Last week on the blog, we shared the stories of some of our barre beauties who have put active pregnancy to the test (spoiler alert: mom and baby approved!). This week, barre tender Kaley is sharing her experience with not just taking classes but leading them while pregnant with her third child. Enjoy!
With my first pregnancy, I worked out occasionally the first 20 weeks and really didn’t watch what I ate at all. I felt like I had a pass to eat whatever I wanted, that I was “eating for two!,” and that it didn’t matter because I was going to gain weight regardless. I ended up gaining more weight than I had hoped, had very little energy, and didn’t lose all of the weight until about ten months postpartum. The second time I got pregnant, I decided to do things differently, so I watched what I ate VERY closely (resulting in very minimal weight gain – half of what I gained with my first!), but didn’t exercise at all. By the time I was pregnant with my third, I had been an instructor at B Present for almost six months and knew that this time around I was going to take care of myself all the way around; I would continue to exercise AND be mindful of what I ate.
I didn’t even think twice about continuing on at the barre when I became pregnant. My doctor encouraged me to continue with what I had been doing pre-pregnancy, advising me to simply be careful with the ab exercises and to listen to my body. And that was the key: to really pay attention to my body and what I felt like I could or couldn’t do. No one knows our bodies like we do, and if we are aware what feels good or what feels like may be pushing it a little too much, then I think we are our own best compass. The beauty of our barre method is that it is SO pregnancy friendly; there are really only a few modifications that need to be made during a healthy pregnancy – 1) avoid laying flat on backs after 20 weeks (best to prop up on elbows or use a ball behind the lower back for ab exercises), 2) only do as much high-intensity cardio/jumping as feels appropriate, 3) obviously avoid doing any exercises prone (on stomach) and instead prop up on all fours in a tabletop position or go to the barre and stand upright.
Overall, I felt fantastic throughout my third pregnancy and continued to lead classes up until my seventh month. It was at that point that I started to grow weary pretty quickly. My range of motion became smaller and more prohibitive and I was feeling the effects of gravity and the pulling on my lower abdominal/pelvic muscles. Also, to be completely honest, there was a bit of a mindset shift that happened around that time, too. To lead classes requires a certain amount of confidence in yourself, your body, and your capabilities. At that point, I felt like mentally I just wasn’t fitting the bill anymore to stand in the front of the room and lead class. Outside of class, I felt great and didn’t have any problem with the physical change I was experiencing. Putting on spandex and standing in front of a room full of women and large mirrors, though…that changes things a little bit.
At that point, I knew I needed to step down and take my maternity leave. When I first got pregnant, neither Tammy nor I put any sort of time frame expectation on me and how long I would teach; I figured I would just know when the time came for me to back off. And when it did come, Tammy was super gracious and accepting of my desire to take my leave of absence. Of course, I still continued taking classes and loved every minute, I just stepped down from a leadership position for the time being. I continued taking classes pretty much all the way up to delivery (which occurred unexpectedly at 37 weeks due to high blood pressure and possible preeclampsia), and my delivery was a breeze. I recovered quicker than I had with the other two and felt fantastic.
When I was three weeks postpartum, there was a need for a sub in one of the barre bootcamp classes. I knew that I could do it, and I was feeling so amazing, so I took the opportunity to jump right back into it and lead the class. It felt great to be back, and I felt like I was home again. I didn’t put myself back on the schedule until I got the official “all clear” at my six-week follow up–but during that appointment, my doctor peered up from my file and with a small snicker asked me if I had already been working out. I had been busted! I admitted that I had and that all was well; he just smiled, shook his head, and said it was all good. 😉
I will be honest and say that being a barre tender has its pressures, or at least in my head it does. I really did not feel like my old self, in the physical sense of the word, for several months postpartum. I was very unsure of being back in the “spotlight,” front and center, with lots of eyes on me. However, I pushed through, remembering that B Present is a place where there the emphasis is on so much more than just the physical; really, it is what sets our studio apart. I needed to be there, and I needed to lead classes again, for not only my body but also for my mind and spirit. I felt refreshed after every single class, and ready to get back to my “mom life” with a perspective greater than just my weight and current jeans size. All of the encouragement I spoke during class was not only for each student, but also something I myself needed to take to heart, too.
I have great admiration for all of the mamas to be that we have had and currently have at the studio! Each and every one of them inspires me in their own way. I admire the way they still push themselves physically and respect their health and well-being enough to continue to take care of themselves while pregnant. And, of course, I love seeing and hearing how awesome they feel postpartum! Barre while pregnant is a workout that mamas can feel good about doing, knowing that they and their babies are safe and strong.