How to Stay Fit in the Winter Whether You’re Pregnant Or Not

When I first met Kelli and Lauren, the founders of Basq Skincare, I was impressed by their passion, expertise and thoughtfulness.  I was also immediately drawn to their high-quality skincare, which they originally developed for new and expecting mothers.  Their products smell amazing and make your skin feel silky, and I suggest using them well beyond pregnancy.  (Can you tell that I’m hooked?)

I was honored when Kelli and Lauren asked me to be part of their “People We Love” program.  I sent them some tips on how to stay fit in the colder months during pregnancy, and I found that many of those tips applied to women whether they were pregnant or not.  Check out the repost of my article below, and be sure to check out the range of Basq products while you’re at it!




How to Stay Fit in the Winter Whether You’re Pregnant Or Not

Whether you are pregnant or not, the changing seasons can require lots of change in your fitness routine. You may not be able to go outside as much, and the shortening days might affect your daily routine and make you feel a little less motivated to get up and exercise. You might need to seek new ways to exercise and not quite know where to begin. And on top of that, your body responds differently to cold weather than to warm weather.

So what do you do? The exciting reality is that new fitness classes and methods are popping up every day, and many of them are both safe and highly recommended during pregnancy. And whether you’re hard-core or looking for something more relaxing, there is some thing out there for everyone. Here are a few great tips to help you make the transition more smoothly and safely.

Drink More Water: Just because the weather feels colder and you don’t sweat as easily, you NEED to stay hydrated. Make sure you drink water before, during, and after you exercise. If you’re worried about needing a bathroom, try scoping about your surroundings beforehand (which you might want to do anyway!).

You Can Exercise Outside: Unless the air is extremely cold, you should be fine exercising outside. Most pregnant women’s bodies run hotter than before pregnancy, and they feel more comfortable in the cooler air. As mentioned earlier, make sure to continue drinking water, and dress in layers so that you can manage cold in addition to the warmth your body will generate as you exercise. Also be extra wary of navigating ice or snow since your center of gravity has changed, and know that it may be harder to navigate obstacles when it starts to get darker earlier in the day.

Warm Up Your Joints: Your joints can feel extra stiff in cold weather, which can lead to poor technique and injury if you don’t warm them up properly. If you are exercising outdoors, try doing a quick indoor warm-up first.   Avoid holding extreme or static stretches and instead move through your joints with a softer version of the exercise you’re about to do (like lifting each knee up and down, doing some gentle-side-to-side lunging, or circling your arms). You want to take your joints through their range of motion while increasing circulation and warmth in the muscles.

 If You Decide to Try Indoor Fitness Classes, Find Instructors Who Are Prenatal Certified: This seems like a no-brainer, but it could go such a long way for you. Many women who get general exercise guidelines from their doctors don’t know what specific exercises or positions they should avoid (or do!)during their pregnancy. And they don’t know what to expect from trimester to trimester. Take some time to consult with a fitness professional who’s an expert. Ask him or her what to avoid and also what kinds of exercise is the safest for you. You can use this information to help guide you across a range of classes and also make you feel more at ease when making fitness choices. And if you take a class from an instructor who is prenatal-educated, you will feel more comfortable pushing yourself knowing that your instructor will be looking out for you. Of course, make sure you get full clearance from your doctor before you exercise, and always tell your instructor’s that you’re pregnant!

Listen to YOUR Body and No One Else’s: Every woman has a different experience, and some exercises that work for some women can feel very uncomfortable for others. If you are looking for new indoor classes, make your choices based on YOUR history. Stick to the kinds of things you have done before, and don’t try something radically different for the first time during pregnancy. Don’t push yourself in a class if something feels wrong to you just because the pregnant person next to you seems to be fine. And perhaps you can push much harder than she can in other exercises. (I have a pregnant trainer in her third trimester who still loves teaching our dance cardio, while one of my private clients in the same stage stopped jumping up and down several months ago.) Your body tells you everything, and your best bet when diving into fitness classes is to do what your body craves and has experienced before.

