Staying active during your pregnancy is more than prenatal yoga. From swimming to cycling to prenatal fitness and pilates classes, there’s plenty to keep you moving!
Being pregnant is no excuse for throwing your fitness regime out of the window! Contrary to the common misconception that exercising during pregnancy is risky, regular exercise performed safely and optimally during the course of pregnancy actually provides a multitude of benefits. For mums-to-be, it is a chance to prepare the body and mind for all the challenges of childbirth and motherhood. Plus, your baby will also likely benefit, as prenatal activity has been linked to babies with healthier hearts and lungs, and lower chances of chronic health issues. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of physical activities that have been proven to be conducive to a healthier and better-managed pregnancy.
Editor’s Note: Some studios and facilities, such as pools, will be closed or operating classes on a reduced schedule during the Covid-19 outbreak in Hong Kong. We always recommend that you contact these businesses directly to find out more before participating in any prenatal fitness activities.
There’s no doubt that pregnancy, birth and motherhood changes you. All of a sudden you’re faced with unique challenges and pressures, especially when it comes to your health and fitness. HKM Fitness aims to help you work with your body, not against it, to empower and educate women on how to stay active in a safe, comfortable and positive environment. For a focus on strength, resistance and weight training, head outdoors to one of the small-group bootcamp classes (Tuesday to Thursday) or opt for a more 1-2-1 approach with private personal training in Sun Yat Sen Park. Can’t make it to Hong Kong Island? There’s also the option to train online with the 6-week challenge or the 12-week 1-2-1 bespoke coaching programme which can be done from anywhere in Hong Kong (or the world!).
Flex Studio is one of Hong Kong’s preeminent boutique fitness studios offering classes in Classical Pilates, Xtend Barre and yoga. They have a fantastic roster of internationally trained instructors, using the best equipment in the business. Flex offers prenatal pilates classes in small group and private formats using a range of top-of-the-line apparatus, with modifications for all trimesters. You can expect to strengthen your lower back and abdominal muscles which, in turn, alleviates back pain, strengthens your pelvic floor and lets you practice breathing techniques in preparation for delivery (and postpartum), as well as improving your posture.
Use code SASSY50 for 50% off your first Prenatal Reformer Group or Trio Pilates class. Valid at both studios until Tuesday, 31 August 2022 subject to availability.
Flex Studio Central, 3/F Man Cheung Building, 15-17 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2813 2399
Prenatal Fitness: Activities You Can Do In Hong Kong
Often, when the topic of prenatal fitness comes up, the immediate thought that comes to mind is prenatal yoga. Yoga classes specifically designed to cater to expectant mamas have popped up all over Hong Kong. There is a reason why they are so popular! A safe and slow-paced physical activity, yoga provides a semi-challenging full-body workout that strengthens and tones your muscles. In turn, this can help relieve pregnancy-related symptoms such as back pain. There is also the added benefit that the breathing exercises you learn will be useful during labour. Most importantly, as mindfulness and meditation are core components in yoga, many pregnant women acquire a sense of calmness after each session – which is very important for a positive and relaxed mindset!
While prenatal yoga places more emphasis on relaxation, prenatal pilates is more about the strength for birth and beyond. Depending on which trimester you’re in, classes are designed to accommodate the changes to your body and the appropriate apparatus will give you additional support. We suggest that you go for a specialised prenatal pilates class if you are searching for a more challenging activity that also takes into consideration adjustments to your core and pelvic floor muscles. Not only do effective pelvic floor muscles help you prepare for labour and birth, they also help you manage common postpartum issues such as incontinence while laughing, coughing or during more strenuous activities.
Strength And Conditioning
Strength and conditioning training for mamas is all about modifying your gym routine so that it is safer for you and your baby. A smart coach will also use this training to better prepare you for the physical challenges of birth and motherhood. You’ll get all the benefits of your gym workout, with some extra bonuses thrown in. To name just a few, you’ll be stronger and fitter for birth and more prepared for your postnatal recovery. Before beginning any strength and conditioning programme, get clearance from your doctor or midwife and then get in touch with a pre and postnatal exercise specialist to set you on the right path. And don’t worry, you can start a prenatal fitness regime even if you are new to exercise. A competent coach will be able to modify activities to suit your level of strength and experience.
If you’ve never really been a fan of the gym or you’re starting to take it a little slower, why not explore some of Hong Kong’s walking trails? Depending on what you’re in the mood for, there are various walking routes for every level.
On a hot summer day, head over to Bowen Road for a pleasant stroll under the shade of the leafy canopy. Or take in a circuit of the Peak for a walk with some killer photo ops. Meanwhile, the coastal path from Deep Water Bay to Repulse Bay is the perfect route for beach bums looking to take in the amazing sea views of the Southside, as well as the opportunity to have a cheeky dip in the sea before and after the walk.
It never hurts to get some fresh air outdoors and there are many other options out there, so don’t be afraid to start exploring! There are a wealth of trails in Hong Kong’s vast network of country parks that are easily accessible by public transport or by car. However, before attempting one of the more challenging routes we recommend you go with a friend with plenty of hiking experience and that you are adequately equipped and prepared. Beware of heatstroke, avoid walking at midday and bring plenty of water and snacks on a hot day.
