Updated on August 31, 2015
Guest Post: Teaching Zumba® during Pregnancy by Eva Geier
Zumba® is a dance-based fitness workout class that is designed to be for everyone; that is, choreography and routines made simple enough that anyone at any level could follow. Granted, some people pick it up quicker than others, and it is certainly not everyone’s “thing”. But, what I love about it is that you don’t feel like you are working out – you feel like you are shakin’ it like Britney Spears (Kidding! Well, not really)! For classes I teach, I incorporate fitness (squats, lunges, abs) and dance moves in an effort to give good balance and a good workout to my participants. I want them to feel like it is a dance class but at the same time burning and toning their muscles. It is said that one can burn 500-1000 calories during a given Zumba class. That’s not so bad is it? I have worn a heart rate monitor and I average 500-600 calories per class I teach. Pretty awesome if you ask me for a workout that is FUN!
Fast forward a few years and many exciting life changes occurred. I was married in April of 2014 and almost immediately my husband and I knew we wanted to start a family. Four months later, I became pregnant in August of 2014 with a due date of May 19, 2015. I also knew, no doubt, I would continue teaching while I was pregnant. My doctors were on board with me continuing to teach, and it is often advised that anything you did before getting pregnant, you could continue with while pregnant. **Please always consult your doctor with anything fitness related in pregnancy.
Pre-pregancy, I taught Zumba with every ounce of energy and every inch of my soul that I could possibly give to each class. My husband would argue I put Zumba before him, and he may be right (kidding, but that’s how much it means to me!). I rehearsed routines for hours before each class every week, and playlists took time and creativity to put together. I wanted a good balance of high intensity dance routines with low intensity routines to catch your breath, as well as fitness and toning songs to strengthen muscles and the core. I gave the class 500% because as I was taught in training, that the more you give, the more your students will give back. If you only teach at 50%, your students will only give you back 25%. You have to really push yourself harder if you want the participants in class to pick up the intensity, as well. So that was the teaching philosophy I instilled into every class.
After getting pregnant, I knew I wanted to take the intensity down just to be safe. My doctors never said I needed to, but it was something my intuition told me to do. Pregnancy is scary, especially the beginning. I had the constant fear of miscarriage. The hardest part was trying to tone it down without sacrificing the workout my participants would get from class. Zumba is funny like that – when I, the instructor, take it down a notch, so does the class. It can take away from the energy and charisma of the room. So for that reason, I learned how to teach smarter; not harder. I always felt like I was taking it down, but my participants told me after class they could never tell!
At around 10 weeks, I just couldn’t hide it anymore, and told the class I was pregnant. This way they could understand if I wasn’t going as “full out” as they were used to. So teaching while pregnant honestly wasn’t too different from pre-pregnancy, UNTIL around 20 weeks or so. That was a huge turning point for me as I was definitely showing. It was also when I also felt my daughter move for the first time. I wanted to be safe while teaching such an intense class so I tried to watch my breathing and to pace myself. I was teaching 2 classes per week so this was manageable. At 28 weeks, I taught in a masterclass, which was an event for charity. This was an awesome time and I pushed myself. There was no doubt about that. The only thing that felt different teaching at 28 weeks was obviously the belly, and the out of breath feeling that started to happen easily and constantly. Something as simple as walking up the stairs was hard! Again, this far along, I just wanted to be mindful of my breathing while teaching and to make sure I was drinking plenty of water.
Here I am at the masterclass at 28 weeks pregnant with my pregnant twin, Vanessa, an instructor who was due on the same date as me (also with a baby girl!).
I continued to teach Zumba until I was 33 weeks pregnant. I felt about done at that point and was looking forward to the break. Teaching at almost 8.5 months with over 25 extra pounds on my body was no longer possible – it was so hard to “shake it” Zumba style with that belly! The most basic moves, like the salsa, were really hard, since those moves are almost all core and it was so hard for me to move with that belly. Definitely no more ab thrusting!
My last Zumba class at 33 weeks.
With all of that said, I truly think staying active during my pregnancy helped with labor and delivery. May 10th, Mother’s day of 2015, I went into labor, 9 days early. Labor was intensely painful but also quick. Caroline was here in 6.5 hours, and I only pushed for 6 minutes. All the nurses and doctors said working out and staying active throughout those 10 months definitely helped and contributed to my labor progressing the way it did. My epidural failed (!), so it was the most painful thing of my entire life, but I got through it and was walking immediately after delivery. And, of course, I’d do it all again!
Fast forward to 6 weeks postpartum, I felt great and was ready to get back into working out (although I started doing my own home workouts 4 weeks postpartum). At 8 weeks after Caroline’s birth, I taught my first class, and felt pretty good. The body is an amazing thing and truly has muscle memory. It was awesome not being out of breath while teaching (like I was at 33 weeks pregnant), and awesome to be able to move my abs again. Zumba involves using your core almost 100% of the time. I admit, I definitely lost some stamina about half way through, but I expected that. The next morning after teaching my entire body was sore from head to toe! It felt so good to work all those muscles again. Each week I expect to get back into my “groove” more and more. New routines will also take me more time to come up with as I am now a mom and will be heading back to work full-time this August.
So to all those who think you can’t do Zumba or workout while pregnant, that is just not the case! If you did it before you got pregnant, you can do it while you are pregnant (but as always, be sure to check with your doctor and get approval). Funny thing – my daughter loves music and being bounced constantly, so it must be from the Zumba!