NEW - Apex Pregnancy SeriesMaddy Slade | 18 Oct 2021
Exercising during pregnancy can feel very intimidating - there’s so much conflicting information out there and it can be difficult to understand what’s safe and what’s not safe, for both you and your baby. So much of the research around exercising and pregnancy is outdated or simply wrong, and this can lead to fears around getting on the bike and getting moving.
We always want you to feel comfortable and safe when you move with us, including during your pregnancy. That’s why we’ve created our Pregnancy Series.
These sessions have been designed to help you understand and learn how to move your body safely and comfortably throughout your pregnancy journey. Guided by new mums Sandy and Carol-Ann, these sessions will give you the confidence and the tools to remain active, and modify any Apex ride to suit you and your needs both during and after your pregnancy.
We sat down with Carol-Ann to find out about her own personal experience and ask some of her top tips on balancing exercise and your changing body.
What are the key benefits to staying active whilst pregnant?
When you’re pregnant, your centre of gravity shifts - if you build strength and muscle tone you’re supporting your changing body. Although I gained more weight than the ‘recommended’ amount, I never experienced any of the swelling that can come along with pregnancy. I really think this was down to keeping active with spinning and yoga - a lot of course is genetic, so you may experience more or less side effects depending on this, but exercise can definitely help. Exercise reduces stress and anxiety and this is something that can really crop up during pregnancy. I found that after lockdown, when we started filming classes again I immediately began feeling so much better.
Why is cycling a good form of exercise for pregnant women?
Cycling is ideal for pregnancy as it’is a low impact exercise with no twisting or jumping. It’s you on the bike and you’re in control. You choose how fast you pedal and how high your resistance is. I love the stability I get with the handlebars and I can modify my bike to suit my changing body along my pregnancy. Spinning is a great form of exercise for pregnant women, it helps to stabilise your core and builds muscle tone as your centre of gravity shifts with your growing belly. It’s also a safe way to gradually increase your heart rate, giving you those much needed endorphins when your mood can be up and down due to changing hormones. It also gave me something else to focus on. I found that the adrenaline of the music and the lights and focusing on the beat was a much needed release during pregnancy.
How did you modify your nutrition around exercise whilst you were pregnant?
I found i fared better having small meals frequently throughout the day. My energy was up and down and I needed quick ways to sustain it and keep my levels up. My go-tos were lots of nuts, dried fruits, nut butters, hummus - anything convenient and quick to get my energy back and keep me going.
What are the key modifications you can make when spinning and pregnant?
Don't feel like you need to find the RPM straight away, warm up as gradually as you need to (maybe even do a 5 minute steady warm up with light resistance around RPM 90, all in the saddle, before starting an Apex ride.) Seat cushions can make being on the bike more comfortable, especially in the third trimester. Move your handlebars higher than your saddle and closer to your body than you might normally have them. Avoid weights over head (shoulder presses/tricep dips) in third trimester as this increases pressure on low back. If pregnancy has led to low blood pressure and you get light headed more often, either skip dips or just do a half dip with a slight bend in the elbow
What are your top tips for spinning safely?
- Warm up gradually
- Keep supportive resistance on the bike (never too light when you're out the saddle) it's better to lose the beat and have more resistance than keep the beat with virtually no resistance on.
- Cool down for at least two minutes so you're not getting off the bike too quickly. It's much easier to lose balance with increased levels of certain hormones and as your bump gets bigger it will also throw off your centre of gravity until you get used to it.
- Don't overstretch. Relaxin is the hormone responsible for loosening ligaments in preparation for childbirth, therefore, you may feel more flexible than you ever have in your life, but should still stretch within your pre-pregnancy range of movement.
How does the experience of exercising during different trimesters vary?
This is hard to answer because every woman is so different. Personally, I could not exercise other than short walks during my first trimester. I was so nauseous I could barely get out of bed, and many women experience the same in their first trimester. During the second trimester most women feel much better and the bump isn't as much of an interference as it becomes later on, so this is most women's favourite time to be active during pregnancy. My third trimester was amazing and when I had the most energy so I really enjoyed spinning right up until my baby was born. Many women will get swelling and exhaustion towards the end of their third trimester and be put off by working out all together, but staying active can really help prevent those symptoms.
What are your top tips for easing into exercise after having a baby?
Take it SLOW and don't try and do too much before your 6/8 week check up with your GP. No matter what type of birth you've had, your body has been through a lot and changed tremendously. Once you are ready, be KIND and patient with yourself and don't expect changes overnight. Every day, and every week gets better and you'll just keep feeling stronger. Also, you are incredibly busy with a newborn, so even if you can take 15 minutes of YOU time on the bike, you’ll certainly start noticing the benefits both mentally and physically. Just remember, it takes 9 months to grow your baby, and for many women it takes at least the same amount of time to get back to their pre pregnancy fitness levels back. This is normal and not something to be hard on yourself about. Do not buy into the Instagram ads telling you you can get your body back in 8 weeks. That's not advisable.
We hope these tips will make you feel a little more confident to keep moving over this period of change. Please always check with your physician or healthcare professional before embarking on any new exercise regime, especially when pregnant.