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Fitness Focus: Equinox Prenatal

No matter how committed you are to your gym membership, when you get pregnant, things can get complicated. The question of what you can or can’t do with a growing baby inside looms large, and many fitness clubs don’t offer a structured prenatal program.

While some gyms have certified prenatal trainers on staff, most of us end up doing our own research (nervously), then scaling back on our workouts or even quitting altogether. So we were super-excited to learn that our fave luxe fitness club Equinox is now serving the pregnant set at its Tribeca location. And even more excited that it’s open to all of us, Equinox members or not.

Called “Just the Two of Us,” the 2-hour program takes place at the Tribeca club once a month and is led by certified pre and postnatal trainer and former professional dancer Allison Kimmel. Half workout, half information session, the class combines yoga, pilates, barre burn and classic weight training, and leaves plenty of time for women to address the misconceptions around fitness and pregnancy. It's free with a suggested donation that goesto Cycle for Survival, which raises funds for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to help fight rare cancers.

Below, Allison tells us more about Equinox’s new prenatal class, and talks about pregnancy-safe exercise for you no matter where you have a gym membership. And if you want to get your workout on like, now, make sure to read until the end for Allison’s favorite prenatal workout move you can do at home. Then check out Equinox's next prenatal class in person in Tribeca on Jan. 10!

What got you interested in prenatal fitness?

I have always had such tremendous respect for the journey of pregnancy and motherhood and feel very passionate about women's health. I am one of five children and my mother is a doula. Pregnancy was something that we all just knew a lot about growing up so when I started training to work with pregnant women, I realized that much of my instincts and knowledge of the process stemmed from things I observed and knew about as a child. My background as a professional dancer has made my training and teaching style graceful and feminine but very disciplined and strong. This style lends itself very well to working with pregnant women.

Why is working out during this time so critical?

Exercise has been proven to increase the health and well being of the growing baby, but has incredible benefits for the mother as well. I have found that exercising is a wonderful way for women to exert a little bit of control at a time in their lives when so much is out of their control. Their relationship with their bodies, their identities and their relationships with their partners is evolving and it makes such a big difference for women to continue to feel strong, sexy and capable throughout their pregnancy. Regular workouts is how we get there.

What can women gain physically by working out during pregnancy?

In my practice, I work with women to keep them strong and mobile and pain-free. We want these expectant moms to be able to climb up and down the stairs, pick something up off the floor, tie their own shoes and have energy, calm and confidence as they prepare for their new arrival. Focusing on building muscle during pregnancy not only increases their energy level during and after pregnancy but will also help them to avoid sciatica, lower back pain, and other aches and pains that can slow them down. Additionally, all the muscle and strength that we build during pregnancy serves to increase their metabolism so they can get fitter faster and more quickly regain their strength after giving birth to take care of that special little baby.

Our bodies, our pain, our strength and our self image is very closely related to how we feel. This is not just a physical process. This is not vanity. This is health both physically and mentally.

Tell us about the workout you have created for Equinox.

I have taken all of the best and most effective movements from my prenatal training regimen and have created a dynamic and challenging class that is safe for expecting mothers.

I include movements from yoga, pilates, barre burn and classic weight training to strengthen, tone and increase well being for expectant mothers.

How is it specific for pre or postnatal?

The class, while focusing on the whole body, puts emphasis on muscle groups that are particularly important to strengthen during pregnancy such as the arms and upper back, the legs, glutes and pelvic floor. It includes deep stretches designed to decrease the discomfort associated with an ever growing belly as well as prevent diastisis recti.

Are there other elements besides the physical?

The class is taught with special emphasis on breath which is used to train our moms to exert control over their blood pressure and nervous system. Exercise is a "stress" that we put on our bodies and the closest experience we have to labor. By encouraging our moms to relax excess tension and breathe deeply when their physical intensity rises, we are practicing skills that they can use during contractions and as they go into labor.

What are some of the exercises that specifically benefit a pregnant woman during pregnancy?

I love doing challenging lower body exercises with my pregnant clients that strengthen the hips and glutes like second position knee bends and leg lifts. As her belly grows, the rapid weight combined with the relaxation and stretching of the abdominals allows the pelvis to slip into and anterior tilt which is a common cause of back pain, sciatica and makes it harder to get around. By really challenging the muscles of the glues and hips, we can get ahead of this issue while enjoying the side benefit of a tighter and more toned bottom.

Another series I love are upper body exercises like rows and flies. These movements strengthen and tighten the muscles between the shoulder blades to prepare them to hold your skeleton when your breasts become more heavy and eventually when you are constantly holding an ever growing little baby in your arms. Without strength in these muscles, the shoulders will fall forward giving you back and neck soreness as well as poor posture and body language. By pulling them back we avoid all of this while enjoying a strong sexy back.

