Out of Africa
...and into dance, with this FREE-SPIRITED PRENATAL WORKOUT
The dance Do each dance move in the order presented, completing the entire sequence 4–6 times; it should take a total of about 20 minutes. If you feel good, do it longer, or choose a particular move that you enjoy and repeat it as many times as you like. As you begin to dance, move smoothly and rhythmically to the drum beat, keeping your body close to the ground. Once you’ve mastered the sequence, you can add your own stylings.
Pay attention to your heart rate. If it seems to rise rapidly because you’re not used to this type of movement, slow down. Be sure the room is cool to avoid overheating, and drink plenty of water. As pregnancy progresses, you may want to keep your arms below your shoulders if you feel winded.
Cool-down Reduce movements to a slower, smaller range of motion for 5 minutes. Breathe deep into belly and repeat warm-up to release tension from hips and back. Complete workout by stretching all major muscle groups, including back, legs, calves, chest and shoulders. Hold each stretch to a point of mild tension for 20 seconds without bouncing. After stretching, sit cross-legged and do some deep belly breathing: Close eyes, inhale slowly for 6 counts, then exhale for 8 counts. Repeat l0 times.
1. Alternate kicks Stand with feet slightly apart, knees bent and heels on floor. Bend elbows in and slightly behind waist, squeezing shoulder blades together. Rotate forearms outward so palms face forward, fingers spread [A]. Straighten legs and kick one leg out in front of you, foot flexed, at the same time straightening both arms in front of you and lowering hands down toward extended foot, palms facing in. As you kick, round shoulders forward, contracting abdominals inward [B]. Lower leg back to starting position, bending knees. Bring elbows behind you by squeezing shoulder blades. Now kick with the other foot. Repeat for 16 alternating kicks. Strengthens middle-back muscles and abdominals; helps promote good posture.
2. Summer harvest After the last kick in exercise 1, separate feet wider than hip-width apart, knees and toes turned out to a 45-degree angle. Bend knees slightly and cross your arms over your belly, fingers spread [A]. Bend knees a bit more, then begin to straighten legs and lift one leg, knee slightly bent, up and to the side, flexing foot. As body lifts, raise arm on the same side as the raised leg to shoulder height [B]. Return to starting position and lift other leg and arm. Repeat for 16 alternating knee lifts. Strengthens legs and back muscles.