Monday, December 29, 2014

Mum Abroad 4: The YouTube Roundup

Prenatal exercise. Fun, right? Especially on those mornings your head is spinning like a top, or the days you're more bloated than a Zeppelin. But, when I stick to my routine, I feel better, and I know it's good for Baby as well.

The pool by our house closed (boo!), the local gym with a new pool has a waiting list of 9000 to get in (!!), and I'm not keen on city biking with Baby. I do walk for at least 45 minutes each day, which is a great way to maintain fitness and get fresh air at the same time, but I'm also trying to develop muscles and postures to help with birth and taking care of Baby. I do daily squats and cat-cow stretches, but let's be honest - they're not really fun.

birthfit, lindsey mathews, pregnancy, fit pregnancy, pregnancy and exercise
read about the benefits of exercise during pregnancy here
Fortunately, there's Youtube. I can exercise in English! At home! With only a few pieces of equipment! I've found some gentle yoga videos I can use that actually help me feel better, and a series of 10 minute pilates and 20 minute cardio workouts I can use individually or combine when I'm feeling good. I've created a playlist with the videos I like and use so I don't have to go back and find them all the time.

It's important to make sure you enjoy the workouts you choose, and that they are appropriate for your stage/condition in pregnancy and match your pre-pregnancy fitness level. Since I was pretty fit before Baby, the only activities I'm used to doing regularly but am currently banned from are flamenco dancing (high heels and arms overhead for long periods of time), and skiing (for the fall factor). I'm also husband- and self- banned from biking in Madrid: It's unlikely I'd fall, but there is too much traffic and not enough respect for bike lanes in this city. I've also cut out running. With all the extra blood pumping around, I find I feel breathless quite quickly, and get frustrated instead of enjoying the exercise.

My doctor is very happy I'm staying active, and also that I pay attention and rest or stop altogether when I feel I need to. Apart from walking, I try for three cardio and three other workouts a week, including one studio yoga class, but I'm not a slave to a schedule. I do what works for me. I chose my videos (below) based on enjoyment of the exercise, (lack of) equipment needed, pregnant instructor, tone of voice, length, and background music.

Yoga videos:

I like Katy Appleton's 10 minute pregnancy series. She has trimester-specific workouts, but all postures are safe throughout pregnancy and postpartum. She explains how the body changes during pregnancy and how that effects exercise. It's also encouraging that Katy herself is pregnant in the videos, plus her studio is gorgeous and light-filled. A great watch.

For a longer routine, which I usually do at night before bed, I like Liza Janda's 25 minute video from YogaDownloads. Her voice is very relaxing, the postures are very clear and the modifications are straightforward.

When I do a shorter yoga video, I like to add on this prenatal meditation session as a change from my hypno-birthing CD.


I use one series, and that's Lizbeth Garcia's 10-minute Prenatal Pilates. There are 5 workouts focusing on different areas which can be done or mixed and matched (for example, I skip the stretching one since I prefer yoga postures). Lizbeth is near the end of her pregnancy in these videos, so I know I can do it at my stage, too! If I were at home, I would definitely get this DVD, but as I'm in Spain, it doesn't work in my zone.


I have a love-hate relationship with Denise Austin's Prenatal Cardio workout. On the one hand, it's Denise Austin, who knows what she's talking about. On the other, she's not pregnant in the video (although she has a bump posse working out behind her), she's very chipper and she has a very strong accent (sorry Denise - you really are great but sometimes I just like a quieter, softer voice encouraging me). Also, there are three simple routines, and as a dance/music aficionado, I like more variety.

I'm glad to have discovered JessicaSmithTV and the 20 minute cardio workout she designed for her pregnant sister, which they do in their living room. A home-workout for working out at home. Genius. Both of these ladies trained as modern dancers, so there's more variety in this routine. Jessica has a great website, too, with quick five-minute workouts for targeted areas.  She's a wellness coach as well as fitness trainer, and I like that her videos are about feeling good as well as looking good.

Both Denise and Jessica have pre and post natal strength training workouts, but I haven't used them regularly enough to comment either way. (I just love Lizbeth's pilates too much!)

Equipment (which you probably already have, hooray!)

  • good workout shoes (for walking, and for cardio videos if you need more support)
  • a comfortable workout wardrobe
  • yoga mat (don't substitute a blanket - it could slip on the floor and cause you to fall)
  • pillows, blankets, and/or yoga blocks
  • small hand weights or canned vegetables 
  • water bottle (I keep lemon water with a pinch of Himalaya salt within reach to stay hydrated) 
  • full length mirror or reflective surface (optional, but useful for checking for proper alignment - I use the glass doors on our curio cabinet!) 
  • exercise ball - for some yoga positions and to sit on, as it will help align your pelvis and strengthen your legs and core
*tip: test out your workout space before you get really into it, so you don't end up slamming your arm into the bookcase or kicking over the coffee table...

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