In recent years, as the guidelines for exercise and pregnancy have changed from “rest as much as possible” to “stay active and continue to exercise,” barre has become the workout of choice for women while pregnant. The focused and controlled nature of The Bar Method workout along with the non-impact and isometric moves make it ideal for students with a baby-on-board.
The majority of classes at our 100+ studios across the country (and Canada) are suitable for all mixed levels, including prenatal students. Not only is The Bar Method is safe and effective for pregnant women, it also prepares them physically and mentally for labor and delivery. And bonus! You can count on your strong barre body to bounce back quicker and more toned than it was pre-baby.
Follow these tips to make the most of your barre workout while pregnant:
1. Consult with your physician
It’s always recommended to consult with your physician before working out when pregnant (even though it’s generally encouraged!). Typically, if you were physically active before you were pregnant, it is likely safe to remain active during pregnancy. Your doctor will likely encourage you to remain active as long as it is comfortable and there are no other health conditions or contraindications to be concerned about.
2. Learn your modifications
The Bar Method was developed under the guidance of physical therapists to create a non-impact, safe, and effective workout for all ages, body types and experience levels. We continue to consult with our team of physical therapists regularly in order to edit and evolve the method as the needs and desires of our clients change. We suggest the following modifications for our prenatal students starting at 20 weeks:
- Stretches: The increase in certain hormones released during pregnancy makes you more flexible. Enjoy your newfound flexibility, but be mindful not to push yourself beyond a safe range of motion. We advise against taking the split option or performing twist stretches from your waist after 20 weeks. Your instructor will help you find the best stretches for your level.
- Seat Exercises: After 20 weeks, your uterus becomes heavier and in some cases can put additional strain on your back. For this reason, we modify your position when working your glutes to keep your back in a diagonal or upright position. This will allow you to maximize the effort on your glutes and minimize any discomfort for your back.
- Risers for back support: Pregnant students who have reached their 20-week mark, can do round back and abdominal work with three to four risers under their regular mat to tilt their pelvis slightly forward to support proper blood flow. The number of risers a student needs will depend on the size of her belly. Without this important equipment, the heavier uterus could likely fall back toward the spine and puts unnecessary pressure on the aorta and vena cava. This causes blood to pump down to the lower extremities and away from the brain and heart, causing a pregnant woman to become faint. Secondly, it can cause terrible calf and uterine cramping if the blood backs up in the lower extremities. Therefore, it’s very important to work with proper back positioning in these exercises.
- Abdominal Exercises: Abdominal exercises during pregnancy are not only safe, they are encouraged. Once your back is properly supported with risers, as stated above, you can do The Bar Method curls (again, consult with your physician!). We suggest keeping your feet down during all of your abdominal work to ensure your pelvis stays tilted in the proper position. Listen to your body and do as much as is comfortable for you. If the curls become too difficult or uncomfortable, you can simply hold the position and focus on your breathing to strengthen your abdominal wall in preparation for labor.
3. Listen to your body
One of the best qualities of The Bar Method is the warm, supportive community. The studio environment is non-competitive and non-judgmental. Everyone is working together with similar goals: to be stronger, more flexible, and ultimately the best version of themselves. Listen to your body when you take class. Allow yourself to take the options when you’re feeling strong and don’t be afraid to pull back when you’re feeling weighted down. Remember, your body is already working overtime so give yourself the grace that you need. Regardless of whether you do all three sets of thigh without resetting or finish that second round of push-ups without stopping, you are inspiring those around you without even knowing it. Each day will be different and your body will communicate that to you!
4. Center your mind
Most Bar Method classes are an hour long, with the exception of “Bar Express” and “Bar Combo”, two class formats which are 45 minutes and 30 minutes, respectively. Take advantage of this time to practice your deep breathing and deep focus in class. If there was ever a time to focus on you, it’s now! Use this time during your barre class to disconnect for one hour so you can connect more deeply when your newborn arrives.
We would love to hear about how The Bar Method treated you during your pregnancy. Leave a comment to let us know! Interested in trying a Bar Method class while you research your pregnancy workout options? Find a Bar Method studio near you.