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The Focus on Pregnant Individuals in the Fitness Industry is Increasing – Here’s Why!


The Focus on Pregnant Individuals in the Fitness Industry is Increasing – Here’s Why!

Image Source: Africa Studio / Shutterstock

The Focus on Pregnant Individuals in the Fitness Industry is Increasing – Here’s Why!

It’s customary to offer your seat to a visibly pregnant person on public transport as a sign of politeness. However, this gesture may carry an outdated assumption that pregnant individuals are not physically capable of moving around easily in society.

While this attitude may have prevailed for a long time, a new perspective is emerging that acknowledges the physical strength required for childbirth and parenthood. The fitness industry now offers pre- and postnatal workout classes more than ever, thanks to a combination of scientific advancements and societal changes.

According to Amy Hoover, a doctor of physical therapy at P.volve, a functional fitness method for women, “We need to continue moving in our daily lives during pregnancy. While our bodies undergo rapid changes and adjustments, life doesn’t need to come to a halt just because we’re pregnant.” Exercise not only helps with better movement in changing bodies but also offers various benefits such as reducing musculoskeletal pain, improving constipation, lowering the risk of gestational diabetes, and more.

Back in 2002, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise as safe for pregnant individuals. As research progressed, it became evident that exercise was not only safe during pregnancy but also beneficial. In 2020, ACOG updated its guidance, encouraging those with normal pregnancies to engage in exercise.

With this shift in mindset, the fitness industry has been quick to adapt. Gyms, virtual studios, and fitness apps now provide maternity fitness programs catering to individuals before, during, and after pregnancy. Major brands like Nike, Apple Fitness+, Sweat by Kayla Itsines, and Body By Simone have introduced specific programs for pregnant individuals, emphasizing that it’s generally acceptable to continue activities they enjoyed before, making adjustments as necessary.

Rachel Trotta, a certified personal trainer specializing in pre/postnatal fitness, remarks, “The fitness industry has made significant strides in offering services for pregnant women and new mothers. There’s a shift away from the fear that exercise might be harmful during pregnancy, and a recognition of its well-documented benefits.”

Why pregnancy-focused fitness is on the rise

Over the past few years, fitness companies that tailored workouts to their audiences thrived while those that didn’t adapt struggled, especially in the personalized digital landscape. Amid the pandemic, there has been a heightened focus on health and fitness, leading many individuals, including pregnant ones, to take their health more seriously.

A shift in perspective is evident as pregnant individuals are now seen as strong and capable rather than fragile vessels. The emphasis on serving pregnant individuals themselves, not just their fetuses, signifies a changing attitude toward pregnancy in the fitness industry.

The benefits of exercising during pregnancy

Doctors now recognize that exercise during pregnancy is not just safe but essential for overall health. ACOG highlights that regular exercise during pregnancy can benefit both the individual and the fetus by reducing back pain, easing constipation, improving overall fitness, and decreasing the risk of complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.

Exercise also has positive effects on mental health, empowering individuals and helping them feel more connected to their bodies. It’s crucial for pregnant individuals to consult their healthcare providers regarding their exercise routines, especially in high-risk pregnancies.

Limitations in the maternal fitness trend

Despite the growing support for maternal fitness, societal attitudes and practices still fall short. The fitness industry, like society at large, has not always handled the journey of pregnancy and motherhood sensitively, as evident in how athlete pregnancies were treated by sponsors in the past.

There is often ambivalence surrounding the maternal body, reflecting societal pressures and expectations around body image. Pregnancy brings about physical changes that are sometimes stigmatized, reflecting deep-rooted biases related to body shape and size.

The negative attitude towards exercise can make it seem like there is a right and wrong way to handle pregnancy weight gain. There are concerns that maternal fitness programs may unintentionally add pressure to pregnant individuals regarding their weight. While exercise is crucial for a healthy pregnancy, the emphasis should be on movement, well-being, and stress relief rather than solely on physical fitness goals and weight loss.

It’s essential to differentiate between the genuine benefits of exercise during and after pregnancy from potentially harmful societal pressures. While companies may profit from offering maternal fitness programs, the motives behind these ventures can vary. Emphasizing appearance or selling unnecessary products may undermine the real health benefits of these programs.

There is a lack of official licensing for pregnancy trainers, which means certifications may not always signify proper medical oversight. It’s crucial for pregnant individuals to choose trainers who have credible qualifications and consider input from medical professionals like OB/GYNs to ensure safety during exercise.

Despite existing shortcomings, today’s maternal fitness programs provide pregnant individuals with more autonomy over their bodies. By promoting a positive body image and offering safe, doctor-approved exercise routines, the maternal fitness trend has the potential to empower and benefit moms.

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