Reproductive Options

Exercise & Surrogacy: What to Know

Exercise During Surrogacy: A Conversation with Trainer and Mother Megan Kool

When it comes to exercise during pregnancy, it’s a hot topic, especially for surrogates. With numerous questions and concerns surrounding pregnancy and working out, we turned to Megan Kool, a certified trainer and owner of Mega Strong Fitness, a cutting-edge virtual gym with convenient online fitness classes. 

Megan is not only passionate about fitness, but she is also a full-time mother and surrogacy advocate. Today, she will be sharing her insights on how exercise can play a crucial role during surrogacy and how it has helped her stay healthy and strong throughout both her pregnancies.

Q: Can you share your personal journey with pregnancy, including how it has influenced your perspective on exercise during pregnancy?

A: My husband and I have a blended family and we have three young children ages nine, seven, and two, and we plan on having one more. I have given birth to two of our three children and was lucky enough to be able to work out through both pregnancies up until the day I delivered. 

What I have noticed is that I had a much smoother pregnancy, delivery, and recovery than the women I know who did not workout during their pregnancy at all. I have also had clients who did not workout with me through their first pregnancy but then joined me before they became pregnant with their second or third child. They said the difference between their deliveries and recoveries was night and day, and that they noticed it was much easier to get back to feeling “normal” since they were active their entire pregnancy.

Q: As a gym owner and certified trainer, what are the key considerations and safety precautions that should be taken into account when exercising during pregnancy?

A: From lower odds of complications to better sleep, there are lots of reasons to exercise throughout all three trimesters of pregnancy. Of course, exercising throughout pregnancy doesn’t guarantee a quick recovery or a pain-free “bounce back,” but healthcare providers generally recommend some level of exercise while pregnant because it’s a great way to have a healthier and more comfortable pregnancy. In fact, exercising during pregnancy has been found to:

  • Improve your heart health & stamina. By strengthening your heart and blood vessels through workouts, you’re prepping your body to tackle the incredible physical challenge of labor and delivery. Being in good physical and cardio shape can ONLY BENEFIT you during labor. Those who have not worked out during pregnancy tend to notice much longer labor and delivery times.


  • Reduce the risk of complications. Exercising while you’re pregnant has been found to lower the odds of developing gestational diabetes. Of course, sometimes this is out of a woman’s control, but being active is NEVER a negative!


  • Boost your mood. Women are more susceptible to depression during pregnancy, with an estimated one out of every two women reporting increased depression or anxiety while expecting. Research has found that exercise during and after pregnancy releases endorphins that help improve mood while diminishing stress and anxiety.


  • Decrease back pain. It’s no secret that your growing belly puts extra pressure on your lower half, resulting in lower back pain and a sore, achy pelvis. Strengthening your abs & posterior chain may result in less lower-back and pelvic pain during your pregnancy, especially in the third trimester.


  • Improve sleep. While many pregnant women report having a harder time falling asleep, those who exercise consistently say the quality of their sleep is better and that they wake up feeling more rested than those who do not exercise.


  • Lower blood pressure. Blood pressure occasionally can go up during pregnancy, but a significant increase can be a sign of preeclampsia. Staying active has been found to keep blood pressure at more normal levels. 

Q: What are some common misconceptions or myths surrounding exercise during pregnancy?

A: The most common misconception I hear is from women who worry that exercise might hurt the baby or that somehow raising their heart rate would be harmful. There are many studies that show this is not the case, and in fact these studies indicate that exercise may stimulate healthy growth throughout childhood. As long as you are not pushing yourself to the point of utter exhaustion or physical harm, most doctors and personal trainers will permit you to do almost any physical exercise during pregnancy, minus things like hot yoga that increases your internal temperature drastically.

Q: Can you discuss the specific types of exercises or fitness activities that are generally safe and beneficial for pregnant women, and how would you adapt these recommendations for surrogates who may have unique physical considerations?

A: The main thing to consider, and that we do in our program, is to modify anything that involves abs or core. We show pregnancy-safe modifications for things like crunches and sit ups. We also show our pregnant clients how to modify high intensity exercises to make them low intensity, such as showing how to do a bodyweight squat instead of a jump squat. Strength training with moderate weight for higher amounts of reps (like 10-20 reps) is a good way to continue putting on lean muscle without the risk of injury.

Q: What role do you believe exercise and physical activity play in supporting the overall well-being and mental health of pregnant women?

A: Exercise causes your brain to release feel good chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that help improve your mood instantly. This helps to put you in a positive and relaxed state of mind. If you feel good about yourself and how you look, this also helps you to mentally feel your best and to have a more positive outlook on life. Exercising also increases self-confidence, which is a huge thing that women can be lacking after just having a baby.

Q: How does exercise play a role in preparing for labor and delivery?

A: Exercise helps prepare you for childbirth. Some studies suggest that being a physically fit mother can result in shorter labor, fewer medical interventions, and less exhaustion during labor, which is what myself and many of my clients have experienced. Being in shape will not decrease the pain, but it will help give you the endurance needed to get through labor and to be able to push harder resulting in a shorter delivery time.

Also, by maintaining your fitness level during pregnancy, you are less likely to gain excess weight. According to the American Pregnancy Association, gaining more than the recommended 25 to 35 pounds for an average sized woman during pregnancy makes it harder to lose the weight after the baby is born. 

Q: What advice do you have for pregnant women who may be hesitant to exercise or unsure of where to start?

A: Setting a program that you can follow is always a better option than just going into a gym and trying to come up with exercises on your own. It will also help you to save time and feel confident in yourself while doing it if you can follow someone else or a set workout routine each day.  Make sure that pregnancy modifications are shown for things that involve abs and jumping. Of course I am biased, but I think our program- Mega Strong Fitness- does a great job of showing modifications and also offers both a 50 minute higher intensity workout each day as well as a 30 minute low impact and lower intensity workout each day. All of our workouts can be done from the comfort of your home with just some dumbbells. 

I had very quick deliveries and was cleared to come back to work out within four weeks after giving birth.I do believe that is a testimony in itself. I do not say this at all to brag. It was very hard some days to struggle through fatigue and nausea to get my workouts in, but in the end it was so worth it! I try to stress this during workouts with all my pregnant and postpartum mamas – it’s not going to be easy, but it will definitely be worth it! As long as you have a doctor’s approval and have no high-risk reasons not to, I believe that working out and eating healthy is absolutely necessary during a woman’s pregnancy and post-partum journey.

 Are you considering becoming a surrogate? Curious about staying active during pregnancy? We’re here to provide answers and support at every stage of your journey.

Begin your surrogacy journey with Reproductive Options today. Contact us.

About the author: 

Megan and her husband Dirk own and operate Mega Strong Fitness, a virtual workout program for everyone, including pregnant and postpartum women. Mega Strong Fitness started over six years ago when Megan set out on her mission to show people that they could lose weight and get in shape from the comfort of their home, with minimal equipment and cost. As parents to three young children, Megan and Dirk understand that you are limited on time and may be unable to go to a gym or have someone watch your kids, so they have made this the most efficient and cost effective home workout program you can find where a trainer is there to help you every step of the way.

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