Review of Patricia Friberg’s Belly Beautiful Workout – Prenatal

Patricia Friberg’s Belly Beautiful Workout – Prenatal Fitness for a Beautiful Pregnancy is an excellent addition to a prenatal workout collection. While most prenatal workouts are yoga-based and focus on stretching, Belly Beautiful Workout is Pilates-based and will make you feel some burn, but it is also gentle and precise enough to be done even by a seven-month pregnant woman!

I received a review copy of this program, and was excited to try it because of the props. Patricia uses a Swiss ball and an elastic band in her exercises, and suggests you set up on a sticky mat. Now, this could be annoying if you don’t have the items, though the mat is really optional and the Swiss ball can be replaced in most cases with a chair. But I was glad — for a while, every exercise DVD I bought came with a free elastic band, and I somehow have acquired two Swiss balls I don’t quite know what to do with. So I’m happy to play with a program that teaches me how to use them.

The workout is divided into several sections:

A segment on Pelvic Floor Work (separate from the full workout)
Warm Up
Upper Body
Lower Body
Stretch
Relaxation

There is also an intro and a section on Diastitis recti, and Patricia tells you throughout the workout which moves to avoid if you have the latter.

In general, this is the kind of video that looks super easy to do when you watch it on screen, and is in fact much more challenging. The warmup is probably the only one I’ve done on a prenatal video that really warmed my muscles. The upper body segment uses the elastic band. Most of its moves are not terribly strenuous, but you will definitely feel some of them. (And the upper body tends to be neglected on prenatal workout videos, so I think it’s valuable.) And the lower body segment has some moves performed leaning sideways on the ball that are very difficult by the end. Patricia makes leaning on that ball look easy, but I fell off multiple times while trying to perform the exercises! The one thing I would say is that if, like me, you have weak knees, you should be careful performing these exercises and the lunges in the lower body workout.

This is much harder to do than it looks

The stretch segment is short, but effective (it also uses the ball, to my surprise!), and it leads to what I think is the real gem of the program: the relaxation segment. Now, most programs, even the yoga ones, tell you to relax during shavasana, or in a best case scenario, tell you to picture something relaxing or to relax particular body parts. Patricia sets you up in a position safe for pregnant women and then guides you through a progressive relaxation that is very similar to one in Preparation for Birth: The Complete Guide to the Lamaze Method. It involves tensing each muscle for five seconds and then relaxing it, which is much more effective than just “trying to relax.” How effective? Well, let’s just say that by the end of the relaxation segment, I had relaxed right out of consciousness. Even though I had been awake and alert just a few minutes earlier! I wound up having a wonderful nap on the floor (yes, right on the yoga mat) and will use that segment again just to practice guided relaxation.

I only did parts of the pelvic floor segment, but exercises do teach you how to access the Kegel muscles in a slightly different way than I’ve seen elsewhere, and I can imagine them being very useful. Most of them could also be done sitting at a desk.

You will love this video if:
– you want a bit more of a challenge than prenatal videos usually offer
– you like using props
– you like Pilates-based movements
– you want to focus on your upper body
– you want to practice deep relaxation as recommended by some natural childbirth methods
– you want practice building your Kegel muscles

You will not love this video if:
– you are primarily looking for stretching
– you have weak knees
– you hate having to buy or use props

You can get the video at bellybeautifulworkout.com/.

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