Let me preface this post by saying that the below information is a compilation of what has worked best for me over the course of my two pregnancies. I am by no means a fitness expert or a medical professional, just a gal who loves exercise and works hard to lead a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, please take what I write at face value, and consult your medical team before beginning any fitness routine while expecting!
Growing up, I was VERY active. I participated in competitive swimming, synchronized swimming, and dance in addition to recreational soccer, skiing and powerskating. I had a very large appetite, and my constant physical activity, combined with a high metabolism meant that I could eat pretty much whatever I wanted (and maintain a size zero) until I began University. However, once all of my extra curricular sports came to a halt to accommodate my class schedule, my body changed drastically. I was down the rabbit hole before I even realized, and as such, my weight fluctuated ALL OVER the place due to fad diets, stress, break- ups, a semester abroad and moving out of my parents home through out my university years.
It wasn’t until many years later that I became really serious about my health and fitness. I finally realized that if I wanted the weight to stay off I would have to make a serious lifestyle change. I had done high intensity bootcamps and spin classes before, but this time I really learned what my body needed to stay fit. For me, that meant exercising 6 or 7 days a week. Now, I know what you are all thinking. SIX OR SEVEN DAYS A WEEK? IS THIS GIRL INSANE? Maybe I am! Haha. But for me, I knew I had to go back to what had kept me healthy and fit for so long when I was younger. And that meant moving my body almost every day. I know this might seem like a lot, but again, this is what works for my body!
So without further ado, here are my tips for exercising while pregnant.
- Maintain . This means the goal of fitness while pregnant should be to maintain your pre pregnancy body as much as possible. Therefore- if you we not very active prior to your pregnancy, do not start marathon training now. You do not want to shock your body by rapidly increasing your fitness schedule, nor do you want to shock it by halting exercise all together. Aim to keep up with your previous level of fitness and adjust according to how your body feels.
- Listen to your Body. You should be aware of your own limits. Even though I was a very frequent runner and spin goer prior to becoming pregnant, everyone reaches a point (different for all) where they have to say a breif goodbye to certain types of exercises based on how their body is changing. Some women carry their babies higher, which may make it possible to continue running, biking and participating in more high impact activities longer. For me, with this pregnancy, I have been carrying significantly lower, which meant I needed to stop running and biking much sooner than in my previous pregnancy. The same goes for during a workout. If something feels wrong, don’t push it. If you feel back pain or pelvic pressure to do jumping jacks or squat jumps, just do stationary squats or lunges. No need to be a hero and try to keep up with those around you. You are growing a human AND you showed up to sweat. Thats doubly amazing!
- Invest in a Belly Band. I didn’t have one for my first pregnancy and I really regret it! This go around, I was able to find an inexpensive belly band by Medella at Toys R Us, and it has served me very well. I primarily wear the band when doing cardio exercises such as walking on the treadmill or using the elliptical machine. It provides great back support as well as alleviating pelvic pressure. I also used it when I was still able to run and do spin class.
- Know your Modifications. This being my second go around, I knew not do to abdominal exercises on my back once I was in my second trimester. I also know how to safely modify other exercises to decrease the impact. For example, instead of doing jump lunges I will do backward squat lunges, or I will do planks instead of sit ups. If you are not sure how to modify exercises, consult your doctor, a personal trainer or a certified fitness instructor.
- Hydration. When I am pregnant I feel like the most thirsty person on the planet. Therefore, I always make sure to have a huge water bottle filled for every work out and I take water the moment I feel I need it. Most fitness instructors will cue you when to take water, but I always take it whenever I need to.
- Avoid Comparison. I have always found this part to be especially challenging. As an individual who struggles with body image issues at the best of times, I become particularly sensitive to how certain areas of my body balloon during pregnancy no matter WHAT I do. Then I see images of people on social media who still have a thigh gap and this perfectly round basket ball shaped belly and think “WHAT THE EFF?”. But the truth of the matter is those people will be thin NO MATTER what. They are genetic unicorns and staring at them with longing, beating yourself up for giving into a craving will not change anything. Instead make an active choice to exercise to keep your body healthy and strong for labor and to give you energy!
