"Do Your Kegels" or Is it, "Never Kegel"?

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For years there’s been a trend to tell everyone to “do your kegels” and we are currently seeing a shift in the other direction. We’ve recently heard both other pre/postnatal professionals and pregnancy care providers telling women they should never kegel.

We’re here to help clear up that contradictory information and educate you on why we think a general statement one way or the other is dangerous.

If you've taken class with us, you are familiar with the cue, "Pump & Kegel".  We remind you to fire this inner core unit constantly.  But why are we so focused on that? 

The muscles of your pelvic floor support your uterus, bladder and bowel.  They are important for sexual function AND work with the rest of the muscles of the core to stabilize and support the spine.  They also support the extra weight of the uterus and growing baby during pregnancy.  

Many of us don't realize that the pelvic floor, like our diaphragm, is part of our core.  Having an over active or under active pelvic floor negatively effects all the functions associated with breathing, digestion, eliminating toxins and moving through our every day lives.  It also helps neutralize intra-abdominal pressure, making us less susceptible to developing a Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation).   Your pelvic floor should contract and release with every single diaphragmatic breath which is why we cue the contraction AND release in all our classes at FPC.

We are bringing a hyper awareness to what your core should be doing naturally because most of us are dysfunctional movers and breathers. We do this because training your muscles to move functionally means that they will be able to properly support you in your day to day movements outside of class as well.

This is why we disagree with the general, blanket advice to either A: do your kegels or B: never kegel. A fully functioning pelvic floor does both! Everyone should understand the muscles of their pelvic floor. Some women need to strengthen them, some need to learn to relax them. If this isn’t information you can assess on your own (many of us can’t), you should seek out someone who can help you assess whether or not you are doing kegels correctly and if you need to devote time to training them to function properly.

If you are given the advice to either kegel or never kegel, what should you do?

Ask follow up questions! Does your care provider notice something specific that has led them to make that recommendation? If so, ask them what they see and what are they concerned about. Another thing you should do is ask for a referral to see a pelvic floor therapist to address the issue. Your midwife or OB is excellent at what they do, but they don’t have the credentials to assess your pelvic floor and prescribe exercises in the way that specialist that can. It’s important to get the help you need.


Want to learn more? Join us for one of our upcoming Protecting your Core and Pelvic Floor for Birth and Postpartum workshops. We’ll teach you to assess your pelvic floor and give you all the information needed to understand how to exercise through pregnancy and postpartum safely.

5 "Scary" Myths About Prenatal Fitness

In honor of Halloween, we’ve put together our top 5 “scary” myths that continue to persist in the pre/postnatal fitness world.

Have you heard any of these before?

 
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You should keep your heart rate under 140BPM’s.

This was a guideline that was recommended in the past but has since been eliminated by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG). Everyone’s level of fitness and resting heart rate is different before pregnancy which means giving a “one size fits all” number doesn’t make sense. We now use “perceived level of exertion” or the “talk test”. Basically if you feel like you are pushing too hard and gasping for air, it’s a sign to slow down.

It’s dangerous to lift heavy weights.

This is another guideline that was given to keep the heart rate from going above 140bpm’s. Lifting weights spikes your blood pressure for a short period of time, but so does stress, running to catch a cab, chasing toddlers, and living life! :) You want to lift weights in order to maintain and build muscle tone. Don’t forget you have a newborn that you are going to be lifting and holding on the way. It’s wise to build up that strength now and not once you are dealing with sleep deprivation and fatigue.

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You can continue doing whatever workouts you did before pregnancy.

This one is the scariest myth of all! While many of your pre-pregnancy workouts are indeed safe for the baby, they aren’t necessarily safe for your core and pelvic floor. It’s important to train differently and with a lot more intention during pregnancy in order to ensure a complete postpartum recovery. (Apply that Pump & Kegel!!) Many people that continue their pre-pregnancy routine throughout pregnancy end up doing damage to their bodies (Diastsis Recti and pelvic floor problems) that can cause pain or discomfort for the rest of their lives.

Crunches are safe before you start to “show”.

