Olympic Champion Dani Rowe (née King) MBE enjoyed a record-breaking cycling career that included multiple World, European and National titles – most notably winning Gold at the London 2012 Olympics in the Team Pursuit. She is also a Commonwealth Games medallist and is the World Record holder for the 3km Team Pursuit alongside teammates Joanna Rowsell and Laura Trott.
Since retiring in 2018 she has set up a coaching company with her husband and fellow cyclist Matt Rowe (Rowe & King) and is excited to be expecting her first baby in September.
Dani took time out of her busy schedule to talk to FittaMamma about her pregnancy and how she stays fit and active whilst pregnant during lockdown.
‘Staying active during my pregnancy is really important to me,’ says Dani. ‘I’m obsessed with fitness and exercise and have to do something every day. The physical and mental benefits of exercise are so beneficial, it helps me to sleep better and eat better as well as keeping my body strong. I know that giving birth, recovering afterwards and caring for a small baby will be physically demanding and it’s so important to be prepared.’
At the moment Dani does a lot of her cycling indoors, using Zwift – a system that connects your own bike to a trainer, using an App to create many different cycling experiences. When she does head out onto the road she swaps her road bike for a mountain bike, finding the wider handle bars and tyres, combined with the more upright position provides much more comfort and stability as her bump gets bigger.
‘I just love cycling,’ she says, ‘and I’ve really enjoyed the much quieter roads during lockdown. There have been loads more people out on bikes over the past few months and it would be great if we could take this forward with improved cycling lanes and routes to encourage people to continue.’
Since retiring Dani has tried various other exercise options, including gym workouts and running. Despite finding that running puts more stress on her joints she hasn’t been deterred from running during pregnancy, spending around an hour and a half each day out walking or running, in addition to at least 45 minutes indoors on her bike.
For someone used to a training regime of at least 25 hours a week, her pregnancy workout routine is quite modest. ‘I don’t really class it as ‘training’, she laughed, ‘it’s more about keeping active’. When I first became pregnant I wasn’t sure about the rights and wrongs about exercise during pregnancy but it just feels like the best thing to do. For me the most important aspect of pregnancy exercise is listening to your body. I check my heart rate to make sure I’m not pushing too hard but after years of competitive training I know what I’m capable of and what feels right.’
Interestingly, even as an Olympic champion, Dani has still had negative comments about exercising during pregnancy, with people questioning whether or not she should be cycling or running whilst pregnant. It seems that there’s still much to be done to educate people that pregnancy exercise is hugely beneficial for both mother and baby!
Apart from a scare (fortunately unfounded) at her 20 week scan, Dani’s pregnancy has progressed well. ‘My ‘morning’ sickness went on all day but only lasted for the first eight weeks of pregnancy. And generally, apart from going off tea and coffee and craving crisps and marmite, my pregnancy diet has not been unusual. I did check the marmite thing and apparently it’s high in Vitamin B1 and folic acid so that might explain the craving.’
We’re delighted to see Dani wearing FittaMamma maternity sportswear. She said, ‘I absolutely love them, the clothes are really, really nice. I love the way the leggings come right over the bump and the top doesn’t ride up – it does a similar job to a belt but more comfortable, easing and holding the weight and helping to support your hips and pelvis. I did a 6km run in them last week and my bump barely moved, they’re so supportive.’