Just when you think you're tough enough

CrossFit Happenings

Pregnant and still doing CrossFit

Image from CrossFit
Photos courtesy of Jenna Tieman.

Five pregnant women are competing in the Open out of just one box in Bloomington, Indiana. Ranging from five to eight months along, they seem to carry medicine balls hidden beneath their workout gear.

“It’s pretty cool to have five first-time moms … in the gym, but also even more awesome that all five are participating in the Open,” said Hoosier CrossFit owner Shaun Tieman.

Katie Berns, Celina Thomas, Amanda Schmidt, Lauren McCants and Mariah Thompson have split their time between demanding jobs and demanding workouts for years.  When they learned they were pregnant, they each did some research before making the choice to continue training.

“It is my philosophy that I would be doing my body a disservice if I stopped what I had been doing,” said Berns, a teacher. “CrossFit has been the norm for me for four to five years. I think changing would have caused my body more shock than the pregnancy.”

Schmidt, an insurance claims adjustor, agreed.

“Continuing to CrossFit while expecting reminds me of how important it will be to maintain great fitness for life to be a healthy parent and promote healthy habits for my child,” Schmidt said.

Unlike in past years, when training during pregnancy was a cultural taboo often met with an outcry from concerned online commenters and questioning doctors, the Hoosier women have received little push back. All five received clearance from their doctors, two of whom wield barbells themselves. Thomas’s doctor did CrossFit throughout her entire pregnancy while carrying twins.

“She told me to listen to my body and stop if anything felt weird or uncomfortable,” said Thomas, who is an event coordinator. “My doctor said the standard is to make sure I am breathing and can hold a conversation in the middle of my workout. If I cannot talk because I am too out of breath, then I have pushed too much.”

Their partners also supported their decision to keep training.

“I trust Celina to listen to her body and not overdo a workout that would put our little girl … at risk,” Thomas’s husband Kyle said. “It’s inspiring and motivating that my wife is 35 weeks pregnant and still swinging from bars like a monkey.”

Photos courtesy of Jenna Tieman.
Photos courtesy of Jenna Tieman.

As their pregnancies have progressed, they’ve turned to Tieman for help with scaling the weights and modifying the movements. Over the last five years, Tieman has coached two women through their pregnancies—a number which will soon shoot to seven.

“So far we have had two pregnancies in the gym up to this point, and they did CrossFit with us all the way up to (the birth) and after their pregnancy,” Tieman said. “Our last mom … did her last workout with us on a Monday and had her baby on Wednesday the same week, and was back in the gym about five to six weeks later doing light rowing and barbell work.”

He added: “These five ladies … have been CrossFitting with us for a while, and felt comfortable with our programming, training (and) coaching to help them get through their pregnancy. My programming is for a long-lasting fitness … and every day isn’t just a hardcore high-intensity workout.”

For more than five months, the expecting mothers have held each other accountable to workouts, sharing modification advice and commiserating in pre-workout morning sickness before the 5:30-am class.

“It is a staple of my weeks,” said McCants, who serves as the director of advising at Indiana University Kelly School of Business. “I go at 5:30 in the morning, even during the winter, and something would be missing in my life if I was not able to attend (workouts) throughout the week.”

When the Open rolled around, they decided to treat it like the rest of their CrossFit classes. Even if they had to opt for the scaled version of the workout or not log a score for a week, they would sign up and do as much as they could.

“It’s really cool because we still feel like we are participating and being part of the community,” three-time Open competitor Berns said. “Pregnancy changes so much about your daily life that this is one thing that is a little more constant. It’s nice to look forward to and feel like my old self again.”

After Dave Castro announced the ascending ladder of overhead squats and chest-to-bar pull-ups last Thursday, Tieman coached the women on how to break up the reps and pace the workout. “If they need rest, they get it,” Tieman said. That didn’t stop Berns from competing with her 14.2 score.

“I still consider myself as a competitor,” she explained. “(But) I consider it more dialed down.”

Eight months pregnant, she completed the scaled version of the workout, which reduced the weight to 45 lb. and replaced chest-to-bar pull-ups with regular chin-over-bar pull-ups.

Berns beat her 14.2 score by 8 reps, which felt like a win. “I was pretty excited because I like to do pull-ups and can still do them,” Berns said. She’s not alone in that feat. Four out of the five mothers-to-be can still complete unassisted pull-ups more than halfway through their pregnancies, joining the ranks of scaled competitors across the world on the leaderboard.

“They all kicked ass; it was cool,” Tieman said. Now it’s all a matter of hanging on for three more weeks. The women said their goals are to complete the Open, and show the world pregnancy and fitness aren’t mutually exclusive.

“It’s been really cool to share this experience with other first-time moms,” Berns said.

“CrossFit really is for everybody,” Thompson added. “If we can do it while (carrying) a baby, then anyone can give it a shot.”

Source: CrossFit. #CrossFit #CrossFitandPregnant #crossfitmom