Prenatal exercise can decrease back pain, reduce swelling, and even improve the health of the unborn child. There are several opportunities to provide special classes for your clients who are expecting. The key is to be sensitive to their needs, as every woman’s body is different. We spoke with Love Child Yoga, a collective specializing in reproductive health, for tips to help you prepare.

The first trimester can be surprisingly challenging so it’s important to encourage clients to be mindful of how they are feeling. This means taking it slow. There should be no abdominal exercises or deep twists as these movements can pose a risk of miscarriage. In the second and third trimesters, continue to avoid all abdominal exercises including crunches, sit ups, and boat pose as these movements can cause diastasis recti, the separation of the six-pack abdominal muscles which can make vaginal delivery more difficult. Seek alternatives for exercises and poses that generally take place on the back or stomach.

Stress is one of the biggest impacts on wellness among pregnant women. Getting in a good workout is always beneficial, but clients will also appreciate it if you help them take it easy. This will minimize the risk of unnecessary injuries or straining at your studio too.

You can begin your prenatal classes by inviting everyone to sit in a circle, share their name, and talk briefly about how their week is going. Many of your clients will appreciate the chance to commune with fellow women.

At the end of the workout, consider doing some meditation and deep breathing. Facilitate a wind down with calming music, essential oil sprays, and a paragraph read aloud from a mindfulness book.

The first rule to cardio in a prenatal class is to make sure nobody is pushing themselves too hard. You might consider giving a short pep talk on the importance of self-monitoring during the class. If it’s a machine-based workout, the heart rate monitor won’t be an accurate measure of how much effort a woman is exerting since heart rate is naturally higher during pregnancy. On average, your clients should decrease the intensity of their workouts by 75 percent while pregnant. Their body temperature will also naturally be higher so avoid all hot workouts. Incorporate breaks to hydrate and go to the bathroom.  

For spin classes, bring the handlebars up higher and make sure your clients are sitting up straight with their shoulders over their hips, but not leaning forward. If you have a pool at your gym, water aerobics are a huge relief for pregnant women because they alleviate foot and ankle swelling. Floating noodles are always a bonus!

Focus on balance and flexibility, not just strength. The right kind of movements can help a woman prepare for labor. Love Child Yoga recommends deep breathing to encourage a full-range of motion in the core. Squats and lunges also help with flexibility and strength in the pelvic floor. The emphasis should be on opening and grounding rather than tightening.