I knew before I became pregnant that I wanted to continue exercising throughout my pregnancy. The consensus is that it’s beneficial for mom and baby. Sounds straightforward enough, but when I started really trying to investigate exactly what type of exercises I could do and how intensely I should workout I wasn’t finding what I wanted. I found many suggestions to begin yoga. “Okay,” I thought, “I’ve done yoga before and it can be very challenging, so this could be good.” Then when I would read about the sequences of poses that were suggested by various books I was really turned off. They looked to be mostly resting poses where this silly sketched pregnant lady is propped up with pillows and blankets and just lying there. It wasn’t “exercise” as I had envisioned. (Caveat: check out my post about prenatal yoga at Hot Yoga Downtown.)
Already bummed that I would have to take a break from soccer, I was looking for something more along the lines of running, spin, and weight lifting. Instead I read that I should “try the elliptical,” “try walking,” “don’t let your heart rate exceed 140 BPM,” and “stop doing abdominal exercises.” As someone who shuns the elliptical in favor of running and stair-climbing, likes to see her heart rate reach 180 in spin class, and cherishes her core-focused workouts, this did not sit well and so I had to look harder. I know I need to adjust, but are walking and yoga really all there is? The health of my baby and me are my number one concern but does this mean cardio and maintaining muscle mass are out of the question? I think not.
Elite Runners: Paula Radcliff and Kara Goucher
At first, I read about Kara Goucher and Paula Radcliff (professional runners) in Runners’ World running throughout their pregnancies and using gravity defying running machines. While I was inspired, I was quite intimidated and, oh yeah, running isn’t my job. Little by little I uncovered some gems of inspiration like this blog by a gym in Richmond, California that is packed full of inspiring pregnant (1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimester) women working out with kettle bells. I also found these blog posts (and this one) about pregnant women keeping fit by weight lifting, water running, swimming, and kayaking. My friend also gave me a handy instructional book for trainers about working with pregnant women. I love that it’s written from the perspective of a trainer with information about the “why” and “how” and not just “do this move, not this one, then do this move, etc.”
With all of this in mind, I’ve taken up spin again at the YMCA in my neighborhood. It feels so good to get some cardio I can’t believe it! Although I can still jog, my pace is so slow it’s sort of frustrating, hence, spin. I like that I can hop on a spin bike and still pump out sprints and hill climbs. Also, I continue to enjoy the strength workouts that we have our JV soccer team do during practice. At this point, I can still do most of them. (Of course, I’ve consulted with my OB regarding my workouts.)
So I guess I didn’t find the magic book, “Rebecca: Here is Your Guide to the Kinds of Exercise You Would Like Throughout Your Pregnancy,” instead I’m writing it as I go, drawing upon the experiences of many different women. Based on how I’ve progressed so far, I’m sure I’ll need to continue adapting and adjusting my workouts as I get closer to my due date.
Lastly, I will keep this mama in mind when it’s time to start working out after I have my baby (if the video in that link doesn’t encourage you to get moving I don’t know what will!).