What I’ve learned as a pregnant fitness instructor

I’m not-so-secretly afraid my water is going to break teaching Zumba. Can you imagine the horror? Shaking my booty in front of class when a waterfall of fluid hits the floor to Pitbull. I’d die.


[Side note: the new lululemon Quick Step pant is my new fave. I like it even more than the Studio Pant]

Whenever I walk into class, I can kind of feel the vibe that some people are wondering what type of workout I’m going to give them. “Harrumph. How hard is a pregnant lady going to make me work?” Hard. I will still make your muscles beg for mercy, don’t you fret.

It’s definitely been interesting, fun and challenging to teach fitness the past 8 months with this little lady growing in my belly. I’m also grateful for the ability to work where I do, since I think it has helped me keep a positive attitude –there’s nothing like the high of teaching a high-energy class- and have a healthy pregnancy so far (knock on wood).

Throughout the pregnancy, I’ve gone from complete exhaustion to feeling like a superstar, and back to tired with a side of heavy, so things have definitely been different than my usual teaching routine.

Here are some of my lessons learned:

1) Go with whatever the doctor says. Some doctors or midwives will say that you need to keep your heart rate at a certain level. Mine told me to keep doing whatever it was I was doing before. I nixed the Bodyrock workouts, since they felt too high impact, but everything else has pretty much remained the same. You can read more about how my workouts have changed *here* and *here*. I explained to the doctor and midwives that teaching Zumba is pretty crazy and that I get super sweaty, and they were fine with it. They said the baby has adapted to whatever it is that I’m used to doing, so to keep it up as long as it feels good. Thanks to my belly support belt, it still feels good.

2) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m fortunate that in my situation, whenever I’m teaching, I have an assistant. The assistant for my Zumba classes will usually do a few songs in the middle of class so I can take a little break and just dance along showing the low-impact modifications. When they’re done with their 2 or 3 songs, I feel revived and ready to tackle the rest of class. I haven’t had a problem teaching the rest of the classes entirely on my own.

3) Be patient. As time goes on, there are going to be things that you can no longer do, and that’s ok. It’s hard enough to put my shoes on right now, and when I got taken off the schedule for a bootcamp style class I was teaching, as bummed as I was about it, it was for my safety. [Lots of equipment set-up and the like] I’m so grateful that my work has been flexible with my teaching schedule, and even though I’m in the weight room a lot more than I used to be, I still get to be there surrounded by health-minded people, enrich my brain with as much fitness knowledge as possible, and am very thankful that they’ve taken the health of myself and the baby in mind when they schedule me. I will be honest and say that it’s been hard for me to keep my energy up, especially considering the fact that I can’t physically teach how I’m used to right now.

In the grand scheme of things, I feel like this has been an amazing break as far as intense classes go, and when I come back to work after maternity leave, I’ll be even more excited to tackle and teach the crazy challenging stuff.

4) Even though you have to scale back, you actually work harder while teaching. Not only is maneuvering a little more challenging, but it’s kind of a fun obstacle to break whatever first impression the participants may have about you. I know when people see my giant belly they probably wonder if they’re going to get a worthwhile workout, so I really have to focus on making sure they get the best class possible, even if I can’t do all of the moves myself.

5) Drink lots of water, snack like crazy, and keep a little sugar on hand. From being on my feet all day, on rare occasions I can feel my blood sugar dropping, even though I’m constantly snacking. I asked about it, and they said it was from the increased blood volume during this time. If I feel the crash start to happen, I’ll grab a glass of lemonade and almost immediately feel better.

Have you had a pregnant fitness instructor before? Did they still give you an amazing class?

Any fellow pregnant fitness instructors out there? I’d love to hear your tips!

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  1. Hillary on November 19, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Oh, holy crap yes, I’ve had a hardcore pregnant fitness instructor before. She was the most intense spin instructor at my old gym, and her classes when she was 9 months pregnant were just as intense as when she wasn’t pregnant at all. That in and of itself was crazy motivating!

    • Fitnessista on November 19, 2011 at 7:59 pm

      that is AWESOME
      the pilot used to take spin at his pilot training base, and he said everyone’s face instructor was pregnant. definitely good motivation!

  2. Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie on November 19, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    That is amazing you are still teaching like you are being 8 months pregnant! Girl, you rock!!

