Well, here’s a post I never thought I’d write.
For the record, I dislike working out at home. I like gyms. They feel like an escape from the chaos of the world and give me a time to focus on doing something good for myself. I like the community and accountability and the fact that I would rarely push myself as hard at home as I do in the gym or in a group exercise class. In pregnancy, I worried about being able to maintain my fitness routine. After months of researching and adjusting my approach, I finally found a routine that worked.
And then the world went crazy.
With the Coronavirus pandemic requiring that gyms around the world close indefinitely, it meant I needed to find a new routine – one that I could do at home…in my third trimester. So, after three weeks of new adjustments, I’ve found some options that work and wanted to share them here for anyone else that is pregnant, self-isolating and slowly going crazy without some sort of regular exercise.
The No-Cost Options: YouTube
Most gyms have now started to offer some sort of on-demand or digital fitness option to engage with members while they are at home. Unfortunately, there are very few that are designed for pregnancy and unless you are confident enough about prenatal exercise to make your own modifications, they aren’t really appropriate.
That said, there is a whole world of prenatal exercise videos on YouTube and in the first week of isolation, I researched extensively to find options that were accessible from home and actually got your heart rate up. Of course, none of these replicate a live experience. But the exercises were doable from home and a lot more athletic than your prenatal yoga class, which is exactly what I was looking for. Here are a few of my favourites:
- Bodyfit by Amy: Amy has a huge variety of prenatal workouts for every trimester, ranging in style and difficulty. I enjoyed her strength workout and her cardio workout. If you exercised regularly before you got pregnant, you may find these easy. I made them harder by pairing them together, doing the cardio workout first, then the strength workout. You just need a set of small hand weights, and if you don’t have any, you can find reasonable substitutes around the house (like bottles of wine!) If you do have a set of weights, you may also enjoy this third trimester dumbbell workout. I found it a bit easy, but definitely ideal as I get bigger! Everything is now becoming way harder!
- NourishMoveLove: If you’re looking for something more challenging, this full-body workout definitely fits the bill. I found this to be one of the tougher prenatal at-home workouts I found. The format is four circuits with three moves per circuit. The first move is 40 seconds, second move is 30 seconds and third move is 20 seconds. All you need is some weights and a chair. If you were used to higher intensity exercise before getting pregnant, give this one a try.
- Qinetic Live: If that was still too easy, try this prenatal conditioning workout from Qinetic Live. This was hard as hell and definitely one of the harder prenatal workouts I found. At 31 weeks pregnant, I struggled to get through this one, especially the ab section at the end. This is probably more appropriate if you are earlier in your pregnancy and used to high intensity workouts. For this workout, you just need some weights, though you could probably do it without and it would still be tough.
- Tone it Up – Bump n’ Body: This was a very simple and accessible 30-minute prenatal workout. I found the two instructors a little tedious at points, but the video was redeemed by the fact that it was interrupted by a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel and a cute cat. For this workout, you need small hand weights and a resistance band. The format was also a series of circuits of both upper and lower body exercises.
- GlowBodyPT: If you’re looking for something shorter, this nine-minute arm workout was a nice change that still felt good and effective. I liked it as an add on to Body Fit by Amy’s cardio workout.
There are also a couple good apps, like Jennis, home pregnancy workouts from Olympian Jessica Ennis-Hill. There is some free content on the app, but you do have to pay £9.99/month for more the actual exercise plans.
The Mid-Range Options: Virtual PT sessions
I knew I could not live on YouTube videos alone. They filled a week-long void, but as a long-term solution, they were never going to work for me. Several months ago, I started working with a prenatal personal trainer using the small gym at my office. This proved to be the ideal situation and I was loving our weekly sessions.
Because we can’t see each other in person anymore, we’ve started doing virtual sessions via Facetime each week. Admittedly, I had low expectations at first and I was sceptical that they could emulate our in-person sessions. I’m pleased to report that they have been brilliant and I would highly recommend this as an option for any pregnant woman who wants to effectively workout at home. Personal training is of course, not cheap, but the good news is that these virtual sessions are significantly cheaper than in-person ones and in my opinion, just as effective. If you’re interested, head over to MotivatePT and ask about prenatal sessions with Vivien. She’s the best! If you want more details, feel free to get in touch with me. I’m happy to answer questions about what it’s like.
The High-Cost Option: Home Exercise Equipment
The final option is to splurge on some home exercise equipment. I realise this is not reasonable for many people due to both cost and space requirements, but this is certainly one of the best ways to replicate your gym experience. Recently, we decided to buy a Peloton and it’s been an absolute game-changer.
I trialled a live class at their showroom in Spitalfields Market last year and was immediately sold, but it was an extravagant expense that seemed too luxurious to be practical, especially alongside my monthly gym memberships! However, I deem fitness critical to both my physical and mental health and given that we have no idea how long this lockdown will continue, it seemed like now was the time to bite the bullet and do it.
Two weeks in, I have no regrets. The bike itself is beautiful. The playlists and the content are amazing and the instructors are so engaging and motivating even through a screen. Clearly, my cycling ability is not what it used to be, and I am still reconciling with the fact that I regularly come in something like 19,700th in a class of 20,000 people. Nevertheless, the fact that I can now effectively workout in a corner of my living room has made a world of difference to me. I also anticipate that this might be a handy thing in my maternity leave.
If you’re pregnant and want to chat more about any of these options, please get in touch with me. I’m happy to help.