As someone who has PCOS and needed fertility help to get pregnant, I’m not your average personal trainer. I know all the abbreviations you read about on a daily basis (such as TTC, BFP, BFN, OPKs, etc.) and I understand the grief and loss, the longing for what everyone else seems to have, and how important but difficult this journey is.
Now that I am lucky enough to have my two gorgeous sons (it was a difficult journey but we got there eventually) I am delighted to be able to use my experiences to support others on their journey. There are a few important things I have learned along the way and I am delighted to share these with you here:
Working out is for your physical and mental health
I can not stress this point enough. Not only does working out encourage the happy hormones to flow, it gives you time to yourself, space where you are not on your phone Googling various questions around infertility, and a supportive community of other men and women who are also making healthy decisions in their own lives.
Resistance training can be helpful in TTC
Resistance (weight) training has been shown to be a great form of exercise when trying to conceive. It helps to build muscle, burn fat and can be useful for those women who are insulin resistant (e.g. some women with PCOS). I know women may sometimes be hesitant around resistance training, but I can assure you, you won’t suddenly bulk up overnight – it takes time. However, you will build muscle, look fit and strong, increase your metabolism, and torch fat. All of these things are great to help you prepare for fertility treatment, especially if you want to lower your body mass index (BMI).
High-intensity training can lower your BMI
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a brilliant way to burn calories, improve your cardiovascular fitness and build lean muscle. Most of the women I train come to me because they need to lower their BMI before IVF or other types of fertility treatment, and HIIT can be a good way to do this. It is not suitable for everyone but can be a great way to have fun in the gym and prepare your body for treatment.
Don’t overlook low-intensity training
Yes, you read right. You don’t have to kill yourself in the gym every time you go, especially if you are new to exercise. Low-intensity training, so less jumping (plyometric exercises), longer rest times, and lower heart rate training can all be a brilliant way to burn calories, get fit and improve your physical fitness. This can include cycling, the rowing machine and also the cross-trainer - all of which will help your cardiovascular fitness. This type of training can also suit women with endometriosis. Whilst everyone is different, this type of exercise is anti-inflammatory and therefore can help to reduce the pain and symptoms of endometriosis.
Yoga flows are awesome
I love yoga and include fertility-friendly flows and stretches in all of my workouts. This means that not only do you get a workout suited to your needs, but you also have time at the end of the class to relax your whole body, including your pelvic area to increase blood flow to the uterus.
Time to begin your fitness and fertility journey!
I hope this brief insight into fitness and fertility helps you along your journey. I know the whole process of trying to conceive can be overwhelming and incredibly stressful, so if this has helped you in any way, no matter how small, then I’m happy with that. Wherever you are in your journey, I wish you all the very best of luck!
Maria is a Level 3 qualified personal trainer and founder of Fitness Fertility, a personal training company specializing in supporting those trying to conceive. She is a pre and post-natal trainer, and has her BSc and MPhil in Psychology. For more information, she can be reached at [email protected], or you can find her on Instagram.