Hey Hayley!

I have some questions for you regarding fitness during pregnancy.  I had my first babe a couple years ago after a long struggle with infertility.  When we found out we were finally expecting, the medical professionals around us suggested I stop my current fitness routine until I was at least 16 weeks, just to make sure I was being as safe as possible (there were no health concerns with me or babe, more just that we’ve waited so long, and the first 3 months can be the most common for miscarriage). The fitness class I do is a HIIT dance cardio/weight format that I LOVE and have done for years…but not wanting to risk anything I stopped. By the time I was “in the clear” I felt I had been out for too long, so I didn’t go back until after my babe was born. I was still active during my first pregnancy (gym, hiking, yoga), but I always wondered what would have been different had I kept up with my regular routine which keeps me happy and in (what I feel is) great shape. 

Now we’ve found out we’re pregnant again (!!!!!), and I’ve been back steadily at my class for almost a year. I don’t want to stop this time, but nor do I want to risk anything (I would never forgive myself). I can easily adapt a lot of the moves to a more low intensity format to avoid all the jumps etc, and obviously I’ll listen to my body and what is right for me….but I’m a little nervous. We ended up having a super healthy baby the first time even though my pregnancy ended in complications – I want another healthy baby and I think I just need some more information from fitness professionals (besides my teachers) to help me feel confident that continuing my class is a safe and positive thing for me to do. Are there some things I should be totally avoiding during the first trimester? Is everything mostly safe? What about ab work – at what point during the pregnancy is it ok to still continue with abs, and at what point should I be laying off? 
Any thoughts, feedback and information would help a ton!


A healthy and active momma who hopes to stay that way for the next 9 months….


Just to clarify I am not a medical professional so if you have any serious concerns regarding you and your baby’s health during this pregnancy it is best to speak with your doctor. However, what I can offer you is the advice that I am allowed to offer through my scope of practice, and my 10 years of experience training pregnant women. Pregnancy is a very individualized experience so those of you who are pregnant (or planning on becoming pregnant) should always make sure that you are listening to your own body.

You were definitely given the correct advice during your first pregnancy and you did the right thing by listening to it. In any high-risk pregnancy it is recommended that all physical activity (even Pilates) be at a minimum, until the first trimester has come and gone. Now I understand that you love this class and it upset you not being able to go, but I need to ask you this…how strong are you feeling now after your year hiatus? I’m guessing that you are as strong, if not stronger, than you were before you became pregnant the first time. So, after taking a year off and having to rebuild your strength again you have learned that it can be done and that it doesn’t matter how long you take off, with a little bit of hard work you can get yourself back to where you started. Am I right?

Think about that going into this pregnancy. You have the right attitude about wanting another healthy pregnancy and you are asking the right questions. The advice I am going to give you is listen to your body and do what feels right. Do not push it. During the first trimester, in a low risk pregnancy, you are pretty much free to do whatever you were doing before. But with you it is not so free. I would suggest zero impact, and keep the cardio portion no longer than 30 minutes. Stick to walking, hiking, light stationary indoor cardio, swimming (if you were a swimmer already) and gentle yin or hatha yoga.  Maybe some light resistance work 1 or 2 days a week.  

Once you are into your second trimester you can pick things up a little bit, which is great because this is the trimester that you usually feel your best in. Do all the things that you love, but take the intensity down. If you are feeling up to it absolutely get back into your dance class, sans impact. I have women that come to my HIIT class until days before they deliver, but we modify all the impact so while the rest of the class are doing burpees and box jumps, they are doing pregnancy specific balance, posture and core exercises. I would suggest sitting down with your instructor out of class one day and asking her to help you with 3 or 4 different exercises that you can do during the high impact portion of the workout.

As for abdominal work, during the first trimester, in low risk pregnancies, anything is safe. However, for yourself, you should be doing kegels and just that. Into the second trimester move onto stabilizing abdominal exercises. Your abdominals are going to need to start expanding to allow the baby to grow so working pelvic and spinal stability becomes more important than simply trying to build a six pack. It is also difficult at this time to do anything on your back, due to the weight of the uterus on the vena cava, so your core work should be done kneeling, standing or in a supported supine (laying down) position. 

Most other exercises should be good to go. In your third trimester all you can do is what your body will allow, and sometimes that is simply taking baby number one for an easy stroll. My suggestion for you is hire a prenatal personal trainer for 3 or 5 sessions to get you set up for success for the rest of the pregnancy, then see her once or twice after the delivery to start to rebuild your strength. You’ve done it once already so you should be a pro the second time around. 

Attached - Renee Zellweger out for a jog in Santa Monica yesterday.