A fitness expert tells PEOPLE there's no cause for alarm

By Michele Corriston
June 17, 2015 06:45 PM
Courtesy Sophie Guidolin

Australian fitness model Sophie Guidolin is firing back after an online backlash against photos of her lifting 66-lb. weights – while six months pregnant with twins.

“A lot of people express concern over women exercising in pregnancy and I 110% understand why. There are so many myths, old wives tales & opinions out there it is hard to understand what is the truth and what is made up,” she wrote Monday on Instagram. “In my opinion, listen to noone except your qualified & trusted medical staff.”

Guidolin added that she is certified in pre- and post-natal fitness and that her husband is a dietician and trainer. But is such intense exercise while expecting really safe?

“Absolutely,” John Rowley, certified trainer and ISSA director of wellness, tells PEOPLE. “Of course it depends on whether or not the woman could lift that weight before being pregnant. Sophie Guidolin is catching some flak for deadlifting 66 lbs., but given she was in good shape before the pregnancy, it isn’t unhealthy.”

Rowley adds that though women who didn’t exercise before becoming pregnant shouldn’t make a rush for the free weights, it’s perfectly fine to work out right up until giving birth.

“The key is good form and making sure you aren’t doing exercises that are going to strain the area where the baby is,” he says.

Rowley recommends resistance training, walking and cardio machines that “don’t strain the lower back” over exercise classes “because the muscles can be targeted safely.”

In fact, he says working out while pregnant can actually be a good thing – as long as you don’t overdo it.

“Blood flow and everything else in the mother’s body is enhanced through exercise. These benefits transfer to the baby. So the danger is that by not exercising, the mother isn t doing her best for herself or the baby,” he explains. “That being said, the last thing any mom needs is more pressure or guilt. So my advice is to simply do the best you can with what you’ve got.”

In an interview with Australian TV show The Project on Tuesday, Guidolin said she never expected such a cruel reaction to her photos, “especially considering that most health professionals would recommend what whilst pregnant you do try to stay as fit and healthy and active as you can.”

“Alongside that photo had a huge caption and a disclaimer to say that this weight is not heavy for me,” she added. “It’s definitely nowhere near my one rep max. I was alongside my trainer, who is also my husband and my babies’ dad. So there’s no way that he wants any negative effects for the babies, as well.”

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She isn’t the first mom-to-be who generated controversy over her fit figure: Critics chastised lingerie model Sarah Stage for her tiny baby bump and six-pack abs. (She gave birth to a son April 14.)

Rowley says there’s no need for concern “as long as she is eating and exercising properly.”

“She doesn t look unhealthy or too thin,” he says. “The baby bump is small, but it could be a small baby. Also, her abs are conditioned, so everything is held in place and more than likely a combination of the two. My guess is her back feels better than many pregnant woman as well because her core is fit.”