“If it moves, Google it!”
Pretty much my answer to anything I don’t understand in my life. So when I found out I was pregnant I searched the net for all things involving staying fit and strong while pregnant.
For the past two years I had been doing just about every daily Roark Women had to offer. I was fit and happy and as such didn’t like the results my search on training while pregnant yielded.
I’m no medical professional and I feel like this piece may need a disclaimer (do as I say, not as I do…), but now that I’ve delivered a beautiful, healthy boy, I can try and share my success, challenges and experiences.
We all know exercise is good for our bodies, so how can exercising while pregnant be bad for our babies? Right? Well, the biggest challenge may be convincing well intentioned family and friends that you are strong and not foolish or negligent.
The key to the process is that you have to listen to your body, your gut and your brain on this one. It is not about what is right. It is about what is right for you. Expert advice, whether it be on diet, exercise or life means nothing if you don’t adjust it to your needs, values and lifestyle.
Years ago pregnant women were told to rest and stay in bed due to their “delicate condition”, and while the months of pregnancy can certainly be a trying time, I also found it to be the most inspiring period in a woman’s life. My goal was to maintain strength, stamina and flexibility in order to prepare for childbirth and recovery.
It is easy to continue your workouts with a little thought and imagination. Together with professional Roark coaches and the inspiring group of women I share the morning sessions with at Roark, I found many ways to modify and scale the daily’s on a day to day/rep to rep basis, depending on how I felt in the moment. Temporarily “Listen to your body” replaced “Burn the ships!” as my mantra, and I was able to train right up to the day before my little bundle was born!
During the first few weeks (before the physical constraints of permanently carrying a beach ball kicked in) I was able to pretty much continue as before. The biggest difference of exercising while pregnant, is how easily you get exhausted. And I mean exhausted! But I found that early morning training sessions provided more energy during the day, so I upped my fluid intake and adjusted my goals. I had to turn my competitive side off, and just focus on maintaining my strength and fitness as best as possible. I was, after all, training for the most grueling physical challenge of them all – giving birth!
As the weeks progressed I brought down the weight of my kettlebells and dumbbells to protect my overcompensating back. Airdyning became my cardio of choice as it was more comfortable than rowing, while ball slams turned to box ball slams, which stopped me having to bend to the floor to pick up a ball, but kept me arms and stomach muscles working hard. I’m proud to say that I continued doing push-ups, core work and, of course, the old faithful squat up to the day before I gave birth.
Even more than the 100’s of (arms only) calories done on the airdyne and the odd bicep curl when I could no longer see my toes, the spirit of friendship and community amongst the group of Roark Women made it the perfect place to keep training and stay fit. The interest and support I received from my fellow soldiers, a very special group of women, could keep anyone upbeat and pushing through any of life’s bumps.
My ultimate advice would be that you shouldn’t be afraid to stay fit and active during pregnancy – within reason. Focus on the process, not the outcome.
“It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable” – Socrates
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