Pregnancy fitness classes are group exercise sessions designed for women who are expecting. They are workouts for pregnant women. Exercise during pregnancy is thought to ease labor as well as help keep women fit and healthy as their bodies change. All exercises must also be safe for the growing baby, so pregnancy fitness classes that are taught by qualified instructors are popular.
Instructors should be prenatal certified in order to teach a pregnancy fitness class. Prenatal certification means a fitness instructor has taken courses and passed exams about the specific exercise activities that are safe for pregnant women. Deep knee bends or laying on the back styles of exercise are considered risky in pregnancy. Pregnant women must be especially careful of slipping or falling while trying to keep fit; prenatal workouts taught by a certified instructor are designed to provide a safe environment. Pregnancy fitness classes typically begin with the instructor reminding participants to stop exercising at any time if they feel uncomfortable or experience cramping.
A discussion that includes information about safe ways for pregnant women to get out of bed or stand up after sitting in a chair when they have a large belly precedes many pregnancy workout classes. Some pregnancy fitness classes also have information about meal planning and nutrition before the exercise session begins. Most prenatal workouts include stretching to help relieve leg cramps during pregnancy as well as Kegel exercises. Kegel exercises are isometric, which means they involve contracting or squeezing the muscles. Kegel movements strengthen and tone a woman's inner pelvic area.
In addition to providing safe exercise and information relating to pregnancy, prenatal fitness classes also offer an environment for expectant women to socialize and meet other moms-to-be. Most community centers have pregnancy fitness classes. In recreation complexes with a public pool, low-impact aerobic fitness may be combined with swimming to form a pregnancy workout class. The specialized workouts for pregnant women must be carefully planned by the prenatal fitness class instructor.
Like all safe exercise sessions, pregnancy fitness classes begin and end with slower movements. Everyone needs warm-up and cool down movements rather than starting and ending exercise sessions abruptly. Without the gradual ease into and out of exercise, the body may not be able to circulate enough oxygen to tired muscles and soreness or other damage may result.
A pregnancy workout class may be held in a fitness center or a community recreation building. The classes may be weekly or more often. Most pregnancy fitness classes require participants to have permission from their doctor before beginning the sessions.