Friday, April 10, 2015

Prenatal Fitness: What I've learned, part 1

Biggest issue that I've learned from pregnant women with regards to fitness and working out during their pregnancy: no two women will get the same answer with regards to fitness.

For many women, if they were working out prior to becoming pregnant, they were most likely told that they can continue what they were doing, but to listen to their body if they became tired sooner or to back off if a movement was bothering them. 

For those who may have been living a sedentary life prior to their pregnancy, they were most likely told one of two things: yes, you should become active and work into it slowly (this is true for anyone, pregnant or not), or no, trying to get fit now will be bad for you and baby. This last statement is something that has always boggled my mind because when is movement EVER bad for you? Did we revert to the 1960's when it was believed that running too much was bad for the reproductive system of women? Are there certain things a complete beginner shouldn't do when starting a new fitness routine? Absolutely. Does that mean that they should do nothing? Not by a long shot. 

Every single person moves, how much they move depends on them, but everyone moves. Walking, bending, and squatting for example, are movements that are done almost every day for most people. Excluding my workouts, I walk around my apartment, climb stairs multiple times a day, step in and out of the bathtub for a shower, bend over to tie my shoes, squat to get a pot or pan out of the cabinet, along with much more. That's just a typical day for me at home, and I do more than that at my job.

By no means am I telling anyone to not speak to their doctor and their OBGYN. You may have certain conditions that may restrict certain activities or limit how much of others you can do. If you have doubts about something, ask. I was once told that the only stupid question out there is the one you don't ask. As a personal trainer, I want you to ask questions. I want you to feel confident with what you're doing and if I don't have an answer, I'll do my research. Yes, I will ask about your health history, what you've done in the past with regards to fitness, what you're currently doing, your diet, if you have any health concerns or restrictions, and if necessary, reach out to your doctor for specifics. Your safety is my #1 concern and I will tell you that. Will I get annoying for correcting your form for the umpteenth time? Probably. Am I trying to limit your chance of getting injured? You bet. 

Back to the topic at hand: what I've learned about prenatal fitness. Number 1 thing I've learned: regardless of your stage of pregnancy, get off your butt and move! Go for a walk, swim, bike, try a prenatal yoga class, but do something. Are you a beginner? Start with walking for 10 minutes a day and work to improve your cardiovascular endurance. Your heart will get stronger, you'll be able to walk for longer the more you work at it, and you'll have more energy. Are you a veteran? Great job and keep up the hard work! Regardless of your level of fitness, one thing is standard across the board for all women during their pregnancy: listen to what your body is telling you. Are you feeling fatigued? Having a hard time breathing? Do you feel absolutely wiped out? Either back off and take a rest or call it a day. Your body is growing another human being, and that takes a lot of energy by itself. If you feel like you need a nap, go take a nap. I slept a significant amount more during my first trimester than I thought possible. I barely had the energy to take my dog for a mile walk, let alone think about going for a run. Did I get my energy back? Yes. Was it hard getting back into the swing of things? Very. Did I quit? Nope, and I don't plan to. 

The second thing I've learned when researching prenatal fitness and what's offered for pregnant women is that the only thing I've seen as far programs/classes go is that prenatal yoga is basically it. While I've seen Stroller-cise and many other programs for postnatal women, there's virtually nothing for the currently pregnant woman. 

Now I know that no two women are the same in pregnancy and no fitness program/class can be a one size fits all, but why aren't there more prenatal fitness classes out there? I have nothing against prenatal yoga by any means, but for me, yoga just really isn't my thing. Have I done yoga in the past? Yes. Have I been to yoga classes before? Yes, but I've also tried step, Zumba, cycling/spinning, TRX, CrossFit, and others so I'm not opposed to trying anything. As a trainer, it's important for me to try a variety of classes and try out various instructors because at some point, a client will ask what I think of So-and-So's class or of _______ class, and I should be able to give them my opinion, pros and cons, and why they should try or not try it. 

Do I think there should be a Mommy Bootcamp type of class or some other fitness class for soon-to-be moms? Yes! Should it be designed to fit all stages of pregnancy? Absolutely! Is this something that I want to start at my facility if it doesn't exist? You bet! Why would I want to start something like this? Why not would be my initial answer, but because it's a great way for soon-to-be moms to meet and bond over stories and experiences, make new friends, and get fit in the process! The benefits of being fit during a pregnancy can far outweigh the risks of being sedentary: labor could be smoother, recovery could be faster, your body could bounce back sooner. 

I can't say that I've experienced any of this from personal experience as this will be my first child, but I've heard stories and spoken to people I know who were both fit going into delivery and who had been sedentary going into delivery, and the length of recovery was much longer for those who were sedentary or who had complications. Personally, I want as much as my labor and delivery to be as smooth as possible and if that means working out and strength training on a regular basis, then I will do what it takes to try to make the process smoother (notice I didn't say easier. There's nothing easy about labor and delivery, or so I've been told). 

Nothing can make your day like a little pregnancy humor!

Thanks for reading part 1! Part 2 will be coming soon!

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