Disclaimer: unfortunately this workout is not safe for those with a high-risk pregnancy, or who are contra-indicated to exercise. It is also not recommended for expectant mothers with hypertension, who are leaking any fluid, experiencing any bleeding or have a history of premature labour.
When it comes to fitness during pregnancy, the NHS advise that it’s generally safe to keep up a routine that works for you (but not to suddenly introduce some hardcore HIIT classes, if that’s not been your usual bag beforehand). Pilates, not to be confused with yoga, can be a great form of exercise for expectant mothers, as it’s a brilliant method of building core strength.
This is something that Hollie Grant (known as The Pilates PT, and founder of a special pregnancy-focussed plan, The Bump Plan) can more than attest to. Which is why – luckily for us! – she’s very kindly created a series of six moves that mothers-to-be (who don’t fall into any of the aforementioned risk categories) can do from home.
“For this routine, aim to complete each exercise for around one minute,” says Hollie, who offers an array of online classes. “After you have done all six exercises (which are a mix of Pilates and cardio moves), take a five minute break, and then repeat once – or twice if you feel up to it.” She reminds anyone taking part to also complete a thorough warm up, and cool down. “Listen to your body and if anything doesn’t feel right please do avoid.” During the cardio exercises, Hollie advises participants to imagine a scale of 1-10 – where 1 is you sat on the sofa relaxing, and 10 is you at the end of a marathon pre-pregnancy. “Make sure you stay around the 6/7 mark during cardio – please don’t go above an 8 at any point.”
6 pregnancy-safe Pilates moves
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees soft and spine neutral. Bring your arms out to your sides into a cactus position, with 90 degrees at your elbows and shoulders. You’re aiming to get your hands/wrists directly above your elbows, and in line with the spine. From here inhale to rotate the arms so the palms face the floor. Exhale and rotate the arms back to the start position. You should feel the chest opening, and the rotators at the back of the shoulders engaging.
Stand at one end of your mat and side step to the middle of your mat, opening the arms out into a lateral raise. Repeat stepping to the other end of the mat, again opening out the arms. Return, sidestepping, to the other end of your mat. This should take around 2 steps to cover but if you have any pelvic girdle pain you can take smaller steps to work within a comfortable range.
Bow and Arrow:
Sit in a comfortable seated position – this might be cross legged, legs extended, or frogs legs. Reach the arms out in front of you at shoulder height, palms facing the floor. Inhale and rotate the upper body to the left, drawing your left elbow backwards and reaching the right arm forwards (as if using a bow and arrow). Exhale to straighten the left arm back, reaching from fingertip to fingertip. Inhale bend the elbow and exhale return to centre, Repeat on the other side. This is about thoracic rotation so keep the legs still and only stretch as far as is comfortable – avoid over-stretching.
Choose a squat position that is comfortable for you – this might be parallel feet hip-width apart, or it might be sumo-squat (feet wider and in turnout). Squat down and punch the arms forward as if using a punch bag, whilst keeping the hips nice and still. Make sure you have a neutral pelvis so avoid sticking your bum out like a duck, instead draw the tailbone down and keep a nice gentle curve in the lower back.
Come down onto four-point kneeling. Find a neutral pelvis (looking for a gentle curve in the lower back) and try not to sink into your arms. Reach your right arm forwards resting your fingers on the end of your mat. Reach your left leg backwards resting the toe on the floor. Inhale and as you exhale lift the foot and hand away from the floor keeping a neutral spine. Inhale to lower them back to the floor with control. This is not about lifting your leg up really high – it’s about maintaining a neutral spine so keep your core active and only move as far as you can maintain your neutral.
Stand with your legs together and arms by your side. Reach the arms overhead with a slight bend at the elbows. As you do so take one leg out to the side and tap your toe on the floor. Bring the arms back down to your side and bring the foot back in to the start. Repeat on the other side. Keep alternating and tapping the foot out to the side as you take the arms overhead.
Watch the full routine taught by Hollie here:
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