April 3, 2013 Evie 31Comment

Prenatal Exercise DVDs (461x700)One of my biggest struggles during this pregnancy has been finding time for myself—not just for the relaxing or fun stuff, but to exercise. Once my doctor informed me that I had gained about twice as much weight one month as is advisable, I knew it was time to start taking my health more seriously. Couldn’t I at least carve out 30 or 40 minutes a day to get my blood pumping?

Now, I have to admit that I’m not a super fit person. And, actually, I hate to exercise; I only do it because I know I should. That’s why I tend to exercise in the privacy of my own home, on my own time, in my pajamas :)  I’ll never be motivated enough to get to the gym routinely, and I’ll always be self-conscious there. So, exercise DVDs are my best friend.

During my first pregnancy, I struck gold with a prenatal Pilates DVD that I just loved. But, doing the same exercise routine every day is boring. Without a limitless budget to try out a bunch more DVDs that I might hate, I turned to our amazing county library for some new (to me) prenatal exercise videos. I checked out each and every one, and proceeded to try them all, jotting down notes about what I loved or hated about each.

Since great prenatal exercise DVDs are so hard to find, I’ll share my research with you!

10 Minute Solution: Prenatal Pilates

  • My go-to DVD, I love that it’s broken down into 10-minute segments (great for people like me who have a short attention span or lack of time!), so you can create a personalized workout that meets your body’s needs.
  • The DVD has five segments, which you can select from or do all together:
    • Standing Pilates
    • Pilates for buns & thighs
    • Core Pilates
    • Total body Pilates
    • Pilates for flexibility
    • (Plus, a “Flat belly fast” postnatal workout)
  • The pace is pretty fast, transitioning from exercise to exercise quickly to make the best use of the ten minutes, but it never feels strenuous. It’s also hard to get bored, because you never do more than 8-10 reps of any given exercise.
  • The Pilates exercises in this video don’t vary too much from those in the regular 10 Minute Solution: Pilates video (which I also own and love). There are just lots of thoughtful adaptations to accommodate a growing belly.
  • Note: You do spend some time on your back, especially doing the “core Pilates” segment, but it’s a matter of a few minutes, which my doctor has assured me is totally fine for you and the baby.

Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga with Jennifer Wolfe

  • This is, by far, the best prenatal yoga DVD I found! The old version that I checked out of the library had only one 75-minute-long practice, which was just too much. Now, they’ve got a “short forms” version that offers 15-, 30-, and 45-minute practices—just right!
  • Not that I’m a yoga fanatic, but I’ve taken my fair share of classes over the years, and I tend to prefer something that will actually get me sweating. Since Ashtanga is out of the question this late in a pregnancy (for me, at least!), Vinyasa, with its focus on breathing and flow, is a perfect middle-ground.
  • By about halfway through the 75-minute DVD, I was definitely breaking a sweat, but the pace and poses never felt too strenuous, and overall, it was a relaxing experience.
  • I also appreciated the variations that were offered for each trimester.
  • The only caveat? This DVD may not be ideal if you’ve never done any yoga before. It does assume a certain level of background knowledge.

Prenatal Yoga with Desi Bartlett

  • If you’re looking for a slow-paced, super relaxing, aesthetically pleasing yoga workout, this is the way to go.
  • The DVD is broken down into five segments:
    • Meditation (2 min.)
    • Floor sequence (10 min.)
    • Standing sequence (20 min.)
    • “Restoratives” (10 min.): stretches
    • Shavasana (3 min.)
  • I loved the beautiful indoor setting and relaxing music in this DVD. You can also choose whether you would like to hear the instruction (voice over) + music, just listen to music, or get a Spanish audio track.
  • However, despite the package’s claim that “you’ll work on strengthening your body and increasing energy and stamina,” the pace was so slow that my heart rate was never really elevated. I didn’t even feel particularly loose at the end of the 45 minutes. This was relaxing, but it was not “exercise,” in my book.

