Natasha Prasad knows a thing or two about fitness. As the General Manager of ClassPass Australia, she has probably done more workouts than we’ve had hot dinners. And like most fit and healthy women who fall pregnant, she didn’t want to let it all go just because she was growing a little person inside her.
Natasha is due any day now and has been a picture of glowing health for the past 9 months (although granted, she may not always have felt it!). So ahead of the craziness of new motherhood, I asked her if she had any advice for expectant mums.
Thanks, Tash, over to you…
Staying Fit During Pregnancy
For many of us, maintaining a regular fitness routine is already challenging. Throw some morning sickness, fatigue and round ligament pain into the mix, and suddenly a night on the couch with ice cream is hard to beat. How do you maintain the motivation and energy to exercise when you’re growing a human being?
39 weeks and 6 days into the journey, here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Start off strong
If you’re not yet pregnant, one of the best things you can do for yourself is begin laying the foundation for a healthy pregnancy.
Maybe you’re already an exercise fiend or maybe you’re just starting to find your groove. Either way, step up your strength and stamina now and it’ll pay huge dividends over the next 9 months.
You wouldn’t run a marathon or attempt a triathlon without training would you? Growing, carrying and birthing a child is one of the most physically (and arguably emotionally) demanding things a woman can do. Give yourself the best possible start by committing now to a regular exercise routine, a nutritious diet and a steady dose of meditation.
2. Never Skip Leg Day…
Or arms day…. or any day really.
OK I know that sounds hard but consistency really is key. There will be days when Netflix and the couch will be calling your name but if you stop now, it’ll be sooo much harder to get back on the bandwagon.
Instead of psyching yourself out with the (often daunting) goal of your usual 60 minute HIIT class, think about fitness on a sliding scale and break your exercise down into bite-sized chunks. Catch up with your partner or a friend over a refreshing evening walk, put your favourite playlist on and dance it out while you do the laundry or punch out a 20 minute weight circuit in your lunch break.
If all else fails, throw on that Netflix and set your alarm for 20 squats every 10 minutes. It may not seem like much but these little investments will keep you in the game.
3. Listen to your body
Needless to say, if you’re feeling rotten, do what you need to do to feel better. The early part of my pregnancy was characterised by horrendous nausea — there wasn’t a morning between weeks 8 and 14 that began without a chuck.
The start-stop of a moving vehicle and the jumps of my HIIT routine often left me green. Fortunately, I found that eating a high protein dinner, munching on something dry before I got out of bed and feeding myself “mini-meals” every 2-3 hours helped contain what would otherwise become all-day nausea.
When I could no longer stomach a simple downward dog, I put my beloved yoga practice on hold and dialled up the barre and mini weight circuits instead. A little movement never failed to refresh and rejuvenate me — that and plenty of sleep!
4. Talk to an expert
There’s so much information (and opinion) on do’s and don’t’s, that it can leave you feeling quite paralysed.
Besides checking with your doctor or midwife, if you’re a class-goer like me, the good news is you already have access to plenty of experts. Almost all instructors will start class by asking if anyone has injuries or is pregnant — take this golden opportunity to pick their brain on pre-natal modifications (get there early or wait till after class).
Some general rules of thumb include adopting a wider stance in yoga to accommodate your growing bump, skipping closed twists in favour of the open variations, and avoiding lying on your back for more than 5-10 minutes once your bump becomes sizeable.
Of course, certain core exercises (crunches and sit-ups spring to mind) are also off-limits but a lot of what you can do will come down to what you’re comfortable with. This is where rule #1 comes back into play — pregnancy isn’t the time to learn a new sport or sign up for an obstacle course. Instead, lay a solid foundation beforehand and the rest will become maintenance.
5. Scope out your city’s best bump-friendly options
Many studios and trainers run classes specifically for expecting mothers. Find these and get on them!
There’s nothing like a class to keep you motivated, accountable and in the company of like-minded (or like-bellied) people.
Personally, my favourite bump class is barre — it’s pre-natal friendly and yet hard enough to feel like a real workout. I added pre-natal yoga to my routine around the 25 week mark and kept up my own swimming, walking and weight circuits throughout.
Here are my top pre-natal picks on ClassPass Sydney:
- Barre Body: they have three gorgeous studios in the Sydney CBD, Bondi Junction and Surry Hills and the instructors are specially trained in pre-natal modifications. The class I find most bump friendly is Barre Fit but all of them work well.
- Lean Bean Fitness: Lizzy Bland runs a terrific Barre Beans class at the MPower Pilates studio in Bondi. This is another good one if you want to feel the burn!
- Balance Moves: I love their Barre Attack classes. It’s fast-paced and a great kind of sweat and you’ll find plenty of mums-to-be in class – always a good motivator.
- Andrew Boy Charlton, Prince Alfred, Sydney North Olympic and Speedos Pools: swimming is a terrific exercise during pregnancy because the water helps keep you cool and your bump supposedly makes you more buoyant. Whether you prefer to swim indoors in a heated pool (Speedos) or catch some rays and views outside, there are plenty of options to choose from. Bonus tip: breaststroke helps get your baby in the right position (avoid backstroke after the third trimester).
- Scenic Cycle: Stationary cycling is another bump-friendly exercise that you can keep up as long as you feel good. You’re sitting down for the most part and if things get too hectic, you can go at your own pace. The gorgeous visuals at Scenic Cycle are always a great escape as well – whether you’re pedalling through Banff, Queenstown or the South of France.
- Dharmashala: My go to pre-natal yoga class is taught by Nadine Richardson at Dharmashala. It’s 75 minutes long and contains a good mix of balancing and opening poses. You’ll also learn a modified Surya Namaskar and hold the longest Utkatasana (chair pose) ever.
Whether you’re pregnant or not (and if you are, super congrats, mumma bear), you can take advantage of a special offer for Training for Chocolate readers on ClassPass. If you sign up using this link you can actually get your first month on Base for only $19.
That’s a class for the same price as a cup of coffee! Plus, Natasha’s team will throw in a free ClassPass merchandise pack too.