Subscribe to receive exclusive news, workouts, giveaways and more!

What’s My Workout: Dana Vollmer

Elite swimmer Dana Vollmer has spent the better part of her life in a pool. But the 27-year-old, who is due to have her first child (a boy) on February 27, has gone beyond the water to prepare—and faced a few surprises along the way. “It was like my body was enduring the hardest weeks of practices I have ever done in my career,” she says of her first trimester. “I was taking four-hour naps almost daily.” The decorated butterfly and freestyle specialist—Vollmer most recently won three gold medals and set two world records at the 2012 Olympics in London—lives in Danville, California, and is throwing herself into prenatal yoga, long walks with her dog and workouts in her home gym. We checked in with her.

Q: Before you got pregnant, what made up your weekly training schedule?

A: A typical week included ten swimming workouts accompanied by four to five cardio/strength sessions.

Q: How did that change?

A: The first trimester was hard. It felt like all my energy had been zapped and my worst symptom was debilitating migraines. I went from doing spin classes, running and swimming to feeling like I was lucky if I got my dog out for a walk! It was a challenging flip, but I tried to just do the best I could each day.

Q: That’s rough. How did things develop from there?

A: Eventually the migraines subsided, my energy came back and so did my motivation to get back in the gym. I am now in my [home] gym almost every morning throughout the week doing a mix of cardio, strength and yoga or am out taking my bike for a ride.

Q: And I imagine you’re still swimming.

A: I’ll be doing three times a week in the pool for some cardio and movement work in the water. My mom told me that being in the water was heaven during [her] pregnancy. I have enjoyed using it as a release and as a way to relax compared to my normal intense water-training workouts.

Q: Any yoga?

A: I have fallen in love with prenatal yoga! It was hard to adjust to the more be-nice-to-your-body-style hip circles and stretches. But I have learned more about what my pregnant body needs and the prenatal yoga leaves me feeling toned, supports my posture as my belly grows and helps prepare my hips for the birth.

Q: Very nice! Did you need to jettison anything?

A: My husband and I, pre-pregnancy, had fallen in love with Ab Ripper X, the ab circuit for P90X. Through the first couple weeks I could still manage it, but once my growing belly reached a certain point my midwives advised against it. The ab routine I do now is much gentler and more about keeping tone than about actually building new core strength.

Q: Describe your pregnancy fitness philosophy in three words.

A: Strong, feel good!

Q: How does being an athlete affect the way you approach this?

A: I believe I became an elite athlete because of my love of exploring how the body moves and of being strong and fit. This continued into the pregnancy and wanting to do the best for my new child. From the beginning I was researching the best ways to stay strong and ways to prepare for labor. I now incorporate lots of hip openers, hip strengtheners and, of course, kegels! And the last few years of my training have been about healthy movements, posture and a great diet. Those habits have helped me make a great transition into my pregnancy. My coaches have been amazing, giving me new ways to think about working out, new exercises and a plan to keep my body as ready as it can be for birth and my athletic career afterwards.

Q: What advice would you give fellow pregnant women?

A: Switch your focus out of rep numbers or time spent and make your workouts about making your body feel good. It’s not about pushing the limits anymore. It’s about staying strong and active.

Q: And what have you learned that you’ll carry with you into your new mom role?

A: A new appreciation for what our bodies can do! Being an athlete, I defined my body by its ability to perform at an elite level. It’s been an amazing journey to step back from that view and see my body change with this growing boy—to know that it can handle childbirth and to really embrace this new body.

Add your comments