Toning For Two

My MMA and Kettlebell circuit training sessions are on hold as my body is busy carrying a Baby Gym Junkie at the moment. The tweets and Facebook statuses I’m constantly exposed to about running plans, hard sessions and personal bests have been driving me insane with jealousy and don’t get me started on the Olympics! Watching Team GB win all those medals has had me itching to try a new sport.

It has been a minefield finding an exercise routine that is suitable for pregnancy. The general advice is to stick to yoga and swimming but when you are a certified Gym Junkie whose beast mode is permanently switched to ‘ON’ it’s a struggle to step away from the kettle bells.

For most of my first trimester I continued to train at my usual rate (this included boxing, mixed martial arts, weights and running). There were several occasions though (too many actually) where fatigue and general bleurghness (I know that’s not a real word but you get what I mean) relegated me to the couch. These episodes were very frustrating and the best I could do to make up for it was incorporate more walking into my days. I know walking is very good exercise but I can’t lie, when you are a regular gym bunny, walking is no compensation for going 5 rounds on a heavy punch bag.

Now I’m well into my second trimester it’s time to adapt my training and this has presented some problems. What is sensible during pregnancy? What should your fitness goals be? I’ve sifted through reams of information and have found the advice to be conflicting and confusing. I’m guessing other pregnant fitties are experiencing the same thing.

Thankfully ‘Fitness Professionals’ which I am a member of, came to my rescue. I was sent a two-part article which appeared in Fit Pro magazine last year, written by Jane Wake an antenatal fitness expert. In it, she recommended 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity exercise (15 minutes for those new to exercise). She also notes the importance of core training to develop strength in this area – the focus being on the core NOT the abs (which are likely to separate anyway) and the need to train the pelvic floor. Two Fit Pros on Twitter also sent me some useful advice which I can summarise as:

  • “Go for maintenance not progression” – Helen, Personal Trainer
  • “It’s different for everyone. Don’t try to break any records” – Paul Mumford, Personal Trainer

Perhaps the most sensible advice I had overall though was:

  • “Exercise is good for you & good for baby. Carry on but be sensible” – My Midwife
  • “You’re not ill, you’re pregnant.” – My mum

I’m keen to keep my fitness levels up but have found some simple things have suddenly become harder. My balance, for instance, is at times similar to what you experience after a couple of glasses of wine (I wouldn’t mind if I’d actually enjoyed some booze but I am teetotal until baby comes) so no more single-leg deadlifts or BOSU squats. My ability to keep up with things like aerobics is impaired and it’s just generally harder to do activities that I’d usually do with ease. BodyPump, which I’ve always been a little competitive with, is not as much fun now I’ve had to downgrade to ‘baby’ weights. Please send me cyber-sympathy.

Most annoyingly is the lack of stylish, affordable maternity workout wear on the market. I am sure my fellow gym goers do not want their eyes assaulted by the sight of me squeezed into leggings and tight-tees but I’m struggling to find decent kit. The limited number of UK sites I’ve discovered have a ‘range’ consisting of about 3 items, all in various shades of eye-catching black. I am still at the “Is she pregnant or is she just fat” stage of pregnancy so having the right workout wear is a big thing for me.

Anyway, back to my exercise plans. I have taken up antenatal yoga (this has been an experience in itself but I’ll save that for another blog!) I’m still doing BodyPump and I’m still weight training albeit at a lower intensity and with much lower weights. I’m also about to start swimming again. It’s 18 months since I last got in a pool – chlorine is not conducive to a good hair day – but I need a safe way to maintain my cardio fitness and this ticks the box. The only thing I have stopped doing is running. It would be perfectly safe for me to continue but it just doesn’t feel right and to be honest…I can’t be arsed. Yeah I said it.

I am not an antenatal exercise expert so I can’t advise you on what training is best for you in your own pregnancy but from my experience so far I would say listen to your body and do what feels right. If you are pregnant and new to exercise it’s wise to seek medical advice first but if you’re like me and have a good level of fitness already, keep going – you’ll know when to stop.

To contact the PT’s mentioned in this article see @JaneWake @QueenOfBiscuits (Helen) and @pauldmumford (Paul) on Twitter.

Helen has an excellent blog post on exercise in pregnancy which you’ll find here: I have also found the following book useful: Pregnancy And Fitness by Cherry Baker (ISBN 0-7136-6916-0)


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