Not only does regular exercise during pregnancy act as a mood booster, it also preps your body for the labor and delivery. Needless to say, it is important to practice caution and be very self-aware when working out during this time in your life. We partnered with local studios & fitness experts to get the low down on what to try and what to avoid during your pregnancy workouts.
The number one piece of advice we received from every fitness guru we polled was: Listen to Your Body. Each person and each pregnancy is different, and staying in tune with your body is more important than achieving some other person’s weight or exercise goals.
In general, there are some “go-to” guidelines when it comes to pregnancy and exercising. Shannon Watson, Registered Nurse and Sweat Cycle Motivator, has these tips when starting your workouts as a mom-to-be:
- Talk with your OBGYN before starting any exercise. While everyone’s bodies & pregnancies are different, everyone’s first priority should always remain following doctor guidelines.
- Tell the fitness instructor before class that you are pregnant. This way, the instructor can personalize the class and suggest modifications that might be more beneficial for a pregnant workout.
- Breath. It is important to never exert so much energy that it would be hard to carry on a conversation. Both you and the baby need enough oxygen at all times.
- Eat complex carbohydrates a few hours before class. Shannon suggests oatmeal as a go-to. Extra credit if you add a scoop of nuts or protein powder.
- Eat a healthy, fast-acting sugar 30 minutes before class. Try a small orange, half a banana, or small coconut water for this necessary boost.
- Stay hydrated. As a general rule, drink water before, during, and after all workouts.
- Take breaks when you need them during workouts. Never compare yourself to other riders – drop the ego and listen to your body.
There are countless opportunities around Charlotte to get in a good workout during your pregnancy. Just because you’re carrying a little one doesn’t mean you have to forgo a regular exercise routine! These local studios have partnered with ScoopCharlotte to bring you the best advice, tips, and tricks for a safe, practical, pregnant workout.
SWEAT understands that the most important thing is the health of both you and your baby. “Cycling is a great joint friendly activity for staying fit while pregnant.” Even just a quick 45 minutes gives you the perfect combination of music, atmosphere, instruction, and motivation to escape the stress of the day. When cycling while pregnant, it is important to always wear a heart rate monitor and to stay within the recommended guidelines for pregnant women. Adjusting your handlebars slightly higher and closer helps protect a pregnant lower back. In the end, remember this is your ride and it’s important to remind yourself that you’re there to stay healthy – not compete with others.
Count on Hillard Studio Method (HSM) for a workout personalized to your pregnancy. Once you enter your second and third trimesters of pregnancy, HSM’s experienced trainers will continue to provide modifications appropriate to your stage of pregnancy. For example, in lieu of twisting and intense abdominal exercises, HSM recommends holding a high plank and pike often, stretching out a tightened back caused by the baby pulling your body forward. In addition, the abdominal section of the class is replaced by additional arm and gluteal work, keeping the body strong and the baby safe.
Women anywhere can access the Hilliard Studio Method workout through the 35-minute Powerful Pregnancy DVD, safe for women at any stage of their pregnancy. Co-owner, Clary Hilliard Gray, shot this video when she was 7-months pregnant with her second child and offers encouragement and guidance to mothers everywhere.
HSM attendees are nothing short of impressed by the modifications and dedication to a safe workout:
“During this stage in my life, HSM helped me feel strong and fit despite my growing waistline. I feel confident in my strength and in my ability to bounce back past partum. Thankfully, I had a quick and easy delivery, much of which I attribute to HSM – I truly felt strong and powerful.” – Hope Skouras
“Now I am 38 weeks pregnant with my third, and HSM remains my favorite workout. The instructors understand the changes your body goes through as you progress throughout your pregnancy. They provide attention on form and alignment, with detailed instructions on ways to modify. I can always rely on HSM for a challenging, yet SAFE work out.”– Thuy Tri
Xtend Barre, located in the Metropolitan shopping center, holds classes safe for both pre and post natal clients. Throughout class, trained instructors offer modifications that can be taken to fit your personal pregnancy needs. A go-go list of pre/post natal exercises is offered to all clients and acts as a wonderful tool for clients to use during abs series. This customization allows you to modify and continue your exercise in a safe and effective way. Post pregnancy, Xtend even offers a Babies on Board class that gives new moms a dynamic workout and babies a bounce of laughter.
Katie Roberts, prenatal instructor at Xtend offered her insight on exercising during pregnancy.
“Don’t get discouraged! If you are anything like me, you thrive on being able to advance every exercise and take those barre classes by the horns. Give yourself permission to take the modifications, as needed. Listen to your body and if anything feels uncomfortable – choose a modification that feels better on your body. You will be back to your normal work out routine before you know it”
Since many pilates exercise are performed while laying on the back, it is important to note that as your pregnancy progresses, it is imperative to take more frequent breaks. Pregnant women should avoid staying on their back any more than 5 minutes at a time and forgo lifting their head, neck, and shoulders into a curl after the first trimester. This helps prevent diaristasis recti, the separation of the abdominals. IM=X instructors guide you through appropriate modifications as pregnancy progresses but since every pregnancy is different, Laura Fuller, owner of IM=X pilates, recommends listening to your body each and every workout and never stressing it to an uncomfortable point.
Flywheel broke down their recommendations by class category. Since they offer both cycling and barre, it is significant to know the modifications for both when pregnant and attending classes. Meghan Lee, Fly Mom Instructor for both barre and cycle offers the following tips:
“For cycling, speed work, specifically anything over 90RPMs, becomes really uncomfortable after the third trimester. Instead of trying to hit 100 and work through sharp ligament pain, try adding torq higher than the instructor suggests while still maintaining 90/95 RPMs. This spikes the heart rate and accomplishes the interval the instructor was going for. As your belly grows, raising the height of the handlebars alleviates stress on the lower back and prevents the dreaded ‘belly resting on the thighs’.”
Out of the saddle work is another challenge for pregnant cyclists. If you’ve ever wondered how much the abdominals are used out of the saddle, try it pregnant! Anything over 70 in the second position and anything over 65 in the third position became challenging for Meghan during her pregnancy. Instead, Meghan recommends either going slower out of the saddle with slightly heavier torq or staying in the saddle and pushing maybe 5 RPMs while the rest of the class is out of the saddle. This is a safer way to challenge your workout.
As far as FlyBarre goes, a lot of the moves are “preg-friendly” and most others that aren’t can be modified. Because planks are such a great way for pregnant women to maintain core strength, the 3+ minutes asked of you during the class really helps keep the entire core strong as your pregnancy progresses. Dropping to your knees during these becomes necessary as pregnancy progresses. Meghan recommends taking the knee option before completely coming out of the plank. During lower abs work, it is important to stay on your forearms beginning in the second trimester and to take breaks to bring your head above your heart to avoid lying on your back for an extended period of time. And avoid twisting during oblique work.
With the help of local experts and studios, staying in shape while pregnant is easier than ever. As long as you take the necessary precautions and seek the guidance of your doctor and class instructors alike, working out during pregnancy is not only safe but extremely beneficial to labor and delivery.
Allie Withers of Better Late Than Never
Avid foodie, working in beauty who loves a good half marathon every once in a while.