Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Training Pregnant Crossfitters

At some point, I think most CrossFit trainers will have a pregnant client.  I'll admit, before being pregnant myself, I would have been pretty clueless about how to approach training a pregnant client and probably very nervous about it.  Now that I've experienced crossfitting while pregnant, I wanted to pass along some tips for training pregnant crossfitters.  I also wanted to get some input from other CrossFit trainers that haven't been pregnant.  So awhile back, I asked Jaime and Bobby Noyce, the owners and trainers at CrossFit515 (my brother and sister), to help me out with a "tips for training pregnant crossfitters" post.  They did such a good job that I decided to make it the post for my final week of pregnancy ... before being overdue, anyway.

First, here are my quick tips:
- (This one is coming from me mostly as a lawyer).  Consider having a separate waiver that says she's talked with her doctor about continuing / starting CrossFit while pregnant.
- She's the one that feels the pressure of keeping the baby safe and knows how her body is feeling, so as much as possible let her use her own judgment about what movements and weights she should be doing.  This will be a moving target as her pregnancy progresses, and you can't be expected to know her changing abilities without a lot of feedback from her.
- Focus more on form and range of motion, not intensity.
- Encouragement is good, but don't let it take the form of "Go! Go! Go! Keep moving! Get through it!"  CrossFit trainers are usually trying to get clients to push out of their comfort zones, but a pregnant crossfitter should be staying in her comfort zone.  Let her decide how hard she's comfortable pushing.  

And now, my guests:

When Lindsay asked Bobby and I to write a little about what we've learned as trainers about how to go about helping other pregnant women do CrossFit, I thought it was a great idea.  I didn't know anything more than Lindsay did on this subject to start with, never having been thru any of it before, so I've learned a great deal.  I think it's important for trainers to know how to approach training their pregnant crossfitters too.

Whenever I'm with Lindsay and she gets asked by someone outside of CrossFit if she has still been working out, I think it's funny when she kinda just laughs and is like "yeah, I've still been working out."  It's pretty great, because I know the reason why Lindsay has had one of the easiest pregnancies of anyone I've known is because of the healthy lifestyle that she and Justin choose to live.  And when people ask me if I think it's a good idea that she has still been doing CrossFit, I really have to try not to laugh and just say "Yes, I know it is."

Partly I've found that training someone who is pregnant is no different than dealing with anyone else in our gym. Just as everyone has to scale WODs at some time or another, either because of injury, illness, ability level, etc, training someone who is pregnant for me has just involved figuring out (a lot of times on a daily basis) what movements the person can do and is comfortable doing. I tell everyone to listen to their bodies, while still trying to push themselves to do what they can. I guess the only difference from this aspect is most of the athletes I'm used to working with find that they can do more and more all the time, whereas obviously during pregnancy athletes might stop being able to do certain things as they gain weight and the baby grows.

The other big difference I've become aware of with training pregnant women is to be careful to scale the intensity down a little too, and I'm extra careful not to push too hard to go faster during the workout. I try to encourage in a slightly different way, that's all.

I definitely don't think I'm alone in that I've been so incredibly impressed with what Lindsay has done over the past months.  What she does in the gym every day is inspiring.  I've also been so impressed by her and Justin already as parents before their child is even born.  The amount of care and research they have put into the decisions to be made already is so great and I'm glad they are sharing some of them for others to see.  I've been very grateful for the learning opportunity.

Hello millions.....thousands.....hundreds.....dozens.....or all 9 of Lindsay's followers!!!  I am her extremely awesome younger brother!  I go by pretty much anything: Bobby, Bob, Bob-0, Bobert, Bobaloo, B. Noyce, BuckShark, B-Bone......anything but Robert.  Lindsay asked me to do this post and here were my instructions, "Don't make it much about me or things people would already know if they read my blog.  More like, if a trainer had never had a pregnant client, what might he/she want to know?  And be funny/entertaining -- this post is riding on you!"  That's a lot of pressure, I'll try.
I have been around 2 women through their pregnancies while CrossFitting, and I guess the 1st thing I would like to point out is simply that apparently I am surrounded by badass women that don't make excuses for themselves.  Owning a CrossFit affiliate and training people all day every day I get to hear ALL kinds of excuses non-stop (I'm sure it is less than most personal trainers, but still) but the two pregnant women I have gotten to work with simply do what they are capable of and get work done.  Which makes me a really bad person to ask on how to train most pregnant women haha.  I feel that at CrossFit 515 we have gotten very good at finding reasonable ways of scaling almost every workout and movement so that anyone who has done at least a little bit of CrossFit can safely gauge their own abilities in order to get the desired outcome from the workout of the day.  My biggest piece of advice would be that obviously "she" should know what is completely within her comfort zone to stay safe while still getting all the great benefits from CrossFit and just functional movements in general.  I feel like I have been saying this a lot lately but I think it applies to CrossFitting while pregnant almost more than any other time in our training, the goal is to "stimulate" not to "annihilate."
Now on to the good stuff :)
Bobby's Suggestions for Training Pregnant Chicks (should only apply if said chick is your older sister that used to torture you every single day until you were big enough to kick her a$$):
-  Make as many fat references and jokes as humanly possible (this is a once in a lifetime opportunity so take full advantage, the goal is to actually push the boundary to whether she questions if she is really 'fat' and not just growing another human being inside of her)
-  Don't attempt a weight gain challenge during these 9 months (it can not and will not end well, i.e. Bobby = LOSER)
-  Challenge her to as many 'pregnant' workouts as possible (nothing mean here, it is just fun)
-  Try to act like you don't know she is pregnant for as long as possible and that she just wanted an excuse to eat more, gain weight, and let her times slip
-  Try to rub in the fact that she can't drink alcohol or do other fun things, like not be pregnant
-  Take full advantage of her being all-time DD (I really don't feel bad about this one after the 9,000 calls and texts at 2 a.m. all through high school)  [Note from Lindsay:  he means when he was in high school; I'm 4 years older.]
-  Finally and most importantly make sure she knows how proud of her you are for setting an amazing example that all other pregnant women should follow (in my opinion) and how excited you are to be an Uncle!!!
I don't know how Lindsay does it but I must get asked once a week about how she is doing.  Or if she is ready to be done being pregnant.  And I kind of just laugh and say she seems the same as she always is (just bigger......WAY BIGGER!).  Do CrossFit, eat paleo, and apparently life doesn't completely suck while you're pregnant, at least that is the lesson I have learned through all of this.
Well this has been a pleasure,
B-Bone Out
Thanks, Jaime and Bobby!!!  And AWESOME job at regionals last weekend!  Jaime placed 6th and Bobby placed 11th in the North Central region.  

39 weeks
Almost to the end.  Come on out anytime, Baby!  

4 days left!

1 comment:

  1. Hello Lindsay. I have bee following your blog since I needed to find words of encouragement from someone who shared the same passion while pregnant. I cannot agree with you more how beneficial was for me to Crossfit whole pregnant. As a competitive athlete I didn't want to " loose" all my strenght and conditioning so I scaled weights minimally but did decreased my intensity. I was able to compete in the open 8-9 months pregnant, recover in 2.5 weeks, train for 6, and compete at regionals with my Crossfit axiom team. I'm back to almost my pre-pregnancy weight (5 more pouds to go ), and feel amazing. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Veronica bocanegra. :-)