Using Yoga During Pregnancy: Guest Expert, Kendra Fitzgerald

When I met her, Kendra Fitzgerald was one of those people I knew I would like immediately.  Smart, grounded, caring, capable – all the qualities I respect tremendously.  Kendra is the owner of Barefoot Tiger, a wellness concierge company.  She is also a personal trainer and yoga teacher and has recently had a baby boy!

Kendra’s knowledge of anatomy, yoga, and pre- and postnatal fitness is extensive.  I asked her to share her perspective on the connections between yoga and the pregnancy experience, and I’m excited to share her expert piece here with you.  Enjoy!


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5 Ways to Use Yoga to Transform your Pregnancy and Childbirth Experience

Just minutes after giving birth three months ago, my OB asked me “Do you do yoga?” A seemingly random question to ask a woman who just gave birth, I couldn’t have been happier to answer it. I told him yes, I do, to which he said “ah yes, the yoga ladies are very strong.” He couldn’t be more right.

Giving birth was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I know, it’s not often you hear the word ‘exhilarating’ and ‘birth’ in the same sentence.  And yes, it was very uncomfortable, but I firmly believe my yoga practice helped me explore and understand what was going on in my body during pregnancy and cope and manage the pain during childbirth. It taught me to focus, breathe, and be fully conscious during every moment of the birth process, and I’m happy to say that I remember the experience in vivid detail, and with much joy.

The funny thing is, I wasn’t doing a full physical practice of yoga every single day. I took a prenatal yoga class once a week at the local yoga studio and would do a few poses after a long walk or a weight workout. Sometimes my asana (posture) practice would just be a restorative relaxation over a bolster. If you’ve never tried this…it’s heavenly.

But there is far more to a yoga practice than just the physical asana. Yoga – or ‘union’ – connects all the important aspects of a woman’s strength to enable her to productively and consciously give birth to a baby – physical asana practice, meditation, breath work and attention to the present moment. We were born to do this work of creating a life, and yoga can effectively help us harness our power.

Knowing what works for one person doesn’t work for everyone, here are a few of the parts of my yoga practice that truly helped me during pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery.

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1)    ‘Corset’ ab work – I often hear women say they can’t do core work while pregnant. This couldn’t be further from the truth! In reality, core work is even more important now, when you are pregnant and a new mom, than ever before. Not only will your back muscles thank you, but you’ll have a much easier time pushing during delivery and recovering post-childbirth as well. However, the type of core work you do is of utmost importance (ie, no more crunches during or after pregnancy!) All you need is this one ab exercise, which I call the ‘corset pull.’ This one exercise is perfect for both pre- and post-natal core health:

  • Lean against a wall with your feet about a foot away from the baseboard. Your upper body and hips should be against the wall.
  • Put your hands on your baby / stomach and take a deep breath, filling your stomach out as you breathe.
  • As you exhale, make a ‘SSSS’ sound through your mouth and draw your navel back toward your spine at the same time. Keep exhaling to the end of your breath until you feel all the muscles of your core pulling in – in the front, on the sides and around the back. **Be careful not to hold your breath during pregnancy as this can negatively affect oxygen levels for you and your baby. Breath-retention work in yoga is not recommended for pregnancy.
  • Repeat 20 times
  • For more of a challenge, do this exercise on all 4’s.
  • I should also mention that this one exercise can help whittle inches off your midsection…anxious to try it now?!

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Hypnosis for Birth with Gabrielle Targett

2)     Guided birth meditations can help you visualize the events of your childbirth experience. Athletes mentally prepare for the game beforehand, and this is exactly what meditation and visualization is meant to do for you during childbirth. I listened to hypnobirthing guided meditations before going to sleep, and it was this meditation that helped me visualize and internalize the birth process I envisioned. In fact, after listening to this meditation one weekend, I was further dilated at my next OB appointment at 38 weeks! (Full disclaimer: this is my sister’s recording, and I’m not being compensated for this mention. I used this meditation a LOT during my pregnancy because it is so good.)

