From pole dancing, to aerial fitness, ballet and weightlifting, pregnant women across the globe have been sharing their fearless fitness secrets and it’s fair to say that keeping fit during pregnancy has never looked so fun.
We interviewed 15 pregnant women from the UK, USA, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal and Russia about their workouts and why they believe keeping fit during pregnancy has benefited their physical and mental health.
Exercises During Pregnancy to Make You a #Fitmum
1. Pole Dancing
Dakota Fox (@dakotafox84), a pole dancer from the US says that she wanted to continue leading an active lifestyle for her own physical and mental well-being.
She says, “I love pole dancing so much, that to lose that connection with myself and with my community of pole sisters at home, simply because I was pregnant, would have been devastating!
Being pregnant is not the time to kick our feet up and let things go… it is just as important as ever to lead a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy!
“This mindset helped me to stay motivated, kept my weight gain within healthy levels and helped me respect my body as I shifted into a new life role as a mother. My postpartum recovery has been amazing, even with an unexpected c-section. I feel like I retained my identity during pregnancy; it is all too easy to lose ourselves when becoming a parent. I can be a mother, and a dancer, and a wife, and a fitness leader… all at the same time!”
2. Aerialist Acrobatics
Jillian Edwards (@jillian_brooke_silks), an Aerialist from America shows that you can still continue to do the sports you love, no matter what they are! She says that, “I go with what my body will allow, but I am still able to teach Aerial Silks and manoeuvre through the fabric at 8 months pregnant”.
Tara-Brigitte Bhavnani (@tarabhavs) is a UK based ballerina, model, presenter and coach who shows that she hasn’t had to stop dancing and being active after becoming pregnant. She was even able to dance at 39 weeks pregnant! You can see her work here: www.brigitteballet.com
Shakira Martin (@shakira.akabusi, @StrongLikeMumUK) is a mum passionate about reshaping the attitudes towards pre and post-natal fitness and about what it means to be a strong mum. Combining her experience as a personal trainer and a mother, she created StrongLikeMum – a wellness plan designed to help women keep active at home without the need for expensive fitness equipment.
She says, “As a mum, time can be tight and getting a moment to hit the gym can be tricky”.
Her top tips include:
- Keep it Simple.
- Stay extra hydrated and refuel with healthy nutritious food.
- Avoid uneven surfaces, especially exercising outside! Remember, your centre of gravity shifts during pregnancy!
- Stay comfortable – the pregnancy hormone relaxin causes the pelvic ligaments to feel ‘looser’ so stay within comfortable ranges of movement.
German yoga enthusiast Yavi Hameister (@yavi_moves) says that exercise during pregnancy is like having breakfast in the morning; it is an integral part of her everyday life.
“I love it because it gives me strength, health and positive energy. Being pregnant doesn’t mean you are ill so you can still exercise and keep fit.”
She acknowledges how the internet makes it even easier to find many good sources of safe workouts and nutrition tips to help mothers-to-be gain more confidence and courage.
Ana Fragoso (@anafragosoifbb) is an award winning Bikini Fitness athlete, model and mum from Portugal who has demonstrated through her social media how you can lead an active lifestyle throughout pregnancy.
The secrets behind her success are simple:
- Maintain good habits.
- Continue to train.
- Fuel yourself properly with enough food.
She highlights how staying active is important for the mum and baby, both physically and mentally.
Healthy mom, healthy baby!
6. Functional Fitness
Italian weightlifter, Juili Jub (@giulijub) says, “Despite what most people might erroneously believe, keeping my training habits unchanged during pregnancy has not only brought invaluable benefits to me and my child’s overall health, but has also allowed me to tackle the moment of labour, birth and psychophysical recovery post-partum, in full energy and serenity.”
7. Personal Training
Silvia Segala (@mamma_sportiva) from Italy believes that sport is good for both physical and mental health as well as something to be enjoyed with your children. She notes how exercise during pregnancy helps to prepare muscles for childbirth and helps to manage humoral and hormonal changes in the body.