Crunch Yoga Mama: Prenatal Yoga

  • If you’re just looking to get a pleasant, relaxing stretch and don’t mind the out-of-date, industrial scenery, start here.
  • After all the introductory chatting, there’s really only 30 minutes of yoga instruction, which incorporates some “half sun salutations,” two or three modified standing poses, and some floor stretches.
  • Although this wasn’t a traditional “workout” in that it got my blood pumping, I did feel especially limber afterward, especially in my hips, which are a huge trouble spot for me.
  • Unlike some of the other yoga videos, this one had a whole classroom full of women, most of whom it was obvious are not trainers or yogis themselves—just normal women at different stages of their pregnancies.
  • Some modifications were offered, but they were largely unnecessary for me, even late in my pregnancy, since the routine was so slow and gentle to begin with.

You: Having a Baby Workout

  • If you want a quick, 20- to 30-minute workout made up of lots of reps but low resistance, try this DVD.
  • I liked that this video offered three separate workouts for each trimester, but I was disappointed to see that only the first- and second-trimester segments are 30 minutes long; the third-trimester segment is a too-short 20 minutes.
  • The (rather bland) setup for the third-trimester workout consisted of a pregnant woman performing standing or seated exercises (some with optional weights) alongside trainer Joel Harper.
  • I appreciated that my heart rate was up, even during this brief workout, which incorporated some unconventional exercises, like “butt clenchers” and “tight jeans.”

Fit Mom: Prenatal Fitness

  • If you’d like a traditional, fast-paced, aerobic workout, this video’s the way to go.
  • Generally, I’m not really coordinated enough for aerobics, but this DVD offered lots of explanation and repetition, so I could keep up.
  • By the end of the 40-minute workout, my legs and arms definitely felt toned, but my lower back was actually sore from some of the bending.
  • Most of the moves were done while standing, with some floor work. Occasionally, adaptations were offered (e.g. using a chair for support, or avoiding curls).
  • This workout felt pretty intense, but it wasn’t super long when you account for the warm-up and cool down, so it wasn’t unreasonable.

Erin O’Brien’s Prenatal Fitness Fix

  • Although this video looks amateurish (literally shot in someone’s living room), it definitely provides the most intense workout of the bunch. If you want to get your heart rate up (at the risk of feeling sore for the next couple of days, which I did), this might be your video.
  • The DVD is broken down into four segments:
    • Warm-up (7 min.)
    • Dynamic movements (15 min.): think squats, push-ups, and some ballet
    • Floor work (10 min.)
    • Stretch & relaxation (6 min.)
  • O’Brien is a “pre/postnatal exercise specialist” whose fast pace and talk of keeping our heart rates up sounds like what you’d get from any personal trainer in a gym.
  • Although I found I could keep up, this DVD’s “modified Pilates, kegels, sports conditioning, and true-blue body sculpting” are probably too tiring to do more than once a week during your third trimester.

Gabrielle Reece: Fit and Healthy Prenatal Workouts

  • If you have a fully stocked arsenal of exercise equipment and a friend nearby who can assist with some of the exercises, you can get a nice workout akin to what you might get with a trainer at the gym from Reece’s DVD.
  • The DVD claims to offer six 15-minute workouts, but they’re actually broken down like this:
    • First-trimester warmup, exercises, and cool down
    • Second-trimester warmup (7 min.), exercises (20 min.), and cool down (9 min.)
    • There are no workouts for the third trimester.
  • The exercises offered are definitely designed to keep you toned and tight, even during pregnancy, but
  • I was surprised by how much equipment was necessary/suggested to complete the exercises: an exercise band, 3 sets of weights(?), an exercise ball, a chair, a towel to use as a “splint,” etc.
  • Without some of these materials, I had to abstain from or modify probably 20% of the exercises, making me feel like I got less than a full, well-rounded workout.
  • Plus, Reece has a trainer on-hand to help her setup for all these exercises, which almost seemed necessary given the pace at which they jumped from exercise to exercise.
  • I was left wondering about the trainer’s knowledge of prenatal concerns since the substantial cool down missed major pregnancy trouble spots, like calves.

