We caught up with Gabrielle van der Elst, Operations Manager at Barre Body in Sydney, for a chat about her pregnancy and a new prenatal program she is working on. We love this quick leg workout she has filmed for us, which you can do from home. Gabrielle is expecting her first baby, a little girl, in November.
How has your pregnancy been so far?
I feel very lucky that my pregnancy has been smooth sailing. I was nauseous in the beginning but thankfully felt myself as of the second and third trimester. I’m convinced this is because I’ve continued to exercise on a weekly basis. When I fell pregnant, we all went straight into lockdown, which meant I had no choice but to livestream all my classes for our online Barre Body studio. At times this felt like the last thing I wanted to do but I honestly feel it was a blessing in disguise as it kept my body strong and my mind calm during such an anxious time. I started modifying my classes as of week 12, which is really easy to do in Barre as it includes so much standing work, which is fantastic for pregnant women.
Why has continuing to exercise been so important to you?
Continuing to exercise each week has meant that I haven't experienced any SIJ (sacroiliac joint) or pubic symphysis pain during my pregnancy or any other discomfort. I truly believe it's because of the exercise that I've been doing. I also think it’s so important to prep your body for birth by strengthening your legs (quads, glutes and hamstrings), pelvic floor, deep core muscles as well as your upper body. We tend to be a little weak through our mid-back, so it’s important to strengthen this area so we don’t experience any tightness and discomfort in our shoulders and neck in preparation for holding the baby during feeding.
I think the recovery will also be much easier if you have continued to move your body as much as you can throughout your pregnancy. Of course, you want to make sure you take it really slow when re-introducing exercises after birth. There are so many fantastic women’s health physios out there, that I would highly recommend seeing a specialist before going back to exercise.
You are currently filming a Barre Body Prenatal Program. Can you tell us a little more about it?
We are hoping to launch our prenatal program in the coming months, which is very exciting. The program is going to be extensive as you’ll have access to a barre, Pilates Mat, yoga classes as well as meditation sessions each week from as early as week 5 right up until week 42. We have included anatomy videos from a midwife who talks you through all the changes that are happening in your body from week to week and what to expect. We have also included nutritional videos from a naturopath, so you’ll have plenty of content to enjoy on a weekly basis to keep your body and mind feeling relaxed and ready for birth.
What is your advice to other expecting mums around exercise?
You don’t have to spend hours in the gym working out as you will get the benefits from a short-workout. The classes that I have filmed for our prenatal program are only 30-minutes long, which I think is a perfect amount of time to exercise. Remember, everyone is very different and each pregnancy is very different, so never compare yourself to others. If you can only manage a short 5-10 minute workout know that you’ll be gaining so much from it!! It’s all about consistency, even if it’s just a short workout that you do each week.
PLEASE NOTE: we recommend speaking to your doctor if you are unsure about beginning or resuming exercise during pregnancy.