Pregnant in the gym

Pregnant in the gym

Pregnant to the gym – is it possible? Yes, absolutely. Because sports and exercise during pregnancy are not only good for mom, but also for the baby in the belly. Here are a few tips on what woman can look for when going to the gym during pregnancy to make sure it’s safe to workout on the machines, with free weights and especially in the group fitness lessons. In an interview, fitness instructor Astrid gives us an insight into her pregnancy and her return to the gym after giving birth.

Pregnant to the gym – absolutely!

Many associate a pregnant woman much more likely to be on a couch instead of in gym clothes. Myself, I’ve also experienced time and time again that people have given me a second, rather conspicuous look at my belly while doing sports. As if they had to make sure that there really is a baby bump. In fairness though, I have never received any negative comments. I like to encourage women to keep moving during pregnancy, because it is not only good for your well-being, but also prevents pregnancy discomfort and prepares you for the birth itself as well as for the time after. And by the way, the baby in the belly benefits from it as well (exercise makes babies smart!)

What to watch out for when pregnant in the gym?

Here are some points which I recommend you to keep your gym visits safe during pregnancy:

  • At lesson visits the leading person (group instructor) point out that one is pregnant. Accordingly, individual adjustments can be made.
  • It is best to inform yourself (for example here!), because many instructors do not have additional training in sports and pregnancy (applies likewise to the time after the birth!) and have hardly dealt with this issue.
  • Lessons with a lot of jumps/high impact especially at the beginning of pregnancy and in the last trimester (depending on too much pressure on the pelvic floor and abdomen – can also be very individual) omit and rather attend low impact classes. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) should be avoided.
  • The guideline that your pulse should not exceed 140 beats per minute is outdated. The pulse is individual and on the other hand it is important that a woman does not chase the pulse above 80% of her individual maximum pulse. But for this she needs to know her pulse values. For those who don’t know them, as a guideline, don’t use your pulse rate for a longer period have over 140 beats per minute.
  • I recommend straight abdominal muscles (especially crunches, sit-ups) after a positive pregnancy test to leave out completely. Anyway who has very pronounced abdominal muscles. Because the straight abdominal muscles expand and soften during pregnancy to make room for the baby. That’s why it makes little sense to deliberately shorten it even more.
  • Definitely no straight abs (no straight planks, crunches and generally exercises that create too much pressure on the abdominal wall) more after the 20. Week of pregnancy or as soon as the belly bulges and the two straight muscle bellies move to the side. The weird (no diagonal crunches) and transverse abdominal muscles as well as the pelvic floor may and should be trained until the end.
  • Strength endurance training is especially recommended (more than 15 repetitions). Experienced strength athletes can keep their training with consideration of above mentioned points and adjust the volume as well as the intensity to the course of pregnancy.
  • If you work with weights, you should also adapt them to the growing baby bump and make sure that you do not put too much pressure on the belly. Pregnancy is certainly not supposed to be about building muscle and increasing performance, but much more about maintaining fitness and overall wellness.
  • In general, pay attention to breathing while exercising and exhale with the load and inhale with the relaxation.
  • From a certain week of pregnancy, no more exercises in the abdomen- (when the belly starts to grow) or supine position (if the baby presses too much on the vena cava) run.
  • Don’t let yourself be pushed too much by your environment in group fitness lessons and listen to yourself.
  • In fitness the cross trainer is ideal for cardio training (alternative running training).
  • Drink and always have a snack (z.B. bars or tonsils) have at the same time.

Here is a free mini challenge from sportymum with the most important information about safe exercise during pregnancy (including a 1:1 Video Workout)

Astrid Zimmermann in an interview with sportymum

Astrid is a fitness instructor and since one year mom of a little daughter. During her pregnancy, Astrid contacted me to ask how safe it is as an instructor when still instructing the straight ab exercises as well as about the maximum pulse level when exercising during pregnancy. I was even more pleased when she wrote to me again after the birth and told me that she would like to share her experiences in this interview series.

