Pregnancy Workout Review



There are tons and tons of workouts (pregnancy and otherwise) all over the internet. But finding ones you like and putting together a workout plan takes time. And with pregnancy changing my motivation for working out, I had to focus on something easy and concrete that I didn't have to think about.




So for me, DVD's are perfect. I turn on the TV and I follow along, doing absolutely everything they tell me to (while ranting at them, of course).

No, they're not free like internet workouts, and if you're able to stay focused and put together your own workout plan, I would highly suggest going the free way. That's the way I used to do it for myself. However, pregnancy has changed the way I exercise. I still love pushing my body and getting that natural high that comes with working out...but I can't work through the pain and fatigue in the same ways anymore.

I'd love to hear how you stayed fit during your pregnancy, or what tips you have for starting to workout again after the baby is born!


Meanwhile, here are reviews of the two DVDs I've tried:





The Pregnancy Project, by Tracy Anderson


I immediately loved Tracy's workouts because of her obvious dancer background and her general easy-going attitude. She keeps it simple and doesn't use a bunch of weights, focusing on doing movements that engage several muscle groups at a time.

She'll tell you to breathe and drink water, but she doesn't include breaks for these things within her workout. Often, she does stretches/movements that feel a bit useless because she does not explain their purpose. This leaves her workouts feeling a bit less professional.

I used her DVDs more towards the end of my pregnancy, since I felt more able to complete a full workout without thinking about it too much. It is easier for me when I don't have to customize my workouts.

Pros:

  • Simple. There is one workout per month, so you have time to perfect the movements and achieve them, and each workout includes arm and leg work.
  • Mix it up. Since she has a different DVD for each month, you feel like your changing needs are being met, and you're kept interested as the workouts change subtly over time.
  • Style. Her choice of exercises usually involves more than one muscle group at a time, so you're able to engage more muscles in a short time rather than breaking them up into separate workouts.
  • Props. You don't need anything besides 3 lb. weights and a yoga mat (I personally just use a blanket - cheapskate, I know). As you progress, she also has you use a chair for balance. 
  • Music. You have the option of background music or just Tracy's voice. 
  • Blurbs. Each disk comes with a "bonus feature" of women talking about pregnancy. Several of them are celebrities (which makes it fun) and they speak from experience, so it's a nice little blurb of encouragement if you need it. 

Cons:

  • Timing. Each workout takes about 45 minutes to complete (that includes warm-up and cool-down). It's hard to set aside that chunk of time. 
  • Water. Tracy mentions staying hydrated and resting between movements as needed, but she provides no time for either, so I had to pause a lot to grab my water. 
  • Organization. She does not separate the workout by the muscle groups she is focusing on. The arm workout leads straight into the one involving legs + glutes, and most of the workouts involve some ab work.
  • Cardio. There is really no cardio portion to the workouts. Which was fine for me, since I use workouts for strength training, not cardio.  


Prenatal Physique by Leah Sarago


Leah's workouts are far more specific and customizable than Tracy's. Leah talks a lot about breathing - inhaling and exhaling at the proper times during the movements - which annoyed me at first. But as I've become challenged by my pregnancy body and have picked up a bit of yoga, I'm starting to see that breathing is incredibly important. It gives your movements fluidity and focus.

I felt challenged by her workouts. It took slightly more effort for me to get going with her DVD, however, simply because I needed to pick and choose how to plan my workout. It is separated into 15-min. segments based on the muscle groups you want to work.

Her stretching portion I found to be wonderful, as it includes many yoga movements and focuses on stretching out your tense hips (much needed!). This portion of her DVD is what actually led me to look into yoga, and I've slowly been implementing it into my mornings. (Let me know if you have yoga tips; I'm a true beginner and have no idea what I'm doing. I obviously want to do yoga to improve my balance, posture, strength, etc., not for the "spiritual" benefits. God is all I need when it comes to that.)

Pros:

  • Easy to customize. Her DVD is separated into clear portions, making it easy to create your own workout plan. 
  • Props. Yoga mat, a chair for balance, some weights, and that's it (you do need three different sizes of weights, though). 
  • Time. You could spend anywhere from 15 - 45 min., or even decide to just do the yoga/stretching portion.
  • Cardio + strength. You get a lot from these workouts.
  • Explanations. Leah tells you exactly what to focus on and why you're doing the movements a certain way. 

Cons:

  • Weights. I don't know about you, but I haven't spent my time obtaining a collection of weights in my closet. I'd prefer to go to the gym or get outside. So it really bothered me that she used 3 different sizes of weights - light (3 lb.), medium (5 lb.), and heavy (8 lb.). I ended up using my 5 lb. weights for the entire thing. 
  • Cardio. The movements can be somewhat confusing. You're holding weights and doing reps, but at the same time, you're trying to "dance" to music? You can choose to block out one or the other - do the reps with weights and cut out the extra movements, or focus on the cardio and take out the weights.
  • Monotony. The workouts are the same for the entire pregnancy, so the only ways to mix it up is to combine the 15-minute sessions in different ways. I get a bit bored with this. And also frustrated, since my body goes through so many changes in that 9-month period.
  • Water. She also does not allow time for water/breaks, so this is something you have to pause the DVD to do. Which means that you're lengthening your workout time. 

Overall, I have been able to use both DVDs to serve my purposes without too much tweaking. I have minor annoyances with both, but that probably has more to do with pregnancy hormones than anything else!

Let me know if you have any more questions about the personality/style differences. Some people like to have more control over their workouts, and others don't. That is the main difference between these two women's takes on pregnancy fitness.




Please, please be careful in any exercise methods you choose while pregnant! It is very important to retain muscle mass, energy levels, and circulation, but not to focus on actually gaining these things. It is easy to push yourself too far during pregnancy. And of course, always mention to your doctor/midwife what you are doing to stay fit.

If you're interested in yoga, it can be a fantastic addition to your exercise regimen. Yoga focuses on breathing and focusing/meditating - things that can help you prepare to be calm during the rigors of labor and delivery. Make sure you choose sequences meant specifically for pregnancy, or choose poses that are simple. Yoga is also about balance (something you probably don't have much of in the third trimester!) and you don't want to test this too much. Obviously stay away from poses that get you on your belly or lay you on your back for a prolonged period of time.


Nifty Tip #3
Frozen fruits and veggies. I used to look down on these "lesser" versions of raw things, but man, are they helpful in life! I don't actually like eating healthy. So when it comes to adding a serving of veggies or fruits to a meal, I take any excuse to back out. Salads? That takes way too long. But popping a bag of frozen broccoli in the microwave? That, I can do. Frozen fruit is also excellent to add to smoothies, cereal, or yogurt in the mornings. 


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