  3. Suzi @ Confessions of a Fitness Instructor on November 19, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Thanks for this one Gina, I’m glad that your doctor/midwives allowed you to keep up your regular workouts, this is something that I’ve worried about if/when I become pregnant and hopefully my health care professionals will be as wonderful as yours have!

    I was injured this past week (hip flexor thing) so I had to keep it pretty mild while teaching (which drove me crazy) but the best quote from one of my participants was, “Man! Suzi injured = hard!” and another one replied, “Suzi injured = no different than usual”. It’s funny that people automatically assume because we as instructors can’t always doing everything we normally would that their workout is going to suffer, I’m glad you’ve been busting those myths with your adorable belly!

    BTW – I showed your zumba video to some of my zumba girls and they were all totally amazed by you and your sheer awesomeness 😀

    • Fitnessista on November 19, 2011 at 8:07 pm

      that is so sweet! thank you 🙂
      i can’t wait to see the little one in her zumba onesie 🙂

  4. Carrie on November 19, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    I think this will make you feel pretty good: My turbo kickboxing instructor taught up until a couple weeks before she delivered (I’m sure she she slowed the class down, but it never felt like it!) and was back two weeks after. She looked like she had never been pregnant! It was amazing, and I vowed then that when I got pregnant, I’d keep at it just like her.

  5. Vikki Morgan on November 19, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    You are such a stinking cute pregnant woman,,,you ROCK Chicky!

  6. Kristen on November 19, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    I had a pregnant step instructor once. She was pretty awesome. She kept it up until about the eighth month. Her joints really bothered her so she took a step hiatus until after the baby came which I respect. I’m glad she listened to her body. She came back ready to kick butt.
    I’m curious if you’ve had any Braxton Hicks contractions? I am 25 weeks and they have already started. Not painful, just uncomfortable. It’s funny when they happen in public and I try to keep a normal look on my face while walking through a store 🙂

  7. Sara (Running with Teaspoons) on November 19, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    i had a pregnant spin instructor once – although she wasn’t too far along at the time. the first class of her’s i went to she was pregnant and she started off by saying “some of you may have noticed that i’ve gained weight, and maybe wondered how someone getting heavier can help you exercise. so i just wanted to clarify that i’m not getting fat, i’ve gotten pregnant.” sooooo funny. her classes were HARD, for sure.

  8. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on November 19, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    It’s great that you’ve been able to keep teaching and find ways to work around your belly 🙂 and take breaks or lower the intensity as needed. Listening to your body is so key and if there’s ever a time to tune in, it’s during pregnancy!

    I like you first point and that you told this all to your midwives and they’re fine with it…I love that they aren’t automatically like, oh you can’t do that or stop no matter what the circumstances are. They are flexible and use common sense…always a win.

    When I was pregnant I wasn’t teaching yoga which was a good thing…I had such a hard pregnancy there would have been no way I would have had the strength to teach. Rock on girl!

  9. mary on November 19, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I had a pregnant Body Pump instructor.

    As someone who has had her water break, let me tell you it’s not always (often? ever?) a waterfall, more like a trickle.

  10. KC on November 19, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    I took a vinyasa yoga class with a new instructor a few days ago, and she was 8 months pregnant. The class was awesome and definitely kicked my butt!

  11. Katherine on November 19, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    I was a pregnant fitness instructor! I taught yoga up until my 8th month – after that I just felt like I needed to conserve the energy I was giving out to all of my students. It wasn’t a physical thing…more emotional. I also taught a Pilates Mat Teacher Training while I was 7-9 months pregnant. I had back up in case I went into early labor, but my students are now rocking Pilates teachers, so I did great. I did suffer some pregnancy brain teaching anatomy, etc, but everyone understood. I love my work because they have been so understanding and loving!

  12. Ali on November 19, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Wow! You are such a trooper! I would not be surprised to get an amazing work out from you, preggers or not though! You are one tough cookie!

  13. Lindsay @ Lindsay's List on November 19, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    I was never pregnant as an instructor, but I remember taking a Step Class the day before I gave birth. People freaked out – I had a blast!

  14. Amber L on November 19, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    You are awesome! Ps I love your maternity shirt in the first pic? Care to share where it is from?

    • Fitnessista on November 20, 2011 at 7:56 pm

      lululemon! the only clothes that have fit me this entire time

  15. Betsy Kleiger on November 19, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    If it makes you feel any better, a woman’s water broke right next to me in a spin class and it was no biggie!

