Pre- and post-baby classes to try, with modifications for your changing body.
Everything in this slideshow
It's easy to focus on the things you can't do while preggers. Thankfully, fitness doesn't fall under that category. It's a myth that you can't start new types of exercise during pregnancy (it's fine with your doctor's OK), and these eight safe and super fun classes prove it: four prenatal workouts to tame pregnancy complaints and keep pounds in check, plus four postnatal calorie-burners that'll help you get your body back.
A few safety tips to keep in mind: Avoid lying on your back after the first trimester, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, be sure to let the instructor know you're expecting or you just gave birth and, by all means, listen to your body. Post-baby, wait six weeks after delivery (or longer if you had a Cesarean section) to start exercising, and be sure to check with your doctor first. So, stop dwelling on the don'ts and start doing!
A hip-swiveling calorie-burner, Zumba (zumba.com) can do as much for your self-confidence as your curves. "A lot of women don't feel sexy when pregnant. But moving this way can help you feel sexy," says Angie Acosta, a Zumba instructor in Charlotte, N.C.
The hip rolling and core conditioning in this standing ab workout primes your pushing muscles, and the dance moves set to lively beats (think merengue, salsa and hip-hop) also increase your ever-changing sense of balance and coordination.
Modifications: Skip any jumping or quick twisting.
Prenatal: Aqua Boot Camp
Forget granny-style pool classes, this hourlong class uses resistance tools and cardio moves to tone your upper body and core while burning fat and improving flexibility—all without the high-impact pounding that comes with regular aerobics. "Pregnant women will feel considerably lighter in water so they can move around a lot better," says Ellis Peters, aqua boot camp instructor at Equinox fitness in New York City.
Other pregnancy pluses: Water decreases stress on the joints and research shows that pregnant women who do water aerobics are less likely to ask for pain meds during delivery. To find a class, visit Equinox (equinox.com) or check your local gym.
Modifications: As your belly expands, widen your stance and your kicks.
Prenatal: The Dailey Method
"We train alignment from the inside out," says Jill Dailey Mcintosh, founder of The Dailey Method (thedaileymethod.com), a combination of ballet barre work, core conditioning and orthopedic exercise.
Properly aligning your spine before engaging your muscles protects your joints, and it can alleviate pregnancy-related back pain. Plus, classes emphasize the pelvic floor.
Modifications: Once you start showing, do planks and push-ups on your knees.
Prenatal: Soul Cycle
Indoor cycling, plus full-body sculpting, plus candlelight, plus pump-me-up music make this 45-minute class one heck of a ride. Prenatal riders will also love the head-clearing aspect: so long, pregnancy brain!
So far, Soul Cycle (soul-cycle.com) is only in New York and Los Angeles, but it's expanding. In the meantime, look for an indoor cycling class in your neighborhood.
Modifications: "Do what's comfortable, whether that's riding in or out of the saddle," says New York-based instructor Stacey Griffith.
Postnatal: The Bar Method
Breastfeeders, rejoice! The Bar Method (barmethod.com) is non-impact (no bouncing!).
But don't let the small, isolated barre-style moves fool you. The combo of interval training and isometrics burns excess baby fat without impacting vulnerable post-pregnancy joints. It also targets the muscles new moms most want to firm up—butt, thighs and abs.
Modifications: Each exercise comes with variations, so you can choose your intensity level.
Postnatal: Sumits Yoga
Hot yoga meets power flow in this 80-minute class that features both balancing and energizing poses—and music!
The heated room (100 to 105 degrees) promotes calorie burning, and the sequence of poses improves posture, balance, alignment and core strength. Plus, the deep breathing encouraged in Sumits Yoga (sumitsyoga.com) can help stimulate the relaxation response, a major plus for frazzled new moms.
Modifications: Do what feels right, not what the person next to you is doing.
"Kinesis is a mix of core, strength, endurance, interval training, balance and cardio, so new moms get an all-over workout," says Lia Pulver, fitness director at Camelback Village Racquet & Health Club in Phoenix. It also helps correct baby-induced body imbalances (psst!: Carting baby around on one hip can cause tightness).
The class, which runs 30, 45 or 60 minutes, centers around the Kinesis device, a four-station pulley system. Email email@example.com to find the facility nearest you.
Modifications: The small class size (10 people, max) means one-on-one attention and customized modifications.
Actress Hilary Duff's stay-fit secret? Piloxing (piloxing.com). Created by Viveca Jensen (she's also Duff's trainer), the high-intensity cardio workout mixes two- to four- minute blasts of boxing, Pilates and dance for a fat-scorching, muscle-sculpting good time that works you to the core, literally.
"The core is the key to Piloxing," says Jensen. The Pilates portion sculpts glutes and thighs, while the punching portion builds arm strength (you'll need it post-baby).
Modifications: Wear a sports bra and walk it out if it gets too bouncy on tender breasts.