Ok, let me start off by saying that before you start working out while pregnant, I would advise you to invest in some baggy t-shirts and maybe a pair of bicycle shorts or sweats. DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT even contemplate putting on a leotard or unitard unless you looked like fitness guru Denise Austin BEFORE you were actually pregnant. Seeing yourself pregnant and in lycra could traumatize you so much that you'll have to run to your old friends Ben and Jerry for comfort, which of course, negates the entire benefit of a pregnancy exercise video!
Ok, that being said...I highly recommend Denise Austin's "Pregnancy Plus Workout" to pregnant women and new mommies. I purchased the video after "test driving" a bunch of different pregnancy videos that I rented from my local Blockbuster Video Store. I tried Jane Fonda, Buns of Steel, and a few others, and Denise Austin's was definitely my favorite. I found it to be the easiest to follow and the most comprehensive as far as incorporating aerobic exercise, flexibility movements, and strength training activities. It also "conforms with the guidelines of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists," according to the video's packaging.
The pregnancy portion of the workout is a thirty minute workout that includes aerobic exercise, stretching, and body resistance strength training activities. These exercises are designed to help ease common pregnancy aches and pains, such as hip and pack pain, and leg cramping. I found that after doing these exercises, I had considerably less lower back pain and my sciatic hip pain was also relieved somewhat.
For those who are "rhythmically challenged," the choreography in the workout is easy to follow, and Austin gives helpful suggestions on how to do all of the exercises correctly.
The video also has a helpful 20 minute workout for AFTER your baby is born. This workout can be slowly eased into as soon as your OB/GYN gives you clearance to begin light exercise after the baby is born. I did the stretching exercises during the first several weeks after my baby was born, but didn't begin any aerobic exercise until I'd had my six-week checkup, as that was what my doctor recommended.
People who are in excellent athletic shape before pregnancy may find this workout to be a little easy--they may want to save this tape for the last trimester of their pregnancy when they're not up to as much strenuous exercise. (Although one of my best friends, who is an avid exerciser used this tape throughout her pregnancy and LOVED it, so I would rent it first to check it out before you purchase.)
I was considered a high risk pregnancy throughout my first trimester, as I'd had previous problems with miscarriages and infertility, so I didn't begin exercising until I was in my 4th month of pregnancy. By then, I was pretty out of shape, so this video was very good for me. To me, this is a great video for people who are aiming for less-intensive exercise during pregnancy, or even for those who were not exercising prior to pregnancy, but now are trying to.
One of the only drawbacks I saw to the video was the fact that Denise Austin is sometimes just a bit TOO perky for me. I was really kind of a cranky pregnant woman...my normally sarcastic sense of humor turned just a bit more caustic while I was gestating. So, cutie pie little Denise sometimes rubbed me the wrong way. If I was having a particularly non-perky day, I would turn down the volume and just do the exercises. Non pregnant, I am much more tolerant of Denise's chipperness. She may not bother you.
The other thing that bothered me, which is utterly silly and superficial, is the fact that this video was obviously made in the late 80s...as the outfits the women wear (Denise is accompanied by several other pregnant women in the video) are all hot pink, lavender, and teal. Hmmm....the fashion police are coming for you Denise....
Overall this was a great investment for me, as I refused to enter the gym after I was about 6 months pregnant. I just couldn't keep up with the aerobics classes I frequented before pregnancy. This video was a great alternative for me.
As the video recommends, you should consult your OB/GYN before you begin this or any exercise program.
And remember...if you are faint of heart, I'd avoid those maternity leotards!
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