Saturday, April 9, 2016

A Pure Barre Pregnancy: Pure Barre Pregnancy Modifications

[Friends and family: The reason for this post is that when I found out I was pregnant, one of the first things I did was search for articles about pure barre modifications while pregnant. I found several helpful articles which were all great, but not as much as I hoped.  So, here I am, paying it forward!]

Disclaimer: I am not a Pure Barre instructor, owner or employee, nor am I a doctor (but I am a lawyer!), so this is not medical or technical advice.  This is just my own personal experience and some practical insight, as if we were having a friendly informal conversation about it.  Pure Barre is an intense workout and should be done with your OB's blessing.   

A Pure Barre Pregnancy 

First time wearing my sticky socks around 11-12 weeks, at a 90 minute full body burn! 

Pure Barre is very possible and even fun while pregnant! And I think it's really helped to manage my weight gain and help me feel good about how I'm carrying.  Ultimately I took over 100 classes during my pregnancy and was there on my due date (my goal) and one day after.  I returned to PB around 4.5 weeks postpartum (with clearance from my doctor).

It's important that you are already familiar with the technique and the difficulty, and it really helps to have a baseline of "pure barre strength" before you get pregnant (so you can still do those dreaded ledge exercises on your hands and knees during seat with a bump!).  I had been taking PB pretty regularly for a year and a half before I got pregnant, and was going several times a week the month I got pregnant (including the day I found out I was pregnant, in Hawaii)  But be prepared, as baby grows so do you, and that weight will be a strain!

Also to be clear, I was overweight before I became pregnant, and so I was not one of those "little" pregnant ladies who barely showed.  I was fortunate that I carried very forward and had that classic "bump," but was NOT small, and gained at least 35-40 lbs during my pregnancy.   But I lost my baby weight quite easily postpartum and I suspect that pure barre before and after helped.   

If I had the time, I'd try to go 4-5 days a week, but unfortunately with work I really only manage 3-4. I think PB is most effective if you don't miss more than 1-2 days between classes, but that also depends on if you're walking, running or doing other exercise while pregnant.  

My biggest piece of advice is that EVERY DAY IS DIFFERENT!  Your body will change daily and your PB experience will change with it.  Every pregnant lady is different so don't feel bad if there are others in your studio that are doing more than you do!   The best advice I got was from another woman in the studio who said, "just do what you want and you'll be fine" which I have found to be so true.  The instructors are a great resource and you should use them, but don't be afraid to "wing it," especially if you're experienced in the technique and the proper posture.  Also, there were moves that I wasn't into at 35 weeks that I was able to do at 39 weeks so sometimes your body is just into it and sometimes it isn't. 

Finally, this is required reading!


Around 34 weeks.  Regular Beyond Yoga pants and Old Navy maternity tank. Pup sold separately.
If you're lucky like me, you had instructors who had babies before you got pregnant, and you paid attention to their style.  I'm still fitting into most some of my largest and stretchy pants, and wear long tanks (like the emijay "see you at the barre" tank) to cover the bump.  My bra selection is quite limited so that's an excuse to spring for some new stuff (which you'll continue to wear after, especially if breastfeeding!).  I have a few looser, "maternity" options for when I'm bigger so I don't stretch out my nice regular pants.  My mom insisted that she get me a pair of Beyond the Bump capris, which are very comfortable, and then I found a pair of Beyond the Bump leggings that were severely discounted, which  were great!  Once I was close to full term, I was limited to my maternity PB clothes, and even those were strained, but if I was desperate I could have used my husband's workout clothes, and I didn't. 

Water deserves it's own section.  What's great about a PB class if you have plenty of opportunities to gulp down water, so not only is it important for fluids, etc. it's also just a great opportunity to load up on water during the day.  I know on the days I go to PB I'm better hydrated than on my off days.

Also, if you're breastfeeding postpartum, drinking water during class is VERY important.

