Group exercise can be a great way to connect with other members at the gym.
Participating in a group exercise class can be fun, motivating, and a great way to connect with other members at the gym. Having some friendly faces that you look forward to seeing (and that will hold you accountable) provides a strong incentive for maintaining consistency. The Step has been a popular group exercise since its invention in the late eighties. While Step classes were originally designed for knee strengthening and rehabilitation, the recent introduction of faster music tempos and complex movements has increased the chance of injury. Proceed with caution and seek out instructors that encourage you to perform at your own level. The intensity of the workout is determined by the Step height, music tempo, upper body movement, and propulsions (jumps). Keep it simple when joining a new class by taking the time to learn the footwork first. Upper body movement can always be added later to increase the intensity. Place water near your Step and have fun groovin' to the music.
- Speak to your doctor about your desire to stay active during your pregnancy and listen to his/her advice and recommendations.
- Wear appropriate shoes and clothing (layers work great to avoid overheating).
- Monitor your breathing rate and adjust your intensity accordingly.
- Stop exercising immediately if you feel dizzy, faint or experience heart palpitations.
- Stretch! Areas to focus on include your quadriceps and calf muscles.
If You Were Inactive Before Pregnancy...
You may have thought that you were finished learning new languages when you left school, but your vocabulary is about to grow. It takes a few classes to feel comfortable using your new language but your body will soon respond to the instructor's cues. Be patient with your mind and body while they learn to coordinate. Inquire at the front desk about an introductory Step class. If your club does not provide a basic Step format, speak with the instructor before class to let him or her know that you are pregnant and wish to try the class for the first time. For learning purposes use a Step mat or platform only, there is no need to add risers until you are comfortable with the Step language. Have the instructor teach you the following movements and any other moves he or she feels you should know for your first class:
- Right basic/Left basic
- Right tap/Left tap
- Right V-step/Left V-step
Using these five basic movements, you will begin to get a feel for the flow of a Step class. Take your time and remember that you can always return to doing the right and left basic steps while watching the class. The most important reason for being in the class is to keep your body moving. Once you have mastered the basics, try adding a few hand motions or turns.
If You Were Active for At Least Three Months Prior to Becoming Pregnant...
Just as a reminder, your body is changing every day. But you still look great! Maintain that healthy glow and positive energy by continuing to enjoy your favorite Step class. Here are several modifications that you should consider during every class throughout your pregnancy:
- Step height. Are you used to using two sets of risers? Prevent possible falls or tripping by lowering your Step height. Take it down to one set of risers or to simply use the platform.
- Arm movements. Any time your arms are extended at full length and pumping up above your head, your heart must work harder to pump blood to your extremities. This pumping action increases your heart rate. When you feel the need to decrease your heart rate, there are two options for modifying arm movements: decrease the lever length (keep all movements below your heart) or remove the upper body movements altogether.
- Propulsion movements (jumps). Propulsion movements are frequently added to increase the heart rate, and thus, the workout's intensity. Not only is your heart already being forced to work harder for the two of you, but your pelvic muscles may not appreciate the increased strain from supporting the extra weight during jumping motions. Always listen to your body and don't hesitate to leave out the jumps.
If You Have Always Been Active...
If you are very comfortable making modifications when needed, consider lowering your Step height to ease pressure on your knees and lower back. This will also help you keep your heart rate in an appropriate range. Keep your bottle of water nearby and step to your heart's desire.