It isn’t always as easy as you would think when it comes to finding the best fitness routine during pregnancy. You want one that is both challenging and safe for you and your baby. When I found out that I was pregnant with Isla, our second child, I knew that I needed to find a safe fitness routine that would work well for my lifestyle. I have always been very particular when it comes to how I work out, probably because of my intense fitness background. I also played a collegiate sport, so I know what I want when it comes the level of intensity of my workouts.
However, you have to be careful about what exercise program you follow when you are pregnant. I needed something that would allow me to be able to workout at home with my toddler. Who really has the time to head to the gym when you have young children at home?
When I was pregnant with my first child, I relied heavily on my past workouts and what I had learned in years past. However, I realized that I was somewhat naïve when it came to education regarding my pelvic floor. I began searching for safe, effective pregnancy workouts that would fit my lifestyle.
That is when I came across a business on Instagram called Expecting and Empowered. Two sisters, Amy and Krystal started Expecting and Empowered to give pregnant and postpartum moms pregnancy specific workouts, with detailed information regarding the pelvic floor. Another huge benefit is that the workouts can be done in the convenience of your own home and with minimal equipment.
The daily workouts include deep core strengthening exercises. As I stated before, I completely neglected my pelvic floor when I exercised during my first pregnancy. I had no idea how important this topic was! I began to notice how strong and physically fit I was becoming as I continued this particular pregnancy workout. This was important to me as I needed to be able to keep up with my busy toddler.
Also, I have always been a huge believer in the fact that mental health benefits are just as important as physical ones. I felt upbeat and positive throughout my entire pregnancy. It was also a relief to know that I wasn’t doing too much or too little.
One of the best perks of following this program was how easy my labor was. Expecting and Empowered has amazing Instagram and Facebook communities that you can go to for guidance and support.
I also interviewed Amy and Krystal, so they could tell you a little bit more about Expecting and Empowered and how it is different from other pregnancy and postpartum workout guides. Here is what they had to say, starting with Amy.
Amy: First, I just wanted to take the time to thank Jessica for being such a vibrant part of our community. We are honored to support her as she journeys through motherhood and follows her passions. Thank you for having us!
Why did you start Expecting and Empowered?
Amy: Expecting and Empowered was created because I had this idea to make a comprehensive pregnancy guide after seeing so many women posting on social media “Does anyone have suggestions for workouts during pregnancy?!” As a personal trainer that holds certifications in prenatal courses, I would cringe at the responses that would follow. I knew the very best person to help me achieve my dream of giving women a resource that they could trust and easily follow was my strong willed, business savvy, extremely knowledgeable physical therapist sister, Krystle. I pitched her the idea over a phone call and to my surprise, she immediately agreed. We just knew in our hearts that we could come together, join our knowledge and experience to make something really special. Expecting and Empowered was born.
Krystle: There are many misconceptions out there about what is healthy during pregnancy (both on the inactive side of exercise and on the over zealous training regimen side) and we are passionate about sharing our knowledge and expertise with mamas-to-be and mamas to coach them through a healthy exercise routine during pregnancy and postpartum.
What makes it different from other pregnancy/postpartum workouts?
Krystle: The guides are written by a women’s health and orthopedic physical therapist (me) to look at the female body as a whole. We approach common problems women have during pregnancy and postpartum and support with easy to comprehend instructions. During pregnancy, for example, headaches, rib pain, low back pain, SI joint pain, pubic symphysis pain, sciatica and calf cramps are very common. The Expecting and Empowered Complete Set of workout guides detail the exercises to help prevent and reduce those problems. We also provide other considerations such as keeping the core engaged, but not over stressed. Over working the core can cause damage than good and that is hard to reverse.
The Postpartum Guide is written similarly to the pregnancy guide with a series of proper progressions for exercises week by week. Many people don’t realize that our brains actually forget about certain areas because they were used differently for so long as you were growing your little person. Let’s use your hip muscles for an example. During pregnancy they tend to rotate outward, shortening muscles and making them less effective as your baby grows. This can turn into ankle issues, low back problems, and not getting your stomach muscles back following birth if you don’t course correct and re wake up these muscles. The other most important consideration in the postpartum period is to provide a progressions so that we can help our users return safely to other forms of exercise they enjoy! We are cheering for our mamas to get back to their HIIT workouts, running, and other high impact sports…BUT, it takes TIME to work back to those things. That is what we provide: a roadmap to feeling your best while you do the things you love. Each of our workout guides is 8 months long, so we have the opportunity to take our mamas from start to finish!
Amy: YES! Krystle’s physical therapy knowledge and experience has been our biggest differentiator. We were both also personal trainers AND have tested every single workout multiple times ourselves, so we could be really proud of what we were putting into the world.
