Breaking Barriers: Women’s Experiences of CrossFit Training During Pregnancy

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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CrossFit is a form of resistance training characterized by constantly varied, weight-training, gymnastic, and body weight movements. While resistance training is a popular exercise option among pregnant women, it is not included in current physical activity recommendations for expectant mothers. Additionally, despite negative connotations, there are anecdotal accounts of pregnant women participating in CrossFit training without adverse effects to their pregnancies. Therefore, given the barriers to physical activity during pregnancy and vigorous-intensity exercise, examining the experience of pregnant women participating in CrossFit training is of interest in the present study. Participants in the study included 22 women at least three months post-pregnancy, who had adhered to CrossFit training for at least six months throughout pregnancy and were 18 years of age or older. A semi-structured interview guide was developed and transcripts were analyzed using a thematic content analysis. Researchers searched for themes across the interview data and reached agreement on subsequent themes. Seven themes emerged characterizing the experiences of pregnant women who participated in CrossFit training while pregnant: (1) quitting was not an option, (2) support and community, (3) overcoming judgments and stereotypes, (4) listening to my body and modifying movements, (5) empowerment and pride, (6) easy pregnancy and delivery, and (7) lifestyle and functioning post-baby. Findings offer practical implications for practitioners working with pregnant women hoping to maintain their exercise regimens and demonstrate the barriers and opportunities for pregnant women desiring to maintain healthy lifestyles.

Prewitt-White is with the Kinesiology and Nutrition Dept., University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL. Connolly is with the Dept. of Educational Leadership, Sports Studies, and Educational/Counseling Psychology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA. Feito is with the Exercise Science and Sport Management Dept., Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA. Bladek, Forsythe, Hamel, and McChesney are with the Counseling Dept., Adler University, Chicago, IL.

Address author correspondence to Tanya Prewitt-White at tpw@uic.edu.
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