To say that 2018 has been a big year for franchise owner, Elise Feichtner would be an understatement! Alkalign in Ada (a suburb east of Grand Rapids) celebrated their one year anniversary in February, her daughter turned 3 and her and her husband, Ben, are expecting another daughter in November! Her love of her family and her business shines brightly to everyone who walks through the studio doors. I caught up with Elise to talk family, business and pregnancy.
Q: What does an average day in your life look like?
Mornings are my favorite and most productive time of the day, so my alarm goes off just before 5am and I’m at my computer shortly after. Once my 3-year old, Reese, is up, it’s her time with me, so that 90-minutes of quiet work time in the mornings are when I’m at my best. I typically take her to daycare every day before heading into the studio to either work with our awesome desk staff or teach classes. I LOVE my studio mornings because it’s when I get to connect with our community. Once the round of morning classes are done, the rest of the day is up for grabs. Each week fills up with meetings, studio work time, or work from home. I always try to make evenings family time. When Reese was a baby, we used to be able to get her to bed much earlier, so I’d be able to hit my computer and to-do-list again after bedtime. Now that she’s an expert bedtime-staller, I’m usually exhausted by the time she’s settled. Choosing to sleep when she goes to bed has been essential to my health since I’ve been pregnant and am so much more tired!
Q: How has this pregnancy differed from your first?
Wow! So many things about this pregnancy are different than with my first, especially as I get later into my pregnancy. I’d say the number one difference is the fact that we didn’t have kids to manage when I was pregnant with Reese. I totally underestimated the beauty of being able to rest, work, set my schedule or even use the bathroom without the demands of a 3 year old. Initially with this baby, I was SO much more tired and actually felt more sick than with Reese as well. That was a huge challenge in those early days when I wasn’t really ready to tell people. Similar to my first pregnancy, the 2nd trimester was great for me. Once I hit the 3rd trimester, my active job as an instructor, owner and mom got more challenging. Not only did it seem like the baby and my body were growing by the day, but my body started to feel some stress and fatigue I didn’t experience with Reese.
At 31 weeks I started experiencing some really intense pain in my left SI joint. I could tell it wasn’t muscular. After realizing it was getting worse, I finally gave in and consulted my doctor. Turns out, I developed a really common issue in pregnancy related: SI Joint Dysfunction. My OB recommended I see a Pelvic Floor PT and also gave me the option to try chiropractic adjustments.
To say that this has been eye opening for me is an understatement. I am learning SO much about my body, the female body in general and how best I can use this experience to inform and enhance what we do for all of our female clients.
After working through the disappointment of this “injury,” I’ve made peace with it and have had to scale back my teaching and movement schedule. I realized that the more active I was, the worse this pain got. Fortunately, I saw an amazing functional chiropractor who assessed not only my joints and spine but my ability to BREATHE! This was a total game changer. His initial work with me on how to breathe to open up my pelvic floor + the continued work with the PT really helped keep my symptoms at bay. Did they totally alleviate the issue? No, but I definitely was able to manage the pain so I could function through the day. It has been such a humbling and educational experience, and I anticipate continuing to learn even more after labor, delivery and postpartum. Stay tuned Alkalign!
Q: In general, describe how taking Alkalign classes has been different in each trimester?
Interestingly enough, I could tell I was pregnant before I even officially knew, and I noticed that in class. I could just tell that my body felt different. I don’t know if it was hormonal or fatigue, but early on, certain exercises in class just felt much more challenging. I really noticed it in planks right off the bat. Beyond just feeling slightly off in first trimester, I was fighting the nausea and morning sickness in classes. I never actually got sick, but had that constant “ick” feeling.
Second trimester was great! I felt awesome strengthening my body with modifications. As 2nd trimester ticked along I’d start to notice certain exercises were a little more challenging. I specifically remember feeling a totally different challenge in High C Curve. It was so much harder for me to pull my abdominals down and in to create the active flexion we seek in that position. There’s this growing baby in there that made it harder for me to control the movement, but it was still manageable.
When the 3rd trimester arrived, more movements became challenging. That sensation of having “too much baby” in High C Curve became a full-on barrier to the exercise. I also started to feel that Seated C Curve and Low C Curve were also really hard to do since there was so much less room in by torso. Even modifying with props proved more and more difficult as my belly grew. Once my SI joint dysfunction officially reared it’s head, I felt that standing glute work or single-sided exercises were too much. The joint was already under stress so adding all my added body weight onto that single side was not working for me. I decided to scale back from classes until I figured out what was going on with my pelvis, but now that I know I have been able to use modifications and breathing strategies I’ve learned while under chiropractic care and PT to modify when I do take class.
Q: What advice would you give pregnant women who want to stay active and maintain their fitness?
Listen to your body! Chances are, it will tell you important things! Growing a human is no small task. So much of your “normal” body movement and mechanics will be impacted by your growing baby. If you start to feel things that are somewhat “off,” ask your healthcare provider. Share information about how you’re feeling. Knowledge is power! Unfortunately, some feelings in my body I brushed off as normal “second baby things” turned into more. Thankfully, I asked for guidance have been able to manage and treat some symptoms and learn a whole lot along the way!
Q: What advice would you give someone who is interested in starting an Alkalign franchise and wants to grow their family?
You really CAN do it! The opportunity for me to open a studio came at a time when the Ada/Grand Rapids market needed a niche studio like ours. If we were going to do it, it had to be now. I am so happy my husband and I made that decision when we did. I knew this is where I wanted my life to go professionally. I have a supportive husband, loving family and bigger community to help when I need it. I also know that someday I won’t have young babies. What makes this all work is that I have faith in my own abilities as a parent and professional; gratitude and love for the amazing support network we have; and pride for the example I can set for my young daughters as they learn to be strong, independent, kind, and compassionate women.