to transfer the knowledge I’ve gained, to help others do similar things in their roles. It has also been a great benefit to Sport Tasman because they’ve got people coming through that they need me to assess – so I’ve been able to help train them up so they can run classes in other facilities as well.”

The “No More Mummy Tummy” classes that Nicole leads are very popular with Nelson mums. The name refers to a condition called diastasis recti or abdominal separation, which affects some mothers.

“In the last four weeks of pregnancy, the abdominals will open up and the connective tissues will pull apart to create enough room for the baby to grow,” Nicole says.

“In the post-natal class, we help women to reduce that separation – which helps prevent lower back pain, and helps the pelvic floor, back and abdominals all work together again. We’re also working on the signals that go from the brain to the pelvis, and getting them active again after pregnancy.”

Nicole, a mum-of-three herself, finds the science and anatomy behind pregnancy and childbirth fascinating, and she loves to work with new mums and mums-to-be.

Sometimes women come to the class and simply breastfeed their babies throughout the session, she says. Nonetheless, they have gotten out of the house, spent time with other mums, and gone to the after-class coffee group – which is all good for their wellbeing.

“I am really passionate about helping women get through their day-to-day life with a newborn, and helping them back to some form of activity they enjoy. I think it’s important for them to understand everything they and their bodies have been through, especially if they are going to go on and have subsequent pregnancies.”

Another part of Nicole’s job is overseeing a strength and conditioning programme for school-age athletes, which aims to prevent injuries in growing bodies. This service was launched with support from the Rata Foundation, Lottery Grants and the Community Organisation Grants Scheme.

“We are working with football, volleyball and netball teams, and runners, to prevent overtraining and overuse injuries.

Those sports that have lots of impact tend to see lots of knee injuries, Nicole says.

“Also, with kids spending more time using computers and tablets, everything gets really tight, and then they go and play their sport and pull a hamstring.”

“So we focus on body awareness, knee stability, and core and back strength, to ensure that kids are able to play their sport and don’t get injured throughout the season.”