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Prenatal workouts to supplement running

prenatal-exercise-DVDsWhen I was pregnant, I continued running for as long as possible. I made my way to 37 weeks, 3 days — just 10 days before my daughter was born. Actually, the very day before I went into labor, I did do some short bursts of jogging mixed in with my 4 mile walk around the neighborhood. Maybe that was the final push I needed to get things rolling!

In the end, though, I wasn’t exactly logging long, quality sessions. In fact, I had mapped out a flat 1-mile loop around our house that I’d do a couple times at most. Even then, I developed a slow shuffle on our treadmill that, at several minutes slower than my normal, pre-pregnancy pace, still provided more than enough huffing and puffing. It was a slow, steady decline — and that was my goal. Feel good, even energized and ready for baby, versus challenging myself with hardcore workouts and races for the sake of running.

As my runs got shorter, I mixed in a lot more walking. I wanted more, though, and eventually I decided to supplement with cross-training of varying intensities. We didn’t have a gym membership at the time, so most of what I did came in the form of DVDs.

Here are three favorites:

Summer Sanders Prenatal Workout by GAIAM
I was skeptical of prenatal workouts from the start. I thought they’d be lame and not worth my while. This DVD showed me otherwise, that’s for sure. Summer Sanders is a former Olympic swimmer and mom of two. With three different levels — each appropriate for a different trimester — I wasn’t bored or left wanting more intensity with this DVD. If I was feeling good, I’d try to do trimester one no matter what stage I was in, if I was sick or tired — I’d skip ahead to trimester three.

A set of resistance bands or even light weights (2 to 5 pounds) is helpful if you’re considering checking this one out. Get ready for a lot of movement — but it’s all gentle and a nice change of pace from all the bouncing of running. There are also full length and express workouts from which to choose.

Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga by ELEMENT
I had wanted to take a prenatal yoga class during my pregnancy, but I just never got around to it and somewhere along the way, the class was no longer offered. This DVD provided the much desired stretch and stress relief I needed, all for the low price of $11. In the beginning of my pregnancy, I didn’t feel the yoga was very exciting or difficult, so I got somewhat bored. I modified and added in my own poses that felt right at that time. However, as my belly grew — around 20 weeks — and my center of balance changed, I began to really love and look forward to the sequence.

This DVD also includes a sequence for after baby is born. In those early weeks when I wasn’t running, I’d do some gentle walking and then stretch and center myself with some yoga.

Long & Lean Prenatal Workout by Suzanne Bowen
I’ve never been much into Pilates, but I felt like giving it a try when I was pregnant. This DVD features low impact (to no impact, really), standing moves that progress into more challenging floor work. It was great for weeks when I maybe didn’t get much activity in. Why? Well, it made me feel simultaneously strong and stretched — the whole package.

And there’s more! A bonus postnatal mat workout focuses on strengthening and toning those stretched abs after baby is born.

What are/were your favorite prenatal DVD workouts?

Written by  Ashley Marcin.