Meghan Markle is a longtime fitness devotee. But now that she’s expecting her first baby with Prince Harry, she’ll have to change her workout routine! Us enlisted the help of pre and postnatal fitness expert and certified trainer Sara Haley (who has not trained Meghan) to share which of Duchess Meghan’s favorite exercises she can keep, which she’ll have to ditch and how she can modify her existing workout routines to stay fit and safe during pregnancy.
“There are so many things that are great about working out when you’re pregnant,” says Haley. Primarily, “it can help reduce backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling.” The fitness pro, who has a prenatal workout plan launching soon, also notes exercise can ease morning sickness, help you sleep better, increase mood and energy levels, help keep you in the healthy weight-gain zone, lower the chances of developing gestational diabetes and even help with the efficiency of your baby’s heart.
The recommendations Haley offers below are for women who have no health problems and are not high risk, but mothers-to-be should always consult their doctor before engaging in an exercise routine. As the duchess once told Us, “Own your body and enjoy it! And if you don’t like something about it, then work on it. More than anything else, people should just embrace what they have. Life’s too short!” Scroll down for a critical look at Meghan’s favorite toning and cardio exercises, and how they’ll have to change.
The 37-year-old Duchess of Sussex once called Pilates Platinum, a cardio and strength training workout done primarily on a Megaformer “hands down the best thing you could do for your body.” In London, Meghan gets her fix at Heartcore Dynamics Pilates. Unfortunately for the California native, notes Haley, “Pilates can be a tricky one the further you get along in your pregnancy, especially on the reformer. Many of the exercises require a lot of core work, which can be a good thing when done the right way and with the right exercises, but can be detrimental when done the wrong way and with the wrong exercises.” The pro recommends making sure your trainer or teacher is pre- and postnatal certified. “As you get into the second and third trimester, you’ll have to take most exercises to a standing, kneeling or sitting position,” she explains, adding that “on a personal note, I found Pilates Reformer to be really frustrating to do the further along I got because I had to modify so much.”
Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga
Prenatal yoga is a long-established workout. “The biggest thing to avoid in yoga during pregnancy is going into extension — essentially where the back is arched and the abs are pushing forward,” says Haley, listing Up Dog, Wheels and Natarajasanas, e.g., Dancer’s Pose, as examples. “I know they feel good and look pretty,” she says, “but it’s just exasperating the abdominal separation.” The danger, she notes, is diastasis recti, a condition in which your abdominal tissue thins too much, and the right and left separate more than they should: “It can make postpartum recovery longer and more frustrating.”
As for inversions like headstands — which Meghan has practiced in the past — “this is probably one that each person needs to decide for themself,” says Haley. “I know yoga gurus who have done them all during pregnancy and then I’ve seen others who said ‘It just didn’t feel like the right thing to do.’” Above all, warns the pro, only attempt inversions if they’re already part of your practice: “It’s not something that you want to try during pregnancy for the first time. Your goal during pregnancy is to minimize your risk of falling.”
While filming Suits in Toronto, the actress said she practiced Moksha yoga, which is a form of hot yoga. Sadly, that should be off the table. “I absolutely do not recommend hot yoga during pregnancy,” asserts Haley, who admits some hot yoga experts disagree. “But I say, ‘Why risk it when you have the option of doing yoga without the heat?’” During pregnancy, she explains, you want to avoid getting overheated or dehydrated, both of which are likely in a hot yoga class. “If you’re dehydrated during pregnancy, blood flow to the uterus can be reduced, which can cause uterine cramping or even contractions,” she says.
In 2014, the actress told Us Weekly that when she wants to push herself in a workout, she thinks of a scene in The Cosby Show where an active Clair Huxtable repeats, “You’ve got to burn it to earn it, you’ve got to sweat it to get it.” Meghan told Us, “It’s the cheesiest thing in the world I know, but if I’m on the treadmill thinking I don’t want to be there, I just go, ‘Think of Clair Huxtable, you’ve got to burn it to earn it.’” While it’s fine to continue to work out on a treadmill, you want to stay hydrated and not get overheated, Haley reminds Us. One cardio tip during pregnancy, says the trainer: “Use the talk test to avoid going breathless.
Growing up with yoga teacher Doria Ragland as a mother, Meghan has always been conscious of overall wellness. As she told Us in 2013, “I love to run. It’s sort of my thing — as much for my head as my body.” In good news, Haley says jogging as an expectant mom is a-okay: “If you’ve been running prior to pregnancy, you can continue to run.” Her main caveat: “Just make sure it’s in conditions where you minimize your risk of falling, i.e., no icy sidewalks.”
As for how far into her pregnancy Duchess Meghan can expect to run, “it’s different for each woman,” says Haley. “I know women who have run up until the day they gave birth and others who it didn’t just feel right for early on.” When in doubt, walk it out. Notes the fitness guru, “Walking is always a safer and more low impact option.”
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