Dear Fitness Expert,
I have been doing aerobics and kickboxing for several years. While pregnant with my first child my doctor recommended I stop doing kickboxing. I am now wanting to get pregnant again and would like to continue kickboxing and aerobics for as long as possible. At what point do you think I should stop?
Oh, be still my heart! I love kickboxing and taught kickboxing (I still do) into my nine month of pregnancy with my third child. Because I was already accustomed to the workouts -- as you are -- I continued to workout, adjusting my level of intensity as I moved along. As long as you are not sparring with another person, this activity is perfectly safe.
However, a few points need to be made. Remember that as your baby grows, your joints loosen. Gone are the days of wild kicking. You need to be mindful of your hips. Lower the kicks, decrease the intensity if you are kicking against a heavy bag. You need to carry three things with you at all times while you train: water, heart monitor and a rectal thermometer.
I know... icky! Let me explain. Kickboxing is so much fun with the intense punching and kicking, the loud music and packed rooms. It is very easy for you to overheat without realizing it. A heart monitor will let you keep tabs on your heart rate. Yes, it is safe for it to go beyond 140 beats per minute as you are an experienced exerciser. But you want to make sure you are not at 180 to 200 beats per minute for the duration of the class. That is too much. You can hang at 180 for a few minutes but then you must bring it down.
Walk it off, get some water, catch your breath and jump back in. Use that time to assess how hot you are. Thus, the rectal thermometer. I know it sounds horrible but it is truly the best way to know how hot you are. Slip into the bathroom mid-way through the class and take your temperature. You should not exceed 101 degrees. Your baby cannot sweat and is one degree Celsius higher than you so be mindful of your temperature.
Finally, talk to your instructor. Let him or her know that you are pregnant. A good instructor will keep an eye on you and pester you to drink plenty of water. As long as you are safe, well hydrated and within the heat and heart boundaries, you should have a blast.
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!