Pregnancy gym

How active were you in sports before pregnancy and what did you look for when you wanted to get pregnant?

I taught 5-7 group fitness lessons per week, sometimes more, rarely less. I also went jogging now and then. 1x a week I also did interval units on the treadmill or cross trainer (HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training). But my focus was always on the group fitness lessons, especially Bodypump (barbell training), FunTone (a "body toning with functional exercises" in intervals) and abdominal training. While trying to conceive I didn’t really pay much attention at first. I resolved not to worry about it until the time came and still strongly believe in the "all or nothing" principle, at least in the phase before you even know you’re pregnant. However, since we had to wait longer for the pregnancy than expected and also took medical help, I was forced in between for medical reasons to reduce my sports workload.

Pregnant in the gym as an instructor

What was your very first reaction to your pregnancy in connection with your sports activities as well as your profession as a fitness instructor?

I wanted to continue exercising in any case.

What questions did you personally have in connection with sports during your pregnancy??

With the positive test I was unsure about exercises with jumps may still do. Especially in FunTone such exercises often occur, which is why I contacted the inventor of the concept to ask what she would advise. To be on the safe side, she advised me against jumping and told me to discuss it with my gynecologist. Since jogging was never a priority for me, I let it go completely. Further, in the course of the second trimester, the question arose more and more, how long I still Abdominal exercises (abdominal training in pregnancy) could do, concretely how long I could still teach the abdominal lesson. Another issue was that Weight in Bodypump.

How did your training volume and intensity change during the three trimesters compared to the volume before pregnancy?? Were you able to give your lessons in fitness until the end?

At first, the circumference almost did not change at all, I did not have a pregnancy test until the 24. I would have passed on all lessons during the first week. Only then I started to reduce. At first I stopped with the abdominal lesson, because on the one hand I couldn’t show the exercises well and on the other hand I didn’t want to risk anything concerning rectus diastasis. Next I stopped with FunTone. Because it was summer break anyway (otherwise I would have ev. a little longer), but the exercises are partly very dynamic and that was with increasing belly size more and more troublesome for me. I am not very tall and had a relatively big ball that got in my way early on. Bodypump I did until 32. I was hardly able to get up from the step after the exercises and I felt like a walrus during the sometimes rapid changes between the exercises. Then I found it was time to stand backwards. I went to the Bodypump a few more times as a participant, but from the 36th week I had. In the first week, however, only swimming and indoor cycling were possible. Of course the intensity decreased steadily, because I didn’t have the same power as "non-pregnant" anymore. From 38. After the 34th week, I only went for a walk now and then, because I had to manage my strength well, since from the 34th week onwards, I had to be fit. I had problems with my diaphragm from the 36th week on, which made sitting and breathing very difficult at times.

How did the content of your sport activities change during pregnancy?? How have you adapted your Group Fitness lessons?

Content wise I adjusted my exercises a bit from positive test onwards. Just no more jumps and no more HIIT. I am almost the whole pregnancy ca. Once a week I went on the cross trainer or the indoor bike and made sure that my pulse did not exceed 140 beats in the long run. I adapted the exercises in FunTone more and more as my pregnancy progressed. In the bodypump, I reduced the weights as my belly grew. Instead of an intense workout, I also attended body balance lessons more often during pregnancy, which is a mix of Tai Chi, yoga, and Pilates.

What did a typical week of sports during pregnancy look like for you?? Early pregnancy? Late pregnancy?

Did you need more rest during pregnancy? How did this affect you? Do you have special relaxation tips?

Yes definitely. I am a bit of a Duracell bunny. Until pregnancy, I only knew about naps and rest breaks from childhood. But because it was important to me during pregnancy to listen to my body and pay attention, I took more breaks and when I was tired and knew I had to teach later, I also allowed myself a short nap sometimes. So I was definitely more tired and the closer I got to the due date, the less I could do/get done at once. Relaxation tips I can’t really give, but for me it’s relaxing to sit on the sofa, read something or just watch an episode of my favorite show.

