The following is a guest post from Kallah Oakes who is pregnant with her second child. I saw Kallah when she was only a few weeks along, and she told me she was planning on using The Pregnancy Project DVD throughout her second pregnancy. I had not heard of this method, and so asked if she could share with us a little about how the exercise program works and how she is faring (she is almost six months pregnant now). I wished that I had learned about this kind of exercise when I was pregnant as I think a lot of the running that I did was hard on my joints, etc.! I was especially interested in what she says about our mindset during pregnancy in regards to exercise. It’s good to workout but we shouldn’t be “results oriented” while we are allowing a child to grow inside! So true!
Enjoy…and let us know if you have used the DVD and how you rate it!
Hi! I’m Kallah, from the blog, Being Open to Life. As a young mother, I am passionate about taking care of my body, and I am 5 months pregnant with my second baby. This second pregnancy is already completely different from my first! For one thing, in the last year before my husband and I started trying for our second baby, inspired by my reading of Born to Run while glued to the sofa in those foggy early days of learning how to breastfeed a newborn, I set out on a training plan with my new Vibram Fivefingers to go from couch to running a 10k in about 10 weeks. (I stretched the plan out to more like 15 weeks since I was so concerned to give the tiny muscles in my feet proper time to develop with this new barefoot running). I went from being a very bad runner (slow and prone to shin splints) to a comfortable, confident, daily runner for a year, getting up to 10-15 mile runs for at least 5, sometimes 6, days a week. I wasn’t as fast as our dear Whitney on her slow days, but going from an eleven minute mile to a 7.5/8 minute mile was very fulfilling for me!
And I was blessed with a great jogging stroller and the sweetest little coach.
When going into and planning for this second pregnancy of mine, my biggest concern was how I’d be able to maintain this feel-good level of fitness. See, my first pregnancy, while I stayed relatively healthy and gained no more than 25 lbs, came upon me so quickly after getting married and graduating college that I wasn’t able to work-out much during it. I took very long walks daily, but I had been so stressed with school and wedding planning the year leading up to my marriage and our honeymoon baby that I had dropped my usual exercise routine. I was in no shape to sustain intense exercise, so I just watched what I ate and walked.
But these endorphins, man are they addicting! After the past year of feel-good-fitness, I had thought I would run through my second pregnancy – up until I actually got pregnant. Running was so hard on my body and I was shocked to see that I actually wasn’t able to conceive until I sacrificed some of my weekly mileage. This made me feel that my body hadn’t yet plateaued at this level of fitness. Reading the signs of my own body, I felt that running while pregnant would really be pushing my body – and that made me nervous. (I have the utmost respect for girls who do… I just found that once I was pregnant, I didn’t feel comfortable with it).
I felt that my situation is completely different from say, Kara Goucher, who famously ran daily while pregnant… her base level of fitness and physical comfort with running had so much more time to settle into a firm foundation. I personally didn’t think I could get away with what an Olympic runner can get away with. Or, for that matter, what a Whitney Hetzl can get away with! (Same difference, am I right?). All things considered, running through this pregnancy was just not worth it to me. I wasn’t confident on the question of safety.
But I was in luck. Right after I found out I was pregnant, I saw this lady on Good Morning, America receiving some flack for a comment she had made about women “ravaging their bodies” during pregnancy. To be fair, she was absolutely including herself! Tracy Anderson famously created her Method after the former professional ballerina finally lost 60 pounds of extra weight she had retained from having her first baby… She attributes that colossal weight gain to eating badly and not knowing how to exercise while pregnant. Watching her interview, I instantly brushed aside the criticism of her out-of-context comment, and immediately focused on her latest creation:
Tracy created this series while pregnant with this last baby of hers. She filmed while pregnant too!
The reasons I was so drawn to try out this workout project, despite the $49 price tag (high for an at-home workout), were several:
1) As I said before, I had been working out daily pre-pregnancy with high intensity, and I was dreading getting a Pregnancy Workout DVD that was made for women to be able to do who had rarely worked out before getting pregnant. I’m sure these workouts are still helpful, I just didn’t think it would give my body any real results after what it had been used to.
Tracy on the other hand, is known for being really tough on her clients. Her own level of fitness is quite intense!
2) Since this is only my second baby and I’m still relatively new to this whole pregnancy thing, I am not comfortable just “winging” it and pushing myself to do non-pregnancy workout dvd’s. I have a good friend who, I kid you not, did P90X every day of her last pregnancy. That being said… it was her 8th pregnancy. So! She felt (understandably) extremely confident deciding what was ok for her and what wasn’t.
I’m just not at that point yet.
I know there are several exercises you should not do while pregnant, and being completely nonscientific as I am, I just have a vague notion that they involve general areas in the Abdomen/pelvic region that you could pull if you’re not careful. And I know that it is extremely dangerous for the baby if your body gets too heated, or if you’re breathing is too labored, not allowing enough oxygen to get to the baby. But I’m sure there’s much more to it than that!
I just don’t feel confident that I would know what not to do on my own, while still pushing myself.
A trainer famous for her intensity doing a series while she herself was pregnant? seemed just too perfect for me! I mean, you can feel totally confident doing what another pregnant girl is doing!
3) Tracy Anderson is probably best-known for getting Gwyneth Paltrow into the shape she was in for Iron Man – after her second baby! GP swears by Tracy’s method, and says she feels better about her body now than she did in her Shakespeare In Love days (her early twenties!).
