Video Fitness

Optimal Pregnancy Fitness

IMPORTANT NOTE: All pregnant women should consult with their doctor about their exercise program. Always remember that the reviews on this page (and in the rest of the guide) are usually not written by fitness experts, and should *never* be used as a substitute for the advice of trained medical personnel.

Equipment needed: pillows, resistance band, optional chair for balance

Note: This is yet another review of a pregnancy video from someone who's never been pregnant. See my personal disclaimers at the top of the "Fit for 2" review.

Reine Vilim's "Optimal Pregnancy Fitness" was created with Dr. Marc Sklar, an obstetrician credited as executive producer of the video. Not coincidentally, this video includes a solid session of safety guidelines for pregnant exercisers that are based on the most recent ACOG guidelines. Reine and Dr. Sklar cover the ACOG guidelines for exercise during pregnancy, the benefits of exercising while pregnant, signs and symptoms of problems, and pregnancy-related changes (like increased blood volume, changing center of gravity, increased joint flexibility) that should be taken into consideration while exercising. They also explain the RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) scale used to judge workout intensity and even provide safety guidelines for use of power resistance bands for strength training.

The workout includes a 7 minute warm up, 20 minutes of low impact floor aerobics and moving resistance band toning, a 15 minute floor toning segment for abs, thighs and pelvic floor, and a relaxing stretch. There is a heartrate check at the end of the aerobics and before the floor segment to make sure that your heart rate isn't too high before lying down. Because of the short length of the aerobic section and the basic nature of the moves, this video would be most appropriate for beginning to intermediate exercisers or for those who want a lighter workout at later stages of pregnancy.

The resistance band strength segment includes chest presses, upright rows, bicep curls and tricep work. Reine also does some traditional floor work for the thighs. The ab exercises include seated exercises and "rollbacks" with a pillow, which imitate the effect of crunches without requiring the participant to lie in the supine position. After a series of "cat stretches," Reine leads a series of Kegel exercises for the pelvic floor. The routine ends with a nice slow stretch.

The music is a traditional aerobic mix (the same one in Cathe Friedrich's "Mega Step Blast," I believe), and the set is white with some subtle pastel lighting. I mention the set because the white background makes Reine's movements in her navy unitard easier to see and imitate.

Reine, who is 8 1/2 months pregnant in the video, has a pleasant voice and clear cueing. She has a no-nonsense style, and I liked the way she referred to the baby when giving form pointers (e.g. "pull the baby back to the back" instead of 'contract those abs"). It's likely to be more instinctive and descriptive for women who are less familiar with exercise lingo.

Availability: this video is available from Optimal Pregnancy Fitness, 1562 First Ave., Suite 311, New York, NY 10028. Phone/Fax (212) 517-2394.

Wendy Niemi Kremer


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