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Safe exercise during pregnancy: Everything you need to know

Posted in Pregnancy

While exercising throughout your pregnancy is not only possible, but potentially beneficial for both you and your baby, there are some things to avoid and modifications to make to ensure you do it safely and effectively.

In the first of our pregnancy articles, we explored the importance of staying active during your pregnancy and all the benefits it can have for both you and your baby.

However there are some exercises and positions that pregnant women should avoid, and certain pregnancy modifications to your favorite LES MILLS workouts that will keep you safe. Download our pregnancy brochure below for good pregnancy exercise options and what to avoid while you're expecting.

Please note: First seek advice from your obstetric care giver. The advice of your doctor should always be your first consideration when undertaking exercise while pregnant.

The following workouts are not recommended during pregnancy:

The following workouts are not recommended during pregnancy:


We don’t recommend BODYCOMBAT™ during pregnancy because of the joint instability. The release of hormones such as oestrogen and relaxin can result in joints being less stable – so the kicks in BODYCOMBAT may aggravate the hip and pelvis.


LES MILLS GRIT™ and LES MILLS SPRINT are high intensity workouts for people who are looking to really take their fitness to the next level. Pregnancy is not the time to be pushing your body to its limits.

All other LES MILLS workouts should be fine to continue with during pregnancy, but with the following modifications:


Using CXWORX™ to work your core while pregnant should be safe in the first and second trimester and has been shown to minimize disruption of the abdominal wall during pregnancy (1), but there are a few adjustments you should make when you can. There are some great options to work your abs in 4-point kneeling, supporting yourself on your elbows (ensuring you keep the chest lifted) or rolling over to do hover or plank work when it’s no longer comfortable to lie flat on your back.


If you’ve already been doing these classes then it should be safe to continue with BODYATTACK™ and BODYSTEP™ while pregnant. A few suggested modifications include:

Taking low-impact options in BODYATTACK. In BODYSTEP, decrease the number of risers and take low impact options. Ensure you have a stable base of support by ensuring your foot is always planted firmly on the step and keeping a slightly wider base of support.


In RPM™ pregnant participants should modify their intensity by taking regular breaks, reducing resistance and avoiding the standing positions as they feel they need to.


Both BODYVIVE™ 3.1 and BODYBALANCE™ can be started for the first time during pregnancy and are ideal exercise for expectant mothers who want to make healthy lifestyle changes.

So in BODYBALANCE, really get into the idea of New Yoga and wriggle through your poses. You must STOP IMMEDIATELY if you ever feel dizzy, and don’t be too aggressive with your stretches – remember that the hormones released during pregnancy can loosen up your joints.


As BODYPUMP™ uses lighter weights and a reduced range of motion when compared to other resistance training modalities – it’s a great option for maintaining muscle tone during pregnancy.

When you’re in BODYPUMP, turn your bench into an Incline Bench when it’s no longer comfortable to lie flat on your back. You can ask your instructor to show you how to do this.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) says that pregnant women can follow the same recommendations as non-pregnant women, as muscle function remains the same, just with these modifications.

General rules to follow for exercise during your pregnancy:


  • Exercises that position you on your back after the 1st trimester, because this position can hinder blood flow to and from the heart.
  • Exercise that may cause trauma to the abdominal area - Now’s the time to give up your kickboxing, at least until the baby’s born
  • Exercising in high heat environments- wear loose, comfortable clothing to class, preferably with layers that can be removed.
  • Long periods of stationary or motionless standing, as this can cause changes in blood pressure
  • Any exercise that may cause loss of balance, so that you don’t fall.


  • Adjust your core training – whenever you can. There are some great options to work your abs in 4-point kneeling, supporting yourself on your elbows (ensuring you keep the chest lifted) or roll over and do hover or plank work.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Reducing intensity when you, and your doctor, think you should
  • Let your care giver know what you’re doing in the gym throughout your pregnancy.
  • And remember to listen to your instructor – they’ll help you with some pregnancy options where needed.

Finally, chances are your range of motion is eventually going to change, making it uncomfortable to twist and jump. This is going to affect you most in classes like SH’BAM™ and BODYJAM™, so just take it easy and really respect what your body is telling you.

And please STOP what you are doing if you ever feel dizzy or uncomfortable while working out. Pregnancy is generally the time for maintenance, not for striving for new fitness goals or working out at high intensities.

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