3)    Breath work is key to being able to ‘release’ into contractions and work with the process of delivery, not against it. Think about when you are in pain, what is the first thing you likely do? Suck in air, and hold it.  As challenging as it sounds, being able to let go and breathe through the contractions will help advance your progress greatly, and potentially shorten your labor.

  • Aim for very long, slow, deep breaths. If you are familiar with ujjayi (ocean breath), use that to find your rhythm. If not, count to 4 on your inhale, and 6 on your exhale. A longer exhale accesses the parasympathetic (calming) nervous system.
  • How does this apply in yoga? When faced with a challenging posture, notice your reaction with your breath. Do you hold your breath? Does the breath get shorter? If so, take long, slow and deep inhales and exhales to see if you can work with the discomfort, rather than against it.
  • You can even practice your breath during your day, during a stressful event or while waiting for the subway (which can also be a stressful event.)

4)    Know that the baby feels what you feel, and experiences the same hormone rushes as you. Tuning into your breath and taking longer, deeper breaths can lower your stress level in just a few seconds. The same breathing exercises above apply to lowering your stress level as well! Two for one.

5)    Finding community – as a new mom, know that it takes time to recover and there is no such thing as too much support. In many cultures, new mothers are kept in bed, with their babies, for the first 40 days. The woman’s mother, sisters, and women friends shower her with help, support and love during these 40 days, after which point the new mama emerges into the world with her baby. In our culture, we’re sent home from the hospital after a life-changing event to fend for ourselves. The support and love of a yoga community can be a lifeline during this very sensitive time.  Check out your local yoga studio for prenatal classes, and see what happens!


Kendra Fitzgerald, CPT-ACE, CYT is the Founder & Director of Barefoot Tiger, an in-home personal training, yoga, pilates, and nutrition company in New York City & Los Angeles. A yoga teacher and personal trainer herself, she and her staff of 20 have been teaching around NYC since 2005.

I Was Amazed! (but not really…)


Before leaving on her holiday vacation, my client sent me a picture of herself in a bikini with the words, “[My husband] says thank you.” What I saw was a beautiful, sculpted body – only FIVE MONTHS after giving birth to her first child. I had trained her before, during, and after her pregnancy, and I was looking at someone who was incredibly proud of her progress and in enviable shape for ANYONE, formerly pregnant or not!

I debated whether or not to show my client’s “before” and “after” photos. Pregnancy is a hard time for some women, and every woman has their own journey and their own struggles with their body during that process. Gaining weight – and sometimes needing bed rest –  is part of it, and I would never want anyone to feel badly about their progress in comparison with anyone else’s.

HOWEVER, the progress I saw with this client has not been unique! Time and again, I have trained my clients through their pregnancies and have seen some of the most amazing results – both during their pregnancies and afterwards. They stay smaller during their pregnancies, and they tell me that labor for them is much easier than they imagined. They recover their abdominal strength much more quickly postnatally, and many of them don’t look like they ever had a baby a mere 6 months after giving birth. I knew exercise during pregnancy was crucial going into this work, but I never imagined I would see such consistent results like this.


Here are some bits of information and guidance to keep in mind:

1) You can do much more than you think. Ask your doctor first, but know that you can continue many kinds of exercise you were doing before your pregnancy.

2) Your body is the boss. Always listen to it if something doesn’t feel right – but it’s ok to push your body if it feels good to do so.

3) Just because you have a baby in your belly does not mean you can’t work on your abs. The opposite is true!! It’s crucial to strengthen your deep core muscles during pregnancy. You’ll have an easier time supporting  the pregnancy, giving birth, and recovering your strength afterwards.

Are You Pregnant? Give Us a Try!

I have had extensive experience with pregnancy, and my instructors are either certified or in the process of obtaining pre-/postnatal exercise certification. The Body Conceptions method is especially strong at accessing the core and strengthening the muscles that are functionally important during pregnancy. We also guide you through exercises and stretches that help relieve your aches and pains as the pregnancy progresses. And the workout is fun!

So – no matter what you are experiencing, KEEP EXERCISING. Here’s to a strong and healthy pregnancy!