Coming Through With Baby On Board

January 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

by Beth Connolly

[Editor’s note: This story is the first part of a recurring feature you’ll find on the blog.  We’ll be profiling those modern-day Spartan Warriors who best personify the Spartan Spirit of courage, resilience, physical and mental toughness, and self-reliance.  Do you think you would qualify?  Contact us and tell us why we should feature you!]


“People don’t like being beat by a pregnant woman,” says Brandi Dion, fitness enthusiast, mother of two, and owner of a Boston-area fitness training business, B&S Fitness and B&S Sport Science.  Wearing shirts that warned “Caution: Seven Months Pregnant” and “Baby on Board,” Dion sprinted past racers walking up steep hills in the August 2010 Spartan Race Boston.
“I just thought to myself, ‘Get out of my way, why are you walking?  Even though I’m pregnant, I’m still competing with myself.  I knew I didn’t have to walk so I didn’t want to walk. I got so fed up that I would be yelling, ‘Coming through!  Coming through!’  When they saw the sign on my shirt, they just couldn’t believe it.”

Dion raced alongside her husband and business partner, Steve Dion, in the August 2010 Spartan Race, despite being seven months pregnant with her second child.  Most women would never consider competing while pregnant, but Dion is a seasoned athlete who couldn’t bear the thought of easing her workouts during a pregnancy unless she had to.

A graduate of Salem State University with a degree in exercise, Dion is also a NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) Certified Personal Trainer and USA certified Triathlon Coach.  Her business, B&S Fitness & Sport Science, provides boot camp training classes, triathlon training, and more.  When she found out that she was pregnant with her first child, she simply couldn’t conceive of dropping off her workout routine but had mentally prepared to do so.  “I was afraid I’d have to start doing yoga or something more relaxing,” Dion says.  “For me, keeping my heart rate under 140 or 150 during a workout seemed impossible.”

Fortunately, her doctor informed her that keeping your heart rate down during pregnancy was not a huge concern given her background.  He encouraged her to continue her regular training schedule without changing anything drastically.  With her fitness background, Dion says, she knows how to listen to her body and work out safely, and she only modified her routine when “absolutely necessary.”

Even though she may not have been performing at the same level she did when she wasn’t pregnant, Dion says, she kept the intensity of her workouts at the same level they were pre-pregnancy but “everything was just harder!”  There’s nothing like sharing your cardiovascular system with a fetus to get the heart rate up and make the intensity level seem higher than it actually is.

Dion says she didn’t have any trouble with the obstacles in the Spartan Boston.  Relying on her upper body strength to compensate for her pregnant belly, she managed to scale the walls and crawl under the barbed wire just fine, thank you. Always cautious of the safety of her baby, of course.

When she finished the race, Dion says, “I felt great.  My endorphins took over.  I wasn’t sore,  I wasn’t fatigued.   It was just like ‘Whoa, that was awesome.  I challenged myself without worrying about the others around me.” Her strategy to stay focused during the race was to “keep developing little personal goals to motivate me, like overtaking a racer in front of me. The overall goal being to do it and to finish the races and do the best I can as a pregnant woman.” 

Through her fitness classes, Dion has helped other pregnant women maintain their fitness routines during pregnancy, and she’s working on a book of guidance for pregnant female competitive racers.

In early December, Dion gave birth to a very healthy baby boy, Maddox, who weighed 8.2 pounds.  Her labor, which lasted only two hours, was an experience to which Dion applied her typical race mentality of “…dealing with the pain, working through it, and trying to push the baby out as fast as I possibly could.”

Afterwards, her doctor told her, “If all my patients were like you, my job would be easy.”

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