editor’s note: As someone who’s had 2 kids in the last 3 1/2 years, I can say from experience that staying active and toned throughout pregnancy is no easy feat. So I’ve been in awe as I’ve watched Marnie Duncan, owner of my go-to studio Mod Fitness, navigate 9 pregnant months with great posture, lean muscles, and even teaching and taking classes throughout the entire period. On the eve of her new bundle of joy’s arrival (she’s due in a week!) we asked her to pop by and share a few moves that will help any mama-to-be stay a lot fitter. Take it away Marnie! 

Barre-based fitness is great for pregnancy. The low impact exercise will keep you strong and increase energy level throughout pregnancy. Classes focus on strengthening the pelvic floor, which will help during labor and post-delivery for a faster return to your pre-pregnancy shape, and our expecting moms can do 95% of the class throughout their pregnancy. Be sure to consult your physician if you’re pregnant and get their okay before you do any types of exercise.

*photos by Jess Attie, featured image from Skinny Mom


Wide Second with Weights

  1. Step your feet outside your hips with feet turned out to 10 and 2 o’clock. Hold weights in hands for an added arm workout (optional).
  2. Bend knees to lower body until inner thighs are parallel to floor (or as low as your body allows you to go that day). Knees should be stacked on top of ankles.
  3. Raise arms to shoulder height to work your deltoids and lower them in front of hips.
  4. Lower arms, extend legs straight and repeat for 2 minutes.

Tabletop with Reach and Pull

  1. Start in tabletop with knees under hips, hands under shoulders and hips and shoulders square. Grab a weight if you have one and place in your right hand for an added challenge (optional).
  2. Lift your right arm and left leg off floor and extend straight. Engage through your abdominals to stay stable.
  3. Pull your right elbow towards your right hip and left knee towards your chest. Depending on how far along you are you may not have too much range of motion! Listen to your body.
  4. Reach and extend through your arm and leg for 1 rep. Do 10 reps and switch sides. After you take a quick break repeat again.

High C Curl with Chest Fly

You will need a light set of weights and ball for this exercise while you’re pregnant to help support your back, especially as you start to show more in your 2nd and 3rd trimester. This is a great one to prep for holding and carrying your baby!

  1. Sit on the floor and place the ball behind your lower back. Slightly curl your lower back to form a C shape with your body and imprint your back in the ball. It will be hard to feel your abs after a certain point along your journey so concentrate on pulling in through the deepest abdominal layer. Pick up a light set of weights in each hand and lift your arms in front of chest. Start to pull your elbows back to engage your back muscles.
  2. Reach them forward for one chest fly rep.
  3. Do 15 reps and take a break. Repeat 2 – 3x.

Side Leg Lifts with Ball

  1. Lie down on your left side with ankles, hips and shoulders stacked. Option to place a ball under your head and neck for support. Your top right hand is pressed into the floor to stabilize your abdominals and hips and your bottom arm wraps around the ball to hold it in place like a pillow.
  2. Raise your top leg away from floor to highest point.
  3. Bend knee towards your chest.
  4. Extend leg straight, and lower it back to meet your bottom leg. You will work your legs, glutes and stabilize through your core in this exercise. Repeat exercise for 2 minutes and repeat on other side.

Tabletop Toe Taps

  1. Start sitting on floor with elbows underneath shoulders to support your body, knees bent, and feet hips width apart. Press your sacrum into your mat and engage your abdominals before you start to move.
  2. Lift knees off floor into a tabletop position. Ankles are parallel to the floor and knees in line with hips.
  3. Tap your left toes to floor.
  4. Return to table top and alternate sides. Do 10-20 toe taps and take a break. Repeat 2x.

*This exercise can be modified throughout pregnancy by keeping one foot on the floor and lifting one leg. Do 10 reps on the left side and repeat on the right side. As you start to show more it will become more challenging to hold your abdominals in.

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