Meet Jennifer, a physical therapist and fitness instructor whose passion for fitness is still going strong in her first pregnancy. She's put the time and effort into researching, learning from others, and growing her understanding of how to work out safely, yet effectively with a baby on the way. Above all, she follows the golden rule of prenatal exercise: listen to your body.
What was the biggest pregnancy exercise myth told to you that you knew (or now know) wasn’t true?
Some people were shocked when I stated that I was still working out after I found out that I was pregnant (mostly people of an older generation). I was told that I should not lift weights or perform any cardio more than a fast walk. After much research and informative sites like this one, I realized that completely avoiding exercise and decreasing my activity level too drastically was not healthy. It is important for women who were active prior to becoming pregnant to continue remaining active as long as they’re physically able.
What was your exercise routine before becoming pregnant?
I did a lot of cardio and interval training on the treadmill, elliptical, and step mill. I weight trained (heavy at times) and performed HIIT routines and challenging exercises (TRX, battle ropes, etc.).
What does your exercise routine look like now?
I work out more with resistance bands and lighter weights instead of always lifting heavy. I have found it is easier on my body than constantly using the heavier weights that I did before. I perform cardio still, however not to the capacity that I did before. I listen to my body and stop when needed especially when running (any signs of pain or cramping and I immediately stop). I focus more on core and lumbar stability exercises and stretching.
What has been the biggest challenge in pursuing physical fitness and exercise during pregnancy?
The biggest challenge was figuring out exactly how to modify my normal workout routine to a safe and effective workout while obtaining a similar “burn.” I used to perform difficult core exercises and knew that most of them were not safe to perform during pregnancy; therefore, developing modifications or alternatives was a challenge initially.
How did you overcome this challenge to Shape Your Pregnancy?
I did a lot of research to determine safe and unsafe exercises (including positions) to perform during pregnancy (throughout each trimester) and if there was anything to avoid, be cautious of, or emphasize during workouts. Truthfully, I learned to listen to my body. Our bodies will tell us if something doesn’t feel right and it’s best to stop.
What message would you want to share with other expecting and new moms?
Fitness has been a huge passion of mine for as long as I can remember. Throughout these 24 weeks (six months) of pregnancy, I’ve really gotten to know my body better than ever. I’m not an expert in prenatal fitness yet (there is so much to learn and I’m constantly researching and taking webinars), but I can say this... It’s so important to listen to your body. I started working out while pregnant with hesitance because I didn't have all the information. I didn’t want to push myself but I honestly didn’t know what pushing myself felt like. I didn’t want to hurt my body or baby but didn’t know exactly what that meant. I didn’t want to perform exercises that were unsafe but didn’t know the specifics.
What you need to remember is that everyone’s fitness level is different. Everyone’s body type and the way it changes during pregnancy is different. Don’t compare yourself to others. Instead, learn from others. Take advice and inspiration from others going through a similar journey. It’s an incredible feeling knowing us women have the ability to grow a human being. Embrace it and love your body. Enjoy fitness in whatever capacity your body allows you. There are days that I rest instead of pushing myself to workout, and I’m comfortable knowing it’s the right thing to do. Your body has a powerful way of letting you know what’s right. Take the time to listen and enjoy the journey.
Do you use Baby2Body?
Yes. I downloaded the app and really enjoy it. The Community forum between women, the articles about a variety of subjects, and information under “Discover” (covering well being, fitness, food, etc.) are very beneficial.