When fitness junkie Carolina Gunnarsson got pregnant for the first time, she wasn’t prepared for how it would affect her workouts—and it wasn’t just about the physical transformations her body was going through. “I used to go to SoulCycle or SLT, and I didn’t feel like I could do that when I was pregnant,” she says. (Hey, not all women are as comfortable tapping it back with a baby on board as Beyonce, and that’s totally fine.) More than that, she says, “I didn’t want to spend the money because I had to modify so much. But I missed my regular group classes.”
Now, she’s hoping to prevent other women from feeling the same sense of fitness FOMO by opening a boutique studio—where every class is designed with expectant (or new moms) in mind—called Fit Pregnancy Club. The space, which Gunnarsson’s co-founded with fellow mom and avid exerciser Joanie Johnson, opened in the Soho area of Manhattan on October 16, and is the first of its kind in New York City. It offers a range of cardio and strength-training classes for all stages of pregnancy, each incorporating their signature “pump and kegel” breathing and pelvic floor exercise, to help women prep for labor and delivery.
“I was just horrified by what’s happened in the fitness industry with pregnant women. We’re just kind of pushed off to the side.” —Joanie Johnson
A major focus at FPC is on making it a safe place where women can work out feeling confident that the classes are being created with pregnant women in mind—not just being modified for them, which is something Johnson, who’s a certified pre- and postnatal corrective exercise specialist with Fit For Birth, says she found personally challenging while pregnant: “I would walk into a workout class, and I would tell the instructors I was pregnant, and you could just see the fear on their faces. I was just horrified by what’s happened in the fitness industry with pregnant women. We’re just kind of pushed off to the side.”
Besides providing pregnant women and new moms with a safe environment where they don’t have to worry if something they’re doing will hurt their bodies (or their babies), Johnson says she hopes FPC will also be a community for women—not just moms. (The first rule of fit club definitely isn’t that you have to be expecting or have given birth to join—classes cost $40 and are open to the public.)
“Our goal is to create a space where pregnant women can get that workout, where they’re getting what they need, where they have a community that we want to become a resource for,” says Johnson. “It’s so much more beneficial for women to workout in pregnancy than to not.” Bonus if you get to do it with other women who’ve also swapped their burpees for baby bumps.