I chose not to reveal my pregnancy to my instructors until 11 weeks, which made sense for me.  That was also when I started wearing the "baby on board" socks, which are fun :-) (my debut of the socks was during a 90 minute total body burn intensive, awesome, right?).  My studio does not require a doctor's note but some do, so be prepared either way.  It's been fun for my instructors to see my belly grow and they are some of my biggest cheerleaders!  They have a handout they can give you with modifications, I never saw it and I'm not too concerned about it.  If you're an experienced LTBer, it's not that hard to figure out modifications. 

Odd Pregnancy-Related PB Issues:
- I got awful heartburn during class! It was very strange.  I considered packing TUMS in the gym bag but it never got to that point, I just drank a ton of water and pushed through.  

- If you're fighting the first trimester fatigue (or any trimester fatigue), get yourself to the studio anyway, it helps.  I had weekends when all I did was PB and lay in bed with my dog.  

- I had a series of headaches during a few weeks of my second trimester.  Nothing helped, so I went to PB anyway.  

- Bathroom breaks: you will need them! I suggest you go after seat during the beginning of "round back," the least useful section of PB while pregnant.

- I had a setback in week 24, when I had sciatic pain on my left hip (likely NOT caused by PB), which completely hampered my walking and was very painful.  After about 9 days of rest, ice, and heat, nothing changed. So I decided to try "active recovery" instead, by returning to the barre, with the hope that some PB "physical therapy" and stretching would help.  Two days in the verdict is unclear, I'm not sure it helped, but my pain went away about 5 days later, and mentally it was GREAT to be back.

- Pelvic floor issues:  I realized postpartum that I have pelvic floor tightness.  (The opposite of what you have to do kegels for.)  The one legged stuff at PB seems to bring it on, both before and after the baby was born.  Just be mindful of that muscle group because there are lots of changes happening! 

This is what you're here for, right!  This is what has worked for me.  My original goal was to get to 20 weeks without a major modifications which, for the most part, worked.  Even at 28 weeks, I didn't modify as much as I expected.  Here's how I break up the working sections of class, your terminology may be different (and I've never been an instructor) so bear with me: 

First 100s 
Push Up series 
Tricep dips 
Upper Body w/ Weights (or without) 
Round Back 
Flat Back 
Final Abs Series
Back Dancing(Bridge)

Weeks 4-15ish (before you start showing):  

I don't think you need any modifications because of your pregnancy here.  I chose to go down on my knees during plank to protect my back, and otherwise took it more easily than I used to (which I recommend) but really don't be afraid to challenge yourself in the same way as before. 

Weeks 15-20: 

I stopped doing the chair pose in thighs and instead stood up at the barre to limit back strain (which I probably should have done before I was pregnant - UPDATE: 8 months postpartum I'm back at doing chair!).  I modified my cobra stretch but I still do it, and on most days I stayed up on my hands and knees during back stretch and stuck out opposing legs and arms.  I had to modify the final abs series a bit to protect my back, but I'm sure that varies. 

Weeks 20-30ish: I continued to to everything I had modified before, but: 

First 100s I kept my legs up a lot higher, and eventually kept them on the floor, and for the roll-up I keep my legs down.

Plank (even on my knees) is harder! 

Push Ups: I still do push ups on my toes, but I always keep both feet on the floor (I don't do any alternating lifting the feet).  There's only so much my arms can take with this extra weight!

Thighs: One quirky symptom was calf cramps when we're on our toes during thighs!  It's happened almost every class for a few weeks. (This eventually went away, which was also strange) I just come down on to my feet and am fine.  I always stand up for chair but I still do water ski. UPDATE: At 28 weeks my belly is starting to get in the way while I'm at the Barre...I can still do everything but, it's different... 

The stretches between thighs and seat are a little more tricky with the bump but I still do the split stretch.  It feels so good! 

