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What’s My Workout: Bethany Hamilton

Professional surfer Bethany Hamilton won the hearts of the world when, in 2003, at the age of 13, she lost her left arm in a shark attack off the coast of Kauai. Refusing to let the incident take her away from her beloved ocean, she was back in the water nearly immediately (just a few weeks later) and went on to become one of the most formidable female surfers on the circuit. (She is currently 53rd on the Association of Surfing Professionals Women’s World Ranking.) Now pregnant with her first kid—a boy due in early June—Hamilton unsurprisingly can’t wait to get her little one in the waves. “I’ll defiantly pose him on a surfboard too early,” she says, “but will wait to grow his love for swimming and being immersed in the ocean.” Here, she talks about mixing up her workouts, surfing through her sixth month and inspiring fellow pregnant women to keep moving.

Q: Before you got pregnant, what did your weekly workouts consist of?

A: I usually surf one to five hours a day in two sessions. Surfing is my go-to as far as exercise, but I love working out and getting a sweat on. I often get distracted outdoors, but in a gym I can focus. I usually do a Tabata-style workout. I like high-intensity with various lunges and squats and some explosive versions. I’ll also incorporate the TRX, Bosu, step-ups and a ball, sometimes some light dumbbells, too. I love swimming, deep-sand beach jogs and sprints, playing tennis, spinning, running stairs. I love a variety of workout so I don’t get bored!

Q: Good strategy! Describe your typical routine now.

A: My pregnancy has been pretty smooth overall. I’ve just been tired, had a few headaches and am easily emotional. I’ve kept very active, but have also taken more time to rest. It’s crazy, but I feel like I’ve done some of my best surfing prego! At about five and a half months I really started to feel pregnant while surfing. I would get up a little slower and just feel a bit off from my normal self. But I’m fully enjoying the ocean.

Q: Describe your pregnancy fitness philosophy in three words.

A: Preparing. Aligning. Loving.

Q: What has surprised you the most so far?

A: My hunger in the middle of the night or early morning. I would wake up famished! And when Jr. started moving. So fun!

Q: What have you needed to change as things progress?

A: At about five months I started to modify my workouts and movements. I slowed down my beach jogs and now just walk more or climb stairs. I’ve been getting on the spin bike a bit at my gym. No more jumping or explosive moves in my workout either. I think that my body will be healthier in the long run rather than bouncing that extra weight around and putting pressure on my back. I’ve gotten a ton of advice from my health advisor and coauthor [holistic health expert and licensed acupuncturist Dustin Dillberg] of my book, Body and Soul, on dos and don’ts.

Q: Have you focused on any workouts or movements specifically geared toward birth?

A: I’m doing some Bradley Method movements. Lots of squatting. I’ll make excuses to squat down for something or just hang out in a squat. I’ve been intentionally sitting on a yoga ball while at home instead of a chair as much as possible, and squeeze my booty while sitting. Or I’ll squeeze the yoga ball in between my legs and pulse or hold. Simple, but great stuff.

Q: What motivates you to stay active right now?

A: I am more energetic and happy when I have gotten some exercise. And being fit to birth a child. I’m hoping to have a natural birth.

Q: What one piece of advice would you give pregnant women when it comes to continuing and enjoying their workouts?

A: As enthusiastic as I am to keep a healthy me and stay strong for surfing and life, I think it is important to rest when you need to and not overdue it. Our body works hard and we need to care for it. But with that in mind, giving birth may be one of the most physical events a woman goes through, so being active and keeping muscles alive and ready is what I believe we need to do.

Q: How soon do you think you’ll get your baby into the water once he arrives?

A: My older brothers both have little ones and have introduced them into the ocean young, so I’ve watched, learned and have been a part of their introduction. I guess I’ll take it as it comes! We will see—I’ll post plenty of Instagrams.

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