Keeping Up Your Fitness Routine Through Pregnancy

By Jen Bauman, Elite Sports Club-Brookfield Group Exercise Director, ACE-certified Personal Trainer, Prenatal/Postpartum Exercise Certification

You have all heard of those women who talk about how they absolutely LOVED being pregnant. Well I have to say, I am one of them. I felt great throughout my entire nine months. I truly believe that the reason I felt so good, was that I kept up with my regular workouts. Now before I go any further, one thing I will say is that you must check with your doctor to make sure working out is okay for you as an individual. Every body and every pregnancy is different.

One of the first things I noticed was the fatigue. My heart rate was higher and it took much more out of me to perform my pre-pregnancy routine. I continued with my normal workouts but realized that I would have to slow down a bit to allow my body to take in enough oxygen for both the baby and myself. I also added a small snack before my workouts. I loved my banana, yogurt, and granola parfait that I’d whip up about 30 minutes before exercise. (As a general rule, 300 additional calories are needed per day during pregnancy.) Other than having to modify my intensity, I initially was able to continue with my cardio and strength workouts as I had pre-pregnancy.

pregnant woman on treadmillAs my pregnancy progressed, however, I did make several adjustments to my workouts. For cardio, I taught regular kickboxing and step classes, both of which I was able to continue. Nonetheless, my movements overall became smaller. Joints become more flexible during pregnancy so it is important to be aware of the range of motion you are taking your body through. I do remember around 8 ½ months feeling really light-headed after one of my step classes. This was my body telling me to stop what I was doing–always listen to what your body is telling you. From that point on, I replaced my step workouts with a walk on the treadmill.

Pregnant woman exercising with kettlebellFor my strength training workouts, it was really just a matter of adjusting my weights. As my belly got bigger, my weights got smaller. I continued to work all areas of the body, concentrating on my back to keep my posture strong. Standing for a prolonged period of time is not recommended, so I used a stability ball to sit on and perform rows, shoulder presses, bicep curls, and overhead triceps extensions. If I was standing, I would make sure to maintain a wide stance, with my toes turned out. This provided a good base for stability. I also avoided lying flat on my back because it can decrease blood flow to the uterus. One option I used was lying on an exercise step with two risers on one end to provide an incline that was comfortable.

I have heard many women say they avoided working their abs entirely during pregnancy. I believe this is one of the most important areas to concentrate on. You can’t exactly perform bicycles until you’re exhausted, but you can work your core in other ways. I often used the stability ball to do slow, small crunches or did planks on my knees. Just this little isometric contraction is a great way to keep your abs tight and strong. However, avoid excessive oblique work, it can cause strain on the lower back.

These are just some of the concepts that helped me during my pregnancy. I can’t say that it helped me through the horrible, painful back labor I had, but I absolutely believe it helped keep my weight gain under control. It also allowed me a quicker return to my normal routine after giving birth. I plan on doing it all again with the next one!

Do you need help determining which exercises you should do while pregnant? Our certified personal trainers can help you set up a personalized plan! When you are in a group exercise class, you can also ask the instructor to for modifications.

What were your (or your significant others’) favorite ways to exercise while pregnant? Did you find that you had to temporarily give up certain workouts? Tell us in the comments!

Fitness Equipment Tutorial: The Back Extension Machine

Muscles targeted
This machine is primarily used to strengthen the muscles of the lower back, but also works the glutes and hamstrings.
Setup
You want to make sure you adjust the thigh pads so the tops of the pads come to just below the crease in your hips. This allows your body to hinge forward at the waist while providing you with as much support as possible. Place your feet fully on the platform and ensure your calves are supported by the calf pads.
Movement
Keeping a flat back, lower yourself down as low as possible while hinging at the hips.  You should look like an upside-down V from the side. Maintaining the flat back, bring yourself back up until your body is in a straight line. Repeat.
back extension machine exercise example
If you have any questions about how to use the equipment in the Fitness Center, please don’t hesitate to ask one of our certified fitness professionals. They are always there to help at Elite Sports Clubs! Want more advice & tips on how to get fit, just let us know a little bit about your interests and goals by submitting this short form. Or if you are just interested in what equipment we have to offer at Elite Sports Clubs, contact one of our Fitness Directors using this form.

Congratulations to our Weight Loss Challenge Participants & Winners!

