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Fit Follow-Up: Renee Peel

  • Name: Renee Peel
  • Children: Cameron, born April 25, 2014; Chloe, born March 7, 2011
  • Claim to Fame: A certified personal trainer at Crunch gym in Hoboken, New Jersey, Renee Peel fell in love with fitness and training when she had her daughter four years ago. She considered it her sanctuary—the only time that she got to focus on herself—and began to feel increasingly empowered by how strong she felt. That carried over into her second pregnancy last year, which she admits was much more active than her first. “It was not a question of what I could do, but what I should do,” she explains. “There are so many ways to modify and that is what I did. This did not make my workouts less effective. My goals were different: I wanted to maintain my strength as much as possible and I did that.” Here, she weighs in on C-section recovery, staying in the moment and letting go of weight-gain worry.
Keeping Things In Check

My approach was to continue to stay active and healthy for myself and my baby! In the beginning of the pregnancy, I just wanted to keep moving. I was so nauseous in the first trimester and exercise was the only thing that helped. I really listened to my body and continued doing everything I was doing and then modified as I got bigger. Safety is always the most important thing during exercise and this is the same when you are pregnant, so you need to be aware of the types of exercises you should and should not do. The talk test is key. I always made sure I was able to carry on a conversation. That way I knew I was not over doing it.

The Game Plan

I was so nervous with my first pregnancy that I really did not enjoy it as much. The second time I felt more relaxed and enjoyed it more. You always need to look at risk versus reward. Pull-ups and plyometric work are a big part of my normal routine and I had to completely take those out by second trimester. I also had to take out exercises in the supine or prone positions. By the middle of the second trimester everything I did was in the standing, half-kneel or tall-kneel positions. Cables and kettlebells are great for pregnant women. I did TRX rows, elevated push-ups, step-ups and deadlifts all the way through my pregnancy.

Being Present

Treasure every moment of each pregnancy and embrace it as much as you can. Ten months seems like forever, but nothing good comes without hard work—why would producing human life be any different? Cameron is probably my last baby and last pregnancy so I really enjoyed and cherished it more. It really is an amazing part of life!

Bettering Birth

Being active and strong definitely made my birth experience better. Unfortunately, I had to have a second C-section, but that was completely out of anyone’s control. I wanted to be as fit as possible so that I could be strong for recovery and it really did work. I did not work out very much during the first pregnancy. My recovery this time was amazing. I was up and walking around the night I had my surgery. The nurses were amazed and could not believe it. I really attribute that to my level of fitness.

Returning to Normal

I was back in the gym as soon as I was released at eight weeks post-delivery. I felt great and my body fat percentage was so much lower than I thought it would be. The biggest challenge post C-section is core strength. I started out slow, with two strength training days a week and two days of high-intensity intervals on the step mill and treadmill. As soon as I finished nursing at five months, I picked up my training and was back to my pre-pregnancy weight and body composition by six months.

Words of Wisdom

A mother needs to be healthy for her baby. Stay active and fuel your body with good foods. Listen to your body and make yourself aware of the dos and don’ts of pregnancy and exercise. Working out with a trainer who is certified to train pregnant women is the best way to go. Finally, don’t stress about the weight gain! You will have your body back as long as you are dedicated and work hard.

Photo (family): Rachel Marks

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