Leisa Hart’s Fit Mama: Prenatal Workout

  • Sadly, you probably want to skip this DVD all together, unless you’re a huge Leisa Hart fan (you know, Buns of Steel lady) or really want a prenatal Salsa workout.
  • Being that I’m not a super coordinated dancer when I’m not pregnant, doing fast-paced Salsa in my third trimester is a ridiculous notion for me, so I stuck with the other segments on this DVD:
    • Yoga Fat Burn (20 min.)
    • Labor and delivery prep (6 min.)
    • Prenatal stretch and relax (8 min.)
  • Just to clarify, the “Yoga Fat Burn” segment does not constitute yoga! There was one variation on the warrior pose in the super repetitive sequence, which neither felt nor looked like yoga. And in terms of “fat burning”? Not a chance.
  • The L&D portion could have been useful, but it was really short (6 min.), and it probably wouldn’t have been as helpful to a first-time mom, unfamiliar with Kegel exercises, since there was no explanation of them, whatsoever.

Do you have a favorite prenatal exercise DVD? Please share!

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The links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and buy an item, we will receive a small commission. Regardless, I have offered my honest opinion of each DVD and only recommended those I found useful. We are disclosing this information in accordance with the FTC’s “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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31 thoughts on “The Best (and Worst) Prenatal Exercise DVDs

  1. This was extremely helpful. I’m a first time mom-to-be and I’m not a very “fit” person myself, although I wouldn’t say I’m a lazy person either. I’ve been searching Amazon and trying to find helpful reviews and yours was by far the best!
    Thank you so much!

    1. It’s so nice to hear such positive feedback!! A post like this takes a LONG time and a lot of work to put together, so I’m glad to hear it’s a help!

  2. Thank you so much for your article. I’ve been wanting to start exercising and and 17 weeks I wasn’t sure if there was somewhere I could start from besides walking. Which DVD would you recommend I use?

    1. Hi Makaita, I’m so glad you found this post helpful! Since I certainly don’t have a background in medicine or fitness, I can’t really offer any suggestions to you personally, but I definitely had my favorites among these DVDs: 10 Minute Solution: Prenatal Pilates and Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga with Jennifer Wolfe, in particular. Good luck with your pregnancy!!

  3. Hello, thank you for this article. I appreciate you taking the time to put this together. I am looking for something a little easier on my body this pregnancy since the dvd I am doing by Jillian Michaels is making me cramp. I have just found out I am pregnant and I am currently 4 weeks. I noticed how hard my workout was getting before I found out I was pregnant. I just had no energy and now it’s just making me sick. So I am looking for something that will keep me in shape this pregnancy. I am very scared I will gain more this time than what’s recommended. I gained 60 lbs with my first pregnancy so I would like to gain just the recommended 30 lbs this time. What dvd would you recommend for someone who is trying to keep any unwanted weight off? I take daily 60 minute walks around my neighborhood and I do Yoga Meltdown by Jillian Michaels on a daily basis as well. I just need to get a workout in that will make me break a sweat, but not hurt me or make me sick.

    1. I know what you mean about some of the workouts being too intense, Corinne. As I mentioned above, I don’t have a background in medicine or fitness, so I can’t offer any suggestions to you, personally, but I definitely had my favorites among these DVDs: 10 Minute Solution: Prenatal Pilates and Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga with Jennifer Wolfe, in particular. Good luck with your pregnancy!!

  4. Seriously THANK YOU for these reviews! I’m on my third pregnancy and was an avid Jillian michaels fan until I got pregnant (read: nauseous, constipated, exhausted= incapable of lifting a finger). I’ve been in the market for some prenatal DVDs – anything to help me tone and feel like I’m not just turning into a ball of mush! Your reviews are perfect and I love the way you broke down each DVD so we know exactly what we’re getting. Thanks for taking the time to do this!

  5. I’m so glad I came across your review! Before getting pregnant I did Jillian Michaels and attended yoga classes regularly. Unfortunately, there aren’t any credible prenatal yoga classes in my area and with the weather turning nasty, I haven’t been walking as much. That combined with all the temptations of holiday treats and celebrations and about to start my third trimester, I’m definitely starting to feel the lack of exercise. I’ll be on the hunt tonight for a couple of the dvds you’ve recommended!

    1. Yes, Tara! It was after Thanksgiving that my OB informed me that I was gaining weight too quickly, and that’s when I got down to business with these DVDs. I hope you find one that you love, and congratulations on your pregnancy!

