Book Review: "Kettlebell Mommy" by Yoana Teran Casabianca
Yoana Teran Casabianca begins her book Kettlebell Mommy by explaining why kettlebells are ideal for expecting mothers. “I couldn’t think of a population more appropriate than pregnant women, who need the very qualities of spinal and pelvic stability,” she says in Chapter One. To my mind, this statement really sums up why kettlebells are ideal for pregnancy, and why Yoana's book is a great resource for pregnant moms. Despite a couple of formatting and editing issues, I would recommend it to any women who love kettlebells and want to continue using them during their pregnancy.
The first two chapters laid out all the typical pregnancy exercise do’s and don’t’s, as well as the general benefits of kettlebell training. I appreciated Yoana’s conversational tone in these chapters, and she referred frequently to her own experience during her two pregnancies, which made the material less dry than some other pregnancy fitness books I’ve read.
However, the third and fourth chapters really caught my attention. In the third chapter, Yoana discusses why kettlebells are ideal for the pregnant body. She provides some solid arguments as to how kettlebell training can counteract the stress that pregnancy places on the joints and ligaments. She also lays out the basic blueprint for her training routines and discusses the central role of stability, particularly during pregnancy. As she says, “If you are capable of controlling motion and stabilizing your body while performing movement, your chances of making it through the pregnancy with less orthopedic stress is increased.” Common sense, simple advice, but so easily forgotten.
I also appreciated her advice in Chapter 4 regarding modifications. Modification is one thing that really frustrated me during my own pregnancies. As a pregnant mom, you almost feel like you have to modify to keep your baby and you safe. Not so, says Yoana. “…if one constantly has to 'dumb' down the exercises to the point of holding onto tables and chairs for help, I question whether you should be working out at all…If you can’t perform a movement correctly you should not do that movement.”
Yoana gives a funny personal example from her own pregnancies. She describes how pistols became really difficult for her, and she could only do them if she sat in a chair. “If I was going to keep doing pistols using a chair and descend only until 90 degrees, was I really going to be doing a pistol? The answer is NO…so I swapped out the pistol for step ups and lunges (both excellent single leg movements).” I totally agree with this approach. Unless a woman has been totally inactive before her pregnancy and has trouble with basic movements, many modifications are unnecessary and detract from the effectiveness of the exercises.
Perhaps my favorite part of Yoana’s book are the exercises and training schedules. She provides detailed daily routines that focus on stability, as well as mobility, flexibility, strength, power, endurance, and conditioning. There is one chapter for each trimester of pregnancy, and each also has a workout journal section where moms can record their meals, amount of water they drank, exercise activity, and how they felt that day. Yoana also gives detailed descriptions and photos of postpartum exercises, including exercises to do while holding your baby.
I would recommend this book for pregnant moms who want kettlebell training advice for the prenatal period and after. If you haven’t trained with kettlebells before pregnancy, it’s probably not for you. There were a few downsides to the book, including some layout mistakes and grammatical errors. I also wish it was a bit longer! Overall, however, Yoana’s book is a great resource and an encouraging guide for kettlebell training during pregnancy.
"Kettlebell Mommy" is available online for $34.95 at DragonDoor.com.