Fitness coach, Margaux Doranlo (@mgtraining) from France shares how it wasn’t until after she became pregnant that she properly understood her clients concerns with losing weight and returning to their previous body shape post-natal. She explains that doing sport during pregnancy not only makes the post-natal training process much easier but also helps the birth process itself and in restoring good quality sleep.
8. Find Balance
Sara Viktoria (@saraviktoria), a German fitness and lifestyle blogger claims that, “the babies were always calm during exercise, so I think they liked it.”
She recommends everyone listen to their instincts but to not put themselves under stress and to always consult with their doctor.
9. Bodyweight Exercises
Harriet Rieper, founder of Fit Mum Club (@fitmumclub), recommends training in teams because the motivation is much higher and easier to exchange thoughts and feelings with others going through the same challenges.
Her favourite activity is outdoor strength training and says it helps combat any uncomfortable and overwhelming feelings, leaving you fit, happy and confident.
“My training gave me a lot of energy and self-confidence. I felt very strong and as if I could do anything. It was also something that I shared closely with my baby, because during exercise you are more aware of the movements of the baby and his/her reactions to your movements.”
She believes training is necessary for birth and postnatally but suggests every woman listen to her body because it is the ultimately the best guide!
Caroline Rinaudo (@fitmumfrance) is a French fitness coach, functional fitness trainer and Zumba instructor and is used to advising on pre-natal and post-partum health. She explains how staying fit during pregnancy can help alleviate many of the unpleasant side effects associated, such as nausea, fatigue and back pain.
She says, “there is no need for 300 squats or a 1500m-swim every day. Instead, practice the sport you like, whenever you feel like it and listen to your body.”
11. Breathing Exercises
Russian bikini fitness model and Myprotein ambassador, Ekaterina Shokhina (@katrin_shok) shares how she found exercising has helped to increase activity in the last months of pregnancy. She notes that she only does exercises that are suitable for the stage of pregnancy and advises paying close attention to breathing and technique to ensure that there are no negative effects on the baby.
12. Light Cardio
Jenny (@_jenny_e._) from Germany is passionate about fitness and has blogged about her fitness journey whilst pregnant. She says,
Every woman gains weight during pregnancy – this is completely normal. But if you pay attention to your diet and do sports now and then you won’t gain as much weight and feel comfortable after having the child.
Her top tips include:
- Stick to cardio and light sports – especially courses which train your back to avoid back problems.
- Consult a fitness coach for a training plan if you are unsure
- Stick to light exercises which will be sure to strengthen and not hurt.
- Don’t “eat for two” but have a healthy and balanced diet.
Certified Personal Trainer and Ex ProVolleyball player, Naiara Bertini (@naiafernandes.pt) from Italy shares how she was able to run 4km at 30 weeks pregnant showing you can stay active throughout your whole pregnancy.
What’s the Truth Behind Exercising When Pregnant?
Myprotein GP, Dr Mike Orton, says staying active during pregnancy is part of our human evolution; “Even in our caveman days, women would be out there hunting and gathering for survival until close to the birth, it’s a myth that women shouldn’t continue to exercise at a normal level during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.”
He also adds that,
Keeping physically active during pregnancy is extremely beneficial as it keeps blood pressure lower. This is one of the biggest issues that concern pregnant women.
But at what stage of gestation is it sensible to exercise until?
“Once a pregnant woman reaches 28 weeks, the weight of the baby may start to lead to lower back problems. At this point, it would be advised to move away from more strenuous exercise regimes to gentler forms of exercise such as walking, pilates, yoga and core strength movements,” adds Orton.
Orton’s additional medical advice would be to continue exercising at your normal level and avoid taking up something that you’ve never done before. “99% of the female population will do well to exercise up until it becomes uncomfortable, but be sensible and seek medical advice first, especially if you’re thinking of taking up something you’ve never done before. Furthermore, if you develop any risk factors during a pregnancy, then you need to seek specific professional advice about exercising.”
*** Please note that these are personal accounts and that anyone considering exercising whilst pregnant must still consult with their personal doctor beforehand. ***