pregnant woman practices barre
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Kendra Alley
Creator of barreBUMP

What to Know About Taking Barre Classes During Pregnancy

Wondering if your barre workouts are safe to do while pregnant? Kendra Alley of barreBUMP gives you the scoop.

Hooray, you’re having a baby! Finding out you’re pregnant can be one of the most exciting moments of your life. But let’s face it, it can also be filled with lots of questions too. If you’re typically active, you might begin to wonder what you can (and can’t) do in your workouts to maintain the strength and muscle tone you’ve worked so hard to build. Good news! Barre is safe to do during pregnancy—and you can even do it from home. It was my favorite workout by far during my first pregnancy (and second, and third). Yep, I’ve been through this rodeo three times, and I’m now a certified prenatal barre expert.

Consistency is key. You’ve got 40 weeks (and then the rest of your life) to go. Treating your body with a “nice” format of exercise is better for your joints and supports longevity. Barre is a one-stop-shop for maintaining and building strength and endurance, achieving long and lean muscles and improving balance and stability. So what do you need to know about Barre now that you’re pregnant? Keep reading.

Is Barre Safe During Pregnancy?

Barre exercise can be an expectant mom’s ideal solution to an active pregnancy. Since barre is considered low- to no-impact, it’s safe for pregnant women. The intensity of the workout is easily controlled and customizable, and the use of a bar (or chair or wall) provides additional assistance with stability and balance.

One of the main reasons I loved barre during my pregnancies and postpartum is because it gives you the opportunity to still build strength and endurance—two things you absolutely need once baby arrives. Throughout pregnancy and postpartum, you rely on your muscles to stabilize and support your changing body. Barre is the perfect way to build and maintain those muscle groups, which help you breeze through your pregnancy journey with fewer aches, pains and head-noise.

Benefits of Barre During Pregnancy

The benefits of barre during pregnancy are unlimited—seriously. But to name just a few:

How to Do Barre Safely During Pregnancy

As with any workout during pregnancy, there are some important things to consider before doing barre with your bump. Your doctor needs to be cool with you exercising, so check with them first. Assuming you’re good to go, keep in mind the following things.

With hormonal changes, such as an increase in relaxin, hypermobility in the joints can occur (think: gumby). You may be less stable and more prone to injury because of the movement beyond your normal range of motion. It’s important to be mindful of your body as it changes throughout pregnancy. Hypermobility in the joints under increased body weight can make certain exercise positions uncomfortable or difficult to perform. This means that some moves might need modifications for it to be pregnancy-safe.

Which raises the question: Have you built those modifications into your program? Eek! Unsure? Are you freaking out? Don’t freak out. There are prenatal barre programs out there (like mine!) that are specifically created with a growing bump and prenatal needs in mind, and can guide you through a pregnancy-safe workout. In my barreBUMP program (which I built while I was pregnant), we adjust the classes for each trimester to create safe, achievable movements, keep your heart rate in check and bring awareness to coning or doming (signs of diastasis recti). Plus, connecting with a community during this season of life can be so refreshing. Some days of pregnancy are easy, some days aren’t, but it’s nice to show up together for the journey.

Barre modifications for pregnancy

If you’re sticking to your normal studio classes, let your instructor know you’re expecting, where you are in your pregnancy and if there any concerns or issues you’ve been experiencing with your body—and modify your workout according to what your body needs (or doesn’t need). Modifications don’t always mean “easier” but rather “safer.” You will still put in the work and it will still be hard, but you’re meeting your body where it’s at, instead of pushing it to the edge. Trust your instincts, and if something feels uncomfortable, especially on your bump, back or hips, then don’t do it. When in doubt, play it safe.

While every pregnancy is different, there are a few modifications all mamas-to-be should make during barre classes:

Avoid deep twists from your abdomen during all trimesters. It can put too much stress on your low back and knees as your growing bump changes your base of support daily.

Avoid lying on your back after the first trimester. An easy modification for ab work is to place a ball under the small of your back or use the bridge position. Lying flat on your back can put pressure on your vena cava, the vein that carries blood to your babe.

Have the barre (or a chair or wall) within reach at all times. You can still work on balance and posture while pregnant, but your center of gravity shifts as your belly (and hips) expand. It’s important to have something within reach that can help with stability. Also, if you feel unstable, widening your base of support just an inch or two can make all the difference in the world.

Go light on the core when participating in floor work. Keeping at least three body parts grounded while doing exercises is a must. Try to think of yourself as a tripod. Two feet and one booty, two knees and one hand, one booty and two elbows, etc. This allows you to still engage your core but provides support to the core unit, allowing safe activation of the muscles and proper spinal support and alignment. Now is the time to maintain your core, but avoid moves that put too much stress on your core (especially your low back), since it’s already working overtime carrying your growing bump. Unsupported abdominal work and unsupported forward flexion from the hips are a no-go during pregnancy.

Excited to get your barre workout on? Click here for a 7-day free tryout of barreBUMP classes, perfect for women in any trimester and postpartum.

Kendra is a prenatal barre expert and RYT-200, barre and warrior sculpt professional with a passion for helping women discover the benefits of form-focused movements pre- and postnatal. After her competitive D1- gymnast career left her body feeling beat up, she needed a fitness format that could bring the heat but was also healthy for her joints—so she created barreALLEY.com. The virtual barre company offers new classes each week, including prenatal barre workouts through the barreBUMP program, that are jam-packed with low-impact, dynamic movements of opposition paired with balance and cardio to promote proper body mechanics, endurance and posture and keep a fire lit under that cute tush. Kendra resides in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband, three boys (5, 3 and 10 months) and her adorable 6 lb. malti-poo. Follow her on Instagram @barrealley and Facebook.

Published July 2019

Photo: Kendra Alley