Staying fit and healthy during your pregnancy has been proven to have numerous benefits for both you and your growing baby - from improving your heart health, muscle strength and circulation, to shortening your labour time and even contributing to healthier and more intelligent babies.

But if you're rocking a baby bump, the thought of hitting the gym can be intimidating - especially if you weren't working out all that regularly before you were expecting.

And yet there's actually no better time to start getting into fitness than when you're pregnant. As long as you have the OK from your doctor and work with a trainer who's qualified in prenatal exercise, it's totally safe, and is a great way to tune into your body, maintain some muscle tone, and prepare yourself for childbirth and new motherhood - trust us, you'll need those toned arms for all the baby-cuddling you'll be doing!

Luckily there are a range of gyms and companies offering pregnancy-specific workouts. These are not only geared to be safe and appropriate for your growing body at every trimester, but are often very sociable and a great way to meet other women at the same stage of life as you.

If you were big on fitness before conceiving then it's usually fine to continue with your previous regime to some extent at first, but you will gradually need to adapt your routine to fit your changing body. In particular, ab and core exercises are off the agenda almost entirely come 12 weeks in order to reduce the likelihood or extent of diastasis recti (your abdominal muscles separating, which happens to the vast majority of mums-to-be at some point in their pregnancy).

Please note, pregnancy is a time to maintain fitness, rather than to make any gains in fitness, and you should always be able to maintain a conversation throughout any workout that you do while you're expecting. Ensure you're well hydrated, do not overheat, and, no matter how much of a fitness fanatic you consider yourself to be, we highly recommend you seek out the advice of a class teacher or professional who's specifically trained and qualified in prenatal exercise - even if it's just for one session: 

You may also like: '5 Exercises Pregnant Women Should Never Do'

Dubai's Top Prenatal Fitness Classes
Urban Energy Fitness

Urban Energy Fitness

This friendly mobile fitness training company offers a range of both morning and evening prenatal fitness classes at venues across Dubai. Offering a circuits-style workout that involves light to moderate resistance exercise and low-impact cardio exercise, all of the instructors are qualified in prenatal training and will take care to get to know you and your body’s changing needs. It’s also a fun way to meet other mums-to-be at a similar stage to you – plus, once your baby is here they offer a series of baby-friendly workouts, so you can get fit with your little one in tow.  All of their fitness instructors are qualified and up-to-date on the research that has been done surrounding exercise during pregnancy - including pelvic floor dysfunction and function and the role and function of the deep core unit - and will know what exercises are appropriate for you through all trimesters.

Details: Dh90 pay as you go, or Dh790 for 10 (valid 4 months). The prenatal classes are based at Kids HQ in Al Barsha during the summer, but shift to outdoor parks in good weather. Sunday 6.30-7.30pm; Monday 10-11am; Wednesday 10.30-11.30am; Friday 8.45-9.45am. timings subject to change: see Urbanenergyfitness.com or contact 055 886 9158 | laurence@urbanenergyfitness.com.

MamaBFit at Smart Fitness

MamaBFit at Smart Fitness

The MamaBFit plan at this JLT-based gym combines the knowledge of a midwife, a dietician, and two personal trainers/ biokineticists to offer a programme that incorporates nutrition guidance, pre-assessment to identify and address any pre-existing injuries and contraindications, a series of group classes or one-on-one personal training, plus a support network of professionals with contact via private whatsapp and facebook groups. Once you’ve given birth it also offers postnatal training, with free childcare provided by Nightingale Health Services.

Details: Prenatal group training sessions Dh1,100 for 10 (valid 2 months) or Dh2,000 for 20 (valid 4 months). Trial class free. Classes are held on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday 9am; Sunday 7pm; Tuesday 7pm at Smart Fitness gym, JLT. Contact: info@smartfitness.ae, +971 4 438 5055.

Real Pilates

Real Pilates

Pilates is great for posture, upper and lower body strength and stability, and helps reduce back pain, making prenatal Pilates an ideal workout during pregnancy. Real Pilates is one of Dubai’s best-regarded Pilates studios and offers a mixture of prenatal mat Pilates or prenatal reformer Pilates. Where the mat-based classes use light equipment and help to tone and maintain body weight, the reformer sessions involve stretching and holding exercises using the resistance of a reformer machine, helping to build strength.

Details: Prenatal combo pack is Dh895 for a 10-session pack valid for both mat and reformer (valid 6 months). Classes are based at either the Jumeirah or the JLT Real Pilates studio and are held both morning and evening, see Real-pilates.com for exact timings.

Urban Yoga

Urban Yoga

Prenatal yoga helps to build strength, stamina and flexibility. Common discomforts, such as lower back pain, swelling, fatigue and nausea can often be alleviated through movement. Mentally, yoga also helps to balance the endocrine system which will help those who feel they are on an emotional rollercoaster! Learning to control breathing can also help with labour.

Dh95/ class or Dh850 for a pack of 10 (valid 6 months). Classes held Tuesday 7.8.15pm; Friday 10-11.15am; Saturday 9.45-11am at the Business Bay studio.

Read more: 'When Can I Start Exercising Again After Having a Baby?'

3 UAE prenatal fitness trainers to check out
@Anna.yoga.dubai
Pre and postnatally trained Ashtanga yoga instructor Anna also happens to just had her first baby as we speak. She has lots to say about the asanas (poses), pranayamas (breathing techniques) and meditations available to help ease any pregnancy discomfort, prepare for labour physically and mentally, and boost postnatal recovery. She teaches group classes and also offers pre and post-natal private classes.

@Rhian_adams_athlete
Super glam Dubai-based new mum, weightlifter and all-round fitness superstar Rhian has developed a comprehensive Babyandme 12 week Post Natal Training Plan, available to download as a series of workout videos online for $150 (www.rhianadamsfitforlife.co.uk). Intended to help you lose weight, tone up and have fun with your baby from the comfort of your home, the workouts are suitable for all abilities and combine aerobics with basic exercises such as squats, bridges and planks. If you’re not very familiar with workout moves you may want to have a few PT sessions first to ensure that your technique is correct and safe for your repairing body.

@TheFitMidwife
Certified Midwife, breastfeeding counsellor and Ante/Postnatal Educator Nikki also happens to be a personal trainer. She offers a wealth of advice and information on her website Thefitmidwife.com, as well as offers personal training sessions in conjunction with MamaBFit. Call her on 0529-975-972.

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