Lauren is currently 22 weeks pregnant with her first baby girl. She is a certified Pilates and Barre instructor in Austin, Texas. When she’s not teaching, she loves attending sporting events with her husband and spending time outdoors. Read more about her adventures in fitness and healthy cooking on her blog (www.laurengeorgefitness.com) and see her five reasons you should belly up to the barre while pregnant.
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby during your pregnancy, but what is the best form of exercise for moms-to-be? There really is no right or wrong answer to this question, but barre workouts are definitely my personal favorite exercise to do while pregnant. It helps me feel strong, centered, graceful, and most of all healthy! But, the benefits don’t stop there…
One of the best things about barre workouts is that they can be done throughout your entire pregnancy. The exercises are based on controlled movements which lower your risk of injury or overstretching ligaments or joints. There are also numerous modifications available for each trimester so you can belly up to the barre right until delivery.
The exercises done in barre are specifically designed to help keep your entire core strong, not just your superficial rectus abdominal (six-pack) muscles. Barre exercises focus on lengthening and strengthening the erector spinae muscles located in the upper and mid back. They also strengthen the quadrates lumborum and multifidus muscles of the mid to lower back. Strengthening these muscles helps counteract the pull of the baby’s weight against the spine and prevent lower back pain. Increasing your strength in these muscles can also help improve your posture and prevent flexion of the thoracic spine which is common during pregnancy. Additionally, you will work your internal and external oblique muscles which are responsible for stabilization and rotation of the trunk. All of these muscles help you maintain your range of motion during pregnancy.
Furthermore, barre workouts help improve total body muscular strength and endurance, especially in your lower body. You will fire up your glutes, hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, and every tiny muscle in between. Through barre specific exercises, you will strengthen all of these muscles without having to lift heavy weights or place your body in positions that could potentially cause injury to yourself or the baby. Numerous studies have shown that a strong lower body can aid in delivery. What more could we ask for?
Although we may not all be ballerinas, barre workouts can still help us feel more graceful and improve our balance. The average expectant mother will gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy, which can throw off your center of gravity. The hormonal changes happening inside of our bodies serve to further challenge our balance and spacial orientation. Additionally, barre exercises can help increase our testosterone levels which aid in balance. These movements also challenge our stabilizer muscles which contribute to enhanced balance.
And last but certainly not least, barre workouts make you feel great! They help improve body image, increase your self confidence and boost your mood. During a time when your hormones are going crazy, your body is changing, and you are preparing to welcome a new life into the world, it’s wonderful to have a time just for you and your body. An hour to just enjoy movement and camaraderie with other women can do wonders for your mood and overall outlook!
Check with your doctor starting any new activity. I would also highly suggest letting your instructor know you are pregnant before class so she can offer specific modifications to help you get the most out of class.
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