I often have clients express concern about how to keep up their awesome progress at the studio after falling pregnant. The future arrival is exciting, but the impending changes to their bodies and lifestyle seem to throw up new barriers to their workout routine.
Here’s what to do when obstacles get between you and your fitness goals during and post-pregnancy.
Obstacle 1: Conflicting information about exercising when pregnant
How to hurdle it: Unless there is a medical reason otherwise, exercising while pregnant is safe, prepares your body for birth and motherhood, and makes you feel great. When discussing your health with your doctor, share your fitness goals and ask about any concerns. Your aim should be to maintain (not increase) your fitness level at the time you conceived until the third trimester when you should start to taper off. This is a marathon, not a sprint! The general rules for working out when pregnant are: stay hydrated, avoid overheating and any risk of falling over or injuring the stomach. Always listen to your body! If something doesn’t feel right, stop. If you take a group class, ALWAYS advise your instructor you are pregnant so she or he can give you suitable modifications. If you are concerned, consider one-on-one training during your pregnancy.
Obstacle 2: Aching back during pregnancy
How to hurdle it: Injuries aside, low impact exercise will usually help a sore back rather than hinder it. Make a physiotherapy appointment to assess it and consider regular visits during your pregnancy to help you manage any discomfort as your body changes. If you’re usually a high impact kind of girl, it’s time to find a lower impact alternative. Swimming is a fantastic cardio option for pregnant women and is the one exercise where your bump will actually assist, rather than slow you down! Yoga and Pilates are great for strengthening your core, balance and mind-body connection. If you want to maintain your current intensity, a Lagree class or weights session is great full body conditioning and will help you build the strength and endurance you need for the birth and beyond. As your pregnancy progresses so will your limitations. Again, if something hurts, stop. Modifications will make most exercises possible, so if you can’t do something ask your instructor for the pregnancy options. Always remember to move slowly and with control to protect your spine and joints as the higher levels of relaxin in your body will make you more flexible and unstable.
Obstacle 3: Morning sickness
How to hurdle it: Many of my friends and clients have suffered terribly from morning sickness – it’s the worst! I personally woke up at 4am on numerous occasions begging my husband for a piece of toast to maintain that mildly hungover feeling, rather than progressing to full blown vomiting! Maintaining your blood sugar levels and a healthy diet of fresh, whole foods is the key here. Eating something light and nutritious before and after exercise will stabilise those spikes and troughs that contribute to the queasiness and ensure you and the baby have the nutrients you need. If you are in class and a certain position makes you feel ill, stop and ask your instructor for a modification. However, if you need to take a break or finish early, no harm done.
Obstacle 4: Tired and don’t have the energy to work out
How to hurdle it: This one is most common in your first and third trimesters…and extends into the first six months of parenthood for most! Choose the time of day when you usually have the most energy to schedule your workouts. It will improve your chances of sticking to your plan and leave you feeling energised, rather than exhausted. A quick 10-20 minute power nap beforehand and a piece of fruit or handful of nuts will give you an extra boost to get out the door. On those days where your regular fitness class seems a bit much, try a beach or bush walk for some good old fresh air, a yoga class to nourish the body and mind or a swim in the ocean to invigorate. If you’re too wiped to work out on a particular day, accept it and see how you feel the next. Remember, you are engineering a life here – it’s hard work!
Obstacle 5: No time to work out
How to hurdle it: To all the new mums out there who are feeling this way, you’re not alone! The truth is that our lives are getting busier and most people don’t have time to go to the gym five days a week, whether you’re a new mum or a lady boss. Our motto at LaFit is you don’t need more time, you need more intensity. Identify two or three days a week where you can schedule in a 45 minute workout and pre-book your classes or make a calendar entry like you would any other appointment. While you’re there, make the workout count. Minimising rest periods will keep the intensity and your heart rate up and mean you can get in and get out faster. If you are reviewing your calendar and honestly don’t have a window, see my last point!
Obstacle 6: "I can’t afford my favourite fitness class now we’re on one income"
How to hurdle it: Yes, losing your income for any period of time affects your financial freedom. Many women on maternity leave feel they have to ‘ask’ their working partner for pocket money. My question to those women is “does your partner support your health and fitness goals?” Hopefully the answer is yes and together you can find a way to make it work. If you really can’t stretch the budget there have never been more ways to work out for free. Fitness apps and Youtube workouts are a dime a dozen and many local groups now offer free community fitness – try googling “free fitness in [your city]” and see what you come up with! If you prefer to keep it low-tech, now is the time to get outside for a walk, jog or beach swim. Summer is here!
Obstacle 7: No babysitter
How to hurdle it: This one is tricky but you do have options! If your gym or fitness studio doesn’t have a crèche try a group exercise class for mums and bubs. My personal preference is to make a fitness play date with a friend. Go for a power walk with the prams somewhere hilly for a great butt and cardio workout, or even do a body weight circuit in the park while the kids play.
I hope that helps, and a quick and fun program is coming in my next blog post for HIF, so be sure to keep an eye out!
In the meantime, visit LaFit Studio to find out more about Lagree Fitness.