Seat:  I "lose steam" during seat (or, on bad days, "the wheels come off"), especially if we're standing at the barre on one leg (again, not much different than before, just worse, standing pretzel sucks for everyone!).  I take a lot more breaks than I used to, and modify a lot more to keep pressure off my standing hip, which is just harder with more weight.  Sometimes I stay upright at the barre if there's a fold over, other times I'm able to do it, do what makes sense and don't push it too much.   The "seatbelt" position is getting harder so I might have to face the barre soon.   Also, when on all fours, it's much harder to not arch my back and keep my hips tucked.  I do the best I can and take several breaks.  Eventually I was done with being all fours in seat, and did everything at the barre.  It was just too hard to protect my back. 

Round back is harder, I do a lot more table top/foot on the floor during that time.  Be careful when rotating during the stretch between round back and flat back.  

I don't modify flat back (yet). Eventually I couldn't really keep my legs together or in diamond anymore, so I just did the best I could. 

Final Abs Series:  I always keep the ball behind my back (I did that pre-pregnancy and now postpartum), and don't push it as much as I used to.  All of the abs on my back are a little trickier, because the center of my abs is basically hidden from here on out.  I can't get my legs to a 45 degree angle very easily, so I just keep my feet on the floor (knees bent) or keep my legs up high, depending on how I'm feeling, and often grip my legs.   I still do the reverse crunches, I'm carrying high and they feel fine. 

Back Dancing: I can't physically keep my feet together during back dancing anymore, so I just keep them further apart and protect my back, no big deal. 

Be purposeful with your stretching! It's great for overall pregnancy comfort and I have to think hope it will help with labor!

Weeks 30-40: There is a huge difference between 30 weeks and 25 weeks, at least for me!

First 100s:  I keep my feet on the ground the entire time.

Plank:  I can still do it on my knees, but I'm not sure how much longer, I'm running out of space!

Push Ups: Still doing the full pushups!

Weights:  I pushed myself until about 38 weeks and then it was funny, my arms started getting tired faster, so I took it pretty easy at the end.

Thighs and Seat: Same, except I'm carrying around more weight.  I do not do anything on my hands and knees, I lean against the barre.

Abs against the wall: I usually take a bathroom break.

Final Abs series:  I could still do it, but it's wasn't the same.  If it wasn't for back dancing and final stretching I'd probably have left class after seat.  I feel like I'm still getting a workout in, and it's great for my obliques (I'm carrying VERY forward).  I focused on upper abs and obliques at the end.

The most common thing I read is to be careful about positions on your back.  I also see a lot about modifying the abs sections, I haven't modified much at all and won't until my doctor tells me to.   I think the biggest thing is DON'T GET HURT. Now is not the time to push it.  My round ligament pain sometimes gets worse during PB so I try to take it easy on those days, knowing that a few days later, I'll probably be fine. At 28 weeks I told my nurse practitioner that I'm still doing Pure Barre and would continue to until she told me otherwise, she said that it was all good, and also said that I'm carrying really well and my weight was good, which I think is largely because of my PB practice.

Happy Thoughts
The instructors and clients in the two studios I regularly attend are so POSITIVE and sweet. Seriously, they constantly tell me that I look great and that I'm doing really well.  In a world where everyone wants to tell you that you're huge and that you're "not going to make it to August,"  having this safe, happy space several hours a week while pregnant is invaluable.  The value of that support cannot be understated.

After class on my due date - I made it!
Beyond the Bump tank and capris

Happy tucking for two :-) 

Update: some postpartum thoughts! I never thought that going back 40 lbs lighter 4.5 weeks after having the baby would be 10x harder than going at 40 weeks! So give yourself some time and be patient.  It took several months before I felt like myself again at the barre, but it does come back! 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Year in Review; The Future of Christine's World

Now that Curtis & Kenny are on their way back to Alabama today, I can work some on my blogs! 

It's now 2014 - wow. 