There are so many prenatal yoga, pilates and other “gentle” workouts for pregnancy--how is this experience different?

I believe so much in the importance of movement that I would say that as long as the workouts include safe movements then expecting mothers should do anything they can manage to get to. My class is different because I believe that just because you are pregnant does not mean that you need an easy workout. No, no, no. Women, pregnant or not are strong and I will challenge my class to summon their strength during this workout. Intensity needs to remain at safe and moderate levels during prenatal training, absolutely. That said, we will be challenging and burning those muscles in a safe and effective way as well as leaving time to breathe, stretch and connect with your baby. The goal during pregnancy should never be to get fitter. It is simply not the time. My clients can, however enjoy the tightening and lifting of their glutes, thighs, arms and back which will make them feel amazing and strong during and after their pregnancy.

Since most Equinox gyms don’t have a prenatal program (or other gyms for that matter) what are some ways you’d advise pregnant women to modify their current workouts?

Knowledge is power, ladies, and this is why we are holding these classes. My goal is to arm women with the information they need to navigate the fitness arena with confidence. She will want to know the dos and don’ts of working out while pregnant so while taking class, she will know when an exercise is not for her and be able to substitute a movement she knows will feel awesome, in its place.

What are some of the other elements at Equinox’s Tribeca club that enhance the experience for a pregnant woman or new mom?

Tribeca has a kids club so new moms can bring their babies to the gym and take an hour to workout, steam and take a nice hot shower knowing that their child is in safe hands for a little tummy time.

Can you give us one “do-at-home” exercise that pregnant women can try during pregnancy when they can’t get out to a class?

  1. Starting in a second (turned out) position with the legs standing nice and wide, start by slowly begins and straightening the knees.
  2. X12
  3. Hold at the bottom with both knees bent. Tip the torso forward and lift back to your neutral position keeping the knees bent.
  4. X8
  5. Rolling the thighs open a quarter inch, and pulse this movement. Pulling the thighs open to the back wall.
  6. Pulse X12
  7. Holding the thighs in their most open place plus the pelvis downward.
  8. Breathe into your burn.

Win a 3-month All Access membership to Equinox in this week's WRNY giveaway!

Image courtesy of Equinox.

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With two babies in tow, getting out the door often becomes doubly challenging. From the extra things to carry to the extra space needed in your backseat, it can be easy to feel daunted at the prospect of a day out. But before you resign yourself to life indoors, try incorporating these five genius products from Nuna to get you and the littles out the door. (Because Vitamin D is important, mama!)

1. A brilliant double stroller

You've got more to carry—and this stroller gets it. The DEMI™ grow stroller from Nuna easily converts from a single ride to a double stroller thanks to a few easy-to-install accessories. And with 23 potential configurations, you're ready to hit the road no matter what life throws at you.

DEMI™ grow stroller
$799.95, Nuna


2. A light car seat

Lugging a heavy car seat is the last thing a mama of two needs to have on her hands. Instead, pick up the PIPA™ lite, a safe, svelte design that weighs in at just 5.3 pounds (not counting the canopy or insert)—that's less than the average newborn! When you need to transition from car to stroller, this little beauty works seamlessly with Nuna's DEMI™ grow.

PIPA™ lite car seat
$349.95, Nuna


3. A super safe car seat base

The thing new moms of multiples really need to get out the door? A little peace of mind. The PIPA™ base features a steel stability leg for maximum security that helps to minimize forward rotation during impact by up to 90% (compared to non-stability leg systems) and 5-second installation for busy mamas.

PIPA™ base
(included with purchase of PIPA™ series car seat or) Nuna, $159.95


4. A diaper bag you want to carry

It's hard to find an accessory that's as stylish as it is functional. But the Nuna diaper bag pulls out all the stops with a sleek design that perfectly conceals a deceptively roomy interior (that safely stores everything from extra diapers to your laptop!). And with three ways to wear it, even Dad will want to take this one to the park.

Diaper bag
$179.95, Nuna


5. A crib that travels

Getting a new baby on a nap schedule—while still getting out of the house—is hard. But with the SENA™ aire mini, you can have a crib ready no matter where your day takes you. It folds down and pops up easily for sleepovers at grandma's or unexpected naps at your friend's house, and the 360-degree ventilation ensures a comfortable sleep.

SENA aire mini
$199.95, Nuna


With 5 essentials that are as flexible as you need to be, the only thing we're left asking is, where are you going to go, mama?

This article was sponsored by Nuna. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.

Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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