Guess what I was doing at 11 PM last night.
I was working out.
Yes, that is outrageously late to be working out, but in my defense:
–There are people who, in my opinion, get up outrageously early to work out, and no one ever shakes a finger at them. I still managed to get 7 hours of sleep. (Sure, 8 would have been better…)
–I was doing a no-impact barre workout, so there was little to no sweating. I actually showered before working out.
My whole idea was to get in a quick 20 minutes of movement while my hair was air-drying. (For both hair health and laziness purposes, I always let it air dry for awhile before finishing it off with the blow dryer–something I love about showering at night vs. the morning.)
I’ve been doing Suzanne Bowen’s Slim & Toned Prenatal Barre Workout and loving it.
Suzanne is the creator of the BarreAmped method, which is the first kind of barre I ever tried and the one that got me hooked. As you probably know, barre is all about tiny, controlled movements of very specific muscles, and it’s KILLER. It almost cracks me up when I realize I’m barely moving at all and yet my muscles are screaming and my heart rate is elevated.
I think barre might just be the perfect prenatal workout. There’s no impact, so it’s incredibly kind to the joints and can be easily modified for any level of fitness and any trimester. Plus, there’s a lot of focus on the glute muscles, which are critical for pelvic floor health.
Here’s a quick intro to Slim & Toned:
The video is divided into four segments: lower body, upper body & core, cardio sculpt, and aligned stretch. The upper and lower body tracks are each about 20 minutes, the cardio track is 30, and the stretch is about 10-15.
I’ve been switching between the upper and lower body workouts regularly–usually pairing them up with some hill walking on the treadmill or short bodyweight/dumbbell workouts of my own. I’m not the hugest fan of the cardio track–there are some moves my knees don’t agree with, and I’ve just been liking getting my cardio elsewhere–but it definitely does get your heart rate up. The stretching track is great too (although it IS stretching so…yeah, a little boring).
Other things I love about this DVD:
—No long intros! I hate it when instructors start with several minutes of explanation about what’s coming. Sure, it’s fine the first time, but the whole idea is that you’re going to watch that DVD over and over again. Suzanne starts her workouts by saying “let’s tone the XYZ” and then dives right in. Perfect.
—Appropriate for all fitness levels. When I was originally looking for prenatal workout DVDs, I was slightly worried that I’d end up with something too easy and “dumbed down” for pregnancy. Sure, pregnant women have to be more careful about working out, but we still want to be worked out.
Barre workouts are awesome because they’re hard for everyone–fit, not fit, pregnant, not pregnant. In fact, the more you do them, the harder they get, as you perfect your form and learn how to really zero in on the right muscles in the right ways.
—Emphasis on the pelvic floor. I didn’t know much about my pelvic floor during my first pregnancy, and I paid for it. (I’m still paying for it!) This time around, I’m committed to learning as much as I can about how the pelvic floor works and strengthening the appropriate muscles to make postpartum recovery as easy as possible.
—Suzanne’s cuing. Suzanne has a very easy-going approach to cuing workouts. She doesn’t say quirky things that will annoy the crap out of you by the 10th viewing, and she doesn’t fill time with long spiels about how working out changes your life (which will annoy the crap out of you by the 10th viewing).
Her cues are simple: “up an inch, down an inch,” “itty bitty ups,” “kegel up,” “and lift, lift, lift”–with constant reminders about form adjustments, breathing, and zipping up the core. She also repeats an easy alignment phrase: “ears over shoulders over hips over heels.” And she’s great at letting you know what’s coming: “let’s do about 30 of these.” (I’m much more likely to push through the burn if I know there are only 5 reps left, vs. having no idea how long we’ll be going.)
It’s amazing how many reviewers on Amazon said they felt more fit and looked better than they did pre-pregnancy, thanks to this DVD. Not a bad perk, in addition to all the other benefits of exercising while pregnant. :)
In summary: I’m super happy with this DVD and recommend it to all my fellow preggos!
I’ll also be sharing some of the prenatal workouts I’ve written myself here soon, so stay tuned for that.
P.S. You can try a couple of Suzanne’s non-prenatal streaming barre workouts for free on her site. I’ve tried them and they ROCK.
Moms and moms-to-be: any other prenatal DVDs/workouts you’d recommend?