One of the biggest changes with pregnancy is that I can’t CrossFit the way I used to. I know this is one of those obvious things, but it kind of sneaks up on you. For the first trimester, I stopped doing the WOD for time, and didn’t do handstands, or rope climbs, or pull-ups—anything that made me feel dizzy or where I could fall.
Now that I’m in the second trimester, I’m noticing that my squat position is totally different. It’s difficult to drop to the bottom, because there’s a belly in the way. And also, that quick movement isn’t so good when one’s tendons are getting more pliable because of relaxin. But it bugs me. I love lifting with a barbell. And as much as it chaps my ass when a trainer zings me on form, I also love correcting it and working to be incrementally better and better. But now I have to stop. And it’s okay, but it’s still a bummer.
The one thing that did make me feel better was working out with my friend Lacy, from Super Strength Health last week. We did an upper body dumbbell routine that really worked my arms, chest, and back.
I could also take it at my own pace, which helped. The “Go harder! Push yourself! Don’t stop!” cheerleading at the gym (at any gym—this isn’t limited to CrossFit) isn’t a fit for me most of the time, and especially not during pregnancy. I know my own limits, thanks. I’m not resting because I’m lazy—I’ve designed my process to the WOD for my own maximum efficiency, which means taking a rest before my last clean, so that I can move right into front squats, thanks. And nowadays, I’m sitting on this box for a few seconds so that my heart rate doesn’t go above 160, bro. I know my body. Trust me to know it. Give me that respect.
I’ve noticed that trainers get it, especially Melissa, the female founder of my CrossFit box. Trainers are used to having that mind body connection, and knowing their own limits. As a result, they’re awesome about trusting me to know my own limits. I wish everyone else could do the same, not only for pregnant ladies, but for ladies in general.
There’s so much rhetoric and posturing in the world of exercise, a subtle misogyny. It happens every time someone assumes I don’t know something, or gives me a correction I didn’t want or ask for (not from a trainer, whose job it is, but from others), or questions whether I should or shouldn’t be doing something. And before you think I might be sensitive from hormones or whatever, before you do that gaslighting that is so popular these days, consider this: this experience has happened to me everywhere, at any time, over the course of my life—in sports, in the gym, any time I expressed an interest in physical exercise, the questioning, the corrections, and the assumptions were launched right at me, and other women in that space.
The lesson here, I think is to keep your eyes on your own barbell, in the gym and in life. Don’t assume you know something about a person based on what they’re doing or what they look like. Let the trainers do their job to correct bad form, unless you’re super close with the person in question and they have asked for your help. This applies to exercise, nutrition, health, wellness, you name it. Apply it to everything – work, parenting, social cues. You just don’t know what a person is dealing with or their experience, and assuming ignorance or ineptitude makes you not just callous, but a superior know-it-all juicebox. Don’t be that guy.
Eyes on your own stuff. Be kind. And celebrate that everyone is out there, trying to grow and be awesome in their own way.