With pregnancy comes a lot of changes. Changes to your body, your energy levels, and your workouts. And though there will be shifts in what your body is able to do during these nine months, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up your favorite group fitness classes. If you’re a class regular, it can be really hard to part with this sweaty hour of your day. And it’s not something you should give up! However, whether you’re into HIIT or yoga, there are adjustments you may want to consider as you continue with your class schedule.
When you walk into a group fitness class you typically put all of your trust into the instructor’s hands. You’re used to them telling you what to do and how hard to work. During pregnancy though, you’ll want to think twice about handing over all of that trust.
As a group fitness instructor myself, I know that unfortunately many instructors are not given proper training to safely instruct women during pregnancy. I’ve been teaching for over 10 years and have taught at a range of studios and gyms – none of which have required training courses on what is safe to do during pregnancy.
It wasn’t until I became pregnant that I realized how important it is to be properly prepared in group fitness classes. I’ve been teaching classes throughout my pregnancy and have taken it upon myself to learn what is safe, what isn’t, and what modifications to offer during classes.
And as an attendee of group fitness classes myself, I experienced first-hand the obstacles pregnant women face to get a good and safe workout in a group setting. With the perspective of both an instructor and a student, I’m sharing what you need to know as you continue your group fitness routine throughout pregnancy.
Remember: Always talk to your doctor to make sure attending classes is safe during your pregnancy.
1. Arrive early and speak up
Get to class a couple of minutes early so you can let the instructor know you’re pregnant and request advice/modifications prior to the class starting. Even if you’ve got a big pregnant belly and think it’s obvious you’re pregnant, still take the time to let the instructor know. This will give them the green light that you’re open to taking modifications and want to be seen in class.
2. Do your own research
Not all instructors are trained in working with pregnant clients. Remember this when you walk into a class – while some are incredibly knowledgeable on the topic, others have zero training and won’t know what modifications to offer. Don’t depend solely on the instructor. Arm yourself with knowledge before you walk into class. Talk to your doctor, and do your own research on modifications, moves to avoid, and breathing practices.
Here’s a good place to start: 5 Exercises That Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy.
3. Do your own thing
Yes, you’re attending a group class and everyone is probably doing the same move, but if it doesn’t work for you, don’t force it. It’s safer to do something completely different than attempting a move that isn’t safe during pregnancy. If the whole class is doing planks and you’re doing squats (the power move of pregnancy!), that’s OK. You might feel funny at first straying from the crowd, but it’s in your best interest. You do you.
4. Take breaks as needed
The vibe of many high-intensity classes is to push to your limit and get uncomfortable. And for those not working out for two, that’s a fine approach. But when you’re pregnant, it can be unsafe to push past your limits. Use the talk test in class: if you can carry on a conversation and quickly recover from pushes, you are in a good zone. If you find yourself doubled over huffing and puffing, consider taking it down a notch.
5. Buddy up
If you see another pregnant woman in class, it doesn’t hurt to set up next to her. You might get new ideas of modifications, and maybe you’ll even make a friend. Keep in mind that just because she is pregnant and you are pregnant doesn’t mean your bodies are able to handle the same thing. Your starting fitness levels, bodies, and pregnancies are different. While it’s good for inspiration, remember to check in with yourself and what you’re comfortable with.
6. Trust and take care of yourself
There is a lot of information out in the world about what is safe and what is not during pregnancy. It can be an intimidating and scary time, but trust that you know your body and you know what you can handle. Only do what you’re comfortable with. Remember what your goals are for working out during pregnancy. It’s probably not to get a six-pack and rather something along the lines of keeping your body strong for you and baby. Always return to those goals, and take care of your body. That means resting when your body needs it too.
7. Don’t force it
If you’ve been a regular at the same class for years, it can be hard to step away from that. But if you feel like the class is no longer serving you, it’s OK to walk away. If you leave class feeling more defeated than empowered, honor those feelings. It might be time to slow down or switch to a different class format, and that’s OK. Walking away doesn’t mean you are a quitter. You can always pick back up when you’re feeling ready.
During pregnancy it can be really hard to let go of routines that have served us for so long. Working out and staying strong is an important part of a healthy pregnancy, and as long as it is safe in your pregnancy, you should continue to workout. Be armed with the right knowledge and preparation as you head to group fitness classes to make sure it’s a rewarding and safe experience.