You are browsing the archive for 2011 July.

Big bellies and bouncing balls

July 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

While doing my seemingly endless research into pregnancy and exercise as not only my duty as Fitness Editor on Health24 but also as a pregnant exerciser, I was lucky enough to stumble across Preggi Bellies. Imagine my surprise – an all in one package of people who understand the importance of fitness in pregnancy and who practice what they preach too.


Anyhoo, long story short, I decided to join one of their classes and see what it was all about. Not because I don’t have enough fitness-type things to do, but I’m still a bit of an exercise junkie and despite the blooming bulge of my belly I still want to try out new things on teh fitness front.


So I showed up to class, not expecting AS gruelling a workout as I’m used to with CrossFit but also not expecting to just breeze through the class. Too often have I made that rookie mistake and paid the price afterwards – and fortunately this time it was a wise decision to have made.


Preggi Bellies is one helluva workout!

It would have been easy to mistake the big-bellied women all trooping into class sporting a variety of different sized bumps disguised by different sized t-shirts as nothing more than a gentle group of softly-spoken moms-to-be who might also indulge in some afternoon tea while discussing future birthing options. But let’s make no mistake, these women are all there for the same reason – to get fit and stay fit and healthy for both their sake and the benefit of their unborn child.


Women after my own heart I tell you!


One woman was already roughly 32 weeks along, so her bump was quite big and the trainer later told me that she’d joined their class when she was 12 weeks pregnant and at that stage had never exercised in her life before… now she’s a regular in class and has actually LOST body fat from the training. She sat across from me on one of the big Pilates-style balls and despite the fact she looked ready to pop, she kept up with class and even though some of her movements were smaller than mine (and guaranteed more graceful), she didn’t stop moving once.


And neither did I.


Halfway through the class I had sweat pouring down my back and my heart rate was right up there. I kicked myself afterwards for not wearing a heart rate monitor just to see the impact, but my heart was pumping the same satisfying way it does in a spinning class.


The class began with us all on a Pilates-style ball (one day someone will make up a REAL name for them that’s universal… but for now suffice to say it’s one of those really, really big balls they use in Pilates classes ok?). The instructor, Sonja showed me how to gently…no, gently… no, no…geeeeently bounce on it while keeping my balance.


Tricky. Very tricky.


But it got better… although once I had that down we began to move on the ball WHILE bouncing. As in co-ordinated movements that required me bouncing GENTLY up and down while moving side to side with my arms and legs usually moving in different directions. It’s not easy people. I very nearly bounced out the door.


GENTLY!!! Apparently I need to practice that…


After that warmup we moved onto the step and did a mini-circuit workout which included using the step, light weights, lots of lunges and squats and even some abdominal work. Cause let’s not forget that one day this stomach will NOT be housing a growing human being and I’d like for it to return to some form of normal stomach-looking consistency.


By the end of the class, when we were all stretching the music and heavy breathing was replaced by chatter amongst the moms-to-be about their one most common trait… being knocked up. I lay there listening to these women who had all obviously been to a few classes together and all knew each other by now and shared stories of common aches and pains, pregnancy-concerns, gynae visits and scan results.


My how my life has changed :)


I not only knew what they were all talking about but could appreciate it too. Which made me realise that even though this sort of a class is in my mind of VITAL importance from a fitness and health point of view, it’s also so great that women from the same area who are all pregnant (or have just had a child), can chat and make friends with the parents of the kids that their kids will one day probably be friends with. Does that make sense? Read it again slowly… :)


Anyhoo I have now signed up with them for classes twice a week until the end of my pregnancy and I would strongly urge any women no matter how ‘early’ she thinks it is in her pregnancy or how unfit she thinks she is to check them out too. Like the Preggi Bellie peeps say,


“Pregnancy shouldn’t be the excuse, it should be the reason”


Methinks I need a t-shirt printed that says that….


From my side I will still continue to do the CrossFit and other gym stuff, but the Preggie Bellie classes are jsut too much of fun – and most importantly, they’re a great workout. And we all know I’m a sucker for a good workout…

Check them out here: Preggi Bellies.

Keep calm and carry on, keep calm and carry on….

July 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

“Try not to lift anything heavy… like washing”


These were the words of advice I was given by a new gynae who was filling in for my regular one.

If you know anything about me, you’ll know how hard I had to bite my tongue when she said this. Especially in front of my very protective husband who is now wondering where the middle-ground is between me not lifiting anything heavier than a load of washing, and all the stuff I do at gym on a daily basis.


However, to put it into perspective it also came from a woman who was unable to save or record any of the images from our scan because she “hadn’t been shown how to operate the machine”. So it begs the question how up-to-date she is with the latest research on exercise guidelines – this remains a murky, and volatile, subject in our house.


