Staying In Shape During Pregnancy

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I am so excited to chat about something I don’t normally talk too much about – my love of fitness. I have been especially health conscious for the past 5 or so years – making eating clean and working out regularly an absolute priority after years of treating my body terribly. And as corny as it sounds — it has completely changed my life. Last year I upped the ante and became a certified spin and Lagree Pilates instructor. Becoming an instructor helped me to not only workout harder and feel physically better – but also emotionally a lot better too. Real Talk: I spent my youth growing up being so ashamed of my shape and my looks. I crash dieted and did a lot of unhealthy things to try and achieve my dream body, and ultimately all any of it did was make me incredibly sad. Switching to a healthy way of living has been the best change I ever could have made -I can’t even tell you what a relief it is to finally feel really good not only about how I look, but also to realize just how strong I am (blah corny again…but it’s TRUE!) That’s why I knew I had to keep fitness a priority once I found out I was pregnant. Not only is it best for you and your baby to have a workout plan, but it is great for self esteem during pregnancy. Here’s what I have learned these past 27 weeks…

Getting Started & Staying Motivated: A Lil Pep Talk, Sister!

When I first got pregnant I felt completely defeated by my workouts. If you have been pregnant before you already know this – but the first trimester is rough. I had a pretty easy go of it with almost no morning sickness, but even still I was exhausted and weak. My workouts were pretty pitiful and I started to lose hope I’d be able to ever workout. My advice to you if you’re having this experience is just to know that it’s NORMAL. Those first 14 weeks can be especially tough if you aren’t telling anyone because there is no one to tell you just how normal it is to be so tired and so weak, but for most women it gets better. My advice is to try to modify your normal workouts – if you normally run 6 miles, just chill out for a sec and don’t be shocked if you have to cut it back to a simple walk or maybe a light jog. Cutting back is better than giving up, and even if you do have to “give up” for those first few weeks – know that it’s completely normal and you’ll likely feel much more energized and strong come your second trimester! Give yourself a little break, you’re making a human, after all!

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The Buddy System: Group Workouts

Being pregnant isn’t just taxing physically, but time consuming as well. It is going to be easier than ever to skip the gym because you are so busy reading about babies or setting up a nursery or just plain tired. It’s also a time when your normal workouts might not cut it because you’re not sure how to modify for your changing bod. Sign up for a group class (pilates, spin, barre are just a few of my favorites) and you’ll be more likely to actually go, and actually learn something about how to workout while pregnant. Plus… classes are harder to miss because many charge if you don’t show up to them, and instructors are paid to know things like how to modify a workout for where you are in your pregnancy. (If you’re not sure call ahead and give them the heads up you’re expecting and that you’ll need to modify the class) Here are my favorite pregnancy workouts:

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  • Lagree Pilates (the kind I teach, pictured here!) – These classes are great while pregnant because the entire class focus on full body moves – meaning that even while you target your booty or your arms, you’ll still be getting in some solid core work without directly having to do something that might put too much strain on your precious belly – like a crunch! It’s my absolute favorite workout right now…and well… always! Classes are very physically challenging, but low impact. I would, however, not recommend trying this for the first time once you are past the half way point, your balance will likely be off and it might just be too much at that point, but if you can muster the energy early on in your pregnancy these are fantastic classes for staying in shape throughout the entire 9 months! Once you have a strong base (5-10 classes) these classes can be totally safe and effective during the later stages of pregnancy – I now skip the abs section and simply double up on arms and legs. I hope to be doing this even at 40 weeks! (Wish me luck!)
  • Pure Barre – I have tried so many bar methods and Pure Barre by far my favorite method for pregnancy. Bar classes are great because they are low impact and involve small movements that are easy to modify while sporting a bump. Plus, every instructor I have had at Pure Barre has been knowledgeable about pregnancy and how to modify, it is clear to me it is important to their brand to accommodate prenatal clients and that’s huge when finding your best workout class. Best of all I find that while the workouts are challenging, I have no problem keeping up with the moves even with my belly!
  • Spin – Spin is fantastic because it gives you a great cardio workout without the high impact like running might do. With that said I find that it does require some pregnancy modifications, so a few things to note: 1) talk to your doctor about your heart rate and overheating – my doctor has OKed me to have a light sweat, but doesn’t want me drenched, so see what yours says about cardio and consider a heart rate monitor! 2) I look for studios that don’t heat the room, again to avoid overheating (I am looking at you, Soul Cycle) 3) I find that jumps and sprints are pretty hard with my belly, so I try to take it easier during those and stay seated or go at a slower pace. If you choose to spin, be sure to check in with your doctor and let your instructor know you’re expecting!
  • Prenatal Yoga – I have a confession…are you ready because it’s bad…I hate yoga. Eeeeek, there I said it. I find it so boring! Even so I have found that prenatal yoga is incredibly helpful for stretching you out and keeping your body from getting those dreaded aches and pains in your back and lower belly, so if you’re like me and hate yoga, it still may be worth checking out! I was shocked at how much I still enjoyed it.
  • Class Pass – Nope, no one is paying me to say this! Class Pass is amazing! For a set price (in SF it’s $99) a month you get unlimited workout classes to studios in your area – you can only go to each studio 3 times that month, but you can go to as many studios as you want. This is fantastic for finding the best class for you and your belly! I discovered a few fantastic studios I never would have thought to try without this app!