You’ve likely seen my workouts on our Instagram Stories, but here is how I break it up:
Monday/ Saturday- Group Fitness ( one from below)
- Barre at Barre Body Studio
- Spin at YEG Cycle or Spin Unity
- Orange Theory Fitness
- Champs Boxing (more recently)
Barre- I have been doing Barre classes at Barre Body since Megan Clark started out with one room in a dance studio downtown! I immediately fell in love with how incredible of a strength workout it is. You can isolate the hardest to tone muscle groups in a way no other workout can. Megan and Elissa have such an amazing team of barre-tenders and have cultivated an incredibly supportive tribe of women! I am always SO motivated in each an every class and the instructors are very well educated about pregnancy modifications and injury modifications. Each class is low impact, and offers uniquely challenging movements including both strength (upper and lower body) and High Intensity Cardio. Barre helps to strengthen and lengthen muscles and also incorporates a focus on pelvic floor which is absolutely crucial during pregnancy. I was able to do barre right up until my due date with my first pregnancy and am hoping to be able to do the same this time! If you only do one exercise class during pregnancy, make it Barre. The muscle groups focused on in these classes will not only assist you during delivery, but help you to bounce back as quickly as possible afterward.
Spin- I have been a LONG TIME lover of spin. For me, it has always been a complete escape from the outside world. There is nothing better than the moment the lights go off, the music comes on and you only need to concentrate on moving your legs and arms to the beat. With so many great instructors/ motivators to choose from it is virtually impossible NOT to finish a class dripping with sweat! Spinning is a great option that is easy on the joints, and the fantastic music and fun choreography makes you forget about how hard you are working and the hour speed by. Spin class is ideal for keeping legs strong and cardiovascular fitness up during pregnancy, as most can continue to spin long after stopping other forms of cardio (aka running). I was able to Spin until about 29 weeks pregnant this go around, at which point the baby was too low and too heavy to continue. This is why knowing your own limits is SO important! That being said, everyone is different. Some women are able to spin until the day before they deliver!
OTF- Orange Theory was so critical to keeping me in shape my first 18 weeks of pregnancy. I felt SO incredibly ill with morning sickness this time around , I really NEEDED the energy boost the endorphins these workouts provided. The competitive atmosphere also kept my mind off my nausea which was so helpful! At about 20 weeks it became to painful for my pelvic floor to run, so I have taken a hiatus from OTF since then.
Boxing- I became obsessed with Boxing this summer after visiting a Boxing Studio, UNDRCRD, in Calgary. I was literally counting the days/hours/minutes until CHAMPS boxing opened in Edmonton earlier this month. Two friends of mine, Dao + Farha (who are both total bad- ass, inspiring, Moms) are among the coaching crew at Champs, and let me tell you, their classes had me addicted in NO TIME. This workout truly is like NO OTHER. It is a perfect balance of HIIT cardio combined with core and punching in different combinations to the beat of the music. Trust me when I say you will want to do this workout every.single.day. I have had the chance to take classes by multiple different coaches at champs, and each have a unique philosophy and style. Now that I am in the last few weeks of my third trimester, I have been boxing as much as possible as I have found it to be the most beneficial cardiovascular option for late pregnancy. I can achieve a high quality cardio burn with almost no impact. Plus, who doesn’t love punching things while listening to killer beats?
Tuesday/ Thursday- Cardio: Swimming
I have been participating in a Masters Speed Swimming class for the past two years and I can say without hesitation that those two hours are my favorite of the week. We have an incredible coach who educates us on technique, and designs challenging, diverse workouts that bring out the competitor in all of us in the group. The camaraderie and fun dynamic of these swim classes is something I always look forward to. While I am swimming at a MUCH slower pace at the moment, this is still an excellent cardiovascular workout for me, that is easy on my back and joints. I had to stop running around 20 weeks and Spinning at 29 weeks as this baby is much lower than my first was so swimming has really been a savior. Lane swimming is an excellent low impact cardio option for swimmers of all skill levels.
Wednesday/ Friday- Strength Training
This is either a workout planned and facilitated by a personal trainer ( who I trained with pre- pregnancy and who knows limitations/ modifications well) or one of the group fitness classes I listed above. Exercises here include everything from squats to lunges, dead lifts, step ups, and leg lifts for lower body. For upper body we focus on using body weight and incorporate lots of TRX as well. These are sessions that I would most certainly NEVER push myself through on my own, but with the help of our awesome trainer and the other ladies in the group I am always motivated to do my best!
*I usually take Sundays off, but If I missed a day earlier in the week due to work or not having childcare for Bowen I will make up for it on Sunday. *
Hope this information was helpful- feel free to email or message us with any questions you have!
And Now for the GIVEAWAY DETAILS! The lovely ladies at Barre Body Studio are generously providing a 10 Class Pass, a pair of Barre socks and a tank to one lucky follower! To Enter head to our instagram page and do the following:
- Like our most recent photo
- Be sure you are following us and Barre Body Studio
- Tag a friend and wish them a Happy Tuesday! (as many as you like, seperate comments)
- Contest is not sponsored or affiliated with instagram. Contest will close Thursday January 18th Noon MST.