Barry’d With Children: Nancy Anderson and Megan Johnson
*Editor’s Note: Please consult with your own doctor before embarking on any fitness regimen while pregnant. These personal stories are not meant to replace the advice of a medical professional.
Fun facts: Barry’s Bootcamp Irvine trainers Nancy Anderson and Megan Johnson not only deliver tough workouts, they both recently delivered babies – all while teaching and sticking to their own workouts five days a week. They’re both certified in Pre & Postnatal Fitness and knew that exercising during pregnancy was important training for Labor & Delivery, but it’s also beneficial to baby too! We understand that everyone’s post-pregnancy goals are different and all bodies are beautiful – what’s important is our health. Read on for their personal stories and for their advice from the trenches.
I always was nervous about getting pregnant due to everyone saying things like, “Having a baby ruins your body” and “there’s nothing you can do about it.” But, I was always a little skeptical about that. Like, really? Nothing I can do about it? I made sure I was educated on the topic of pre-natal fitness and prepared going into my own pregnancy. Everyone’s journey is a bit different and it doesn’t make one right or wrong, but I hope sharing my journey can inspire other like-minded mamas-to-be to take control of their bodies and health during their pregnancy, because it doesn’t have to ‘ruin your body’ and there absolutely is something you can do about it.
Going into my pregnancy I was in great shape with a solid fitness foundation already established. Building that foundation before you conceive will make it easier for you to maintain your fitness for longer during pregnancy and aid in bouncing back (Hello, muscle memory) post-pregnancy. I made a point to focus on core strength and engagement during the six months leading up to when we starting “trying” to conceive (this was HUGE in maintaining fitness during pregnancy for as long as I did). Establishing substantial core strength, learning how to breathe through my diaphragm, and engage my Transverse Abdominis and get my cardiovascular strength to an all-time high, was my goal when preparing for pregnancy and continued to be my focus throughout my pregnancy.
Labor training is something that is so important to implement in your pregnancy fitness regimen. Labor Training is the best way for you and baby to prepare for the stress that will be put on both of you during labor. Through laboring training intervals (harder working intervals that take your perceived exertion to a 7, 8, or 9 on a scale of 1-10) you will challenge your body’s physiology to mimic labor contractions. This prepares your body and your baby’s body (mentally and physically) for baby pushin’ time. This is also shown to deliver a higher amount of oxygen to the babies brain, assisting in baby’s brain development. Want to know the perfect way to labor train? Barry’s treadmill runs! At your own level of course, Barry’s treadmill runs are pretty much the perfect way to add in this beneficial training to your pregnancy program.
Before becoming pregnant, I took class at Barry’s about five days a week. My treadmill speeds were advanced before pregnancy and I continued to be able to stick with advanced speeds until I was into my third trimester. I listened when my body told me to back off and when my body told me to go, I went! I kept running at Barry’s until around 8 1/2 months when I switched to double floor only for the rest of my pregnancy. The running eventually began to give me some pelvic discomfort. It would have been completely safe for me to run all the way up until I delivered, but I just couldn’t continue to run without risking injury and the last thing I wanted to do late in pregnancy was be to pull a muscle in my groin. Ouch! I had enough things happening down there, I didn’t want to risk adding anything else to the mix. I continued working out at barry’s until I was 41 weeks pregnant. I think two days before I delivered was my last Barry’s workout.
Due to my baby’s position (sunny side up and tilted) and size (8.5 pounds) my planned natural birth didn’t happen for me. After laboring naturally and medicine free for 20 hours it was determined that the baby was not going to fit and he would have to be delivered via c-section. This was pretty heartbreaking for me, but I did everything I could to prepare and plan a natural birth, in the end it was just unfortunately out of my control, a good first lesson for parenting I suppose!
After having the c-section my doctor was so impressed how quickly my body recovered and how much I was moving and how strong my abs the day after surgery. My OB cleared me to go back to Barry’s and do light weight/bodyweight exercises and light jogging at 2 weeks post operation. That’s kind of unheard of. The fitness foundation I had pre pregnancy and my continued fitness throughout my pregnancy is what helped me recover and get back into the gym so quickly. I was back to full speed, sprinting 12.0 mph and lifting heavy (20-25 pound dumbbells) at Barry’s in just 6 weeks post c-section. I gained 25 lbs during my pregnancy and lost almost all of that weight by 6 weeks postpartum. All of this would have not been possible without my pre-natal fitness routine.
There are so many benefits to working out during pregnancy and more benefits are being discovered every day. It’s not just about your body bouncing back either. Although that was a big motivator for me (and I’m sure most women), there are endless other benefits that you give your baby by living a healthy and fit lifestyle during pregnancy. A recent study by Dr. Dave Ellemberg at the University of Montreal stated, “Exercise might increase the oxygen supply to your baby’s brain, which increases the concentration of chemicals that promote development. This could help your newborn develop language and motor skills more quickly.” New information like this is coming out all the time now and it’s time we all listen up.