Have A Backup Plan

Some days you just are not going to make it to class…that’s ok. I sometimes realize I have a blog post to prep or a big dinner to make, or I simply don’t feel like dealing with parking and people and looking half way pulled together. I have a backup plan for those days – I can either take a family walk with my husband and my dog (I like to include squats and lunges on these walks) or I can play a workout video. I love Tracy Anderson’s Pregnancy Project for “off” days – it’s made for pregnant women and is perfect for those days you can’t commit to a class.

DSC_0218Get Comfortable Maternity Wear 

Say what you will, but looking good while working out helps. Back in the day I worked out in ratty old tee shirts and gym shorts and I hated working out. These days I take pride in my workouts and accessorize them with fitted tops and pants and I feel much better about the whole thing. It IS possible to feel this way during pregnancy too.  You may find that your normal stretchy pants hurt real fast (I was shocked, they’re stretchy after all…but nope, they were the first clothing item to turn on me.) Do yourself a favor and invest in a few new pieces. Without a doubt Old Navy has the BEST, most affordable, most comfortable, and yes…cute workout maternity clothes. I ordered a ton of tops and leggings from them and they make my workouts physically and mentally a lot better!

 Talk to Your Doctor

Pretty “duh” right? But having a handle on what your doctor is OK with is key. I started out making a lot of assumptions – thinking crunches and abs were out for 9 months, but my doctor was happy to have me continue since she said my body was used to it. Her best advice was to do what I always do and just listen when my body needs to modify. Talk to your doctor and see what workouts will be best for you and your situation. 🙂

What do you guys think? What’s been working for you guys? Be sure to share in the comments! Next up I’ll be talking about my fav healthy pregnancy foods, so stay tuned!

8 responses to “Staying In Shape During Pregnancy”

  1. dallastyle says:

    You are just the cutest! Loved the workout posts, keep em coming!

    Xx
    Taylor

  2. Staci says:

    so good for you! I have been slacking in the workout department during this pregnancy, I just don’t feel comfortable doing it. On another note, you look great!

    xx

    • Megan Quint Gressel says:

      You def gotta do what feels right, mama! Pregnancy is a real kick in the tush on its own! I will say that the days I can even just get in a solid walk and maybe even a few arms moves with my free weights at home I feel much less aches and pains than the days I skip!

  3. Vanessa says:

    Such an awesome post, Megan! I’ve worked out until I gave birth because it truly has such great benefits!

    Such as:
    1. Boost your energy
    2. Sleep better
    3. Reduce pregnancy discomfort
    4. Prepare for childbirth
    5. Reduce stress and lift your spirits
    6. Improve your self-image
    7. Get your body back faster after childbirth

    I’m a runner, and even though it got a bit tougher running 7 miles or more while 7 months pregnant I still kept going, like you said. I switched to 2 miles instead and made sure I went for walks during my lunch time at work.

    I think it’s super important to regularly exercise, pregnant or not. I’m so happy to see that you do just that! You look amazing!

    xx

  4. Abra says:

    I looove pilates! I’m obsessed. It’s such a good compliment to my swim workouts 🙂

  5. Salima says:

    Prenatal yoga and pilates were on my work out plan while pregnant. Great post!

    http://www.diversastyle.com

  6. Marcie says:

    I’m so glad I found your article. I was all dressed ready to leave for my first class back after a 7week break during first trimester at the doctors recommendations. Now I have the green light to excercise but got nervous. I have done the Pilates Plus/Lagree program for the past two years. I take breaks here and there for vacations or what have you but love my classes and how quickly they whip me back into shape. I noticed you said to skip the stomach excercise a but at the end said your doctor said it was ok for you. Do you have any more insight on that as an instructor? In my reading I noticed it said some stomach excercise a can stretch your muscles out permanently, but others are ok and very good. I so badly do not want to loose my efforts of the last 2 years in the next 9 months!! I appreciate your suggestions!

    • CM says:

      Wondering if you found any more info on this! An admitted lagree junky and don’t want to give up during pregnancy. I’ve been going consistently and doing any plank stuff on my knees at the front of the machine, watching to be sure my stomach isn’t “coning”. Also, avoid any obvious crunches and replacing with arm work. Just want to be sure I’m on the right track!

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