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Charlene Prickett

This 1994 tape is intended for postnatal or very overweight women. It lasts almost 2 hours and is divided into four parts: kegel exercises, step aerobics, abs, and weights (obviously you're not supposed to do it all at once!). Note: I am not reviewing this workout as a new mother or as a very overweight person. I bought it as a recovery/lighter tape. I read that the workout was designed with unstable joints in mind (sometimes a problem for me) and has no-torque moves, so I decided to give it a try.

The tape starts right off with kegels. First Charlene explains the function of the pelvic floor muscles and the importance of the exercises. Then you go on to do about 6 minutes of kegels: the elevator (tightening the pelvic floor in steps) and super kegels (tightening the pelvic floor and holding for a count of 10). Charlene is alone in this part of the workout.

Before the step aerobic section, she gives general information on starting exercise after childbirth and the importance of consulting your doctor. Then she introduces your fellow exercisers, new mothers Tammy, Sue (who had a C-section), Bernie and Robin (a physiotherapist). Bernie is new to exercise; the others exercised before and/or during pregnancy.

In the step workout (30 minutes), Charlene is accompanied by Tammy and Sue. The step routine is low impact, using easy-to-follow moves (e.g. knees up, leg curls, straddle). I usually do floor aerobics and I'm still a beginner when it comes to step workouts. I can't cope with complicated moves, so this workout suits me fine for now. Charlene keeps it from becoming boring by adding on to a move, and there is no repetitive taking it from the top. Near the end of the routine, there's a heart-rate check using the Borg perceived exertion chart.

In the abs section (about 20 minutes), the emphasis is on safety. All four new mothers join in. They start with ab bracing (holding a pelvic tilt while moving the legs). I found this more difficult than it looks. It requires concentration to do it properly. I found it is actually easier on my back (which is sometimes very sensitive) than traditional crunches. Also included are slow crunches and reverse curls. The ab work is followed by some exercises for the back (back extensions, and raising opposite arm and leg while lying face down). This section finishes with an exercise to strengthen the neck extensor muscles.

All four women join in the strength workout (about 45 minutes), showing the alternative positions and options for various exercises. You certainly get plenty of choices. The ab and strength sections do not start with a warming-up, so I do my own. For the lower body, the exercises are demonstrated using ankle weights and tubing. Charlene starts with quads; to illustrate the importance of strong quads in daily activities, we practise safe lifting techniques (you pretend a weight on the floor is the baby and have to pick it up). Other muscles worked are the hamstrings, glutes, abductors and adductors, biceps, triceps, delts, posterior delts, and rhomboids. Charlene says that you have to concentrate really hard to isolate the rhomboids and that it's "like learning to do the Spock salute". The strength section ends with toe curls to strengthen the feet. There is no final stretch; instead Charlene stretches between exercises.

The whole workout takes place in a bright airy studio. The music throughout is fairly non-descript instrumental "workout" music (sorry - I find it hard to describe!).

It's been a while since I had a baby (9 years), but I do think that this would be a good workout for getting back into exercise. I wish I'd had this tape! I like using it as my recovery tape, even though there's lots of post-natal talk in it. You should have seen my DH's face when Charlene introduced a modification with, "Now, if you have the episiotomy from hell...".

Instructor Comments: Charlene is cheerful, informative and she talks a lot. Some people find this annoying, but she doesn't simply indulge in inane chatter. I don't mind if she's talking as we work out, but once or twice in the strength routine she talks between exercises while you're waiting to continue. When you've heard the information a couple of times this is a bit annoying, so I fast forward through those bits. As usual she has done her homework and has lots of interesting facts to tell us about the post-natal period as well as exercise in general. She is careful to show you how to perform the exercises correctly, particularly the ab work. Throughout the ab and strength work she also shows you what not to do.

Glynis van Uden
gvanuden@home.nl
30 July 2000



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