New Kid on the Block: The Lotus Method

Caitlin Ritt was a retired ballet dancer turned personal trainer when she realized that pregnant and post-partem women needed special attention in the gym. Working at Equinox in San Francisco in the early teens, she turned her focus to that population, then was asked to train other staff members — and then hit a wall: there was not much out there to help her learn more. Even OBs were not offering much guidance on exercise.

“At the start, a lot of people were not focusing on this work,” she said. “I did all the training certificates that were out there but still there were gaps. You sprain your ankle and get six physical therapy appointments but you push a human out of you and you get one post-partum appointment.” So she started working with physical therapists, especially those with expertise in pelvic floor exercises, and designed her own training regimen.

The result of those 15 years of work in the field (plus her ballet training, which she notes gave her elevated mind-body awareness) is The Lotus Method, a one-on-one personal training experience exclusively for prenatal and postnatal women.

Caitlin, who is now 38, opened her first studio in 2014 in downtown San Fran. She now has five locations in total; Tribeca launched in early December. She has plans to expand to the Upper East and the Upper West Side soonish, but started here for the beautiful space at 50 Hudson (the former J. Crew) — it was turnkey. Turns out it was a good bet: this location is her fastest ramping studio ever.

The technique is based on strength training with functional movement patterns — the workouts mimic those required to prepare for labor and then to care for a child, like picking up a car seat, leaning over a crib, carrying a baby on one hip. They also use diaphragmatic breathing to help minimize pelvic floor issues and the abdominal separation that can happen post-partem.

“Motherhood is a physically demanding and weight-bearing exercise,” Caitlin says. “This training keeps women from experiencing most aches and pains during pregnancy and after.”

The average time a client works with her team is 14 to 18 months, but they have had clients who have been with them for nine years, since the first studio opened; they like the method and the approach. “Once post-partum, always post-partum,” says Caitlin. The studio is membership based, so clients sign up for a certain number of sessions and get small group classes as a bonus. Starting in April, there will be a hybrid offering that is small-group focused.

One rare (to my knowledge) feature for a gym: her trainers are salaried and work for The Lotus Method full time, so she can invest in their training. “That allows us to keep the highest quality trainers and allows them to focus solely on this demographic. We keep the best talent and they really become experts.”

Caitlin says she loves the work — “It’s incredibly rewarding to help women resolve a lot of these core issues that can be really life altering” — and she is now a client herself. She and her husband, Wesley Kennedy, are expecting in early fall.

And of course: “I’m doing the Lotus Method since that’s what all my workouts are anyway, and I am putting myself on all my trainers’ schedules,” Caitlin said. “I am going to pop in weekly to each one of them!”

The Lotus Method
50 Hudson at Thomas