For many reasons, I often compare 2013 to 2012.  Fall 2012 was, quite frankly, chaotic and sad.  The loss of Grandpa and Aunt Julie has stayed with me through 2013 and although it's less acute, it's still there, and it will take a little more time than I initially anticipated to have complete peace with all of that. 

2013 was probably one of my busiest years to date, and probably one of my funnest in my adult life. We started January 1st with a fantastic tailgate and Stanford victory at the Rose Bowl, and then dragged our weary selves back to Alabama and back to work.  Curtis started business school with UNC in March, which has turned our world upside down, but he's doing so well and I'm thrilled for him and proud. My parents came to visit in April and we went to the Final Four in Atlanta.  Curtis and I went to Hamburg in June.  I left my job at the end of July, sadly said goodbye to our Alabama friends, and flew with Kenny to California for two weeks of great weather and family.  Coming back from California, we packed up the car in Alabama and made the long drive to Philly, where I started my long-awaited judicial clerkship in August.  Curtis worked out of the Virginia office for three months, and we learned how to drive back and forth. Now, at the beginning of 2014, with Curtis and Kenny starting the year in Mobile, life should settle down a bit.  As always, I am so grateful for what I have, for the friends that we've made, in California, in Alabama and now in Philly. And of course we have a wonderful family, that is exceptionally tolerant of our crazy life choices and always supportive. 

So here's to the New Year and the exciting developments ahead! 

One thing that has become apparent this past year with the blog is that managing two blogs has become inefficient.  I've always liked having my own blog with my own content where I express random thoughts which don't necessarily "fit in" with my "Christine & Curtis" blog.  But due to my current job, I'm not as free to publish my own opinions as otherwise would be, and frankly I have less energy for it.  I think it's time to press "pause" on this blog for now, with the hope that I will resurrect it at some point :-). FYI However, I have added a few things to both blogs that I marked under the date when the event occurred, so look back in my archives for those new "old" posts!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

100th Rose Bowl 2014

I did one of those things that I'm getting too old to do... 

I seriously considered skipping it this year, but I've gone to every bowl game since 2010, the Sun Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl and the Rose Bowl last year.  It's the one time every year that I know I'll see my good Stanford friends, and we always have a great time!

I did it a little crazier this time, by flying to LAX the morning of the game, and flying back to Philly that night.  Miraculously, everything went smoothly and we made it to the stadium with a little time to tailgate and catch up.  My parents were kind enough to get my back and forth from the airport, which was great. Sadly we lost, but it was a fun day :-).  And I wore shorts and sandals to the game, it was so warm!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ugly Sweater Run

I did the "Ugly Sweater Run" in Philly with my co-clerk Tina and Kenny.  First we went to an "Ugly Sweater Store" to get what we needed to wear:

Yes, those are working bells. 

The Hat was provided by the race - stylish, I know. 

There's Tina, my co-clerk and fellow Californian, who loves dogs. 

It was a cold morning, but very fun and festive, it was great seeing all the sweaters that people wore, and I definitely recommend it!  Especially if have a dog; this is one of the few races that actually allows dogs, and it was so fun to have him (and his christmas sweater) along for the adventure.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, November 17, 2013

We walked some of the Philly Marathon course

And now we're tired

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Winter Wardrobe

Our first day of snow in Virginia
It's 11:21 am here, and 36 degrees out.  It "feels like" 27 degrees.

This is an education for me, which is why I'm complaining about it all over Facebook, and why I'm writing about it now.  It's also new because I can't just jump from my car to the building; I spend at least an hour outside walking every day, morning, noon and night, so weather is an issue.

So, what did I have, what did I buy?

What I had: 

- Coat(s):
I have two pea coats from before, which I think will get my through all but the coldest days of the year.  Someone in my office also gave me 3 coats, one of which is (I think) warm enough for the coldest days.

