The most common piece of exercise advice I have received while pregnant is to continue exercising as normal, and make modifications as necessary. So, I was relieved to realise that I could still attend my regular Orangetheory classes. As a member at my local Islington Orangetheory for more than two years, I was pleased I didn’t have to put my membership on hold while I incubate this baby.
What is Orangetheory?
Orangetheory is a boutique fitness studio that does group workouts consisting of some combination of running, rowing and weights (or bodyweight exercises) Led by inspiring coaches, every class is completely different so you never get bored and it’s an awesome hour-long full-body workout. You wear a heart rate monitor that tracks your effort, with the goal of getting your heart rate above 84% for at least 12 minutes. (If you want to learn more about the workout, check out this video here)
Of course, I need to preface this post by saying that you should always check with your doctor about exercising while pregnant. Every person and every pregnancy is different so this is not blanket advice for everyone. Generally though, if you were a regular at a certain group exercise class before you got pregnant, you can continue going and making modifications throughout your pregnancy.
Forget setting any new records
Pregnancy is not the time to push yourself. I needed to type that mainly to remind myself. It’s hard for me to go to a class like Orangetheory and not push the number of minutes in the Orange zone. Lately, I’ve been getting 1-2 minutes… sometimes zero. And it’s a real effort to leave and not feel like the workout was a total waste of time. I know deep down that it’s not, but the competitive side of me has a hard time with this concept. This is not the time for new speed records or lifting my heaviest weights, and I need to get comfortable with regressing my progress as I get further along in this pregnancy.
Power walk instead of running
Obviously, I like to run. And for a long time, I could carry on doing the running blocks in Orangetheory without any major modifications. I got slower and slower, but eventually, it just felt uncomfortable. So now I am power walking. At first, I felt like a total dumbass and was convinced everyone was looking at me and judging. As it turns out, no one cares. And you know what? Walking at 4 miles/hour at 15% incline is actually really hard work.
If power walking becomes too difficult, switch to the strider or the bike – equally good cardio options for preggos.
Use the rower for as long as feels comfortable, then switch to the bike or strider
Like running, rowing was also fine for a while… you’ll know when to stop when you knee yourself in your own belly with every stroke. When this happens, switch to the bike or strider.
Decrease weights or use bodyweight only
By all means, pick up some weights. But don’t be a hero. Your body is already carrying extra weight and this is already extra resistance. Drop your weights from what you normally do, or drop the weights altogether and opt for bodyweight exercises.
Use your bench
When you’re pregnant, you’re not meant to lay on your back for any length of time as it decreases blood flow to the baby. (Bad news for people that like to sleep on their back, like me!! Ah!) When the workout calls for an exercise on your back, you can put your bench on a slant and continue the exercise as normal. This is great things like a chest press.
Swap in some pregnancy-safe core exercises
You can say goodbye to the ab roller (I never liked that thing anyway). Most core exercises in Orangetheory are going to be off-limits after the first trimester, so I just swap in my own variations that I’ve learned from my trainer. Modified planks, cat/cow stretches or my personal favourite, bird dogs, are all great options. There’s some great ones here.
Ask a trainer for safe modifications
Not sure what to do? Ask the trainer. The trainers at Orangetheory Islington have been so helpful and attentive any time I’m not sure how to modify an exercise, or if I’m not sure if I should do something or not. They often err on the side of extreme caution, so the exercise option may seem way too easy, but better to do something than nothing at all.
Overall, I’m thrilled I can keep going to my weekly class. I try not to be so obsessed with the stats and just be happy that I can still be there and generally blending in with the group. One trainer told me that another member carried on going to classes until she was 37 weeks pregnant. I know it’s not a competition, but I’m curious to see how long I can make it until. Currently 27 weeks and counting…