Week 7: Fit Mama

Since I’ve always been a regular exerciser, of course I was concerned about being able to keep up my fitness routine when I got pregnant. A lot of people would say it’s vain and silly to worry about getting fat and out of shape when your body is busy creating a new life to bring into the world. I think those people are already out of shape and trying to justify it.

Whether and how to work out while pregnant is a very confusing issue. My doctor was very nonchalant about it: “Just keep doing what you’re doing.” Some of my pregnancy books scared me with tales of miscarriage and split abdominal muscles. My mom laughed at me for doing prenatal workout videos so early in my pregnancy, even though she herself had ordered them for me.

One of them features fitness guru Kathy Smith, circa 1989. As if the big hair and synthesizers aren’t bad enough, the women in the video are dressed in various shades of purple unitards, stretched taut over their huge bellies. They look like Teletubbies. They wear scrunchy socks, perhaps to camouflage their swollen ankles. Of course, Kathy herself is a vision of fitness in her high-cut leotard and flesh-colored tights. You wouldn’t even know she was pregnant except for a slight abdominal bulge when she turns sideways.

The first time I did the video I thought to myself, “This is so easy, I might as well still be sitting on the couch watching Oprah.” Kathy kept advising me to go at my own pace and be sure to stop for a drink of water when I needed to. I felt like saying, “Lady, I can run two miles on the treadmill and barely break a sweat.” But damned if I wasn’t perspiring right along with the Teletubbies by the end of the workout! The shortness of breath really caught me off guard, since as I said, I fancy myself in pretty good shape.

But I can accept exercising in moderation for the sake of my unborn baby. So I’ve stopped running and am sticking to low-impact exercise like yoga. The other tape my mom sent me features a glowing, serene, earth-mother type clad in neutral-hued yoga gear who’s not a bit pregnant as far as I can see. In the introduction, she talks about how she did yoga throughout her labor and gave birth at home on all fours. What-EVER! Her workout routine consists of lots of pelvic rotations and cat stretches designed to help the baby “spiral down through the birth canal.” Sounds a lot more pleasant that kicking and clawing its way out, that’s for sure. Still, I wonder if Yoga Mama was quite so calm and serene when her baby was spiraling out of her with a head the size of a honeydew.

After going it alone for awhile, I decided to hire a personal trainer. I had spotted a pregnant one at my gym. Perfect, right? I figured by the size of her belly she was seven months along, tops. At our first meeting, it turned out she was due in two weeks! Anyway, during our brief time together, Kristin showed me several safe prenatal workouts with weights and balls that I can do throughout my pregnancy. She assured me that she’s exercised since Day One and has felt great. In fact, she’s the first person who didn’t scare me off exercising completely. I appreciate that. Plus, she doesn’t dress in enormous purple unitards.

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