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What’s My Workout: Olivia Ward

After winning the 11th season of The Biggest Loser in 2011, Olivia Ward became a bona fide star for getting in shape. Now pregnant with her first child—a boy, due August 21—the full-time SoulCycle instructor in New York and former opera singer is focused on staying active throughout her pregnancy while getting used to every change that comes her way. “Having to adjust to a slower pace in the beginning was hard,” she says, “but every time I would get frustrated I would just think of my little boy and any frustration would just melt away.”

The 39-year-old also runs a wellness-minded website called Myfitspiration with her sister, Hannah Curlee, who was her partner on the show. And proving just how much of an impact her time on the ranch made, she still considers her Biggest Loser trainers friends. (She touches base with Bob Harper on a weekly basis.) How is she strategizing the next few months? We caught up with her to find out.

Q: Before you got pregnant, what were your go-to workouts?

A: My go-to workouts were SoulCycle and running. Both are heavy in the cardio department, which I really love, so I also tried to get some strength training in now and again to round things out.

Q: Describe your typical workout routine now.

A: I’ll be honest, working out since being pregnant has been a lesson in trial and error. I was very blessed in my first trimester to not have any morning sickness, but my biggest symptom was extreme fatigue, which made working out challenging. Once I hit my second trimester most of that fatigue has gone. I’m so thankful that I’m a full-time instructor at SoulCycle because it has given me access to ride as much as I feel up to it. Steady state cardio has been my go-to method of exercise: spinning, walking and swimming have felt the best. Keeping my heart rate consistent and my breathing under control has been my main priority.

Q: What is your pregnancy fitness philosophy in three words?

A: Patience. Awareness. Consistency.

Q: Has anything surprised you about working out while pregnant?

A: How good I feel after. I know that sounds weird because I always feel great after working out, but keeping active has helped me with so many symptoms. Feeling great is a luxury during pregnancy and exercise has given me that luxury.

Q: What have you needed to modify?

A: The intensity level. It is always about safety first. It’s just nine months out of my life so if I have to slow it down in spin class and sit in the saddle more than normal I’m 100 percent O.K. with that. I’m out there doing it and that’s most important. I really want to try some prenatal yoga. I think adding that into the mix will not only strengthen my body from top to bottom, but will aid in the actual labor process, which is awesome!

Q: How do your Biggest Loser trainers feel about the development?

A: I am still in touch with both Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels. Bob and I have become great friends. I’ll never forget when I told him the news, how excited he was for me knowing what a big dream come true a baby was for my husband, Ben, and I. His big advice has been to make sure to take care of myself first and foremost. He has been a huge strength to me during this process and I know he will continue to be a wonderful help after.

Q: How do you think your time and success on the show will contribute to your pregnancy experience?

A: I think more than anything I learned true awareness of my body while I was on The Biggest Loser. Jillian was always great at helping us women learn how our bodies work and why: hormones versus food versus exercise. The last four years since being off the show I have had the opportunity to try out so much not only on the exercise front, but also in the fitness arena. The awareness I have as to how my body responds to things is priceless and has allowed me to transition into pregnancy with confidence.

Q: What motivates you to stay active?

A: My main goal right now is to gain weight, but not too much. I have worked so hard to get healthy that I don’t want to use being pregnant as an excuse to go back to bad habits. I am in no way trying to lose weight, but I know staying in a healthy weight range throughout my pregnancy will not only help me on the other side, but will keep my baby healthy as well. With this being my first pregnancy, I only know in theory what is ahead of me as far as labor and delivery. So I’m just trying to keep myself strong cardiovascularly and keeping my core strong for all that pushing!

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

A: To be aware and not afraid. I struggled a little in the beginning having irrational thoughts about hurting my baby while working out—I think most women go through that. It is such an amazing learning experience to just drop the fear and trust your body. It will always tell you when too much is too much.

Q: Well said. What have you learned that you’ll carry with you through the birth of your baby and into your new mom role?

A: Patience is key. There are so many changes happening all at once and something that felt great yesterday might not feel that great today and that is O.K. Be flexible day to day and give yourself a break if one day you need that nap. I’m hoping that practicing patience and flexibility will help me when this sweet boy is here!

Q: What do you look forward to doing with the little guy once he arrives?

A: I can’t wait to do it all. I think I’m looking forward to being outside with him and my husband, hiking, running, walking in the park—all of it. I want to be an active family and I know he will love that, too!

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