FAQ: Everything you need to know about Indoor Cycling and Pregnancy
October 28, 2015
Indoor Cycling (or Spin,
Spinning, etc) is an excellent cardiovascular workout to strengthen the lower limbs and core. I've been teaching for over three years and have had the pleasure of all different levels and injuries in my classes. I've also had several pregnant students over the years.
Here are some facts to know before continuing your Indoor Cycling routine while pregnant:
1) As with all exercise while pregnant- consult with your doctor before you start.
If you've been exercising prior to getting pregnant, you'll probably get the go-ahead to continue exercising within reason. However, if you have any complications or are especially sick in your first trimester, your doctor may advise you to avoid certain exercises.
2) If you haven't tried Spinning before- now is not the time to start
As with all exercising while pregnant, if you haven't done it before, you've missed your window. It's absolutely safe to modify a workout that you are comfortable with as long as your doctor has given you the go-ahead. However, trying anything new while pregnant is not a good idea. You can, however, try my indoor cycling workout at a reduced speed for a low-impact workout that will be safe for all stages of pregnancy.
3) Tell your instructor before you begin class
It is extremely important to let your instructor know if you are pregnant before class starts. It helps me keep an eye on you to make sure you are breathing and look okay during class. The last thing you want is for someone to come over and crank up your resistance or attempt to push you to work harder. If I know you're pregnant I can be sure to check on you during class and give you priority seating, (if possible).
4) Monitor your breathing and overall experience throughout the workout
You may have read that it is important to keep your heart rate below 140 during pregnancy. However, that research was done in the 1980's, and shockingly no one has offered up their unborn child to test the theory. Recent studies have shown us that it is more important to focus on your Record of Perceived Exertion (RPE scale) and to monitor your breathing. The easiest way to do that is think of the hardest workout of your life and think about what that felt like- that's your level 10, and compare that to light walking- your level 1. I suggest that my pregnant clients (at all points during pregnancy) never go above a level 7.
Now let's talk about breathing. In spinning, we always want to make sure our breath is long, steady, and comfortable. We use "in through the nose, out through the mouth" breathing. That is one of the most efficient forms of breathing and allows you to get the maximum amount of oxygen during high-intense cardiovascular exercise. Once you have the breathing down class gets easier, and this usually takes 2-5 classes to master (which is why we never want to start spin while pregnant). If you can no longer keep breathing comfortably, you're probably going over a 7 on your RPE, and it's time to slow down. So, if you've been taking spin class 3x per week, you can probably handle faster speeds and harder hills; but it is not recommended that you push yourself past the rate of breathing comfortably at any point during class. Going past that point can cause dizziness, nausea, fainting, and will prevent the necessary amount of oxygen from going to your little one.
5) Bring water and have a high carbohydrate snack handy, just in case
My current spinning certification recommends that all students consume 40 ounces of water for each 45 minutes of class. You can absolutely drink more if you need to, so make sure that you have a full bottle prior to class. Having a gatorade, banana, or granola bar on hand is a smart idea in case you get tired or need a post-recovery snack immediately after class. As a general rule, you'll want to have snacks on hand throughout your pregancy to combat nausea and dizziness.
6) Request a bike upfront or in the cooler spots of the classroom
There are two basics to remember for all exercise during pregnancy, always keep breathing comfortably, and avoid overheating. Spinning studios are notorious for never having enough air flow. Make sure you sit near a fan or air duct. If that isn't possible, sit up front so you are surrounded by fewer sweaty bodies. It is absolutely okay to request priority seating, and try to stay within your instructor's gaze so they can monitor you.
7) Raise your handlebars
As you begin to grow, you'll need to raise your handlebars up so you can sit comfortably without compressing your belly. You may also need to move your seat back slightly to create more room for position 1 (seated). Position 3 (hovering), can also become very uncomfortable during the third trimester, as it requires a lot of core strength. I've had several students spinning up until their 7-8 months, and they would often use position 2 (standing) instead of 3.
In Summation- Listen to your body and only do what feels comfortable for you and your little one. It is always okay to leave class early or take a break if you need one. If you have more questions please contact me and I'll be happy to go into more detail.
Now ,if you have NOT been taking spin before pregnancy, you are welcome to download my 20 minute indoor cycling program. It's an excellent workout that you can download to your phone and bring to the gym or do on your stationary bike at home. There's no jumping and it's perfectly safe for pregnancy if you follow the guidelines I've listed in this article.