Most experts agree that exercising while pregnant—barring any complications or other extenuating circumstances, of course—is not only safe but immensely beneficial. In addition to preparing your body for childbirth, working out can also help you avoid unhealthy weight gain and other issues that might put baby at risk. But not all workouts are created equal, especially when you're expecting.
If you're looking to dial down the intensity of your fitness routine but still want to be sure that you're working your muscles and relieving any pregnancy-related soreness in the process, barre-geared classes might be one of your best bets—and no one knows this better than Jennifer Williams, founder of L.A.-based barre destination Pop Physique and mother of four. (Williams continued her barre workouts throughout all of her pregnancies.)
"Barre classes are generally safe and easily modified for women throughout their pregnancy and postpartum," says Williams. "The class also helps relieve back soreness and general aches and pains common during pregnancy because of our emphasis on active stretching, posture, and core strengthening."
Thinking about giving it a try? If you're already expecting, just be sure to keep the following in mind.
Consult your doctor
This goes for any kind of change to your routine while expecting, as its better to err on the side of caution. "Every woman is different, and she should always check with her doctor for the okay to do barre class," says Williams. "However, in general, the class is safe and easily modified."
Once you're in the clear, be sure to give your instructor a heads up as well, so they can help you modify as needed.
Be careful while stretching since your hips will be especially limber
Fun fact: "Immediately upon conception, a hormone called relaxin kicks in and prepares the muscles and hips, etc., to give birth," says Williams. This means that you'll feel more flexible than you did pre-pregnancy, which might put you at risk for pulling and straining your muscles. Take it slow.
Be prepared to modify accordingly as baby grows
While you might not need to alter much of your workout routine in the first trimester, that soon begins to change. "During the second and third trimesters, more modifications will be needed, and lying on your back for longer periods is not recommended," says Williams. "A pregnant woman shouldn't lie down prone (on her belly) or push too hard during abdominal exercises (we even have a custom Pop ball prop we use in different ways for pregnant women that help them during abs)."
Overall, expect to feel different—and take it slow
"Working out during pregnancy will feel different than it did before," says Williams. "Start slow, and if you ever need to leave class early or take a break, do it! That said, exercise can feel really great physically and mentally, so it's nice to incorporate it into your routine when you are able."