- Scarves
I have so many scarves that I've cut myself off.  Some are warmer than others, but I am confident that I will get through the year.

- Hats/Gloves
I have a few hats, and picked out one as a gift over the weekend.  I may have to get a warmer beanie, but I actually kept my hat off this morning for most of my walk, so I should be fine for all but the coldest days.  I purchased a pair of warm gloves last year that I think will do the job this year.

- Sweaters/Warm Shirts/Pants
I added a few pieces to my wardrobe for style purposes but aside from that, I'm in good shape.

What I bought: 

- BOOTS:  Due to my freakishly wide calves, I can't walk into a store and buy leather knee-high boots.  But I decided it was time, and am now the proud owner of brown and black riding boots that are both comfortable to walk around in and warm.  I also own a pair of comfy snow boots, and a pair of Wellies that don't fit great but should work okay for wet walks with Kenny.

- SOCKS:  I realized that I own few socks other than to wear with running shoes.  So I had to create a dress sock collection for my boots and other closed toe shoes for winter.  Thankfully, those are easy to find for cheap and on sale.  I would like to buy a few more pairs of long boot socks but it's a low priority.

- TOMS CLOSED TOE WEDGES:  I wanted something that was comfortable and with some height, so I bought the Toms wedges that I talked about in my last post.  They are great!  They are great to have on dry days, especially when I'm wearing pants.

- STOCKINGS/TIGHTS/LEGGINGS/ETC.  I've always been a pretty big fan of tights and stockings, but there's a difference between liking them and being a staple of my wardrobe.  I was able to catch a good sale on Gap's extra warm leggings/tights, and like them so far, as well as other things I've picked up.

- SKINNY JEANS: I don't generally like the idea of skinny jeans, but I found that Gap has skinny curvy jeans that I was able to order online, and they are really easy to wear with my boots, as opposed to trying to stuff my boot cut jeans into my shoes.  It's practical and it works.

- ANOTHER COAT: I couldn't resist and Express sale to buy a black long puffy coat, which I think looks nice :-)

- ELECTRIC BLANKET: hands down, best purchase for the winter.  I originally bought it for my office, but my house stole it for Christmas and it's not leaving my bed or futon for the duration.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Very Philly Weekend

Despite the fact that I caught a cold/flu/whoknows on Thursday, Curtis came down Friday night for the weekend, and is now on his way back to Virginia with our doggy.  This marks the first time I'm in Philly without him, only for two weeks, but will certainly be different. 

We ended up having a really nice weekend.  Stay tuned for part of it (hint: it involves pictures), but for now I will focus on the food, since we checked two restaurants off the list of those I wanted to try.

Curtis described it as "hipster BBQ" which is probably about right.  Nevertheless, the food was priced well and tasty, we were able to watch the first quarter of the UCLA-Oregon game on a TV there, and we got a few dishes for free for our "wait," which wasn't long. 

Here's the rundown of what we got: 

Deviled eggs (on the house) 
Skillet Cornbread (on the house)
Macaroni and Cheese - delish

BBQ Fries with Chopped Brisket - also delish
Pulled Pork (me, delish) 
Burger (Curtis - "pretty good")
Chocolate-Banana Bread Pudding with Cinnamon Ice Cream (Curtis - "ok")
Root Beer Float (me - delish) 

Suffice it to say, I'm looking forward to eating leftovers tonight.  Not quite Alabama BBQ, but tasty. 
Next? Brunch at Jones

Styled as an old-school diner with a modern twist, Jones is one of many "Starr Restaurants," by a local restaurateur, who has several restaurants, all with different themes (I think I've been to four of them so far, The Dandelion, Talula's Garden, and Frankford Hall, and they are all fun)

Again, good meal.  We started with their famous Monkey Bread, which was yummy and warm: 

Then I had the egg sandwich with tater tots (which was just okay), and Curtis had the French Toast, which looked cool and tasted good.

Overall, a yummy weekend :-)