Doing Pilates at Home, During and After Pregnancy

By Liana Mauro – March 1, 2014
photography by Fotohogg Photography

As a Pilates instructor who strives to create workouts suitable for any level of fitness, I love learning as much as possible so I can best serve my clients. Watching Pilates DVDs is an easy way to do this, so I was happy to have the opportunity to review Erica Ziel’s Knocked-Up Fitness DVDs. Ziel is Stott Pilates certified as well as a personal trainer and nutritionist.

Released in 2012, these DVDs are Ziel’s first and they are impressive—helpfully, they also include an exercise band and booklet with a variety of useful tips. Ziel’s DVDs capture a growing market as women now know the importance of staying fit and healthy throughout their pregnancies. Ziel appropriately describes her workouts as for the “active mom-to-be” and differentiates herself from the plethora of easy Pilates DVDs. Ziel herself has gone through several pregnancies and childbirths—it’s quite clear she knows what she’s talking about. Her unique fusion of Pilates, yoga, and plyometrics is creative, fun, and challenging.

To do the workouts, watchers need a mat, stability ball, 1 to 3 pound weights, 5 to 10 pound weights, a resistance band, a small pillow to sit on, and a standard chair.

Ziel created two DVDs in the prenatal set and two in the postnatal set. Both are broken up into different workout segments. Throughout the DVDs, there are tips on exercising efficiently and visual examples of modifications for particularly challenging exercises. She recommends doing her workouts up to six times per week along with 30 minutes of cardio six times per week. Despite the lack of several modifications, this seems to be a well-rounded, safe, and effective exercise program for both pre- and post-natal women.

Ziel’s presence throughout the videos is bright, knowledgeable, and fun. Watchers also have the ability to mute her cues, which is a nice option once one becomes comfortable with the exercises. Throughout the videos she encourages women to listen to their bodies, often providing a smaller screen within the primary screen for modifications. Her arm sections are particularly creative, and she incorporates a lot of lower bodywork into the arm sections, which helps keep the heart rate up. To make some sections more challenging, she recommends repeating them one to three more times. Each segment varies between eight and 27 minutes. One downfall is that the DVDs lack the option to play the workout from beginning to end.

In the prenatal DVDs, Ziel efficiently explains the benefits of practicing Pilates throughout pregnancy to assist with labor and recovery, as well as the importance of retraining your deep abdominal muscles post-baby and knowing how to properly engage them. She also emphasizes important things for pregnant women like lateral rotation through the hips, spinal mobilization, and gluteal strengthening. She does include a helpful section on how to engage the pelvic floor, but it’s at the end of the prenatal DVD. Given how important this is throughout exercise, particularly during pregnancy, this would have been more appropriate in the beginning.

The biggest negative is her inclusion of several exercises in a supine position, while neglecting to mention this might not be appropriate for certain individuals—women are often advised by their doctors to avoid lying on their back after entering their second trimester. She also didn’t make mention of shoulder/wrist alignment during side plank sections. Many people aren’t familiar with proper alignment when side planking, and someone can put a lot of strain on their shoulder girdle if not lined up properly. These things being said, these are great prenatal DVDs.

The first DVD for post-baby begins with how to retrain your core with Kegel exercises and how to know whether or not the abdominal muscles split during pregnancy (this is important to know to appropriately rebuild abdominal strength). This DVD set is challenging, and she encourages moms to be patient as they regain strength. Like the prenatal videos, the exercises in these DVDs are full body but also include short bursts of cardio workouts by using plyometrics. Ziel encourages moms to schedule these DVD workouts to make sure to fit in their exercise. The post-baby DVDs are fun, creative, and sure to help new moms get back into fantastic shape—or even better shape than before.

Moms-to-be, newbie moms, and even moms with older babies who are looking for an effective, safe, and fun way to stay in shape, get back in shape, or get into shape would do well to purchase these DVDs. If at-home fitness is more convenient or preferable, these are great; I have even incorporated some of these moves into my clients’ sessions. There’s no need to have a “Mummy tummy” with Erica Ziel’s Knocked-Up Fitness.

 
 

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