I’ve done a lot of pregnancy workout DVDs in my life. I have two children so far, and during both of my pregnancies I had a strange obsession with pregnancy workout DVDs. I’ve rented dozens from the library and watched just as many on YouTube and Netflix. I’m glad to say that Lauren Brooks’ pregnancy kettlebell workout is the newest addition to my repertoire.

 

The first thing that struck me about Lauren Brooks’ DVD, Baby Bells: The Fit Pregnancy Workout was its originality. This is the first prenatal workout  DVD I’ve come across to use kettlebells. Although you don’t have to have them, kettlebells definitely increase the intensity of the workout. That being said, you could do the DVD with a dumbbell or without any weights at all for a lower-intensity workout, which is also a plus during pregnancy.

 

The second thing that impressed me about the DVD was the way that Brooks tailored the exercises to pregnant women. Not only are all of the exercises safe to do during pregnancy, but they’re also particularly beneficial for the pregnant body. From the shoulder and neck stretches in the warm up, to the sumo squats and modified push-ups in the main segment, to the hip flexor stretch and squats in the birthing position in the final cool-down, Brooks knew just which muscle groups to target. As a Pre-Natal Fitness Specialist and mother of two, I noticed this aspect of the workout right away.

 

Here’s a brief overview of the workout, which is divided into three segments:

 

1. Warm-Up Segment

 

Brooks begins the workout with a brief four-minute warm-up that targets the shoulders, neck, hip and pelvic area. Brooks includes all of those great feel-good pregnancy stretches in her warm-up, including neck stretches, shoulder rolls and pelvic tilts. She finishes off with knee circles.

 

It’s only been 13 months since my last pregnancy, but I have to say that doing pelvic tilts and knee circles made me wish I was pregnant again. I never knew pelvic tilts could feel so good until I was eight months pregnant with my first baby! The warm-up segment is short but effective, and I would recommend all pregnant women do the routine when they wake up in the morning and before bed at night to relieve stress and relax the muscles.

 

2. Workout Segment

 

The DVD workout segment features three separate workouts, each of which is repeated twice. The first section is about six minutes long and includes halos, sumo squats, and kettlebell swings. The second section is a nine-minute workout that includes squats, push-ups, one arm rows, and overhead swings. The third and final section includes bicep curls, tricep extensions, alternate back lunges, clean and press, and side planks.

 

Brooks not only covers many of the most important muscle groups for pregnant women in this segment, but she also provides helpful modifications for many of the exercises. And of course, Brooks always emphasizes proper form and breathing techniques throughout the workout. Each section is repeated twice, and rather than simply saying, “Okay, now do that one more time,” Brooks actually takes the time to go through the repetitions with you, which I thought was very helpful.

 

3. Cool-Down Segment

 

In the cool-down segment, Brooks focuses on the lower body, with stretches for the hip flexors and glutes, as well as child’s pose. She ends the workout with squats in the birthing position, which are great for opening the hips and preparing for labor at any stage of pregnancy. Like the warm-up segment, I would recommend the cool-down segment on its own for an early morning or bedtime workout to relieve tension that often builds up during pregnancy.

 

Brooks also provides a helpful introduction and a section of guidelines and safety for pregnant women, which explain the benefits of exercise during pregnancy, as well as safety tips. The short closing section provides contact information and a cute shot of Brooks with her camera-happy toddler.

 

I said above that Brooks emphasizes proper form throughout the video. She does so in a particularly effective way - she’s pregnant! Brooks was a bit over six months pregnant when she filmed the DVD, and she looks amazing! I don’t know about you, but when I’m pregnant it definitely helps to see other big-bellied mama’s getting their kettlebell swing on. And Brooks does just that. She may not be as peppy and smiley as other prenatal fitness instructors. She may not have the flashy sets and skinny backup models that you find in other “sleek” DVDs (which I always found a bit annoying when my waistline was growing by the minute). But Brooks does have a few things that others don’t: the ability to inspire with a cute baby bump and a killer kettlebell swing. For these reasons, I would recommend her DVD for all pregnant women, as well as those in the postpartum period.

 

Lauren Brooks' "Baby Bells: The Fit Pregnancy Workout" is available at On the Edge Fitness for $27.99.

 

Also, check out Lauren's articles here at Breaking Muscle:

Getting Started with Kettlebells: How to Buy, Learn & Train

3 Strength & Conditioning Workouts for Kettlebells

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