Exercise While Pregnant

A question I’ve gotten a lot, given my profession (Group Fitness Director at the Y), is if I’m continuing to teach classes, followed up by how I’m continuing to teach classes and exercise in my current delicate state.  (That delicate is total sarcasm btws.  I feel a lot of things.  Tired.  Big-bellied.  Kinda sweaty as it relates to my bra area.  But certainly not delicate.)

As kind of a frame of reference, here’s what I’m teaching in a typical week.  This is definitely down from my old usual – I used I teach one or two classes on Fridays (Zumba and Barre as needed), and I used to teach every Saturday morning Zumba.  I usually try to add a little bit of elliptical or treadmill in on these days – I do NOT do that on Mondays typically.  On Fridays, I work out with Jill, for a half-hour, down from the hour we used to do.  I’ve begun to make arrangements for my Mondays for over the summer, and the same for my Wednesday mornings.

Mondays – Zumba 7:20pm

Tuesdays – Total Body Strength (TBS) 5:30pm 

Wednesdays – 7:30am Cycle

Thursdays – 5:45am BodyPump™, 6:15pm TBS

Fridays – 5:45am BodyPump™ Express (this format is only 45 minutes)

The answer is that it’s doable, it’s all doable, but it’s definitely different.  Here’s how.  (And seriously, keep in mind that this is all going to be very different for everyone.  And that I’m not a doctor.  So don’t go doing something weird.)


So early in, even before I knew I was pregnant, something was different.  I was really fatigued in Flywheel, and assumed that it was the holidays, and that I just needed to sign up for a marathon or something to get my butt into fighting shape.  I continued with HIIT workouts, went to hot yoga, and continued to notice some fatigue, almost as if I was fighting some sort of illness.  In reality, I was starting to make a baby, and we were starting to fight for air, and the hormone dump in the beginning was contributing to my  fatigue and headaches.

  • Certain Core/Ab Work doesn’t really work for me anymore.  For weeks and weeks into the pregnancy, I was able to continue with some core work without much issue.  At some point, being flat on my back became sort of uncomfortable, so I’ve made the switch to demo-ing a lot of these moves quickly, and then switching over to planks, side planks, and standing core work, where my focus is really maintaining a strong core, and not getting a six-pack (obviously).  I believe it has helped some with lower back pain, but I’m not far enough in my pregnancy to definitively say that it’s working against back pain.
  • Lifting feels really good.  Lifting weights is probably one of the things that I’ve not only maintained, but gotten a little stronger with, and I really credit teaching and taking BodyPump™ with that.  My upper body is really strong, and my glutes/quads/hamstrings are really really strong from tons of squats and lunges.  I am careful with weighting squats, and I’m careful with lower back, even though clean/hang and clean and press are some of my favorite lifts.  I make sure to lift juuust enough, and not overdo it, and to really watch my form.  I have not really done a truly heavy deadlift, but just enough, once again, so that I’m engaging my lower back  muscles without completely overdoing it.
  • Running is a challenge.  I was a woman who swore that pregnancy would not affect my mileage, and when it did, it wouldn’t be huge.  It has been a big change.  The way things are set up for me, my son is having a great time, and all the equipment he comes with is really restricting my bladder.  The second I empty my bladder, it begins to fill back up, and when I do higher-impact exercises, I find myself ducking into bathrooms immediately.  So I tend to keep runs to 20 minutes or so.  It was definitely sort of discouraging at first, but I’m keeping up with it in other ways, so I feel okay about it.
  • Cycle feels good…even though I have to dial the crazy back a bit.  I have fallen in love with teaching Cycle, and I really enjoy how I sweat when I’m on the bike.  It really reminds me of a running sweat, without the damage I feel like I’m doing to my bladder.  As I get bigger, I may have to figure out how to accommodate my belly, but for now, it has been really awesome.  I do find on some climbs, I feel like I’m fighting for air, so I have to deal some of the up/down/up/down that shoots your heart rate through the roof back a bit.

I think pregnancy and remaining active is one of those things in which you walk a really really fine balance.  It is a necessity, to sweat each day.  However, within the bounds of a growing and changing body, it it necessary to sweat safely, and more so than ever, do so with proper form.  When you go for a run, the goal isn’t necessarily to kill yourself or burn the most calories, but perform this daily routine in the hopes that labor, delivery, and recovery (that one is the biggie) is as smooth as it is supposed to be.

Anyways, I’m enjoying figuring out what modifications work for me, all while eyeballing things I may like to challenge myself and do once I don’t have a belly in the way.

Pregnant or not, what’s your favorite way to stay fit?

2 thoughts on “Exercise While Pregnant

  1. Love this! I actually just referred one of my clients to read your blog after finding out she was pregnant, as a person to relate to! Ab work definitely won’t work as your stomach gets bigger since the goal is to make your stomach squeeze together for core, but the others aren’t too bad! I love that you’re still exercising and being safe with your training. I miss working at the YMCA even though I train independently now. Which classes do you teach? 🙂 Just what you mentioned in your schedule?

    1. Hi! So yes, I think I mostly just teach what I mentioned. I can teach anything freestyle. I do NOT teach mind/body classes like yoga and pilates because I’m not trained in them, not because I don’t totally love them!

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