  6. I am 48 and last week found out i had an ectopic pregnancy and had emergency surgery to remove it. At my follow up yesterday, my doctor found a viable embryo in my uterus. It looks healthy and my numbers are good, even though this is early.. I am
    out of shape. — i am 5 foot 4 and weigh 160 and the most i can do is walk slowly for about an hour. Usually i am a fit person but the past two years saw big weight gain and a slowing down for me. Finally my point: thank you so so much for doing all these videos. Now i have a much better idea of where to start after i recover from the surgery. And how to start out slowly. I went for a 40 minute walk today and feel beat but i am determined to get in shape for the sake of the delivery and the challenges that will lie ahead with older kids and a baby!

    1. Julie, I’m so sorry to hear about the ectopic pregnancy. I can only imagine how heart-breaking that must have been, but I’m glad to hear you’re pregnant again. Congratulations!!

      Some of these DVDs were very gentle and offered a lot of accommodations for different stages of pregnancy and different physical abilities. I’m sure you’ll find an exercise routine that suits you, but take it slow and listen to your body. Good luck!

  7. Teddi Bryant, Hotmamas! I love both her prenatal and postnatal workout DVDs. They are getting hard to find.

  8. My first pregnancy 7 years ago sucked so bad….I was exhausted, swollen, had high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and had a very rough L&D and ended up so sick for 3 days after giving birth I couldn’t even breastfeed! I’d really, really like things to be different this time around so I’m making a much more concerted effort to actually take care of myself. I’m going to trust your choices and get your top two to use on top of walking/hiking most days. Thank you for putting this together! I’m so tired (1st trimester) that the prospect of reading through hundreds of reviews on Amazon was starting to make me want to cry a little bit. :)

    1. Good luck with your pregnancy, Lindsay! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with these DVDs :)

  9. Thanks for these great reviews! I might give the Erin O’Brian video a second chance. I made the mistake of watching her second segment where she does poses with her husband. I was so turned off by the low production value/ amateur appearance/ disinterest of her husband I tossed my video into the “donation” bin. . I am willing to give her first segment a second chance because you make it sound like a great second trimester routine. Thanks!

    1. Interesting, Angela! I, too, was taken aback by the amateurishness of this particular video, but it was a pretty serious workout, in all fairness.

      I didn’t bother to watch the segment with Erin and her husband, since I was always doing the video on my own. I’m not sure why they would’ve included this section if her husband just ends up looking disinterested! Strange video, indeed.

      Best of luck with your pregnancy!

  10. Thank you for this post! I am having a tough first trimester…getting to the gym with my toddler to run just isn’t happening. I can barely keep my butt moving all day! I was sifting through tons of Amazon videos was still unsure about choosing a video. Then I found your reviews! I am looking forward to the 10 minute Pilates solution in the comfort of my home. THANKS!!

  11. I came across your blog by accident and am so happy I did. I’m 23 w pregnant and am missing my high intensity, hot yoga classes that I took 4 x a week for years prior to becoming pregnant. Prenatal yoga is very nice (and my instructor knows how to challenge me) but it’s just one day a week, if it’s not cancelled due to lack of interest. I ordered the Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga with Jennifer Wolfe based off your review, as well as the reviews on Amazon, and I can’t wait for it to get here. I also ordered 10 Minute Solution: Prenatal Pilates because I LOVE Pilates and I love the idea of getting a quick 10 minute session in before work in the morning, as well as the option to do a longer session when I get home/on the weekends. You seem to have really put a lot of work into this, and I am here to tell you I appreciate it, and my little girl will too!

  12. I love the YogaYin pregnancy dvd, have you heard of it? I love it because it is very relaxing and calming, (I am a bit anxious) and because the instructor is in her third trimester, and it came with a birth book. Is anyone scared about labor????

  13. This is my first pregnancy and I was looking for some yoga video reviews. This was perfect! I’m on Amazon now looking to buy Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga with Jennifer Wolfe. Thanks!!

  14. I am way behind the curve here but wanted to give two thumbs up to Erin O’Brien’s workout. It was strenuous but manageable and even though amateurish it felt like a real person was talking to me. I emphatically DO NOT recommend Lindsay Brin’s prenatal workout. She kept telling the viewer to “squeeze your buncakes” (I’m a grown woman!) and though she has an amazing body I found even the first trimester routine unchallenging.

  15. I have 10 min solution prenatal pilates. Its great. Whenever I do workouts i feel relaxed. For the parts where you have to lie on your back, I do modifications or on an incline surface or against the wall

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