So, you’ve signed up for your first pregnancy workout class! Maybe it’s an Oh Baby! Fitness class, or maybe it’s a pregnancy yoga class at your nearby Y. First- congratulations! You’ve already done the hardest part- deciding to exercise, finding a class, and finding time in your schedule. These three things require lots of energy- the one thing that most pregnant woman don’t have a large supply of. The actual working out part is usually the fun part. Here are 8 things to know before going to your first class:
1. You are either going to feel “not pregnant enough” or “too pregnant”
Every person in the class either feels too pregnant (“I can’t believe I waited until 32 weeks to workout!”) or not pregnant enough (“I’m only 11 weeks and don’t even look pregnant- I feel like a fraud!”). This is normal. If you’re pregnant, you belong here. If you are early on, find a friend that’s later in their pregnancy and grill them about what’s to come. If you are late in your pregnancy, know that you are inspiring all the other women by the fact that you are still working out and kicking butt.
2. A good class will leave you feeling better.
A lot of women wait until they feel good to workout, but a little known secret is that a good prenatal group exercise class will actually make you feel better. First, you’ll be able to commiserate with other pregnant women. Second, getting your blood moving will take care of many normal pregnancy complaints. Nausea, back pain and low energy levels will all benefit from a good workout. Finally, a good class will at least give you an hour’s distraction from how horrible you feel!
3. It’s okay to barf, and eat, and fart, and cry.
A pregnancy exercise class is sometimes the ONLY place no one will look at you funny for the behaviors that pregnancy brings on. I guarantee your instructor has seen it all—so don’t worry if you suddenly are the girl that accidentally lets one fly, or that breaks down in tears. You’ll garner more sympathy from these woman then from anyone else, I promise.
4. Don’t look at other women’s bellies. And REALLY don’t ask them how much weight they’ve gained.
One of the weirdest parts of being in a prenatal exercise class is suddenly being surrounded by more pregnant women then you’ve ever seen in your life. And with that data set, it’s hard not to start comparing. Avoid doing this, and certainly avoid any verbal comparing. And the golden rule of dealing with pregnant women: never ask how much weight anyone has gained. Just because you are pregnant doesn’t mean you get to avoid this one- in fact, it’s even more important.
5. Bring water and a snack.
Most pregnant women remember to bring water—if you forget just ask your instructor where the nearest water fountain is. But try to remember to pack a small snack as well (granola bars, fruit and nuts are all a good pick). In both the 1st trimester and from weeks 20-28 your blood sugar can be all over the place and sometimes you’ll be surprised by a workout that suddenly makes you feel dizzy. Even if you don’t end up needing the snack, I’ve seen many women become friends by one giving their snack to another woman in class who is suddenly hit with low blood sugar and doesn’t have anything to eat.
6. Don’t assume everyone is having the same experience you are.
It’s easy in a class of pregnant woman to assume that everyone 1- wants to be pregnant and 2- is having a healthy pregnancy and carrying a healthy baby. In any given class there are likely to be women dealing with all sorts of hard circumstances. Another little secret? Often the woman that looks the most put together is the one dealing with the biggest, scariest stuff. Try to remember the quote: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” You can learn a lot just by listening and truly becoming part of the community. Look around you, these women in your class might wind up being your friends for a long time, and it’s a different relationship from the ones you have at work. Everyone is vulnerable, scared and honest. You can create close bonds and long-lasting friendships at this time.
7. Don’t worry about what you’re wearing.
Some people really like to doll up to go to the gym. Your pregnancy exercise class does not have to be that place. It’s hard enough to find clothes that fit to go to work, don’t worry about looking cute or put together for class. An extra-large t-shirt and sweatpants are fine.
8. If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.
This is the most important thing to remember about your class. Hopefully you’ll work your muscles and get a good, tough workout in, but that does not mean you should suffer through ANY exercise that feels uncomfortable or painful. Even if the rest of class is smiling and looks like it’s no big thing- ask your instructor for a different exercise. Their job is to give you a good workout that doesn’t hurt—make sure they do it.
What do you wish you’d known before your first pregnancy exercise class? Any tips for other women just starting out?
Looking for a prenatal exercise class in your area? Check out ohbabyfitness.com for classes near you or to find out how to teach prenatal and mom and baby exercise classes go to: http://ohbabyfitness.com/start-your-own-biz/
– Kathleen Donahoe, Co-Owner, ohbabyfitness.com