Pregnant Laura Kenny On Ignoring Her Critics And Lifting Weights: ‘I’m Not Stupid, I’m An Athlete’

'I know my body better than anybody.' 💪
Getty/Laura Kenny

Laura Kenny has hit back at those who criticise pregnant women for exercising, after receiving negative comments about her fitness routine.

On Instagram, some have questioned whether the Olympic cyclist, who is seven months pregnant, should still be hitting the gym.

“I’m not stupid, I’m an athlete and I know my body better than anybody knows it,” the 25-year-old told HuffPost UK.

“If I thought I was putting myself or the baby at risk I would 100% stop.”

A post shared by Laura Kenny (@laurakenny31) on

Kenny, from Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, is expecting her first child with husband and fellow cyclist Jason Kenny in mid-August.

She’s currently training for around two hours each day, switching between swimming, working out in the gym or riding the turbo bike she keeps in her garage.

The mum-to-be is determined to keep her fitness levels high so she can represent team GB again in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I didn’t want to be so far away from where I left physically. I’d always set my heart on going to the next Olympic games,” she said.

“I spoke with my gym coach and we decided we could carry on, pretty much as normal to start with, and after that we would tail it off and it would slowly decrease.”

Kenny’s videos on Instagram show her completing squats with 20 kilos on her back, then 20 kilos on her front. It may surprise some, but it’s a huge step down for the athlete, who used weights of 70-75 kilos before she was pregnant.

She has also stopped riding on the road, sticking to the safety of her garage, and has eliminated exercises such as leg presses from her routine.

“Anything that’s above me where I haven’t got control over whether the weight is going to slam on me I wouldn’t do,” she said.

“Or anything where the bump gets in the way. With press-ups I lean on something now, because I found my bump was hitting the floor before anything else was!”

A post shared by Laura Kenny (@laurakenny31) on

Kenny said she has learned to “ignore” her critics and listen to her body.

“The first few comments I read to Jason and I was a bit like ‘why would people say that, it’s none of their business, it’s up to me what I do’,” she said.

“I believe that it’s right and I’ve spoken to so many people about it. There’s not research out there to prove that I’m harming anything in any way.

“There are times when I’ve been on the turbo in my garage and if I feel crap, I just get off. I know that if I feel bad so does the baby. I’m just not stupid with it.”

Having said that, the athlete recognises that exercising during pregnancy may not suit everyone.

“I certainly wouldn’t say to somebody who has never done exercise before ‘go on, start exercising’ because I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. But I think people forget that I’ve been an athlete for such a long period of time that it’s all my body has ever known,” she said.

“If I took that away, my body would go into meltdown. It wouldn’t know what to do or how to react.”

While the videos may have attracted some criticism, the overwhelming reaction online has been positive, with many mums-to-be saying they have boosted their confidence.

One commented: “Totally kicked me up the bum to go to the gym. 19 weeks pregnant and just getting over the morning sickness. Felt amazing, thank you.”

To any expectant mums worried about being judged in the gym, Kenny simply said: “Ignore the comments”.

“Speak to your midwife and speak to your GP about it before taking up any sort of exercise,” she said.

“But I know for me it has made me feel really healthy and I’ve had no side effects from being pregnant whatsoever. I think it can only be a positive.”

Laura Kenny is brand ambassador for Pod Food; the healthy eating experts with 24 shops across central London serving breakfast and lunch to eat in or take away. Order Pod’s catering service through

Serena Willliams

Our Body Image Heroes