how i'm exercising: trimesters one and two
Pregnancy is a confusing time. For every article you read, there are probably another three that contradict everything that it says. This is definitely the case with exercising while pregnant: one website may tell you to never ever do a crunch because your baby's head will explode while another says that crunching is totally fine but if you ever twist your body then your baby WILL NEVER BE PRESIDENT.
What's a girl to do? ASK YOUR DOCTOR.
My doctor told me that I could continue doing all exercises that I was doing before I got pregnant. For me, that meant gym 5-6 times a week (I go to Equinox), which is generally a mix of spinning classes and mostly HIIT (high-intensity interval training). The only exercise she told me to avoid was crunches, but even those aren't really an issue when you're newly pregnant, only when you get bigger.
Many doctors will also advise you against going breathless while working out. That turned out not to be much of an issue for me: one of my very early signs of pregnancy was how quickly I got winded. Literally within days of getting a positive test (and probably before), I noticed the wattage numbers on my spin bike decreasing precipitously. I was getting out of breath on jogs that had previously been easy; even walking up stairs was noticeably more taxing (And, to be clear, I never got the ultra-fatigue that a lot of women get during their first trimester. My energy levels have actually felt pretty stable so far. This was just something that was happening while exercising). So, actually getting to breathless was kind of out of the question anyway.
But, as I've mentioned before, I definitely feel that exercising has given me more energy. Especially during the first two trimesters, the days that I exercised I felt pretty close to normal. Other days, when I was at work and sitting at my desk all day without having done any sort of cardio, I was exhausted by 3 PM. Now, at the beginning of my third trimester, I'm definitely still tired in the evenings, but it's alleviated if I can get to the gym in the morning.
I know that I'm extremely lucky to have been able to work out fairly regularly while pregnant. And I know that it can be a huge struggle to force yourself to wake up in the morning or trek there after work and put yourself through 30-45 minutes of sweaty, hard activity. But if anything gives you motivation, it should be this: the benefits to you and your baby when you exercise are enormous. Healthier babies, easier labor, and a quicker bounce back. That certainly gets my butt in gear.
EXERCISING IN THE FIRST TRIMESTER
Other than avoiding crunches and lying flat on my back, I didn't find that I needed to modify anything. Burpees, jumping/stepping onto boxes, quick feet, etc. all felt fine. I didn't actually tell a lot of my instructors that I was pregnant at first (which, in retrospect, I definitely should have), but I did listen to my body if anything felt off.
EXERCISING IN THE SECOND TRIMESTER
By around week 20, there were some classes to which I had to bid adieu. I had been a huge fan of 30/60/90, but there is A LOT of jumping involved in those routines and when you have to modify everything to low-impact, you don't end up feeling like you're getting much of a workout.
Around week 27, I realized burpees were kind of out of the question, too, which are a feature in most of Equinox's group classes. You can obviously modify to lower-impact, which is what I've been doing lately. As you might imagine, it's just not super comfortable to bend myself in half, which is kind of necessary if you're doing any sort of a squat thrust. Ditto for tuck jumps, quick feet, really anything that shakes your middle. Even running on the treadmill by around week 26 was not fun.
THE UPCOMING THIRD TRIMESTER
So, where does that leave me, now at week 28? Spinning, so far, seems to be fine. I'm hoping to do that 2-3 times a week until someone tells me I can't. Right now, I'm trying to figure out how to get some toning/cardio woven into my weekly schedule, so if anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear them. There are a few group classes at Equinox (Stacked, Tabata) that I think I can probably do for a few more weeks, but I'm guessing once I get into the final stretch, I'll need to do some workouts on my own.
I have, by the way, taken one prenatal yoga class at Yoga Vida, which was not as touchy feely as I was fearing. Also, we all did kegels together, so that was ... interesting. I didn't find it to be a workout, per se, but I think the whole point of it was more stretching and centering the body, which obviously also serves a purpose. My hope is to try and get to a few more of these in before I deliver since yoga has also been proven to help with labor.
Are you/were you a gym rat while pregnant? I'd love to hear what you did!