Why is it important for women to find safe workouts to do during pregnancy and to focus on pelvic floor exercises?
Krystle: Pregnancy is a really vulnerable time for your body. Hormones are flooding in to help us get ready to grow and deliver a baby. There is a lot of instability that comes along with these hormones. Our muscles, bones and ligaments can be exposed to injuries. During pregnancy, you should exercise in a way that supports your body AND prepares it for motherhood. I love to tell people that this is such a short period of your life, but the movements you do while pregnant can be detrimental to how your body looks and feels for the rest of your life. While that might sound like an overstatement, I have moms come into my clinical all the time that had their last baby 10, 20, 30 years ago…but, they are still experiencing postpartum issues. Taking proper precautions and having a consistent plan with exercise should be one of your top considerations during pregnancy as well as your postpartum recovery period.
What is the best piece of advice you could give women about fitness during pregnancy?
Krystle: Make the proper adjustments to your workouts! This is the best way for you to feel your best, which will help you enjoy your pregnancy as much as possible.
Amy: Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. The body is more vulnerable during pregnancy and I think that is something that some Instagram accounts are missing the mark on. Running, jumping, certain lifts and ab workouts puts excessive pressure and stress on the pelvic floor and abdominals…which can lead to issues down the road. I totally understand it can be a hard transition because during my first pregnancy I wanted to do all the things I normally did. BUT, in the second two pregnancies I followed our pregnancy guide to a T and hung my running shoes up earlier with each pregnancy. This allowed me to feel great during pregnancy AND have an easier postpartum recovery.
Do you recommend women seeing a women’s health pt during the postpartum? Why?
Krystle: Yes! Everyone should see a women’s health physical therapist (PT) 6-12 weeks postpartum. This will help give you an individualized assessment of what went on in your body during pregnancy and how to help recover from any damage or issues that may have occurred. The PT can work on sticky joints, test muscle strength, assess pelvic floor muscles, all of which are typically not covered at your 6 week postpartum check up with your OB or midwife. As a physical therapist, I have yet to see a woman postpartum who wouldn’t benefit from the Expecting and Empowered Postpartum Guide. A women’s health physical therapist x The Expecting and Empowered Postpartum Guide is an excellent combination because the PT can help with short term fixes and the postpartum guide is a long term solution. As a physical therapist, one of the coolest things for me is how many PTs we have backing and recommending our products to their patients. It feels like the ultimate stamp of approval to have my colleagues shout our business from the rooftops.
What equipment do people need when they sign up for the pregnancy/postpartum guides?
Krystle: One of our goals when we were starting this business was to make executing a safe yet effective workout plan simple, low cost, and something women could easily do at home! We were both pregnant with our second babes when the pregnancy guide launched, so we were doing our workouts during our toddler’s nap time at home. We knew that was a reality that a lot of our customers would face. As far as equipment you’ll need is a set of light and heavy dumbbells, a circle band, a resistance band, and a pillow. (All equipment is linked down below this post.)
How long are the exercises and are people of every level of fitness able to do them?
Krystle: The exercises are 30-45 minutes long and any person at any fitness level can take part in the guides. If you are newer to fitness, we suggest using lighter weights, only doing 2 rounds of the resistance section instead of the full 3. It might take a while for you to get used to the exercises, but we just made a video appendices…so that every woman can make sure she is doing the exercises right. If you are more experienced, go ahead and grab those heavier weights that you’re used to and you’ll likely be able to take on all 3 rounds.
Amy: Yes, we’ve had ALL sorts of mamas-to-be utilize and love our guides. From the CrossFitter to the non-exerciser. We got you girl!
Can you tell us a little bit about the challenges and the community that Expecting and Empowered offers?
Amy: Our 10 week challenges are one of our favorite parts of the business! It is AMAZING to watch women progress through pregnancy and postpartum and make exercise a part of their weekly routine. At the end of the 10 weeks, the women submit their entry (we just have them track their workouts on a checklist of sorts) and I’m in tears reading their words. For a lot of them, this is a transformational time. They make the commitment to slicing out a little time to take care of themselves and they reap the benefits. SO many of them talk about the mental side of things. Mamas are often busy and in high demand, so exercise can play a big role in helping them manage the stress and anxiety that can come with the job. For some, it is the first time in their lives that they committed and stuck to exercise. How amazing is that? It is safe to say that is something we can get behind and we’ll continue to run them because they are SO impactful for our customers.
Joining this amazing community and sticking to the workout guides was one of the best decisions I have ever made. You can purchase your Expecting and Empowered workout guides and use my code, JESSICAJOROGERS for $10 off any order.