Katja Harjanne can still lift 100kg weights – despite being eight months pregnant.
The 39-year-old, who is 38 weeks into her first pregnancy, is still lifting heavy weights at CrossFit sessions and believes the practice has helped her stay healthy throughout her pregnancy.
Company pregnancy health and safety regulations at Katja’s job as a conference and events sales manager mean that she can’t even lift a water receptacle in the workplace.
But in the gym she thinks nothing of hoisting the equivalent of a kitchen fridge.
Katja, from Brighton, had been practicing CrossFit for three years before falling pregnant and after finding out she was expecting, she began researching the effects of exercise.
She said: ‘When I first fell pregnant I researched online and found a lot of positives about exercise and pregnancy. ‘I spoke to the midwife in my initial visit and she told me to listen to my body. She said that strength training is fine and to keep it up.’
‘I trust my own judgement.’
Katja continued her regime of weightlifting, cardio and gymnastics, altering her exercise as the pregnancy progressed.
She continued to train up to five times a week, but scaled down her exertions to a level that felt safe for herself and her baby.
She said: ‘I have reduced the weights as my pregnancy has progressed and I only do what feels comfortable.’
And Katja’s fiancée Jason, 28, a fellow CrossFit enthusiast, has been supportive of Kat’s continued exercise.
Katja said: ‘Jason is ever so proud. He CrossFits himself and thinks it’s fantastic I’m keeping it up.
‘He’s been really supportive of me. Once in a while he does say I need to slow down a little bit because I am quite competitive on certain things, but mainly he’s very supportive and proud of what I’m doing and achieving.
‘We’re both trying to find out information and be careful.’
Jason, a flight stimulator technician, also researched the effects of pregnancy and CrossFit and helped Katja to adjust.
He said: ‘We sat down when we first found out she was pregnant and worked out how she could continue her training in a way that was safe for her and the baby.
‘Eventually she started doing press ups on a box so her bump wouldn’t hit the floor and she uses bands to lessen the strain of pull-ups.
‘But she’s really taken the reins herself and listened to her body. I fully trust her and she’s done fantastically well.’
But not everyone agreed with Katja’s decision to power on with her CrossFit regime, including her soon-to-be mother-in-law.
Jason said: ‘My mother was slightly apprehensive of Kat doing exercise.
‘She’s of the old school era where doing things like this are slightly frowned upon and she would have preferred Kat to be at home resting.
‘But Kat has shown that it is possible and really encouraged other women that you don’t have to just sit down, you can be energetic, go for walks and go swimming, and that’s perfectly fine for you and the baby.’
Elsewhere reactions to Katja’s intensive regime have been mixed.
Katja said: ‘Everyone at CrossFit has huge respect for what I’m doing as they understand the discipline and my dedication.
‘Other people who don’t know a great deal about CrossFit have been more worried and sceptical.
‘My family are supportive but they just warn me to be careful and not to overdo it.’
And although Katja is aware that some women have received criticism for exercising during pregnancy, she is confident that she is doing the best for herself and her baby.
‘A hundred years back women didn’t stop working in the fields because they were pregnant, they still had manual stuff to do,’ she said.
‘I train four or five times a week and I feel absolutely fantastic. My energy levels have kept up and it’s helped me throughout the whole pregnancy.
‘I’m not just swinging weights around, I’m taking care of my body and my baby and if something doesn’t feel right then I try something else.
‘I think sometimes we forget that life goes on and doesn’t stop because you’re pregnant – it’s not an illness.
‘And at the end of the day, I’m not doing what’s right for other people, I’m doing what’s right for me.’
Now Katja and Jason are excitedly awaiting the birth of their new arrival.
‘I can’t wait to be a father,’ added Jason. ‘I can’t wait to see the smile on Kat’s face and just look in the baby’s eyes and start this family rolling.’
Source: Daily Mail