Fine for the baby, yes. Safe for your body? Probably not. We recognize that every body type is different and some women continue crunching long into their 2nd trimester without any problems, but they are lucky. Bottom line, the more you strengthen your Rectus Abdominis (6-pack) and Obliques, the more strain you are going to place on your linea alba as your belly starts to expand. We recommend you step away from your traditional crunches and oblique work and begin focusing on strengthening your Transverse Abdominis (TVA) as soon as you know you are pregnant.

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You can go back to your regular workout classes when you are cleared at 6-weeks.

You had an easy pregnancy and amazing delivery. You exercised up until the day you delivered, you feel great and just got clearance from your care provider (sometimes as early as 2 weeks) that it is safe to go back to your pre-pregnacny workouts. Doing too much too soon can cause serious lasting damage. Your core and pelvic floor has been under a tremendous amount of strain for many months. It’s going to take more than 6 weeks to heal. In fact, your first 12 weeks postpartum are considered your “critical healing period”. That’s when you body is doing all the work to bring your linea alba back together and restore strength and function to your pelvic floor. It’s great that you feel amazing, but if you misread that as “healed” and head out for a run and then do 100 crunches, you may end up giving yourself a Diastasis Recti or pelvic organ prolapse. (that’s pretty scary). Honor what your body has just been through and allow it to rest and heal. That intense sweat sesh will still be there when you are really ready for it a few more weeks from now.


Questions about pre or postnatal exercise? Ask us in class! We love questions and want to make sure you are moving through your pregnancy and recovery with 100% confidence.

Meet Your Instructor: Amanda Schoppe

 
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We are excited to introduce to you our newest instructor, Amanda Schoppe! She’s no stranger to the pre/postnatal world. Sh’s a dance and fitness pro as well as the proud co-founder of Market.Kitchen.Table, a company specializing in meals for new moms. We can’t wait for you to try her class!

Hometown- Thompson, CT

Current location- Somewhere in Brooklyn

What is your background?- I have always been obsessed with dancing and any form of movement and connection. I moved to NYC in 2003 to pursue a career in dance and spent 10 years dancing with the Radio city Rockettes as well as numerous other shows like 42nd Street ( my absolute favorite show). My love of movement and body awareness lured me to complete my Stott Pilates certification, AFPA Personal training certification as well as become a Certified Health Coach.

What do you do when you don't teach at FPC?-

I currently co-own a Health Food based company called Market.Kitchen.Table located in Carroll Gardens Brooklyn. MKT is a full service catering program as well as a home delivery nutrition plan specifically designed for Postnatal women. Between our events and deliveries I am running from client to client and spend as much time out in nature as possible.

What inspires you?-

I am inspired by confident people speaking their truth, living their dreams and being good humans.

Describe your FPC Signature class-

My class is holistic minded in that I love to create a lot of space for clients to turn inwards, with a sprinkle of hip hop and lots and lots of sweat! Working out should be fun, invigorating and safe! Looking forward to meeting and sweating with you all.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A farmer.

Current favorite song- My current favorite song is 5 Dollars by Christine and the Queens. It is everything!!!

If you could be any animal in the world (aka your spirit animal), what would you be and why?- My spirit animal is get ready…. a Salmon. If you want to know more just ask.

Tell us something that not a lot of people know about you-

I want to build a tiny house in Maine, and grow my own food.


Debunking Exercise Myths: Returning to Exercise Post Pregnancy

The Myth: It's safe to return to your pre pregnancy workout as soon as you get the "green light" from your care provider.

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The FPC Answer: Most care providers will give you the green light at around 6 weeks to resume exercise.  But what does that mean?

Did you know that the first 12 weeks post birth are known as the "critical healing period"?  (Read 12...not 6).  Many women return to their favorite workouts too soon and too hard and put themselves at risk of developing complications.  Even if you feel amazing, the exercise choices you make during those initial weeks can effect your body for the rest of your life.  We could probably write you a book on the topic, but you're busy so here are some important bullet points instead: 

Before returning to exercise post birth:

  • It takes 4 months after you're done breastfeeding for your body to stop producing the hormone relaxin.  As long as relaxin is present, the connective tissue between your rectus abdominis (6-pack abs) is still vulnerable.  Thats why we continue to offer safe "core" alternatives for all our newly postpartum moms.  

