Did You Know....? Best Exercise for a Healthy Pregnancy

Working out (safely) while pregnant is extremely beneficial for both you as an expecting mom and your baby.

As a woman, and even more when you're a mom (or mom-to-be), I strongly believe in the importance of you getting some “me time” everyday, to zone out from the daily to-do’s, to give yourself some self-love, and rebuild your inner and outer strength. Plus, we all know that when a woman is feeling good and happy, she's a better mom/better wife, etc., so everyone benefits when "mom" has her time to workout and “recharge”.

There are many benefits to practicing safe exercise during pregnancy, including:

  • Improves sleep. When you’re pregnant, it's extremely common to fall out of your usual sleeping routine. With all the changes going on in your body, sleeping well may be harder than ever. But when you exercise during your pregnancy, you use up some of that energy and are likely to have an easier chance of falling asleep at a reasonable hour. Note: Most experts recommend exercising in the morning or during the day, not right before bed, as that may energize you too close to bedtime.
  • Improves mood. When your hormones are high and you are feeling off, working out can help calm your anxiety. Endorphins are released during a workout which will help alleviate any stress weighing down your mood. Plus, you'll feel more confident after working up a sweat!
  • Reduces back or hip pain. Many pregnant women experience back, hip, or pelvic pain during pregnancy, especially as they get further along. Light exercise (like barre) can help keep your body flexible and in optimal condition.
  • Quicker postpartum recovery. Exercising consistently during your pregnancy will help you shed those extra pounds much quicker, and since you’ll be more fit to begin with, it’ll be much easier for you to pick up where you left off, even after having the baby. Additionally, many exercises (like barre and some yoga) specifically help you open up your pelvic area and increase both your strength and flexibility in a way that supports your birth process and recovery post birth.

But there are definitely some workouts that tend to be better than others during pregnancy. In my experience, I have found BARRE to be one of the best workouts for most pregnant women.

WHY BARRE?

For a few years now, I’ve been pretty obsessed with BARRE, and one of the main things that attracted to me to the workout was how it’s AMAZING for women of all kinds and in all stages of their lives. I love that its extremely challenging while being soft on the body, and I loved seeing so many pregnant women taking class until the day before giving birth, and feeling better than ever!

 photo: the/thirty

photo: the/thirty

To understand why barre is such an amazing workout during pregnancy, its key to understand what the class consists of.

WHAT IS BARRE?

BARRE is a fusion of pilates, yoga, ballet and a total-body conditioning class. The classes are high energy, challenging, yet low-impact, and done with fun, upbeat music (especially at Balance Studio where our classes are mostly inspired by the awesome model of Exhale).

The traditional barre class is a 55 or 60-minute class providing a TOTAL BODY workout, made up of low impact, body resistant moves, with a ton of emphasis on the core. All the movements during barre are extremely effective, using working multiple muscle groups at once, giving you an increased heart rate, while you tone and strengthen every muscle in your body. In barre, you focus on lengthening and strengthening muscles, changing the structure of your body, creating sculpted arms, a lifted booty, and tighter hips, thighs and waistlines.

And the best thing about barre (and a key focus at Balance Studio) is that by keeping the class challenging, and keeping you focused on your form and your breath, you can escape from everything going on in your mind outside class, and really tune-in to your body (increasing your mind-body connection). 

WHY IS IT GREAT FOR YOU & YOUR BABY?

Due to the low impact, controlled and focused nature of the workout, barre is perfectly adaptable to pregnancy - and beyond that, many feel as though the technique was created specifically for it! Barre is a safe and effective workout that prepares you both mentally and physically for labor, and will ease postnatal recovery.

Each barre class targets the thighs (inner and outer), glutes, hamstrings, pelvic floor, abdominals, and upper and lower back, so you cover all key areas needed for both a better pre- and post-natal experience. It helps for these muscle groups to be both strengthened and lengthened, to accommodate the growth of the baby and for you to feel better in your constantly-changing body.

HERE ARE 7 TIPS FOR PRACTICING BARRE WHEN PREGNANT:

  1. Check with your doctor. Even though barre is an amazing workout during pregnancy, every pregnancy is different, so always get clearance from your doctor before starting any exercise regime.
  2. Listen to your body, breathe & hydrate. The classes are non-competitive so you’re encouraged to do what makes you feel good. It’s important to pace yourself, keeping your heart rate at a reasonable level. Always move with control and care, TAKE A BREAK if/when you need it, FOCUS ON YOUR BREATHING, and STAY HYDRATED while exercising. If you feel dizzy at any point, stop and breathe. 
  3. Eat something at least 2.5 hours before (or less).  Everyone is different, but we generally recommend you don't come on a completely empty stomach (without having eaten anything in the past 3 hours). Have something in your belly, even if it's a small snack that you eat anywhere from 20 mins - 2.5 hours before class. However, avoid eating something too big right before class.
  4. Keep your head above your heart: Blood volume increases when pregnant (up to 50%+ by the third trimester), and with more blood to pump, the heart works harder. The head should be kept above the heart to keep circulation consistent and the heart rate at a reasonable pace.
  5. Use the barre ball. Using the grey barre ball during ab exercises behind your lower back will help remove pressure from your lower back and allows you to still work your abs but will less strain. It offers extra comfort and support for your abs, back, head, neck and shoulders.
  6. Don’t over-twist. During some barre classes we twist quite a bit when warming up and stretch, but I recommend that our pregnant students refrain from twisting to much, and avoid bringing the knee pressed up against the belly. Allow your belly to always have its space.
  7. Don’t quit your ab exercises. While it's important to tailor/adapt your abdominal exercises when pregnant, core strength is essential to help your body adapt to the postural changes during pregnancy. Therefore, appropriate ab work can and should be continued. It’s all about balance; the belly needs to be flexible enough to allow for the baby to grow, but strong enough to support that growth. The great news is that you engage your abs throughout barre class, using your abs to stabilize and perfect every posture during class. So even when you modify and take small breaks during the more targeted ab exercises, you exit the class with a stronger midsection.

Know anyone who is pregnant? Please SHARE this article! If you are pregnant and inspired to workout during your pregnancy, just remember to follow my tips above, always check with your doctor and constantly tune-in to your own body.

Love and Pre-Natal Barre,

Mariana