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So how are you doing on your fitness resolution?  I hope you got some exercise in today!

My review today is of Denise Austin’s Fit & Firm Pregnancy.  Denise has written 10 books on fitness and was in the longest running exercise program on TV.  I first discovered her program on Lifetime in 2000 when I was pregnant with my second daughter, Katie.  I used her program to help in loosing 60 lbs after Katie’s birth. My kids love her Fit Kids DVD. So I had high expectations for this DVD.

The DVD starts with the intro before the main menu, and you can not skip this intro to get to the main menu without watching it.  I guess you could use this time to lace up your shoes and make sure all your necessary equipment is ready.  Denise recommends watching the whole DVD before exercising along with it…which of course I didn’t do.  😉

The DVD has 5 major menu choices, “Breathing & Core Awareness, ” “Cardio Workout, ” “1st & 2nd Trimester Toning, ” “3rd Trimester Toning, ” and “Postpartum Reshaping.”  Each major menu choice has the choice to go directly to that workout segment, or to a description of that portion.  I didn’t look at any of the descriptions, just went to each work out segment.  I didn’t realize at first that near the bottom of the screen there was an option to “play all, ” which I assume will play all of the work out segments continuously instead of having to keep going back to the menu which disrupts the “flow” of the workout a bit.

The “Breathing & Core Awareness” section is a brief 5 minutes that includes instruction on breathing and kegel exercises.  She also talks about proper posture in pregnancy, explaining how a pregnant woman’s back curves more during pregnancy, and advising women to tuck their pelvis under to straighten the back.

I could not disagree more with this advice! Katy Bowman from the Katy Says blog is rolling over in her grave.  Okay, not quite because she isn’t dead…but she would be aghast…COMPLETELY.  Tucking under the tailbone to straighten the back?!?!? Seriously? Well I suppose if you are planning a cesarean birth that is okay…but if you are planning a vaginal birth,  don’t do it. A pregnant woman’t back is supposed to curve more…it is part of pulling the tailbone out to make more room for the baby to fit through the pelvis.  The increased curvature of the spine is also coming from the rib cage shifting backwards to re-align the mother’s center of gravity so that she doesn’t fall forward from the increased weight of her belly.

Okay…now that I got that off my chest…LOL!

The Cardio workout includes Denise Austin (who isn’t pregnant…I think she was about 46 years old when she shot the DVD for release in 2006) with 4 extremely cheerful pregnant women.  Someone must have been reminding them to smile…a lot.  There were no specific instructions given to modify the program for different points in the pregnancy, just a mention that you should modify it according to your comfort level.  One of the women in the back row was modifying the program, but with a total of 5 women on screen at most points, it might get difficult to focus on following her. The program was mild, and included patterns I recognized from some of her other DVD’s.  There seemed to be a high ratio of walking forward 4 steps, then walking backward 4 steps.  Sophie thought it was very fun to run circles around me while I was doing this, especially when I would walk foward 4 steps, V-step (which Denise calls “go wide”), then walk back 4 steps and V-step.  Denise’s cueing is not as good as Leisa’s in yesterday’s review, for example, “tap it out” means two different things at different points in the workout, but since the patterns are fairly simple, they would be easily learned after doing the routine 2 or 3 times.  I did notice that she wasn’t good about balancing right and left side activities.  For example, for a while she was doing 4 steps forward then a right kick, then 4 steps backward and a left knee raise.  She never switched this around to left kicks and right knee raises.

There are two different toning segments, one for the 1st and 2nd trimester, and one for the 3rd trimester.  For either segments viewers need a chair, handweights, a mat, and pillows; and for the 3rd trimester segment a towel is needed.  In the 1st & 2nd trimester segment Denise seems to base her modifications of the exercises more on issues of balance and fitness level.  In the 3rd trimester segment she recommends reducing the hand weight size down to 3 lbs, but I used 8 and 10 lb hand weights in my 3rd trimester with several of my babies, and I know women who use more.  Please weigh in if you know why the weight of the hand weights should decrease during the 3rd trimester!

The toning segments were very good overall, with focus on muscle tone, flexibility, and proper form for getting down onto the floor and getting back up.  However, I was surprised that she recommended doing standard “lay on your back crunches” in the 2nd trimester, something most pregnancy exercise guides discourage.  She did exercises with the women laying on their backs in both toning segments, each time cautioning that if a pregnant woman starts to feel dizzy she should just roll over to her side. 

There was an amusing faux pas at the beginning of the 3rd trimester toning segment.  In the segment Denise does two exercises that use the towel–one requires it to be placed behind the mother, while the other requires it to be placed in front of the mother.  She had two pregnant assistants with her for this segment, and obviously they did not know how she was going to start the segment because one started putting the towel behind her, and the other started putting it in front of her…but then it became obvious that Denise was doing an exercise with no towel!  So both women tried to nonchalantly move their towels out of the way.  It would seem that this should have been editted out, but it wasn’t.  Unfortunately, I think this example is a telling feature of the whole DVD.  It seems somewhat sloppily put together…as if Denise’s heart wasn’t really in it, but she was just doing it because someone told her “look, you haven’t done a pregnancy video in 20 years, and that one is REALLY looking dated, you really should do a new one.” You can trust me that it really looked dated, I used to have it…black and white striped pants and big 80’s mall chick hair as she was going to her OB to get pregnancy exercise recommendations…

Bottom line…as much as I like other Denise Austin products…I do not recommend this one.

I’m off to the library tomorrow…I’m wondering what treasures I’ll find there!  Do you have a pregnancy workout DVD that you’d be willing to lend me to review?  If you are local, I’ll pick it up from you.

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 250 user reviews.

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Posted in Book/Movie Reviews and Home 7 years, 4 months ago at 12:03 am.

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