 

  • No matter how good that new mom, "yoga teacher", "fitfluencer" looks on instagram, when she tells you it's safe to do crunches at 3 weeks postpartum, it's important to remember that traditional abdominal work like crunches, twists, planks, etc. are absolutely out of the question during those first 12 weeks.  

 

  • If you still have ab separation at 12 weeks, you need to continue to modify your workout and also be working with a postnatal specialist that can help you heal.  

 

  • You can't trust YouTube or even an instructor with a general pre/postnatal certification to do a Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation) assessment.  They have a very limited knowledge of the topic and they may "assess" that you are fine when in fact, you are not.  Or tell you that a DR is present when they don't understand the true definition of what it means to heal it.  Find a specialist. Come see us at FPC, or see a pelvic floor therapist for a proper diagnosis.  

 

  • Don't go for a run just yet!  Regardless of the type of birth you had, vaginal or Cesarian, you have to continue to train with your pelvic floor in mind.  Damage to the pelvic floor doesn't usually come from the actual birth.  It comes from the months of weight and pressure on those muscles leading up to the big event.  After birth, those muscles need time to rest and recover.  If we return to high impact movements right away, you are putting your pelvic floor at risk of developing a prolapse.  

 

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to postpartum fitness.  FPC is passionate about educating every woman that walks through our door on how to make a complete recovery post birth.  If you are postpartum and looking to get back into fitness, join us at the studio!  

Postpartum Rehab and/or Pump & Kegel are the 2 best places to start! Check our schedule for times!  

Meet Your Instructor: Erin Williams

Have you ever taken a group fitness class where the instructor is an actual doctor? Nope? Well, neither had we until Erin Williams came around. 

Hometown: Fairbanks, Alaska!

Current location: Jersey City, NJ

What is your background: I earned my Doctorate in Physical Therapy from University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington and my Bachelor's Degree in Exercise and Sport Science from Oregon State University. Additionally, I am a certified CrossFit Coach.

What do you do when you don't teach at FPC? When I am not teaching at FPC my primary focus is providing physical therapy to Pregnant and Postpartum women locally and online through my independent practice! I also coach a crossfit class for pregnant and postpartum women in Jersey City 2x/week.

What inspires you? What really energizes my soul is making movement and exercise safe and doable for all levels of fitness and time constraints. Being a mother is challenging enough and adding work on top of that can make self-care and fitness nearly impossible. I love waking up at 5AM to instruct a determined working mom through an exercise routine before she goes to work because it empowers her to be her best self and that gives me all the energy I need!

Describe your FPC "Challenge" class: My classes are designed to be scaled up or down depending on abilities and fitness level while getting a serious sweat on! My class flow tends to be energetic and challenging!

What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to build and expand upon my degree as a physical therapist every single day, to never settle for knowing enough but always having a hunger to learn more. 

Current favorite song? Happier Ed Sheeran 

If you could be any animal in the world, what would you be and why? Probably a Moose because it reminds me of winter and home, both of which I love and miss!

Tell us something that not a lot of people know about you. I got married on a giant riverboat in Alaska to my high school sweetheart (2 years ago).


Erin's class, "Challenge" is on Thursday nights at 7PM.  It is pre/postnatal safe and 100% appropriate for partners, boyfriends, girlfriends, and best friends!

5 questions answered about Elvie

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Contributed by Dr. Erin Williams, DPT

I am not affiliated with Elvie but I am a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist who understands how difficult it can be to perform a kegel (pelvic floor muscle contraction) correctly and I am always looking for tools to better assist my clients with accomplishing a strong and healthy pelvic floor and took it upon myself to personally try out Elvie! Here is what I found!

1. What is Elvie?

Elvie is a small green sensory device that is placed into the vagina during use and connects with the Elvie app that can be downloaded for free onto your smart phone. The app provides strengthening and endurance training exercises with visual aids and performance tracking to better help you connect with and provide feedback for your pelvic floor muscles. 

