Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Workout Review: The Perfect Pregnancy Workout DVD

Even though I consider myself to be lazy, I’ve somehow managed to consistently workout since I started running (and started this blog) in 2006. Sure, motivation comes and goes, but for the most part, working out is part of my routine.

With pregnancy, working out is as important, if not more important, to stay healthy, strong and feeling as good as possible for as long as possible. Training for a long distance race right now isn’t in the cards, so I’m taking this opportunity to mix it up. I easily get two or three good cardio workouts in a week, as well as a prenatal yoga class, but my downfall, as it has always been, is strength training, which is why I invested in (and had the opportunity to borrow) a few prenatal workout DVDs. After they sat on my nightstand collecting dust for two weeks, I decided it was time to give one a try.

The Perfect Pregnancy Workout gets excellent reviews on Amazon, including several that contend that this DVD is appropriate for the intermediate and advanced exerciser--it's not some wimpy prenatal workout. The workout is 43 minutes with a five-minute warm-up, a 33-minute workout, and a 5-minute cool down. It is primarily a sculpting workout, with a decent amount of stretching, but no cardio. For this workout, I used a set of two-pound dumbbells, a set of five-pound dumbbells, a chair, and two big pillows from my couch. If you don’t have a carpet or rug to workout on, you’ll need a mat, and if you’re an intermediate or advanced exerciser, you can use a step (I didn’t have one handy), but you don’t need it.

Karyne Steben, a former Cirque du Soleil acrobat, is the instructor and narrator, and (according to the Amazon description), is “sporting a bikini to show off her third-trimester belly.”

I call that shorts and a sports bra, but whatever. Her narration is a little on slow and soothing side and combined with the meditate-y yoga studio music, it doesn’t really make you feel ready for an energizing workout. However, the plus side is that she’s totally not annoying like some other workout DVD instructors.

The warm-up
The warm up felt like a cool down to me. Some of the reviews call the workout “yoga based,” and it definitely has a yoga feel to it at the beginning. She also does some static stretches before anything else, which is a debatable practice in the fitness community. I don’t think this is too detrimental, but you have to be careful not to over stretch if you’re not warmed up.

The workout
Here’s what I liked: Beginning, intermediate and advanced modifications are provided, and I used all three. Despite the narration and background music, I thought the workout had a pretty good pace to it. I didn’t get bored, though I did get tired a few times. My legs, which are significantly stronger than my arms, were definitely feeling the lunging, squats, and leg lift series. There was also an abs section (which used to pillows so your heart stayed elevated while laying on your back), which I thought was appropriately challenging. And finally, the instructor did several sets of those all-important kegels. I don’t know about you, but from what I’m told, I should be doing kegels all the time, and I forget to do them.. oh just about... all the time. As weird as it might be to watch a DVD that’s telling me to squeeze my lady business, it’s helpful to have the reminder.

Here’s what I thought could be improved upon: There wasn’t a lot of time to set up for a new set of moves. She moves quickly from one exercise to another without any breaks or time to get the equipment you need. I felt that the arm work with dumbbells was lacking slightly. She did maybe three exercises with dumbbells (mostly shoulder work), as well as pushups and triceps dips, and arm circles for several minutes, which was incredibly difficult (seriously, the last move during the workout portion is arm circles, and it felt like they were never going to end). However, I thought the arm work could have been rounded out a little. 

The cool down
The cool-down was pretty standard, and felt a lot like the warm-up. It did seem to end rather abruptly with the instructor saying to lay back on the pillows. I was all, “Yes, nap time,” but then I was confused that it was over.

Overall, I thought it was a solid sculpting workout and, with my limited prenatal fitness knowledge, seemed safe and effective. I did not break a sweat, but I probably would have if I had used a step and taken a few less breaks.

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