Amy Williams won Britain’s first solo Winter Olympics gold medal for 30 years with victory in the women’s skeleton. Her performance in the Vancouver Olympics projected her into the public view overnight: she was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Honours list and became the first ever female Freeman of the City of Bath.
Since retiring as an athlete she has appeared on many TV shows, including BBC Sport, Ski Sunday and The Gadget Shows.
Already a mum to Oscar (nearly two) Amy is expecting her second baby in June. Her career left her with many injuries, including damaged discs in her lower back and issues with her knees. A real inspirational FittaMamma, she shares her pregnancy exercise ups and downs.
This is your second pregnancy – did you exercise first time round?
‘I exercised throughout my whole first pregnancy. I suffered from pregnancy nausea in the first three months but it wasn’t too bad, and I continued to run several times a week. Around twenty-four weeks pregnant I slowed this down to regular walking as I was really feeling the pressure on my bladder!
My yoga studio is about 2.5 miles from my home but I walked to a yoga class every day – and back! My choice was to carry on with a normal yoga class, adapting a few moves for the baby bump, rather than choosing a specific prenatal yoga class. I also maintained regular sessions on a watt bike, and my own circuit and HITT style sessions at home.
Yoga was a massive help mentally to prepare for birth, I had read up a lot on hypnobirthing and so the breathing and visualisation really helped me remain calm and positive about the birth. In reality I had to be induced and the birth was complicated but I felt physically and mentally prepared for labour’.
How did your injuries impact on your pregnancy and your current pregnancy exercise routine?
‘I’ve become very good at reading my body – I know how it feels, what I need to do to keep my body ticking over and how best to manage my old injuries. Looking after a very energetic toddler keeps me on my toes daily and can be exercise in itself!
However, I do try and do about 3 HIIT sessions a week, bringing Oscar with me, but I’m only managing yoga 1-2 times a month. This pregnancy has been very different as I’ve spent the first 5 months suffering from dizziness, nausea and illness so my pregnancy exercise routine has been greatly reduced compared to the first time around.
I’ve also put a lot of energy into studying as a Personal Trainer and am delighted to have achieved my PT Qualifications! I’m looking forward to setting up my own home gym and taking on clients.’
What does your pregnancy exercise routine look like? Is it an ‘Olympic’ routine or one any Mamma-to-be could emulate?
‘Exercise is really important to me but my routine could easily be followed by other Mammas-to-be! I walk as much as possible each day and try to fit in regular HIIT or body circuit sessions, aiming for at least three times a week. These last between 15 -45 minutes – if you don’t have time for a longer session it’s better to try and fit in a few 15 minute workouts. Stretching is really important too, and I like to include yoga when I have childcare available but attending a regular class has been much more difficult now I have Oscar to look after.
Do you have any advice on maintaining your pregnancy exercise routine whilst managing a toddler?
‘It’s definitely much more difficult, you have to set realistic targets and goals! In Bath there aren’t any gyms with childcare which makes it a lot harder to keep fit with a toddler, so I tend to work out more at home. My recommendation is to lay out a mat and have it ready so you can do whatever you can manage when you have the opportunity, either with a baby next to you, a toddler crawling over you or try and include them in your workout.
I find trying to do a small 10-20min pregnancy workout sessions several times a day is better than aiming for an hour of uninterrupted exercise, which is hard to achieve with a toddler!
I’ve also tried to include an occasional buggy run which is another great way of staying fit with a toddler. I do have to say though, that’s been much harder with this pregnancy as I’ve struggled more with illness. And it’s pretty tough pushing a 15kg toddler up and around the hills of Bath!
My recommendation for pregnancy exercise second time around is aim for little and often!’
And your postnatal workouts after your first baby?
After Oscar was born I really didn’t push my body back into shape for at least 3-4 months. I had a lot of recovery and healing to do and I wanted my body to be strong to look after him. I only felt “myself” again at about 11-12 months post birth. My advice is ‘don’t rush things’.
Are there days when you simply don’t feel like heading to the gym? Could you share your tips for staying motivated to exercise during pregnancy?
Yes! For sure, like everyone exercise is sometimes at the bottom of the list of the things to do that day or week. I’m self-employed as well as being a full time mummy to Oscar – I’ve also been studying for the last 6 months doing my Personal Trainer qualifications, so along with being pregnant there’s a lot to fit in!
It’s hard to not feel guilty, upset or be hard on yourself and your body if you don’t feel like exercising, but sometimes we have to let things go and not be quite in the best shape we want to be. There are always highs and lows of motivation, and fitness levels, especially when you’re pregnant!
Any tips re eating? Have you suffered from morning sickness?
Yes! I’ve suffered from all day sickness on and off for 5 months. This pregnancy I’ve just wanted plain carbs, toast, pasta, potatoes, all the things I wouldn’t normally eat! Sadly my favourite fruits, veg and salads just haven’t been on my menu!!
My recommendation is to eat little and often and always carry water and a snack in your bag.