2. Does it work? 

The short answer is, YES! I found that it was very accurate and responsive to correct pelvic floor muscle contractions (kegel) and would notify me when I was (purposely) doing a kegel incorrectly, or “bearing down” which is a common error made my many women. An important point to note is that Elvie is an up-trainer for the pelvic floor so all of the exercises are geared toward strengthening the pelvic floor and not for relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. Although less talked about, the pelvic floor can have too much muscle tightness/tension (think pain with penetration/sex or constipation) and strengthening the muscles will not benefit this presentation. If you feel like this is you, I would strongly advise getting evaluated by a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist first before trying Elvie. Overall I loved using Elvie to track my progress and identify where I was weak! I am a visual learner and competitive with myself so seeing that I was improving over just 1 week of training and having visual aides to facilitate my kegel was very helpful!

3. Is it uncomfortable/painful to place and use?

Elvie is quite comfortable and easy to place and use! If you feel like you bear-down when initiating a kegel the Elvie device will slip out of you so this can be helpful immediate feedback!

4. Can I use it while Pregnant and postpartum?

Yes, Elvie can be used while pregnant. The Elvie website states that it can be used with non complicated pregnancies and to seek medical advice from your doctor if unsure. It can be used 6+ weeks postpartum. There is no need to use it immediately  following postpartum as the pelvic floor muscles are healing and just need to rest.  

5, How much is it and where can I buy it?

Elvie is normally $199 however for Fit Pregnancy Club mammas I was able to get a DISCOUNT CODE (elvie15b) which you can enter at checkout and enjoy 15% off! www.elvie.com

I would recommend this device to anyone looking to have improved awareness of their pelvic floor muscles for pregnancy, postpartum, urinary incontinence or better sex! I would strongly encourage women to have a pelvic floor assessment completed by a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist first to make sure Elvie is a good fit for you! 

If you have any questions or are interested in getting to know your pelvic floor better please do not hesitate to reach out to me at erin@womenshealthnyc.com and let me know you read my blog on the FPC website and receive $50 OFF your first session with me! 

-Erin Williams, DPT

www.womenshealthnyc.com

Instagram: eewilliams20

The Best (at home) Post Pregnancy Exercises

Calling all new mamas!  

Use this 7 move workout that we put together with Coveteur on the days you can't make it to our Postpartum Rehab or Signature classes.  

Be sure to activate that "belly pump & kegel" with every exertion.  Regaining strength postpartum, is all about that inner core unit!  

 

 

 

 

 

Article By: Curranne Labercane

Photography: Alec Kugler

Outfit By: Outdoor Voices

Understanding Your DIAPHRAGM and Pelvic floor

FPC's foundation of "Pump & Kegel" is the secret to a stronger, easier pregnancy.  It's a foundational body system that enables us to move and breathe the way nature intended.  We are all born as fully functional movers and breathers but stress, body consciousness, poor posture, desk jobs, lack of activity, etc continue to move us farther away from it.  I always say, once you re-program this system, you will NOT go back to being a dysfunctional mover again.  Our bodies WANT to move this way.  

That being said, just because it's "natural" doesn't mean it's easy.  I love the video that our friend, Lindsey Vestal, M.S. OTR/L from The Functional Pelvis shared this week.  It gives you a few more images to help understand what the diaphragm and pelvic floor are doing and how they work together to strengthen and support you. 

Check it out below!  

 
 

Save the Date!  

Lindsey will be presenting a Pelvic Floor workshop on April 18th as part of the Wednesday night series at FPC! Mark your calendar and stay tuned for the sign up details next week!  

Mother Matters Book Launch!

 
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We are excited to party with Dayna Kurtz, LMSW, CPT and celebrate the launch of her new book, Mother Matters.  We are all about self care at FPC and Dayna has written a book based on her experience as a therapist and mother.   If preserving your sanity post-birth is a priority for you, you DON'T want to miss this event.  Dayna is an unlimited source of knowledge!  

Spots are limited so sign up asap!

 (Babies welcome!)


About the book

Childcare. Eldercare. What About Mothercare?