Did you ever worry that the exercise might harm the baby in your belly?

Yes, I have. Also, since we had to wait a little longer than expected to get pregnant, I definitely didn’t want to do anything wrong, but at the same time didn’t want to put myself to bed for nine months. I just always listened to my body and did only what I was comfortable with.

Do you feel that exercise in general has an impact on pregnancy?

Yes, I think so. I am convinced that exercise is good for the body during pregnancy and may even help to alleviate or prevent some of the aches and pains. Maybe sport was one of the reasons why I was able to keep my gestational diabetes under control until the end by diet alone and never had to inject insulin. Sport makes me more balanced, which sometimes helped with the emotional turmoil during pregnancy. In addition, I believe that my perseverance and will to persevere also helped me somewhat to get through childbirth.

Sporty re-entry after childbirth

If you like, you may tell us how your birth was.

I had to induce on ET because of gestational diabetes. This is common, because of the diabetes there is an increased risk that the placenta does not supply the child properly. From the 33. That’s why I was closely examined every 3 weeks during my first week. At 23:00 o’clock the induction was started, I had light contractions for 24 hours, more like when the abdomen is constantly hard, just a little stronger, otherwise nothing happened. Every 4h was examined, a CTG was done and once again a tablet was given. After 24h it was decided to give the double dose of the tablets, after which it went off. Unfortunately, the progress was very slow, which is why I got an epidural in the course of the birth. For a short time it was also unclear whether a cesarean section would be necessary. But that was unnecessary and after 22 hours of labor the baby was finally born with a little help (suction cup).

How did you get back into sports after giving birth?? What challenges did you encounter?

Four weeks after the birth I started a regression course with my midwife according to the Cantienica method. I tried to do some of the exercises at home once or twice a week. It was impressive that even the simplest exercises without resistance/additional weight were extremely strenuous. After 9 weeks I stood for the first time again in a bodypump lesson, with super little weight and still very careful. Wide squats z.B. I could not run the first weeks, because this made me pain around the symphysis. Jumping was absolutely taboo. Of course I haven’t done any abdominal exercises yet, especially the straight abdominal muscles. Even straight planks were difficult for a long time. One of the biggest challenges was certainly the time management, when I could go to the fitness, because I was more fixated on group fitness classes than on sports in nature. After a good 4.5 months, I started teaching again. It was impressive how I got fitter week by week from then on again.


Cantienica method

Can you tell us about the Cantienica method??

The Cantienica Method uses special exercises to train the deep muscles by integrating the whole body in each exercise and not just actively tensing the pelvic floor. It also teaches good posture through special exercises that train all the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. Cantienica says: "Just as the mood influences the posture, the posture also influences the mood. Posture and muscle activity stimulate hormone production, good posture stimulates feelings of happiness. Tense, stretched and active skeletal muscles keep nerves active and conductive."

How do you reconcile your job with being a mom??

Since my mother-in-law and mother take turns taking care of my daughter while I work, it works out very well. I work 30% as a medical office assistant in the secretary’s office of a day clinic and teach fitness on the side. When I am away in the evening, my husband looks after the little one. I always know that it is in good hands and I like to go to work. However, it has always been clear to me that I do not want to work more than 40 % the first years, as far as it is financially possible.

What else do you want to get rid of?

It annoys me that sport in pregnancy is still very often seen as negative. Unfortunately, there are still many gynecologists who do not support pregnant women or do not support them enough if they would like to remain active during pregnancy. Often the doctors know too little about this and therefore advise against it as a precaution. I was therefore glad that I came across your blog, that helped me a lot, although my gynecologist was actually very relaxed about sports.



Do YOU also have a PREGNANCY SPORTS STORY (including postpartum sports of course #sportymum) and want to participate in my interview series, then get in touch with me – I’m looking forward to it! Your pregnancy can also be a while ago.

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