Exercise and Pregnancy

Audra Wilson is a local mom and group fitness instructor at the Stephen’s Family YMCA. She has two kids; 5, 2 ½ and is in her third trimester with her third child. She has always been pretty active throughout her life. She was a gymnast for 10 years and became a cheerleader and pole vaulter in High School. Audra competed in college as a pole vaulter. After her kids were born she had a hard time finding a fitness routine that worked with her busy schedule, like most new moms. Then she found the YMCA, the group fitness classes with childcare and  the motivation she needed to get back into it. She fell in love with Bodyflow and decided to pursue getting certified to teach. She was also introduced to BARRE and decided get certified in teaching that as well. She currently teaches Bodyflow, Barre, and a Mommy and Me Yoga class. Audra is excited to share how she modifies the work outs for her during her pregnancy!

When it comes to pregnancy and fitness, many people have a lot of questions on what is recommended and safe, and what isn’t.  Knowing that I am not a healthcare professional, I don’t claim to have all the answers. With my fitness background, and research along the way, I feel I have gotten a better idea on what to expect when it comes to working out through pregnancy.

Talk to your healthcare provider about your plans for exercise during pregnancy. If you have been regularly working out pre-pregnancy it is safe to continue a similar routine. Continue to check in with your body and don’t be afraid to make modifications as necessary depending on how you are feeling. Things will continue to change throughout pregnancy so continue to be aware of how you’re feeling throughout a workout.

If you have not been in a routine of working out, pregnancy can be a great time to start up a fitness routine. Low-impact to moderate exercise is recommended. Exercise in pregnancy can help better prepare your body for labor and delivery and decreases your chances of complications that might come with it. Exercise can also prevent abdominal wall separation, (a condition that causes lower back pain and pelvic floor dysfunction), help regulate your babies birth weight, and have an overall positive impact on you and baby.

Here are some modifications you can make throughout specific group fitness classes.

Bodyflow/Yoga modifications

    Stand hip width apart instead of together in forward fold and standing strength (intense pose for example)

hip width intense pose

    Instead of crocodile and up dog you can do a cat/cow pose. On hand and knees, curve your spine and tuck your chin into your chest. Then arch your back and lift your chin up.

Cow pose

cat pose   

     Wiggle/move through stagnant holding positions. This will help prevent changes in blood pressure

    Avoid cross body twisting. Do an open twist during the twisting tracks of the workout.

open twist

    During core work, prop your body up using your elbows or arms behind you so that your heart is lifted and avoid laying flat on your back.  This helps maintain blood flow to your heart. You can lift and lower pushing off your arms or lift and lower your legs if you are on your elbows

core option b&w

    During back tracks, come to a horse stance on hands and knees and lift the opposite arm and leg for back stability and strength

Horse Stance with opposite arm_leg

    Be careful in stretching portions of class not to over stretch your muscles because the hormone released in pregnancy can loosen your joints. A good rule of thumb is to not stretch beyond what you were doing pre-pregnancy. Now is not the time to learn a yoga scorpion move! Sorry friends.

Use all the above modifications throughout any class in addition to these:

Bodyattack, Bodystep (recommended only if you previously have been taking these classes)

    Take lower impact options. Keep firm footing and lower your step risers for lower impact and prevent falling.

Bodypump/Lifting classes

    Raise/incline one side of your step for shoulder and chest tracks so you aren’t laying flat on your back.

If your belly is beginning to get in the way when you clean and press, substitute an upright row,  knee push ups, or come to a wall do wall pushups

Sha’bam/Bodyjam/Zumba/Dance classes

    Avoid cross body twisting. Listen to your body and take breaks when necessary.

RPM/Cycling classes

    Maintain similar routine, taking less resistance, breaks when needed, and avoiding standing positions when uncomfortable.

The following Les Mills classes are not recommended in pregnancy according to their website:


    Due to the joint instability it may cause

GRIT/Plyometrics Classes

    The intensity level is too intense


    Not recommended in the 3rd trimester because of the intense core focus that is difficult to avoid in this class

Along with that, drink plenty of water and wear loose clothing to avoid over-heating your body because your baby is unable to self regulate heat. Take breaks when you need to. Stay active and have fun!  Remember, pregnancy is a time for maintenance of the body…not a time to strive for big fitness goals! But, just because you are pregnant doesn’t mean you have to stop all working out. It is actually the best time to workout for your health and the baby’s! And don’t be shy. Ask your instructor on appropriate options and suggestions. They are there to help you! Don’t be afraid to try something new or continue the classes you had been attending. With these modifications you can get through any fitness class!


Photo Credit: Alyssa Brooke Photography