Morning sickness? Check. Exhaustion? Check. Aches and pains everywhere? Check. Hitting the gym? No way.
Sound familiar? Finding the motivation to work out during pregnancy can be hard, but the benefits are well worth it. (Check out 33 Reasons to Exercise Now, if you’re not convinced.)
The solution: Make exercise fun with group classes that add variety to your routine—and actually make you look forward to pulling on a sports bra. Which classes get the preggo thumbs up? We spoke to the experts and got the rundown on the safest exercises for pregnancy, along with modifications that make them even more pregnancy-friendly.
Spinning and cycling classes get a major green light: Peddling is good for circulation, says Lisa Robins, a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor based in Arizona. This, in turn, increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients your baby receives.
Make modifications: Set up the bike safely by lowering the handlebars to decrease the stress on your lower back. And avoid any jumps or movements that require leaving the saddle. If spinning classes are too intense or uncomfortable, try the recumbent bikes on the gym floor—they’re a less taxing workout.
Yoga eases tension, boosts your mood, and can even make for an easier delivery. In general, a yoga practice that emphasizes therapeutics and alignment awareness is a good choice, says Allison English, a certified Forrest Yoga Instructor.
Make modifications: Avoid poses that involve rigorous twisting, that could compress the baby from either side, or require you to lie on your back. Hot yoga is also a no-go: It's tough on both you and your baby-to-be.
It’s a great cardiovascular workout, but since it requires side stepping, jumping, and turning movements, don’t feel like you need to do every move the instructor does.
Make modifications: Avoid jumping, high-impact movements, and spinning (or spin slowly, if you're comfortable with it). The key here is to moderate your movements and pace to your comfort level.
"TRX is great because you can take the resistance off your joints and change the intensity to suit your body and needs," says Carla Zeitlin, a fitness pregnancy specialist and CORE Personal Fitness Trainer. Plus, it's perfect for squatting motions because the pulley system takes a lot of the pressure off of your knees and joints.
Make modifications: "Don’t do any suspended core exercises in your third trimester," says Zeitlin.
Do it: It may reduce pain during labor, according to a study published in Reproductive Health, finding that women who did water aerobics three times a week were less likely to ask for pain relief during labor, compared to those who didn't exercise.
Make modifications: You want to keep the amount of time you're treading water to a minimum: Only take classes that are in the shallow end of the pool.
“Doing Pilates throughout your pregnancy will help keep you relaxed during delivery,” says Lizbeth Garcia, San Diego–based Pilates instructor and creator of the 10 Minute Solution: Prenatal Pilates DVD, as we reported in A Pilates Workout for the Whole 9 Months.
Make modifications: Avoid inversions, arm balance movements, and lying on your back. And if you choose a reformer class, don't use the jump board, says Zeitlin.
The ballet-inspired classes include legwork with minimal jumping, making it a great option for pregnant women.
Make modifications: Some of the lower body movements may put strain on your back, so move to your hands and knees if you start to feel achey, says Sara Haley, a prenatal fitness instructor and designer of Expecting More pregnancy exercise DVD.
Want a ballet-inspired workout without the barre? Try Mary Helen Bower’s Prenatal Ballet Beautiful Workout.