Book reading/signing with author Dayna M. Kurtz, LMSW, CPT

The first year of childhood is filled with emotional and physical changes, setbacks, and successes, and not just for babies. Mothers face a whole new world of experiences as a parent. While there are hundreds of books about childcare, where are the resources on mothercare?
In her new book Mother Matters: A Holistic Guide to Being a Happy, Healthy Mom Dayna M. Kurtz, LMSW, CPT guides new and veteran mothers alike through the best practices to care for themselves while mothering their little one(s). Her goal is to help every mother do more than just survive the late nights and baby blues; she wants mothers to thrive!
Mother Matters covers common struggles that mothers encounter, along with better and lesser known research-based solutions to enable greater health and happiness, including how to:

• Get more sleep—really!
• Eat optimally for greater energy and faster healing after birth.
• Feel creative, competent, and relaxed.
• Avoid killing your partner, and even strengthen your co-parent relationship.
• Get the support you need!

Filled with real-life stories from mothers along with compassionate and practical advice from the author and other experts, Mother Matters will change the way we think of motherhood.

Why the "kegel" in Pump & Kegel is so Important

 
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Written by Dr. Erin Williams, DPT

The pelvic floor can be a confusing buzz word heard in the pregnant and postpartum world where most people know they should be doing something with it but are unsure what exactly! 

The pelvic floor are a group of muscles, fascia and connective tissue that act as a support system to the internal organs, and spans from the tailbone to the pubic bone.  During pregnancy the weight of the baby causes increased pressure and strain on the pelvic floor which is why it is so important to train and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy and postpartum much like one would strengthen the bicep muscle for increased arm strength. 

The labor and delivery process can cause injury and stretching to the pelvic fascia and muscles as well making it critical to give the pelvic floor extra attention after delivery and before resuming prior pre-pregnancy level of activity to avoid pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse, and urinary incontinence (ie. peeing while jumping, coughing etc.). A Physical Therapist who specializes in pelvic health can serve as a valuable practitioner with the correct assessment of ones pelvic floor and provide guidance with stretches and exercises specific to the individuals presentation. While many people are aware of a “Kegel” it is not alway advised especially if the pelvic floor has hypertension and requires relaxation and stretching exercises. 


Join us with Dr. Erin Williams, DPT, on Wednesday, March 21st starting at 5:30pm.

 Dr. Erin is be explaining what the pelvic floor is and how to engage it correctly. We will also talk about Diastasis Recti, how to reduce the muscle separation as well as safe exercise prescription while pregnant.  

 

 

The Importance of your Pelvic Floor

 
 

If you've taken class with us, you are familiar with the cue, "Pump & Kegel".  We remind you to fire this inner core unit constantly.  But why IS the pelvic floor so important? 

The muscles of your pelvic floor support your uterus, bladder and bowel.  They are important for sexual function AND work with the rest of the muscles of the core to stabilize and support the spine.  They also support the extra weight of the uterus and growing baby during pregnancy.  

Many of us don't realize that the pelvic floor, like our diaphragm, is part of our core.  Having a over active or under active pelvic floor negatively effects all the functions associated with breathing, digestion, eliminating toxins and moving through our every day lives.  It also helps neutralize intra-abdominal pressure, making us less susceptible to devleoping a Diastasis Recti (abdominal split).   Your pelvic floor should contract and release with every single diaphragmatic breath which is why we cue the contraction AND release in all our classes at FPC.

This function is so important, talk about it at the beginning of every class and we’ve also devoted an entire class to it.  Have you taken “Pump & Kegel” yet?  We offer it every Wednesday and Sunday at 9:30am. 

 
 

Meet Our Newest Instructor, Carolyn!

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Carolyn Tallents is the newest member to the FPC team and we couldn't be more excited!  She's coming to us with a TON of knowledge about pre/postnatal exercise and also happens to specialize in pre/postnatal nutrition so be sure to pick her brain with all your pregnancy food and exercise questions.  

Book a class with her ASAP!  Her arms series is guarenteed to give us all the "mama strong" arms we've always dreamed of.  

Hometown? A tiny suburb outside of Boston, Ma called Norfolk

Current location? Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn

What is your background? A former corporate marketing director turned wellness junkie

What do you do when you don't teach at FPC? I work with pre & postnatal women on their nutrition, fitness and overall wellness  

What inspires you? Seeing the amazing things then body can do - especially while pregnant!

