Just Push Play: Prenatal Workout DVDs We Love

Excrcise DVDs to keep you fit before

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1. Prenatal Yoga

Features: Yoga, stretching, breathing; bonus prenatal massage segment
Run time: 60 minutes
Highlights: This easy-paced program features creative, flowing prenatal yoga postures. Instructor Shiva Rea demonstrates the first-trimester modifications, while two pregnant women demonstrate those needed in the second and third trimesters. The use of props helps make the program easy to follow and adaptable to your growing belly.
Recommended props: Sturdy chair or stool; yoga mat, carpet or rug; yoga strap or towel; blankets; pillows; yoga block
Why we like it: The set and music are beautiful, Rea's voice is very calming, and she shows you how to modify the poses to meet your specific needs.
Real mom's comment: "I loved the slow, flowing movements and Shiva's calm, encouraging voice. I also liked the fact that there are women in all three trimesters doing the moves--it gives me more options." -- Erica Long, Valley Glen, Calif.
Our favorite move: Supported Side Angles
Sit erect on an armless chair or stool with your feet farther than shoulder-width apart, abdominal and pelvic-floor muscles drawn in. Turn your right foot out and bend your right knee until it's over the ankle. Straighten your left leg and turn your left foot out at a comfortable angle, keeping it flat on the floor. Reach your left arm up and over to the right, placing your right forearm on your right thigh and leaning your torso to the right (shown). Hold for 3 full breaths, then return to starting position. Switch sides and repeat. Stretches torso and strengthens abs, relieving lower-back discomfort.

Gaiam, 2004; gaiam.com

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2. Tracey Mallett's 3 in 1 Patented Pregnancy System

Features: Pilates, yoga, light weight training, partner stretching
Run time: 60 minutes
Highlights: This unique system incorporates the disciplines of Pilates, yoga and strength training into an all-in-one, carefully paced program. Master Pilates instructor Tracey Mallett demonstrates the proper modifications for the second and third trimesters, while her assistant demonstrates the first. Postnatal fitness also is addressed. As a bonus segment, Mallett's husband, Chris, a physical therapist, assists with partner stretching.
Recommended props: Yoga mat, carpet or rug; three pillows; large towel; light hand weights; sturdy chair
Why we like it: Mallett takes a lot of time to explain the safety tips and modifications needed during all three trimesters. She also has a playful, personal teaching style that helps you feel comfortable and enjoy the workout.
Real mom's comment: "I am not usually a Pilates and yoga person and I still think this video is fantastic. I like that Tracey included a good deal of upper-body conditioning in the program. The setting in which Tracey performs the workout is very homey and soothing, contributing to the overall calm feeling of the video. The partner stretching was a nice extra touch." -- Michelle McKeon, Wilmette, Ill.
Our favorite move: Supported Leg Swings
Lie on your right side with pillows under your hip, belly, shoulder and head for support. Bend your right elbow and rest head in hand, left hand flat on the floor in front of your chest, legs in front of hips at an angle, knees slightly bent. Draw your abs in and allow your body to relax on the pillows. Keeping your hips still, inhale and swing your left leg to the front, then exhale as you swing the leg to the back (shown). Do 10 repetitions, then switch sides and repeat. Strengthens hips, buttocks and abs.

ATP Fitness Productions Inc., 2005; traceymallett.com

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3. Jennifer Gianni's Fusion Pilates for Pregnancy

Features: Pilates, strength moves, stretching, breathing techniques
Run time: 65 minutes
Highlights: Led by Pilates Master Trainer Jennifer Gianni, who was in her third trimester during taping, this program features classical Pilates technique with a yoga twist and modifications for all three trimesters. Focusing on the changes your body experiences as pregnancy progresses, this program demonstrates strengthening moves that will prevent common aches and pains and prepare you for labor.
Recommended props: Dowel or broomstick; sturdy stool or armless chair; small rubber ball; pillow; light dumbbells or soup cans; yoga mat, carpet or rug
Why we like it: Gianni is a gracious instructor, and we especially love the smooth, progressive flow of the exercise sequence and the attention to modifications.
Real mom's comment: "I liked the specific exercises this DVD had to offer and the aesthetic look of the video's location. Gianni seemed very happy and friendly, and that made me feel very comfortable." -- Roseli Singer, Encino, Calif.
Our favorite move: Table Tops
Sit on the floor with your knees bent and shoulder-width apart, feet flat on floor and wrists directly under your shoulders. Draw your belly in and raise your chest, keeping your neck long. Inhale, then exhale as you raise your hips even with your knees while straightening your arms; squeeze your thighs and buttocks (shown). Slowly lower your hips to the floor and repeat. Strengthens hips, thighs, back, arms and abs; improves posture.