Sassy Mamas looking to have some fun in the sun can also look into daily, monthly and annual passes at the pool. Swimming is an excellent activity for prenatal fitness, as you won’t be stressing your joints, and you get a total body workout just by taking a dip! Hotels and clubs such as the Island Shangri-La, Four Seasons and Grand Hyatt often provide day passes for the swimming pool. It’s also a great excuse for a new set of swimmers! The situation has been complicated due to Covid-19, so it is worth reaching out to the organisations individually to get an updated picture on their offerings. The Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong and all Hong Kong public pools also offer daily access depending on the prevailing Covid-19 management policy. Failing that, head to the beach for a dose of sunshine and salt while you float. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Cycling might not be as comfortable during the later stages of pregnancy and the more your bump grows the more unbalanced you might begin to feel. Opt for a stationary bike when this happens as it is still a great form of cardiovascular exercise. But, if you’re more of an outdoorsy mama and you still feel comfortable on two wheels, try taking the bike out for a spin at Sha Tin Park, which is located on the waterfront. It’s a great way to get some fresh air and enjoy some different scenery. Don’t own a bike? There are plenty of bike rental shops near popular biking trails.
Prenatal Yoga And Pilates Studios In Hong Kong
There is an endless list of studios offering prenatal yoga and/or prenatal pilates in Hong Kong, but below are a few recommendations:
As a mum, a highly experienced yoga teacher, and graduate of Mindful Birth Training, Holly Wong brings a unique and valuable approach to pre and postnatal yoga. She’s also lent her expertise to Sassy Mama with some safe yoga poses for early pregnancy and your second trimester. Having experienced the value of yoga and meditation practices to guide her through her own pregnancy and beyond, Holly created Birth Bright, which guides other mothers through the same journey.
Birth Bright, www.birth-bright.com
Embody Discovery Bay
Located across two sunlight studios in Discovery Bay’s Main Plaza and headed by self-confessed sports nut and pilates instructor Gill Welgemoed, the women-led team at Embody offers private pre and postnatal pilates classes that are perfect for Lantau based mamas.
Located conveniently in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui, In Motion could be the perfect studio for mamas who don’t want to travel to the island to train. They offer a variety of prenatal pilates classes in different formats, from studio to Allegro to mat. Lessons are offered in three languages (English, Cantonese and Japanese) by trained specialists in prenatal pilates, who can provide expert knowledge to focus on pelvic floor exercises.
This is a great place to go if you want to find out exactly what’s going on with your body and whether you are developing the right muscles in preparation for birth. The clinic offers Real-Time Ultrasound Imaging which helps therapists get an accurate assessment of your muscle development, allowing them to give you some advice on the most appropriate prenatal fitness regime for you.
The Studio Sai Kung
The Studio Sai Kung is a great choice for Sai Kung-based mamas tired of battling traffic in and out of town. They offer a Gentle Flow yoga class twice a week which is suitable for pregnant mamas. Conveniently, no membership is needed, and walk-in students are welcome to pay by the class or purchase a package to suit their needs. There is also the option to take private lessons or small group classes if you want a specifically tailored workout to fit in with your schedule.
More Prenatal Yoga And Pilates Classes In Hong Kong
Anhao Wellness – Specialising in Reformer Pilates, Mat Pilates, yoga and personal training in Ladder Street, Mid Levels
Flex Studio – A boutique pilates studio in Central and Wong Chuk Hang
Matilda Hospital – Pilates classes run by the physiotherapy department
H-Kore – Dedicated, challenging, pre- and post natal pilates classes in Central and Quarry Bay
Pure Yoga – Multiple locations around Hong Kong
Inspire Yoga – Private, personalised classes either online or in person
The Yoga Room – A Sheung Wan studio offering a variety of classes
The Studio – Yoga and pilates classes for Sai Kung mamas
Prenatal Fitness Classes And Trainers In Hong Kong
Aqua Terra Performance
If you’re looking for guidance on exercising safely throughout your pregnancy and beyond, contact Esther at Aqua Terra Performance. She is a qualified pre- and postnatal personal trainer supported by a specialist obstetrician. She’s worked with a ton of prenatal and postnatal clients in all trimesters and provides challenging, but appropriate training that will help you get strong, and will help to prepare you for your postpartum recovery. Her private boutique studio in Stanley is convenient for Southside mamas and provides a welcome break for others wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of the city!
Joint Dynamics Evolve
Evolve by Joint Dynamics offers a multidisciplinary approach to women’s fitness. Headed by women’s health expert and physiotherapist Jenny Fielding, the team of eleven offers services from osteopathy to personal training to physiotherapy to pilates and mental health support. They’ve made it their mission to create a welcoming space and community that empowers women to talk about physical and emotional wellness needs, so that they know how, when and where to seek support or guidance.
For mamas located in Discovery Bay, Kristen Handford offers weekly prenatal fitness classes and one-to-one personal training. She uses her experience as a certified pre and postnatal coach, military veteran and mother to help you become better aware of your posture and strengthen your pelvic floor and key muscle groups. Kirsten is also available for online exercise programming.
Limitless combines functional medicine and strength training to provide a more holistic approach to women’s fitness. They look at everything from your training, to sleep, nutrition and your gut health because they want to transform your health for life, and not just for a photo. Contact their head coach, Tricia Yap, one of Hong Kong’s most respected trainers, and FMCA certified under The Institute for Functional Medicine, for more information.
Limitless, 12/F, 86-90 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong, www.limitlessgym.com.hk
More Prenatal Fitness Classes And Trainers In Hong Kong
HKM Fitness – Outdoor classes in Sun Yat Sen Park.
Calibrate Studios – A Central fitness studio offering classes and personal training.
Barre to Barre – Specialist Barre classes in Central.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2016 and was updated by Esther Bland, the owner of Aqua Terra Performance, in March 2020 and again in July 2021.