Dear Fitness Expert,
I just found out that I am pregnant and I'm worried about everything! Can I still do my Pilates videos? I usually walk about two miles a day and workout to a Pilates video 1 to 3 times per week (a little sporadic, I know). I have heard that it is dangerous to do Pilates exercises while pregnant. Is this true?
It is dangerous when 1) pregnant women who have never worked out before decide to jump into an intensive Pilates class. For that matter, any activity is perceived as dangerous because your body is not acclimated to such strain and stress. It is dangerous when 2) the Pilates class itself is intensive. You must be used to such strenuous workouts and 3) you must communicate with your doctor. He or she will know the real level of danger in terms of YOU and your medical background. You must remember that these warnings are put up because far too many women discover they are pregnant, panic and decide now is the time to workout, get in shape to "keep their figure."
Because you already walk -- again, you must speak to your OB/GYN to have medical clearance -- your body will not be so shocked. The pilates videos are mild and you should have no problem working out.
At this stage in your pregnancy, women successfully run marathons and win Olympic Gold in very strenuous sports such as cross-country skiing, biathlon, and running. When you enter your third trimester, we recommend talking to your Ob/GYN once again about the kind of stretching you are doing. It should be fine but you always want to be safe and make sure your doctor is on board.
Our final recommendation is find a training partner. Find someone -- a friend, neighbor, relative -- to walk with you. This person can remind you to drink plenty of water, stay away from colas, not allow yourself to get too hot and monitor your breathing patterns.
While training for a marathon, my running buddy and I got so used to each other, we began to learn each other's breathing patterns and running gait. As we entered our fifth month together, I noticed that we would do periodic checks on each other. "You okay? You're running a little funny?" or "You okay? You sound a little off..like your breathing a little harder than usual?" This is ideal for you and your baby.
Good luck and have fun!
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!