There are many (often contradicting) opinions on how & when to exercise while expecting. On Thursday, 5/16, Kinected & FITiST will host a panel of experts including a nutritionist, MD, Pilates instructor, (& more!) to help you sort through the options & get exercise savvy — no matter how big your bump. Join us for a prenatal mat class from 10-11am ($18) with pre & postnatal Pilates master Stephanie Lang Bittner, and stay for the panel discussion from 11am-12pm (FREE!).
To kick us off, Stephanie shares her perspective on exercise during pregnancy:
I teach a weekly prenatal Pilates mat class at Kinected where I get to help ladies in all stages of their pregnancy. These women come to my class with or without previous knowledge of Pilates. Regardless of what shape they are in when they come to my class, one thing is certain, doing prenatal Pilates helps them feel better.
It is interesting to see a woman progress through the trimesters. Recently, I had a woman in her 12th week who was full of energy and ready to work out. In the same class I had two women who were approximately 36 weeks into their second pregnancy, so they just wanted to stretch and were happy to have the hour of “free” time to themselves. Balancing this kind of class is interesting. I want to help everyone reach the goal they have set for that day. What I have learned through my own pregnancy and also teaching many pregnant women is that although every body is different and every pregnancy is different, there are certain exercises that women like to do in each stage of pregnancy.
In the first trimester, most like to continue with their usual workouts. We focus on establishing a routine that can be a jumping off point for the rest of their pregnancy. Posture changes, such as the pelvis shifting due to the growth of the baby and the shoulders rounding forward due to the developing breasts, can be reduced by strengthening the muscles of the back and core. Doing kegels (pelvic floor) exercises are also necessary to regain the strength in the pelvic floor muscles after giving birth. In the second trimester, women are generally feeling good. However, as the baby grows and their belly grows, their balance can be challenged. I start to modify the routine that was started in the first trimester, perhaps by decreasing reps or eliminating certain exercises. I will also add in more stretching and exercises that will help with maintaining good circulation. In the third trimester, women start to feel more tired and may experience some anxiety about actually having to give birth. I still focus on deep core and pelvic floor muscles, arms and legs, but stretching is super important. I will also include pain coping techniques if someone is having anxiety.
So…how do I balance a class with a woman in her 12th week of pregnancy and on inher 36th week? I program to the women in the more advanced stage of pregnancy and then modify to challenge each from there. And, I communicate like crazy! Asking questions, checking in, and being extremely observant are all steps in the process for student and teacher alike. I am so lucky that I get the chance to help every woman in any stage of her pregnancy. I learn as well and I am constantly inspired by each of them!
Stephanie has been training privately as well as facilitating instructor certification programs in the tri-state area for over 10 years. Her weekly clientele include professional dancers and athletes, Broadway performers, and those recovering from chronic or major injuries. She carefully creates on-going wellness programs for those suffering from chronic conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and multiple sclerosis. Stephanie is excited to bring her insight and talents to assist women during and after their pregnancy. Her vast knowledge enables her to make adjustments to any workout class or program – even for those with special needs. Stephanie is certified by the Center for Women’s Fitness, Pilates Academy International and AcitivCore Redcord Stability Programs. She is a retired Radio City Rockette and Broadway performer, holds a B.A. in Dance from Point Park University, is an adjunct professor at New York University, and is the proud mom of Cooper.