We are so proud of all of our Weight Loss Challenge participants & winners! You guys did an amazing job of taking (and keeping) the weight off! Here’s some stats to show how all the clubs did:

Weight Loss Challenge Congratulations

All Club Totals:
81 winners (lost 8 or more pounds)
896.7 pounds lost between all participants (who weighed out)

Brookfield Totals:
23 winners (lost 8 or more pounds)
244.5 pounds lost between all participants (who weighed out)

Mequon Totals:
21 winners (lost 8 or more pounds)
247 pounds lost between all participants (who weighed out)

North Shore Totals:
14 winners (lost 8 or more pounds)
167 pounds lost between all participants (who weighed out)

River Glen Totals:
14 winners (lost 8 or more pounds)
153.4 pounds lost between all participants (who weighed out)

West Brookfield Totals:
9 winners (lost 8 or more pounds)
84.8 pounds lost between all participants (who weighed out)

Introducing Elite’s Nutrition Educator & Diet Counselor: Rita Larsen

Hello & welcome!

To start off, I have a very simple message:

Part of the reason that we, at Elite, take the time to work with each individual through exercise and diet is because each person is completely different than the next person. In other words, what works for one person, may not work for the next person. You are an individual and need to choose what is going to work best for you! It is in some ways, an awesome responsibility. Many people can get sidetracked with lots of other family & work responsibilities, and never take the time to care for themselves; through fitness and a good diet/nutrition program. As a result, they never really know “what is best for ME?” So, take some time to explore what your very “best” is. Type of exercise, days of the week, indoors or outdoors, a stable eating plan or one that is flexible (but very healthy). There are lots of choices for you!

Your Health & Fitness Journey Begins Today, But Where Should You Start Photo

With lots of choices to explore during your health & fitness journey, trying new programs and so on, you may just be able to LOCK IN your own personal fitness and nutrition plan that will last a LIFETIME. So, my task for you is: from now on, don’t just think about today and tomorrow; think about a lifetime of good health and wellness!

I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you. And please come visit me during my open office hours “Ask the Dietitian” at our Brookfield, Mequon, and North Shore locations. Otherwise I’m always available by appointment!

Best wishes for a good start!

Rita W. Larsen, RD, CD
Nutrition Educator & Diet Counselor
Elite Sports Clubs

Official Guidelines for Physical Activity

Beginning an exercise program has become one of the most important public health issues of today.

United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently met with combined support from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA) and released jointly published physical activity recommendations. These separate guidelines collectively and effectively support each other and are all based on the most relevant science available that links physical activity to improved health and wellness.

  • ACSM/AHA guidelines focus on 30 minutes of moderate-intensity daily physical activity five days a week.
  • HHS guidelines call for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, an amount most reasonable on five days a week at a duration of 30 minutes.

The associations note that the core recommendation as it relates to health gains of physical activity are highly consistent.  These recommendations conclude that relatively modest amounts of physical activity will improve the health and cardio-respiratory fitness of inactive persons, while expanded health gains, such as weight loss or weight maintenance, require more than the minimum 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week.

“Guidelines for physical activity have long been based on research demonstrating that even relatively moderate amounts of physical activity will have positive benefits on health,” said William Haskell, Ph.D., FACSM, lead author of the ACSM/AHA guidelines.  “A very important idea, especially for people who are inactive, is that health and physical activity are closely linked.  The more days a week that you can be active or accumulate some activity, the higher the significance for your health and wellness.”

“Numerous studies now suggest that if we can simply move people out of the lowest levels of cardio-respiratory fitness, it can have a profound (and beneficial) impact on public health”, says Barry A. Franklin, PhD, national American Heart Association spokesperson and Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Exercise Laboratories at William Beaumont Hospital.

Health Benefits of Physical Activity for Adults & Older Adults

Strong Evidence:

  • Lower risk of:
    Early death
    Heart disease
    Stroke
    Type 2 diabetes
    High blood pressure
    Adverse blood lipid profile
    Metabolic syndrome
    Colon and breast cancers
  • Prevention of weight gain
  • Weight loss when combined with diet
  • Improved cardio-respiratory and muscular fitness
  • Prevention of falls
  • Reduced depression
  • Better cognitive function (older adults)

Moderate to Strong Evidence:

  • Better functional health older adults
  • Reduced abdominal obesity

Moderate Evidence:

  • Weight maintenance
  • Lower risk of hip fracture
  • Increased bone density
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Lower risk of lung and endometrial cancers

Health Benefits of Physical Activity for Children & Adolescents

Strong Evidence:

  • Improved cardiorespiratory endurance and muscular fitness
  • Favorable body composition
  • Improved bone health
  • Improved cardiovascular and metabolic health biomarkers
  • Moderate Evidence
  • Reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression

In summary, the investment in a daily 30 minute or more exercise regiment betters your quality of life, delays diseases and reduces the medical expenses regardless of your age or your current condition. There is no time sooner than the present to invest your time and energy in a professionally developed and administrated physical fitness program.