  16. Tiffany on November 20, 2011 at 12:19 am

    I’ve had a pregnant spin and group power instructor. I started taking classes with her when she was first pregnant and they were just as intense at the beginning as they were at the end. I still take classes with her (baby just turned one) and they are still amazing classes. She actually taught a class in the morning and went into labor later that night but said it was a super easy one (for her first baby), probably because she maintained her exercise regimen throughout pregnancy.

  17. Heather on November 20, 2011 at 12:35 am

    I probably don’t look like the average fitness junkie, and my favorite thing is walking into a class and shocking everyone with how fit I am! Good for you!

  18. chelsea on November 20, 2011 at 12:57 am

    I hope to have your exact mentality when I get pregnant haha!

  19. Jackie Smith on November 20, 2011 at 1:45 am

    one of the best Zumba classes I ever had–and the one that really HOOKED me on Zumba–was taught by an instructor who (as she found out later) was only 2 weeks from giving birth. We did a lot of ab work & she kept saying, “Look! I can move my entire belly and baby! You all should be feeling this in your stomach!” It was awesome & inspiring!

  20. Sara on November 20, 2011 at 4:50 am

    I have had a pregnant instructor for a class called ‘Group Kick’, which is a lame name for an intense kind of class with martial arts moves to loud music. Not to freak you out but .. um.. her water did break in class but it was no big deal, lots of women in the class have had babies and quite a few said ‘woohoo!’ and other noises of excitement. By that stage she was sharing duties with an assistant instructor but still doing most of the teaching herself – there is not much jumping, just squats, lunges, punches, kicks – her assistant was there to do the pushup and abs tracks. The baby was two weeks early (no problems for him, he was fine, just early). And, she was back four weeks later, IN A CROP TOP, showing off her abs and killing us. Apparently the extra blood is a bit like altitude training and gives you quite a bit of extra endurance for a while after pregnancy. So, your class has that to look forward to also.

  21. Marie-Santé on November 20, 2011 at 9:28 am

    When my favorite instructor got pregnant, her classes actually got harder…. Since there is no assistant, she was still teaching bootcamp by herself with her giant belly. She was showing the moves, then she was running around people to motivate/correct. Because she wasn’t doing the moves all the time, it was like she forgot how hard it was and we were sweating and moaning like crazy, while we had Jillian Michaels wannabe telling us to keep going.
    Pregnant woman are hardcore!!!!!

  22. Melanie T on November 20, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Yes! My favorite Body Pump instructor actually kept teaching classes right up through the week that she delivered…she even taught on her due date! She only had to modify the Clean & Presses for the back track, but other than that she was the same as always — and still my favorite!

  23. Melody on November 20, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I had a complimentary training session with a personal trainer at my gym last week. I had never meet the trainer before so when I walked in and saw she was pregnant, I was surprised and excited because I instantly thought of you! She is 32 weeks and has only gained 16 pounds so far. She’s really focused on staying healthy during her pregnancy and wears a HR monitor also. Anyway, she pretty much kicked my butt. I was very impressed with her training ability and am going to buy some sessions with her. 🙂

    • Fitnessista on November 20, 2011 at 3:15 pm

      that’s amazing! it always makes me happy to hear that people find a trainer they click with 🙂

  24. Nada (One Arab Vegan) on November 20, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I’ve had a lot of pregnant fitness instructors (now that I think of it – kind of weird!), and I’m always in awe of how able they are! My spin/body pump instructor was intense and kept teaching up until well into her third trimester. It’s great that the baby gets used to your workouts – like a little zumbette in progress 🙂

    • Fitnessista on November 20, 2011 at 3:12 pm

      yes, she LOVES the music 🙂

  25. Coco on November 20, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I think its so great and inspiring that you have taught this long- and hope that I can be the same when I get pregnant someday.. As a yoga teacher it’s a bit easier to teach while pregnant (my boss did it through both of her pregnancies) at least easier than zumba anyway- I don’t think it should make a difference as a student whether or not the teacher is preggers- at least not in my eyes- the way I see it is that if the teacher is doing everything along with you then you have no excuse to slack off. lol

  26. Laura on November 20, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    This reminds me of a massage I had a while back. My back was really bothering me, so I called a salon and made an appt. I walked in to see the world’s tiniest Vietnamese lady who was about 7-8 months pregnant. I was concerned because I reallllly needed my muscles to get kicked in the butt. Oh lawdy, that woman had elbows!!!! She whooped me. Never doubt a pregnant lady.

