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Exercising while pregnant: Why FlyBarre is a great workout for pregnant women

By April 18, 2014 No Comments


If you frequent FlyBarre Flatiron, you may have noticed something different about instructor Amanda Vortmann in recent months. She’s still making us pulse just as hard (third thighs are always killer!), but she’s sporting something new – a baby bump! As the Director of Continuing Education & Quality Control for FlyBarre, as well as a Master Instructor, Amanda has coached several pregnant clients successfully through their pregnancies. Now it’s her turn. After hearing that Seattle rider Alison Mitchell “Powered Up” at Flywheel every month during her pregnancy (she was #1 on the TorqBoard the day she went into labor!), we went to Amanda to learn more about the benefits of staying fit and active while expecting.

Here, the AFPA Pre and Post Natal certified instructor shares her knowledge and advice:

Is it safe to take FlyBarre while pregnant and how often do you recommend taking class?

“FlyBarre is a great workout for pregnant women because it is low impact and fairly stationary; every exercise takes place within the confines of your mat. The moves are small and controlled and you have an instructor ready to give you hands on adjustments at all times making sure your alignment is safe as well as beneficial for maximum results.  If you have been taking FlyBarre prior to your pregnancy, it’s fine to continue. If you’ve never taken FlyBarre, come try a class. FlyBarre during pregnancy is absolutely safe. Make sure you arrive to class at least ten minutes early so you can talk to your instructor and they can show you any modifications that may come in handy. Take breaks as often as you need to and drink plenty of water. Increase your class load per week gradually. Your body will tell you when it needs a day off. Listen to it.

FlyBarre is a highly “modify-able” class. We have so many different exercises to choose from and every class we teach is catered to the clients in the room. Modifying the class for a pregnant client absolutely does not take away any of the benefits for other clients.  If you are ever uncomfortable doing something, listen to your body. This is your baby and your body and only you can decide what feels right. Discuss exercise and any concerns you may have with your doctor ahead of time.

Five main things to remember during exercise to make sure you and your baby are safe:

  1. Drink a full 8oz of water every 15 minutes and eat an hour before you start exercising. Try these replenishing workout foods.
  2. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and make sure you can speak as you exercise (See below for the explanation).
  3. Wear a good supportive sports bra and cool, dry clothing. Remember your metabolism in pregnancy is higher and your body is working double time therefore you will “over-heat” easily.
  4. Exercise in a well-ventilated, cool space. This is especially important during the first trimester. Avoid hot, humid environments (Don’t worry, our FlyBarre studio is always set between 67 and 71 degrees and the air is constantly circulating).
  5. Be aware of when to stop exercising (uneven or rapid heart beat, decreased fetal movement, dizziness, faintness, headache, increased shortness of breath, chest pain, calf pain or swelling, discomfort, vaginal bleeding or fluid leakage, etc.).

Are there positions that can help strengthen muscles and relieve stress?
One of the major discomforts of pregnancy is lower back pain. The number one way to counter this is increasing core strength. FlyBarre, from the warm up to the cool down, is an incredible core-strengthening workout. Working your abdominals and entire core, including your pelvic floor will help your body carry the additional weight of the baby during the pregnancy as well as aid in labor, delivery and recovery.
Know that your legs are going to become so much stronger just as a result of carrying a baby. The added weight of pregnancy adds more resistance to every step you take. The exercises in class will continue to sculpt, tone and lengthen all your leg muscles.

What better way to prep for all the lifting and lowering of your bundle of joy than toning your arms? In a FlyBarre class, we do triceps work, rows, “Dynamic Arms,” planks and so much more.

How can a pregnant woman modify certain positions so they accommodate them safely?
During the first trimester, there really are no changes. Our classes are safe for your developing fetus and for you, however you should always consult your doctor to be sure you are in the right condition and that the workout is right for you. From your second trimester onwards, you should no longer lie flat on your back. At this point your uterus has grown to a point where the additional weight can decrease the blood flow in the vena cava (affecting blood flow from the lower part of your body to the heart as well as to your uterus and baby). In a FlyBarre class you will begin to modify by placing the ball behind your lower back for “Barre Abdominals” as well as your instructor will show you safe options for the abdominal sections.

Also, beginning in the second trimester, you want to avoid twisting from the waist up. Hormonal changes cause your ligaments to relax in preparation for birth. Because your ligaments have loosened, it’s quite easy to twist too far and hurt you sacroiliac joint (where the base of the spine connects to the pelvis). Instead of twisting, you can always lean side to side and work your obliques instead.

Your center of balance is also changing and you will be feeling less stable. Never feel that you need to let go of the barre. You can perform the entire standing portion of class with at least one hand on the barre at all times.

As your body continues on this nine-month journey, you will find things on a class-to-class basis that become tricky. Do not hesitate to talk to you instructor about this.

**If you are pregnant with multiples or have any complications with your pregnancy, you should take the second and third trimester modifications. Always be honest with your instructor so that he or she can modify your class for optimum safety. You’ll still feel the burn in the right place, I promise.

Eight reasons why a woman experiencing a normal pregnancy should exercise:

  1.  Working out creates muscle memory, which makes it quicker to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight after birth.
  2. Working out while pregnant gives you more energy.
  3. Exercise will decrease pregnancy related symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, constipation, and varicose veins.
  4. Your circulation will improve leading to less swelling.
  5. You will deposit less fat and keep your weight gain within the limits of a healthy pregnancy (25-35 pounds).
  6. Exercising during pregnancy can lead to an easier labor and a faster postpartum recovery
  7. You feel better about yourself and healthier in general.
  8. You increase your chances of resuming pre-pregnancy fitness levels versus a pregnant woman who has not exercised.

Have more questions for Amanda? Email and we will pass them on.

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