On the plus side I might get out of some house-hold chores such as washing. Hmmm….


Anyway, after I’d taken this with a KILO of salt and managed to calm myself down it hit me once again how much ignorance there is around the safety issues regarding exercise and pregnancy. Almost everyone you speak to has an outdated and old-fashioned and often dangerously ignorant opinion about it.

I cannot stress enough how this frustrates me – if you don’t know what you’re talking about, either keep your opinion to yourself or educate yourself… do some research. Find out the facts. If you still believe you’re right after that, then we can have an informed conversation. Until then however…


Speaking of research, I did some of my own. In an article here, which was published on Parent24, I spoke to a very well respected, educated and informed biokineticist who clarified some of the stickier points surrounding exercise. You can read the whole article here, but these are the points which really stuck out for me:


  • Regular exercise is preferable to intermittent activity.
  • You should be able to carry a conversation comfortably while exercising.
  • Use a rating of perceived exertion scale (i.e. NOT a heart rate monitor that restricts you to a certain number a minute) of 6 to 20 to determine your level of effort during exercise, with 6 being no effort and 20 being maximum exertion.  You should not exceed 15 on the RPE scale which is “hard”.
  • Adequate nutrition and hydration of the mother during exercise is essential.
  • Recent data suggests that provided there is sufficient medical screening and supervision pregnant women can benefit from initiating an exercise programme. The most appropriate time to increase intensity and duration of training is during the 2nd trimester.

This quote also really stands out for me:

“Studies have shown that women who exercise regularly during pregnancy have healthier babies, and shorter labours. Exercise during pregnancy has also been associated with a lower mean hospital stay compared to a control group (sedentary pregnant women).”

So overall not a bad thing then? Right? It’s what I’ve been saying… and given that my baby is kicking like a pro now, is healthy on all scans and weighs in at a comfortable 940g at the last scan, I think so far so good.

Anyway, that’s my rant for the day! :)

Exercises for the week have continued as normal: CrossFit and spinning with some CrossFit Mom exercises too. Running has again taken a backseat purely because I can’t run in the mornings as it’s too dark (and freaking COLD) and by the afternoon my back is sore from this pinched nerve I still have. But once physio sorts that out I will resume some gentle running too.

I was also lucky enough to attend a PreggiBellies class last week, which I will write about in a separate post. Suffice to say it was awesome and I HIGHLY reccomend it to any pregnant moms or women who have just had a baby or are planning on having one. It really is worth it no matter what fitness level you’re on.

But more on that later….

Fun with %$#@ Fran…

July 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

Today was the beginning of the Fran challenge at CrossFit, which means we do the workout today and then in eight weeks we repeat it and see how much our time has improved. I didn’t sign up for the actual challenge since I’ll be a whopping eight months preggers by then and despite my best efforts I doubt I’ll be up to improving my time much.


Mind you, I more than halved my time on the last challenge so we will see.


Anyway, back to Fran. She’s nasty.

The workout Fran consists of 21-15-9 thrusters and pull-ups.


I clearly underestimated her and half-way through I felt her wrath. My fore-arms were throbbing and twitching like they wanted to make a quick getaway, but alas they were in it for the long-haul. But man, those pull-ups were hard.


I suppose at 25 weeks I shouldn’t really be TOO surprised that pull-ups are becoming more difficult, but I’m now using the green band and still struggling to get them out. My poor arms are jsut not cut out for lifting me and my growing tumble-dryer belly.


Still, I did it and finished in a time of 10.35 I think (give or take a few seconds for porridge-brain over here) which was within the cut-off time so that was encouraging.


Here are a few pics, it looks easier than it was though:


FYI a thruster is when you do a front squat with the bar, then push up and push the bar overhead. That’s one rep… easy at first, not so easy by the 45th one. My centre of balance has als shifted I think because I looked like a drunk Buddah sometimes I stumbled so much.


The pull-ups, nice shot courtesy of Roland!


In other news, this week I am going to my first Preggi Bellies class after I contacted them to help me with an article I’m working on about exercise guidelines during pregnancy. I heard an interview on the radio last week with one of their doctors and was THRILLED beyond belief to hear some of the stuff he was saying about how pregnant women CAN and SHOULD exercise as often as they can.

I’ll keep you posted on when that article goes live, but it will definitely be one to look out for. Hopefully get my old fashioned “no-heart-rate-above-120″ doctor to give it a read too…

In the meantime, check out this article I did on running during pregnancy. By the time I’m done there should be little to no doubt out there about what you can and can’t do during pregnancy on the exercise-front.

