Sophie Maggie on exercise, pregnancy and endometriosis
You’ve spoken openly about living with endometriosis, raising awareness and helping to educate others. How did you and Dylan feel when you found out you were pregnant?
It was actually at an ultrasound scan appointment for my endometriosis (which I have routinely to monitor the condition as it is chronic), where they told me I was pregnant! We had absolutely NO idea. Needless to say, total shock and disbelief (surely they have this wrong?) was our initial reaction.
Straight after leaving the hospital we went to a pharmacy, purchased a pregnancy test and found a nearby pub to use the loo - and of course the test showed that we were 3+ weeks pregnant! We really couldn’t believe our luck. We definitely had ’this is too good to be true’ anxieties in the earlier stages. With the severity of my endometriosis, we really weren't sure falling pregnant would ever happen for us. We kept the pregnancy very quiet, telling only our closest friends and family. It wasn’t until after our 20-week scan and being able to feel the baby's movements that we actually managed to relax a lot more and ‘announce’ the pregnancy. Plus there really wasn’t much hiding it anymore by this point - I think most of my Rhythm riders had guessed!
What were the early weeks like before you were able to tell everyone your great news?
First trimester symptoms for me were what I can only liken to having a really horrific hangover or when you get car sick. I felt really sick 24/7 until around week 14 and was exhausted and had headaches. I did find this really tough at work, feeling pretty horrific and not being able to tell anyone why and pretending I was totally fine! I for sure had a few hairy moments on the podium but luckily no total sick related disasters. I also felt like it was so obvious and I had a big red arrow over my head saying SHE’S PREGNANT !! I thought literally everyone knew and also I hated having to basically lie, so it really was a huge relief when I finally shared the brilliant news with everyone at Digme. Some clients said they had already guessed and some just thought I was wearing a really great push up sports bra.
How did you adjust your exercise during your pregnancy?
Goodness, what I must start off by saying is that this is really unique for each individual. There is certainly no one size fits all.
Of course, you should always get medical advice from your doctor before exercising while pregnant. The Sport England guidance on exercising while pregnant is
"If you're pregnant, the Chief Medical Officer's (CMO's) advice is to start gradually if you weren't active prior to pregnancy, and if you were then to keep going but listen to your body and adapt.
Staying active during pregnancy helps with mood, sleep and reduces the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and weight gain."
Listen to the advice from your doctor, but there is no general reason you can't attend spin classes during pregnancy, though you will want to adapt the intensity of your exercise and, as your body changes shape, adjust which movements you do. You can read more on the NHS website here.
I personally understand movement and my body extremely well. After teaching thousands of spin classes, I also know the bike incredibly well. I can distinguish the difference between good and bad pain due to my dancing career, so I have been able to able to push my body to limits that I would absolutely not recommend to most people. I really listened to my body. I would say that, for me, from around 25 weeks, I was starting to have less ROM (range of movement) and had to figure out what I could and couldn’t do safely. This changed constantly as I grew and I needed to make new adaptations.
I also suffered with diagnosed PGP (pelvic girdle pain) in the pregnancy and as an active person and instructor, I found most debilitating and frustrating - not the bump taking up room but the pain in my back and pelvis! Luckily only 1 in 5 people get this in pregnancy and symptoms range from mild to severe so this is something I have to deal with but lots fortunately do not. Other than this, I have had a very healthy and typical pregnancy and have been fortunate enough to stay active and teaching right up until (nearly) the end. It has been fundamental to my physical and mental health to keep working and remain active for as long as possible so I am blessed this was possible for me and that my riders were so fantastic and understanding to any adaptions I had to make myself in the later stages.
Your last class (for now!) was sensational. How did you feel on that podium?
I am not often one to say things like this - but I honestly felt such pride in myself and my community of riders. The feeling on the podium is always euphoric for us instructors, but I guess that day it was extra special and a real celebration of us all and the journey we have been through together! I am incredibly proud of myself for teaching up to this point of the pregnancy, it certainly hasn’t been easy but it has absolutely been worth it and I can’t wait for the comeback!
How are you feeling now you’ve hung up the cleats for a few months?
It is bitter sweet - as I said up there last Sunday I am incredibly lucky to have a job I do not want to leave! It’s bitter because I do not want to take any time off at all but it is sweet because it is for the most incredible, magical and miraculous reason - to go and have my baby boy and begin this new chapter as a mummy.
Any message you’d like to share with your wonderful Digme tribe?
To repeat what I said on Sunday: You have all given to me more than I have ever given to you. Please know how much you mean to me - thank you for being the best, most incredible, positive and brilliant community. It is such a pleasure to be your instructor but more so to be your friend.
And we have some beautiful messages for you from your Digme Rhythm colleagues. Thank you Sophie Maggie. We all love you so much and miss you already. We can't wait to see you, Dylan & baby soon.
Watching you over the last few years, it's been a pleasure watching your journey on the bike. You are so much more than a world class instructor. Your commitment to your riders, your team player love and above and beyond attitude is why you are so incredibly loved by all. Thank you, Sophie Maggie, for being such a beautiful soul with the biggest heart. You have played such a huge part in the past few years for so many of us, keeping spirits and morale high. I know you will be missed by so many, but I have a feeling it'll be sooner than we think before we see the return of Miss Maggie. On this next new chapter, I want to wish you so much love joy and happiness with Dylan. You both are going to be such incredible parents, and I know I feel very pleased we will be getting a little one who will have a little of you Maggie Magic in the world. Love you very much, Ciarán
Sophie, we love you! Have a wonderful maternity leave, can’t wait to see you absolutely thrive in this new chapter! And remember you’re not a regular mom, you’re a cool mom! Louise
Miss Maggie, I cannot wait for your gorgeous son to be born! Mouse and Poppy are going to be the best sisters. Wishing you all the love in the world. Cannot wait to meet him. Love, Hattie
Darling Sophie, you’re a superstar and you’re going to be a rockstar Mumma. Adore you, Christina
To Sophie, You are the kindest most gorgeous human that is going to make the absolute best mum. All the love and best wishes for what’s to come. Love, Sophie T xx
Sophie, you have a true radiance and geniality that is so special. Wishing you the smoothest and happiest time away x
Sophie, Digme will miss you while you're gone. Your energy is honestly the reason I'm an instructor here. I did one Sophie Maggie mountain climb, and never looked back. Thanks for all the support and congrats in advance! Matt
Even after teaching 12 classes, no sleep, even 30 weeks pregnant, Sophie Maggie will always bring 100% energy every single time. Amy
Sophie Maggie was my first experience of Digme. I snook my way into her class and never looked back and she continues to be an inspiration and an absolute legend. Thank you for trusting me with one of your classes xxxxx Benjamin Y
Mama Soph! Honestly, I cannot thank you enough when you onboarded me. I can’t believe that I didn’t realise you were pregnant - I thought you were just a constant eater. You are such a nurturing person, you will be such an amazing Mama. Always around for parenting tips but I know you’ve got this. Fiona
THE Sophie Maggie! What a joy. Wishing you the absolute best on this new adventure of yours!! I’m always here if you need a cheeky cocktail break from motherhood. Love love love. Benjamin R
Thank you for introducing me to Digme and for being the most fabulous instructor. Will miss you. Big love Sophie. George x