The Curves 30-minute workout combines smooth, hydraulic resistance with low-impact aerobic activity. Similar in movement to water aerobics, this strength-training and cardio workout is safe and effective for women of all ages and fitness levels, including women who are pregnant. As with any exercise during pregnancy, some modifications and precautions are necessary.
A Complete Exercise Program
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women get at least 30 minutes of exercise most-if not all-days of the week, incorporating activities that strengthen the muscles as well as the cardiovascular system. The Curves program combines the five components of a complete workout into each session: warm-up, strength-training, aerobics, cool-down and stretching. Many Curves facilities use CurvesSmart technology, which can be programmed to keep your workout at specific level of effort.
Low-impact exercise during pregnancy can increase circulation, improve balance, reduce aches and pains and prevent injury from falls. If you were not already exercising when you became pregnant and want to begin a routine, start slowly. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you work at a reasonable pace, dress comfortably and drink plenty of water. Whether you are new to Curves or a veteran, work with your circuit coach to set specific goals and check in weekly to discuss your progress.
The Curves Equipment
Specially designed for women, the Curves low-impact, hydraulic resistance equipment uses pushing and pulling motions rather than lifting and lowering of weights, which means it is safe to use throughout pregnancy. However, exercises that compress the stomach should be avoided, so skip the ab-back machine during the third trimester or earlier if your range of motion becomes limited. Avoid the leg press if you feel off-balance or have difficulty getting on or off the machine.
The recovery boards are designed to keep your heart rate up and your blood flowing while giving your muscles a chance to rest between machines. Exercises that can jar your bones and joints should be avoided in pregnancy, so don’t jump or bounce on the recovery boards; keep at least one foot on the board at all times. Be careful stepping on and off recovery boards since your balance will change as your pregnancy progresses.
Pregnancy increases the demand on your heart and circulatory system, so even if you’re used to exercising, you should avoid overdoing the aerobic component. Gary Heavin, founder of Curves, recommends that you aim for 50 percent of your target strength and heart rate to avoid fatigue and exhaustion. If your club uses CurvesSmart technology, ask your circuit coach to reset the effort level of your program (she can remove the ab-back machine from your routine at the same time).
Pay particular attention to your balance when stretching, maintain proper body alignment, and don’t stretch to the point of discomfort. Lying on your back could cause the weight of the baby to compress your aorta, so perform the back-lying stretches from a seated position. Your circuit coach can teach you how to stretch properly while sitting in a chair and using a towel to extend your reach.
Tips and Warnings Signs
If you were not already exercising when you became pregnant and want to begin a routine, start slowly. You should be able to speak in complete sentences throughout your workout, so slow down if you get overheated or sweat profusely. Stop if you feel sick, lightheaded, have stomach cramps or chest pains. As with any exercise program, check with your doctor before beginning a Curves routine, especially if you have a history of problem pregnancies or chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.