If I could give any advice to women who are thinking about getting pregnant in the upcoming year, it would be, get your body ready now. Especially getting your core as strong and engaged as possible. Try not to wait until you have a positive pregnancy test to get your pre-natal fitness routine underway. If you’re planning on trying to get pregnant in the next 6-12 months, start considering yourself “prenatal” now. The fitness level you have pre-pregnancy is going to determine your fitness level during pregnancy, and your fitness level during pregnancy is going to determine how quickly your body responds post pregnancy.
Nancy Anderson is passionate and knowledgeable fitness professional with more than 9 years experience in developing, promoting and delivering exceptional personal and group fitness training both in-person and through her online training programs. She has earned a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science and is a certified Pre & Post Natal Specialist. In addition to training at Barry’s Bootcamp, Nancy is a lead online coach on the PearSports Fitness App. Nancy brings passion and inspiration to her workouts leaving her clients feeling drenched and empowered.
M.S. Exercise Science
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
Pre & Post Natal Specialist
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My fitness routine didn’t change much once I found out I was pregnant. Fortunately, throughout my entire pregnancy, I continued to take about five classes at Barry’s per week (in addition to being a school teacher full-time and teaching between two to four Barry’s classes a week). With the support of my OB, I continued to workout as hard and as often as I wanted to. Whatever felt uncomfortable or didn’t feel “right,” I wouldn’t do. It was as simple as that. Obviously, there were a few exercises that I had to modify, but I stuck to the program as much as I could. Of course, towards the end of my pregnancy, I wasn’t able to hit that 12.5 sprint pace, but I went as fast as my body would let me go comfortably.
Because of my prenatal fitness routine and diet, I only gained about 24 pounds by the end of my pregnancy. In addition to keeping my weight gain to a minimum, maintaining my pre-pregnancy fitness routine and eating a balanced diet helped prepare my body (and my baby’s body) when it came time to deliver. Labor training helped prepare my body for the stress that it was going to endure during labor and delivery. Through High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) I was able to challenge my body’s physiology to mimic the contractions it was going to endure during active labor. This is why Barry’s was the perfect format for me. Because of my prenatal training, my entire labor only lasted a few hours (I pushed for about 20 minutes total). I feel very blessed to have had such a quick, smooth labor and delivery. My husband and I were THRILLED to welcome a healthy and happy baby boy.
Needless to say, after we came home from the hospital, I was itching to get back into the gym. Soon after we got settled in at home, I was ready to start exercising again. My body felt great. I took my first Barry’s class about fourteen days postpartum. Slowly but surely, I was able to build back my strength and endurance that I had lost. After leaving the hospital, I had about ten pounds to lose. At my six-week postpartum check up, I was back at my pre-pregnancy weight. This is proof of how important prenatal exercise is to bouncing back postpartum. While I still had some muscle to gain back, I was very pleased with my progress.
I cannot stress enough the importance of exercise during pregnancy. One of the most important foundations for a healthy pregnant body is exercise. Not only will building a strong core help tremendously when it’s time to deliver, it will also help your body bounce back more quickly postpartum (Thank you, muscle memory).
Many women fear that exercise during pregnancy will increase the risk of miscarriage or pre-term labor (in a normal, low-risk pregnancy). In his book, Exercising Through Your Pregnancy, Dr. James Clapp dissolves almost all myths that exercise is anything but beneficial for a pregnant mom and her baby. Through his research, Clapp has found that moms who exercised during pregnancy experience:
♥ Easier labors (decreased need for pain relief, surgical interventions, and time spent in labor)
♥ Fewer pregnancy discomforts (less weight gain, reduced likelihood of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia)
Furthermore, research shows that the baby benefits from prenatal exercise as well. Clapp’s research shows that babies born to mothers who exercise during their pregnancies experience:
♥ Increased physical health scores.
♥ Increased intelligence tests.
♥ Fewer fetal interventions and fewer pregnancy complications.
♥ Improved nutrient and waste exchange.
In my experience, I have seen many women use pregnancy as an excuse to “let themselves go” and give in to all “pregnancy food cravings.” If there is any time to change your exercise (assuming you have a low-risk pregnancy) and diet habits, now is the time. In the womb, your baby eats what you eat. Pregnancy is not the time to indulge in as much junk food as possible. If anything, being pregnant gives you a reason to change your lifestyle and give your baby what he/she needs to enter this world as healthy as possible.
As a former Division 1 collegiate soccer player, Megan has years of experience pushing her body to the limit, both physically and mentally. As a trainer at Barry’s Irvine, Megan brings her experience and passion for health and fitness to help clients of various levels of fitness reach their goals through her fun, energizing, and innovative workouts. Megan recently became a new mom and has since found a new passion for educating women about the importance of pre and post natal fitness. Megan loves coaching her prenatal clients through safe and effective exercise programs that will help keep them fit and healthy during their pregnancies and beyond.
ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor
Certified Pre and Post Natal Exercise Specialist
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