Willow’s Wisdom on the Rocks: Getting back on the bike after a baby

Singletrack's new contributor, Willow Rockwell writes her tips for cyclists who want to maintain their fitness after giving birth

Editor’s Note: Two-time mountain bike world championship bronze medalist Willow Rockwell’s weekly column, Willow’s Wisdom on the Rocks, is devoted to providing the best advice the web has to offer for female mountain bikers. Her wisdom from the top of the sport is aimed at empowering readers to meet and surpass their own goals on the bike. Check in every Wednesday for more wisdom from Willow.

Let me be clear. Having a baby is a BIG deal. Huge. You will never do anything more intense or more spiritually powerful in your life. Birth is an initiation to the Goddess Mysteries like nothing else.

Let yourself ease back into everything, because you will never again have this time back with your precious baby. Let yourself bond. Let yourself feel the hugeness of what you both just went through. Ask for help, be patient with yourself, your partner and your baby.

Help at home means quicker recovery

You will need help. The best advice I can offer is to hire someone for the first week. You will be so thankful! They can do the laundry, the dishes and the shopping. If you are lucky, maybe even a little cooking. You will not want to do this, I promise you!

You partner is going to be as tired as you are, so please let someone help you! Be careful with relatives and visitors in the first week. All too often it is more of a drain than a help.

Help your body bounce back

Walk. Walk a lot. I was so pumped full of IV fluid I was twice as puffy after baby as I was before. Not a pretty sight. The good news is, your body is amazing. You WILL recover.

I used Brook Burke’s post-baby body wrap. It helps the uterus go back into place and decreases swelling from the trauma. Yes, I said trauma. Also, she has four kids and is still a swimsuit model, so that sold me right there.

Start with fundamentals

You need to take it really easy for two weeks. Do those Kegels!

After two weeks, check in with yourself and take it up a notch or two if you are ready. I started doing yoga and post-natal pilates at home. You can find good routines online or purchase a couple videos. I love Sadie Nardini for yoga. In fact, her yoga is so core-centric, it could take the place of pilates as well.

You should not do typical situps for about two months as the rectus abdominis needs to reconnect.

Ease back into exercise

At five weeks I took out the skate skis and I felt great. I did not go hard, however. I just enjoyed nature and moving my body!

I also started doing Tracy Anderson exercise videos. I love her workouts. They are about 30 minutes long, and target all your accessory muscles. She helps you get all tight and tiny again.

On that note, do not freak out about fitting into your jeans. Eat and do moderate exercise and LOVE your baby. It will all work out in it’s own time.

Be kind to your lady bits

As for getting on the bike, I could not even look at a bike seat until 8 weeks. My rule was “if I can’t have sex, then I am not riding my bike”. Honestly, even at 8 weeks it was not very pleasant. Neither sex nor biking, that is. Everyone is different, but my point is you need patience, and lots of it.

Do it for the right reasons

At about 10 weeks, I really started to feel like ME again. I was pushing myself far too hard trying to return to the World Cup, but once I retired, everything started to fall into place. Now I LOVE my bike again. It is something I GET to do, rather than something I HAVE to do. Every moment on the trail is pure freedom.

If you give yourself enough time to recover, you will thank yourself for it. Your partner and baby will thank you, too. Don’t rush the process, let it evolve naturally. Before you know it your legs will feel light and fresh and you will be squeezing into those jeans.

Enjoy! You are now a Goddess!
— Willow

Willow Rockwell is a woman in transition. As a professional mountain bike racer, she won two Bronze Medals at the Mountain bike World Championships (2009, 2010) and led the World Cup in 2010 for a brief time before finally finishing second in the series. Poised to conquer the world and win an Olympic medal, she discovered she was pregnant in the Spring of 2011. She chose to devote herself to her unborn daughter and left the sport behind. During her pregnancy she wrote a memoir titled “My Wheels Gave Me Wings.” It chronicles her difficult childhood, her near self destruction, and her path to healing and self acceptance. She is now re-discovering and re-inventing herself as a mother, a wife and a goddess woman. She hopes to inspire others to heal their deepest wounds, and to re-emerge as a powerful being full of self expression. Her aim is to embrace the whole athlete — body, mind and spirit — by incorporating intuitive wisdom of the body and the bliss of following one’s Highest Destiny Path into her approach. She can be reached at for information. Willow is enrolled in a Sacred Sexuality course, loves all things feminine and beautiful and still loves to ride her bike. Join her for her weekly column, Willow’s Wisdom on the Rocks