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Read This: The Pregnant Athlete

There are books about working out while pregnant and then there are serious books about working out while pregnant. The Pregnant Athlete: How to Stay in Your Best Shape Ever Before, During and After Pregnancy (Da Capo Lifelong Books), by husband and wife Brandi and Steven Dion, is squarely the latter.

Brandi, a triathlon coach, personal trainer, lifelong athlete and mother of two, combines personal anecdotes from her second pregnancy with challenging sample workouts tailored to all nine months (and post-delivery) into an inspiringly utilitarian resource. True, she completed a sprint triathlon in her third month and a Spartan Race—mud pit, barbed-wire crawl and all—at the beginning of her third trimester. But hardcore doesn’t mean unreasonable.

Opinions from her ob-gyn, Joel Heller, appear throughout. Dion freely admits that major bodily changes associated with pregnancy often necessitate modifications and touches on how strength, agility and endurance can change along the way. Exercises range from squats to push-ups to step-ups to tire flips—she firmly believes that if you’re fit and familiar with doing a specific move or activity, keep at it—and dumbbells, barbells, TRX straps, medicine balls and the like are used often. Snippets of advice from regular women and elite athletes bring in other encouraging voices.

It’s not glossy; the black-and-white photos look like they came from an exercise physiology textbook. But it is a refreshingly full-speed-ahead approach to staying active and fit during pregnancy. And while the message here is decidedly no-holds-barred, the subtext is a bit gentler: “I quickly learned it was better to not think about how I would feel in the future,” writes Dion, “just stay in the moment of every workout and take each one, day by day, month by month, and hope for the best.”

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