Tapeworm, 2004; fusionpilates.com

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4. Leisa Hart's FitMama: Prenatal Workout

Features: Salsa dance, yoga, labor prep, ab exercises, stretching, relaxation
Run time: 60 minutes
Highlights: This energetic workout is taught by fitness professional Leisa Hart, who was well into her third trimester during the taping. Modifications are demonstrated for all three trimesters, and bonus sections detail labor positions and a self-check for diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles).
Recommended props: Large towel for propping; yoga mat, carpet or rug; yoga strap or long rectangular towel; yoga ball
Why we like it: Hart is motivating and enthusiastic, and the Latin-tinged music is upbeat. She pays great attention to detail, such as demonstrating specific breathing techniques throughout the workout and reminding you to drink enough water. In fact, she talks as if she were right there in your living room.
Real mom's comment: "I love salsa dancing, and this DVD is something that I would definitely use and enjoy doing at home. I loved the music--it made me feel sexy, and I had fun with it." -- Olga Dzilvelis, Woodland Hills, Calif.
Our favorite move: Cardio Salsa Dance Steps
Stand with your feet farther than hip-width apart. Take a step to the front with your left foot, rocking onto the foot in a mambo step; sway your hips and wave your arms over your head (shown). Bring your arms back down as you step back onto your left foot and bring your feet together. Repeat with the other foot. A fun cardio move that helps you feel sexy as your belly grows.

Goldhil Entertainment, 2003; naturaljourneys.com

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5. 15 to Fit: Prenatal Fitness Designed for the Total Body

Features: Weight training, yoga, Pilates, partner stretching
Run time: 100 minutes
Highlights: Designed by strength coach and mother of two Patrea Aeschliman, this program consists of six 15-minute segments (each with a tiny clock in the corner of the screen to help you keep track of time). The yoga and gentle stretching segment is conveniently designed to do with or without a partner. Bonus sections include exercises to improve posture and a postnatal ab segment, as well as breastfeeding information, Kegel exercises and detailed information on performing a self-check for diastasis recti.
Recommended props: Light dumbbells; exercise tubing; large stability ball. Optional: yoga mat, carpet or rug; pillows; two chairs; 2- to 6-pound weighted medicine ball
Why we like it: Aeschliman creatively incorporates weighted medicine balls, stability balls and resistance tubing into the workouts, and she pays close attention to proper form and trimester modifications. This DVD offers several different high- and low-intensity workouts to suit your mood.
Real mom's comment: "As a mother of five and a prenatal fitness instructor, I think this is a great DVD for moms who are new to weight training during pregnancy. It covers all the exercise basics and trimester modifications. I also found the countdown clock for each segment to be helpful." -- Bridget Cohen, West Hills, Calif.
Our favorite move: Posture Strengtheners
Lie on your right side with a 3- to 5-pound dumbbell in your left hand. Bend your knees and bring your legs slightly to the front, abs drawn in. Put pillows under your head, belly and between your lower legs for comfort. Place your left arm in front of your chest at an angle, palm down, and allow the dumbbell to lightly touch the floor. Slowly lift your left arm toward the ceiling, squeezing the muscles in your upper back, and pause (shown). Slowly bring the arm back down to the floor. Do 15 reps, then switch sides and repeat. Strengthens upper back, improves posture.

Visionary, 2004; 15tofit.com

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6. Prenatal Yoga: A Complete Home Practice for a Healthy Mother and Baby

Features: Yoga, breathing exercises, guided relaxations
Run time: 120 minutes
Highlights: Features three yoga practices that are perfect for all three trimesters. "Open" consists of 25 minutes of seated and kneeling poses to connect your body, mind and breath. "Focus" involves 30 minutes of standing and seated poses to energize and build strength. "Surrender" consists of 20 minutes of floor poses to help you relax and release.
Recommended props: Yoga sticky mat; three large, firm pillows; stack of folded blankets; wall for additional support
Why we like it: The easy pace and creative sequencing of the moves are truly relaxing and enjoyable. The set is visually appealing, the music soothing and the voice-over soft and calming. We especially love the attention to trimester modifications.
Real mom's comment: "As the former editor of a yoga magazine, I've seen a lot of yoga videos. This is one of the best--pregnant or not. It's clear and concise, and the relaxations at the end are fantastic for overwhelmed moms-to-be." -- Hillari Dowdle, Knoxville, Tenn.
Our favorite move: Relaxation (Feather)
Lie on your right side with both knees bent and place a large, firm pillow between your lower legs. Put a large pillow under your head and another under your belly (shown). Breathe slowly, allowing your belly, face and throat to relax. Feel your body begin to soften into the floor and pillows, as if you are lying on clouds. Imagine you are soft, light, open and free, like a feather drifting in the wind. Stay in this position for 5-10 minutes, then slowly come to a seated position and breathe deeply. Relaxes you completely, easing your mind and preparing you for labor.

The Movement Center/Rudra Press, 2005; prenatalyogadvd.com

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