And for good reason… have you seen Gwyneth lately?!
[I adore her too much to pick one picture. Sorry I’m not sorry.]
So Tracy’s reputation, the fact that she was pregnant when she created the series, and finally, just, Gwyneth Paltrow? These were three very good reasons to give Tracy Anderson a chance!
At first, I was like, “That’s it? That’s all you got for me, Tracy?!”
But here’s the thing: these are exercises created by a dancer. Meaning – the more you do them,the more coordinated your body becomes and the stronger you make your muscles, the more you will feel the workout.
The first couple times you really may not feel it much at all. If this is the case, you have to try harder to do it exactly right next time. Focus on the form. And you’ll see. You will definitely start to feel it.
I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to do all the exercises since I had never been a dancer. However, Tracy is great at explaining exactly how to posture your body, and after a few sessions with each new workout (there is one per month), I definitely feel like I get it. [I do think these workouts would be problematic if I were not naturally very flexible. If you feel like you have a pretty stiff body, these DVDs may not be for you.]
I love how she rarely isolates one muscle contraction. With each move, you are working several troublespots on your body. And since she herself is pregnant at the time of this series, boy does she know the troublespots!
I have always had a huge insecurity about “pregnant arms”… you know, those rounded, super-soft and squishy shoulders you get, that just add so much to the massiveness of your bosom? I didn’t wear anything without sleeves if I could help it last pregnancy! And I didn’t even gain that much weight! It seemed to be unavoidable. Tracy’s exercises are perfectly designed to tackle those very specific troublespots for a preggas… and at 5 months its early to tell, of course, but I feel very confident that my butt, upper arms, shoulders, inner thighs, and back are getting an awesome workout!
A core-component of Tracy’s Method is that she has said women should never use hand-weights that are above 3 lbs. [Yeah, I know! And I was feeling wimpy using the 10 lb kettlebell for Jillian!] She says if you want those itty-bitty, toned dancer’s muscles (think Natalie Portman in Black Swan)… you need to use less resistance and do more reps. And judging from her clients – Gwyneth, Shakira and Gisele Bundchen, to name a few – this method absolutely works! Tracy says in the series at some point, the last thing you want to do when working out during your pregnancy, is to make yourself look mannish. Big pregnant curves and bulky muscles? Yeah, she has a point!
Two things that really took me by surprise with this workout series:
1) It’s encouraging. This infamously bad-ass trainer, known for her extremism and at-times unrealistic expectations of intensity, is surprisingly gentle, nurturing, and yes, inspiring, in this series. She constantly reminds you how you should be breathing and feeling, and always says things like, “If you can’t do all 20 reps, just do 10! Listen to your body! This is the time to nurture yourself!”
I was stunned when, mid-workout, I heard her firmly reminding me that this is not a time in my life to be working-out for results. Results are the product of intense focus, and even though we can and should exercise during pregnancy, we have to be careful to allow our bodies to do everything necessary to grow another little human being in there. Babies are no longer thought of as the perfect parasites… they need adequate nutrition and energy from the bodies of their mothers.
I have to be okay allowing my body to accumulate a little extra “cushion”, to widen out as needed, to transmit lots of nutrition to the baby. To keep me alive during the six week tunnel of life with a starving newborn. Instead of working out for immediate results, Tracy smiles, I should work out to keep my muscles alert and alive underneath it all, to come back quicker and better than ever after baby without too much work!
Not only is Tracy’s attitude encouraging, the videos are an average of 40 minutes (a few are 35 mins, one or two are 55) so I am able to easily fit them in during my toddler’s naptime. In my current hormonal state, I feel surges of teary gratitude when I think about this. Bless her!
2) The second surprise of this workout series is how much I have needed it. Running around with a 30 lb toddler on my hip quickly started exacting its toll on my body. I was getting this terrible, TERRIBLE lower back pain (tailbone through hip region), and it was just as bad days I laid down alot as days that I took a long walk. And to make matters worse, it started in my 12th week, when I barely had a belly to account for the extra strain, a thought that terrified me when taking into account the huge belly in my near future. The only cure? To my astonishment its the Tracy Anderson pregnancy workouts. If I do a workout everyday my back pain is almost completely non-existent [a few mid-temper-tantrum runs up the stairs to drop a furious, thrashing toddler into the crib for time-out account for the “almost” part. Those add up ;)]. But if I miss one day of this little workout, there is brutal payback within 12 hours. I think Tracy must really loosen up and stretch out my lower back amid all the workouts, cause the difference these short exercise DVD’s make is remarkable.
They are not cardio-centric… so I do try to take a long walk 3-5 times a week in addition. Think of it like Pilates or weight-training. But people, my muscles are sore as all get out after an especially coordinated and controlled sesh! This trainer knows exactly what she is doing!
As for the results? I feel like there is a difference in the way I carry this baby, even though he is also a boy like my first! My husband concurs. I feel like I am putting most of the weight in my uterus and not as much in *other* places!
me at 5 months pregnant.
I am encouraged daily by the example of Whitney and the guest moms she has had on here that are like pregnant athletes! I hope that maybe next pregnancy I will have had enough time to settle firmly into a good running base that I will also be able to do a bit more of that through those 9 long months. But for now, this Pregnancy Project has immensely, immensely helped me. I totally and completely recommend it!