  27. Laury @ thefitnessdish on November 20, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    There is NOTHING more inspiring than a pregnant fitness instructor and you ROCK!

    When I was pregnant I remember this older man coming up to me in the gym, sweating and struggle and saying to me “thank you so much for the motivation….you are so inspiring and I am reminded that I shouldn’t make any excuses NOT to get in here.” I thought that was so sweet.

    As a trainer, I didn’t teach classes like you but I always get active in there with my clients. I think you hit all the tips, I just had to modify things at the very end. When I trained men with heavy weights I didn’t attempt to pick them up anymore, I made them fetch them instead of me lugging a 40lb dumbbell off the floor.

    All in all listening to your bod is best! My doc, like yours, pretty much told me that!

  28. Sarah @ See Sarah Eat on November 21, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    One of the first body pump classes I ever took was taught by a pregnant woman I believe was in her third trimester as well. All of the standing stuff she did normally (and she used much heavier weights than me!) but she instructed us through the laying on your back moves because she could not do them. I wasn’t worried that it wouldn’t be as good of a workout but I definitely was impressed by how much she was doing and how she still royally kicked our butts too 🙂

  29. Lisa @ Healthyhfx on November 22, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Like you im curently a pregnant fitness instructor 🙂
    Im 18wks and have felt really great so far. My doctor gave me the same advise as you “keep doing what your doing” and simply added to watch out for “overheating”. When I told her my spin classes get pretty hot and sweaty she said it was fine as long as it wasin’t different from before and to just listen to my body.
    light headed = slow down.

    Im not gonna lie, there has been a few spin classes that I have asked my participants to increase their gear and I have “pretended” to increase mine, I’ve totally played to pregnancy card a few times.

    Like you I plan on teaching as long as I can, you are an inspiration to all us fitness instructors.

  30. LauraL on December 27, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    First off, good for you! I haven’t read the rest of your blog yet to see if you are still teaching, but I hope you are.
    I was a pregnant fitness instructor… Twice. I teach Bodypump and SET (step/bar weight/cardio drill type class). With my first pregnancy, I went ten days over and taught my SET class on day eight. By the end I had lowered my step and reduced my weight a little, but was pretty much continuing on. With my second, I went three days over. I finished teaching my SET class at 6:30 and my son was born at 8:50. I thought I was having Braxton Hicks and didn’t have a proper contraction until I was putting up my equipment. My poor husband is still traumatized.
    My OB was super cool and said I could continue on with whatever I did before. I was just careful to not overheat, I took my step height down, did triceps/chest on an incline and decreased my hand weights. She was cool with me laying on my back for 3-5 minutes as long as I didn’t become hypotensive. With my first I would say that laying on my back became uncomfy at 32wks. With the second (who was lighter) it was closer to 34. Oh, and when my diastasis got bigger than two fingers, I cut out all oblique work.
    Hauling that pregnant belly around really gives you the moral high ground when teaching. I mean, the pregnant lady is doing it! People told me it was inspiring and that they hoped they could do it while pregnant which was really amazing to hear.
    Good luck!

  31. Jess @ Blonde Ponytail on February 28, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Great post! I’m 26 weeks putting me in the 7th month (I think) and am still teaching circuit training a HIIT style class-and each class I wonder how long I will be able to keep doing this. It IS getting harder with the extra weight but my participants are so supportive! My biggest battle is letting go of my fitness that once was and embracing what I’m doing now. Your daughter is lovely! Congrats again!

    • Fitnessista on February 28, 2013 at 10:35 pm

      thank you! congratulations to you!!

  32. J on May 6, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Wow! Amazing! I have also heard that no higher then 140 is old info.
    So, how high did you let your heart rate go out of curiosity?

  33. reiko on February 9, 2016 at 8:39 am

    I’m 34 weeks and 5 days
    Still teaching zumba 8 classes a week!
    And yes I work everybody out ,everybody leave sweaty and happy from my class.
    I love what I do!
    I hope my water doesn’t break during the class. Planning to teach till 37weeks.
    Wish me luck!

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