Gossip and ‘dirty looks:’ What mothers-to-be often face at the gym

One British mum-to-be made headlines when she competed in a professional pole dancing competition at a whopping seven and a half months pregnant

Eve Dugdale
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When you get pregnant, you’re told to take things easy and rest as much as possible.

While some women take that as a well-deserved excuse to put their feet up for nine months, there are others who just can’t keep still.


Indeed just a few months ago, one British mum-to-be made headlines when she competed in a professional pole dancing competition at a whopping seven and a half months pregnant!

Kat Bailey, who has been running her own pole fitness club for the last five years, was still teaching seven times a week up until having her baby.

Explaining how she avoided drops and anything with an impact because of the risks associated with sudden jolts, she told the UK’s Nottingham Post newspaper that she had removed all flips from her routines or anything that could have gone wrong or put pressure on the stomach.

She sought medical advice before competing and says she was careful during training - something all mums-to-be should prioritise when deciding whether or not to exercise during pregnancy as your own doctor can best advise you on what is right for your body.

While swinging around a pole in the last stage of pregnancy may seem extreme, Sarah James, the Club Manager at Dubai’s Tribe Fit gym, agrees with Kat’s doctors – if it’s something she was doing before getting pregnant and she was adapting her routine to protect the baby, there’s no reason she should’ve stopped doing it while pregnant.

She explains: “Being pregnant isn't a sickness, some people use it as an excuse to put their feet up but it’s very possible to continue your routines as normal.

“Exercising during your pregnancy has benefits for both mum and baby. It can increase your sense of control over your body and boost your energy levels. Not only does it make you feel better by releasing endorphins it also relieves backaches and improves your posture by strengthening and toning muscles in your back, butt, and thighs.

“It also helps you look better and increases the blood flow to your skin, giving you a healthy glow. Exercise also prepares you and your body for birth. Strong muscles and a fit heart can greatly ease labour and delivery and gaining control over your breathing can help you manage pain. And in the event of a lengthy labour, increased endurance can be a real help. You will also regain your pre-pregnancy body more quickly.

“You'll gain less fat weight during your pregnancy if you continue to exercise. But don't expect or try to lose weight by exercising while you're pregnant. For most women, the goal is to maintain their fitness level throughout pregnancy.”

For British mum Rebecca Hayward, exercising while pregnant was about more than looking good on the outside.

She explains: “It was important for me to stay fit while pregnant so my body was able to cope with the changes it went through during the nine months. Your body is under a lot of pressure and staying fit helps you cope with it mentally and physically.”

With a gym in her house, and having always worked out two or three times a week, Rebecca believes exercising helped her have an easier pregnancy.

She adds: “My advice would be if you are heavily pregnant keep the exercise light, I found it helped my pregnancy, I didn't have any problems and I believe it was because I stayed active.”

Beauty is business for Dubai-based aesthetician and laser specialist, Rebecca Treston. That’s why it was important for her to look and feel her best even while pregnant.

However, mum-of-two Rebecca believes people are often misinformed about exercising while pregnant and she was shunned at the gym by people who didn’t approve of what she was doing.

She says: “I had more energy with my first baby so I would push myself at the gym. I would do 45 minutes of cardio on the elliptical trainer and go for a swim. My doctor said it was fine because I was fit already. What bothered me was that, before I got pregnant, when I would go to the gym, everyone would be in their own world, not saying ‘hello’ or making eye contact but after I got pregnant sometimes I would get dirty looks as though I was being irresponsible.

“I believe in each to their own. Every mother knows their body and if they’re comfortable to do it.”

As co-founder of a gym that prides itself on helping UAE mothers stay fit, Catherine Williams from Dubai’s Pure Fitness says mums-to-be shouldn’t feel ashamed about wanting to stay fit while pregnant.

She says: “Everyone’s body is completely different and different people find different methods of health efficiency. Every mother can choose their own form of fitness expression.

“However, some mums-to-be will be appalled by a mum-to-be doing pole fit, some will be inspired and many others unfortunately, will feel insecure and inferior because they’ve probably never set foot in a pole class in their life and are finding it hard enough to sleep, work, look after other children and wash their face in the morning!

“At Pure Fitness, we advise our ladies to watch out for the 'Mummy tom tom drums’ around you - these whispers of urban myths, assertive unqualified knowledge and gleeful gossip rarely produces a positive environment for the pregnant mum - in fact, this type of thing generally results in depression, low self-esteem and feeling lost. People are perfectly entitled to use their bodies whatever way they want, it doesn’t mean you have to take it on board and it certainly is not a benchmark of good physical or mental health.”

While she wouldn’t recommend those who haven’t tried it before sign up for a pole fit class at seven months’ pregnant, there are plenty of other activities mums-to-be can do.

Catherine adds: “Start walking every morning and getting some stretch work done which will help your cardiac health and support your labour. For me during my third trimesters, getting into the pool was the most blissful experience possible. The water reduced all the effects of gravity and the weight of my bump just lifted off my tired spine. I did lots of pool walking, deep water jogging and loads of stretching plus I hired a swim coach as a Personal Trainer and he adapted my swim strokes and techniques to suit my body as I got bigger out the front.

“Of course you can still exercise but only within the range of motion that your body allows. Keep movements slow, reduce any weights and possibly sets and make sure you do not hyper extend your back. Do what you enjoy – you’ll do more of it!”

At the end of the day, everybody’s body is different and consulting your doctor on what fitness routines you can safely follow while pregnant is key.

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