Dear Fitness Expert,
My husband and I are now planning for a baby very soon and want to get our bodies in shape both mentally and physically. I am uncertain if I should join a gym for physical fitness.
Our daily course of work is not physically demanding. My husband is very active in his gym training and has been doing weights for months. I, on the other hand, have been very lazy but I want to do some sort of a physical exercise now. My body mass weight is in proportion to my height. I'm 5'6 and weigh 58kgs.
I really like dance-aerobics or aerobics...
Do you think joining a gym would be a right step for me or should I stick to some walking and simple stretching?
Please advise. Thanks,
Good for you and your husband for being so conscious of proper physical health before the baby comes! Prior to even answering your question, let me say that being physically fit makes you better parents. Studies show that parents -- both parents -- who work out regularly are happier, more patient and tolerant. Exercising parents tend to make better food choices for children, sleep better and have a better attitude toward parenting.
You are less likely to be sick and will have far more stamina to play, read and interact with your child.
For women who are pregnant, exercise offers many of the same benefits. You are more likely to have a easier and faster labor and delivery. Women who work out recover more quickly and are less likely to suffer from postpartum depression.
I love that you have identified that you are "lazy!" This is a great start because you are being so honest. It is okay to have lazy days but once you become a mother -- let me rephrase -- once you become a GOOD mother, your days of being lazy are over. So, its best to start training now!
A husband who is already dedicated to exercise can be a great partner in baby care so that you can both continue to workout. A frequent complaint I hear from women who do not have exercising husbands is that their partner does not understand the importance of exercise and is not supportive.
If you have the means to join a gym, I always encourage pregnant women to join. Here is why. The environment is controlled. You can avoid heat/freezing weather, ice/rain, pollution and changing daylight hours. There is the safety factor of always having professional around you should you slip/fall or feel faint.
As your body changes throughout the pregnancy, you will find that things you were doing at five months are no longer comfortable or even possible without adjustments. The wide variety of equipment but also a professional trainer allow you to change as your body grows.
There will be times when you feel more cumbersome or clumsy. Again, it is good to have a trainer look at your form. Without realizing it, you will change the way you stand or lift. A trainer will spot you and correct bad body positioning.
If you have the financial means, here is what I suggest:
First, you must speak to your OB/GYN. Because we don't know your medical history, we can't tell you to work out until you get the okay from a doctor.
Find a gym and talk to a trainer who has worked with pregnant clients before. It is okay to interview different trainers until you find someone you are comfortable with.
Purchase a rectal thermometer. I know...it sounds terrible but when you read our information on inner core temperature (find on the site), you will understand the importance of always checking your inner core temperature for the safety of your baby when you are pregnant.
Even if you cannot afford to work with a trainer weekly, have a trainer give you an initial tour of the gym and set you up with a program. Every four weeks, make another appointment to do an assessment and re-assessment of your training while you are pregnant.
Finally, walking and stretching are wonderful but you want to lift weights as well. Come time for labor and delivery, you will want the physical conditioning of lifting to help you push and later recover!
Alexandra Allred is a former member of the US Women's Bobsled team, is an accomplished martial artist, and continues to teach kickboxing while juggling her career as a full-time writer and mother of three. She has interviewed hundreds of athletes, models, actresses, trainers, doctors, and health/fitness experts as she sought to find answers to her own questions about working out while pregnant, arranging breast-feeding around a training schedule, diet when pregnant and breastfeeding, and encouraging her whole family.
Alex is the author of ten books, including Atta Girl! A Celebration of Women in Sports and Entering the Mother Zone: Balancing Self, Health & Family. We're excited to have her on board!