What can women except from your FPC Signature class? To be sore the next day

What do you want to be when you grow up? Great question! I’ll let you know when I’ve figured it out :)

What is your favorite 90s jam? I have to pick just one??? I’ll go with return of the Mack since it’s currently on my playlist 

Current favorite song? End game by Taylor swift and Ed Sheeran

If you could be any animal in the world, what would you be and why? I love elephants! There is a quiet strength about them that I admire. 

Tell us something that not a lot of people know about you. I used to be a die hard Backstreet Boys fan and was convinced I was going to marry Nick Carter 

15-Minute At Home Glutes and Lower Body Workout X Parents.com

Don't let you butt disappear during pregnancy!  We partnered up with Parents.com to bring you this 15-minute glutes and lower body workout. Click on the image below to start working that booty!  

20-Minute At Home Birth Ball Workout x Parents.com

Most of us purchase a birth ball to use during labor and then it sits around taking up precious space.  Here's a 20-minute workout that puts it good use before and after pregnancy.  Head over to Parents.com to join in. 

15-Minute At-Home Labor Training Workout x Parents.com

Go to Parents.com to try our 15-Minute At-Home Cardio Workout.

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Move of the Week: Grocery Bag Lifts

This is the last of our Functional Training Series with our friends from The Parent Collective.  Whether we are carrying bags home from the grocery store or lifting items out of our grocery home delivery boxes, this is a move we find ourselves doing all the time.  Learn how to protect your body and gain core strength at the same time!

FPC in the News!

FPC had an amazing press week.  Check out our mentions in the articles below and don't forget to treat yourself to a 15-min, in home workout! 

Parents

15-Minute At Home Prenatal Workout

Well + Good

4 Moves Every New Mom Should Master Before Jumping Back Into Fitness 

Romper

You Really Can Run Through Your Whole Pregnancy, So Why Does Everyone Say You Can't? 

Postpartum "Rehab"

We are excited to introduce FPC's first postpartum class, "Rehab".  We LOVE the fitness scene, trying new classes and finding fun instructors around the city.  And as much as we love you, our goal is not to keep you at FPC forever.  Our mission is to guide you safely through pregnancy and rehab you post-birth so you can go back into the fitness scene with more strength, body intelligence and total confidence that you aren't doing anything to potentially harm your body.   

Having been through pregnancy ourselves, we recognize that getting that 6-week "OK to exercise" from our care providers provides a huge disservice.  Labor and delivery are a marathon and depending on the type of delivery you've had, your body may need some major (sometimes months) of rehab.  Unfortunately, our health care system hasn't caught up to our needs.  We feel every woman should go straight into working with a specialist in order to reconnect to her core, TVA and pelvic floor post birth.  And many of us also need to work on healing a diastasis recti, recover from a Cesarian birth or address any pelvic floor issues that have come up.  

If you've been down this road, you know that working with a specialist can be expensive and PT is not always covered by insurance.  Many of us give up and figure, oh well, these aches and pains, discomfort, tummy bulge, (insert any random ailment here) are all just part of being a mom.  

STOP right there!  None of that is true and we believe that in order for you for us to be the best moms possible, we need to first take care of ourselves.  Not to mention, babies demand a lot of heavy lifting.  We need to be sure our bodies can hold up to the task! 

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This is why we are introducing "Rehab".  It's the individualized care and knowlegde you would get from a specialist in an affordable, small group format.  This is the first step to getting yourself safely back into your favorite classes in the fitness world.  Your body will never be the same after pregnancy, and we don't mean that in a bad way.  We're here to help you honor the new you and teach you to be grateful for what your body has done.

"Rehab" is pre-crawler baby friendly so there is no excuse for not taking the time to devote to your healing and recovery. Whether you've had a Cesarian birth, natural birth, working through pelvic floor problems, or diastases, this class is safe and encouraged.  "Rehab" is taught by FPC co-founder, Joanie Johnson, who is a pre/postnatal corrective exercise specialist as well as diastasis and core consultant. We also work with women's health specialists and PTs and make further referrals as needed.  As with all our classes at FPC, you are in safe hands.