Anyhoo, have a grand week everyone!


Backache, burpees and things that go bump

July 5, 2011 in Uncategorized


This week marks my six months of being pregnant… although to be fair only about three of them have really ‘felt’ like I am pregnant. I have had it pretty easy until now, no morning sickness (which I believe is thanks to exercising), no heartburn (thanks to eating as ‘clean’ and paleo as possible save the occasional chocolate and ice-cream binge. What?) and very few aches and pains.

However…. there’s always a ‘however‘ lurking there…. in the last week and a bit that’s changed and I have the worst backache. It’s not lower back, it’s middle back and according to the doctor it’s a combination of the way the baby is lying, as well as the fact that I spend all day sitting in front of a computer. The only solution is waiting for him to move… and no amount of poking, prodding, pleading, demanding or denying of future chocolate-coated treats is doing the trick.


Another stubborn family member. Lucky me!

Anyway, since there’s very little I can do about it except use hot compresses on it and try avoid siittng for too long until he moves, there’s not much point in complaining. :(

So on to happier things. Exercise!

I realise that I’m slowing down more and more each week as I feel heavier and heavier and more breathless. But I am still working out six times a week as best I can and so far, apart from a few modifications (like not keeping track of time) I am still loving it and feeling strong. If it wasn’t for my morning spinning, running or CrossFitting I think I would be going mad.

Last week was a good week, albeit it one filled with FAR too many burpee workouts at CrossFit than I would have liked, but I did them and felt FAB-U-LOUS afterwards.

Not IMMEDIATELY afterwards, but a little while later when my face was less red and my legs were less shaky.

Monday’s workout looked like this:


Back squat 1-1-1 (I only managed to do about 45kg, but I did reps of 5 to make up for it)




Every minute on the minute, for 10 minutes, complete:

  • 3 Thrusters 29kg (I did 14kg but it was too light in restrospect)

  •  3 Box jumps 60cm/40cm (I did step-ups because hauling this huge weight off the ground onto a box and hoping I’ll land safely just ISN’T happening)

Then Tuesday I went to a spinning class.

Then Wednesday’s CrossFit class looked like this:


Press 1-1-1 (This was SO lame, I could only get up to 30kg!! Bye-bye upper body strength!!)




As quickly as possible, perform 4-8-12-16-12-8-4 of:

  • Burpees

  • Double unders [unbroken]

This workout I totally got modified because even in another universe where I’m not with child I cannot do 16 unbroken double unders. Not yet. So I did 1-3-6-9-12-9-6-3-1. Or at least that was the plan. Porridge brain kicked in and somewhere along the line I got carried away and did too many of everything. It all went pear-shaped about half-way through so in truth I have NO idea how many I did.


Then Thursday I did spinning again – TANGENT -the Thursday class is weird. It’s taken by a very large man who is more than a little nervous with me in his class and regularly takes breaks to come and check I’m not about to pop a baby out on the spinning bike. Poor man, I can just see his heart sink when I walk into his class at 5am… what a way to start the day with a stubborn pregnant woman who’s not even your wife….


Then Friday’s workout looked like this:


Deadlift 1-1-1 (Roland wouldn’t let me do many deadlifts so half-way through I switched to practicing pull-ups. Man I’m getting heavy… no need for a weight belt on those, I brought my own!




As quickly as possible, perform 21-15-9:

  • Deadlift @ 50% of 1RM (I substituted with Kettlebell swings which were just as tiring)

  • Burpees (I know, right?… MORE burpees! The insanity…)

Then just to round it all off I thought I’d take part in the Spookhill Challenge in Somerset West on Saturday morning. I’ve heard the 15km is quite intense so I opted for the 5km fun run.


It all seemed like a grand idea until 5.30am on Saturday morning when I woke up to rain lashing my windows. This continued all the way to Somerset West with my friends from the West Coast Athletic Club and by the time we got there they’d all decided to do the 5km instead of the 15km too.


Fair enough. It was a shocker of a morning and freezing cold to top it off.


As you can see below it was also a very muddy affair. But it was fun and I managed to finish in 46 minutes which is generally quite a bad time for a 5km for me, but considering I ran/walked it’s still better than my run last week. So I felt quite good afterwards.



Sunday was a rest day.


Then it all started again yesterday Cool


By the way, check out this article on TIME Magazine’s site about all the benefits of exercising during pregnancy. It’s really interesting!


I will be following it up with an article of my own to be featured on Parent24 in the next few days as well as one on running during pregnancy.


And if that still doens’t satisfy the worryers… remember I’m still hormonal and I like lifting heavy shit and throwing it around for fun. JUST SAYING….



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