If you’re looking for a moderately challenging, customizable workout to keep in shape while you’re expecting, MommyShape Prenatal Complete could be just the DVD for you. I received a review copy from its creator, Diane Angela Fong, and was very pleased with the program, though I think knowing what you’re getting is the key to being satisfied with it. So far, I’ve worked with it twice, taking advantage of its modular structure. I haven’t done every exercise on the video, but I have used it in two ways I consider typical.
The workout is basically divided into five sections:
Sculpt & Stretch
Dance it out!
Yoga & Relaxation
The times for these are given, and you can pick and choose which you will do, though you do have to click again for a new section. Doing all of them would take about 70 minutes, which if you’re heavily pregnant you might find a bit much (though I would have done it easily earlier in my pregnancy). But this morning, for example, I did the Warm Up, Dance it out! and Cool Down segments, which took a little over half an hour, and I felt like I got a good workout out of it. At the beginning of each section, Diane tells you what props you’ll need for that section, which is a good chance to pause and get things in place.
But here’s the kicker: if you want a little bit of each, you can also do the “MommyShape Complete” workout, which has segments from each section, and is 50 minutes long. I actually did this version earlier in the week, and I really like the inclusion of this option. I love it when DVDs have a lot of material, but if a program is too long, it can become overwhelming, and I’m less likely to use that DVD when I’m busy. So having a simple, one-click workout that will provide a bit of cardio, a bit of sculpting, and a bit of stretching, is just right, and a great introduction to the DVD.
Diane is a professional dancer, and despite being 35 weeks pregnant in the video, is in excellent shape. She moves quickly from one position to another — much faster than I could! Especially in the sculpting and yoga sections, there are modifications to make positions easier depending on your level or trimester, but I can tell you that despite partially modifying, I really felt a burn in my thighs the day after doing the “Complete” program. (In a good way.) If you’re not in the habit of watching a video through before doing it (and because of time constraints, I’m not), you may be frustrated with how quickly Diane moves. However, this could also be a positive — when you’re doing a segment for the second time, you’ll waste less times with explanations and lengthy setup.
The dance segment is also tricky, but lo and behold, there is a separate 15-minute dance instructional that goes through the moves more slowly. The first time I did the video I didn’t bother with this, impatient chipmunk that I am, and I was able to follow along with almost everything just fine. I did watch the instructional before doing the program again, and that helped, but it’s not strictly necessary if you have dance experience.
The dance itself is a cardio workout with a mix of bellydance, African, modern, and Latin dance moves. Diane repeats it three times, using arm variations to keep it interesting, and then does a modified, slowed-down version for a cool-down. I have to say I really liked this segment, despite, or maybe because of the fact that it’s so different from my usual bellydance. Diane performs the moves with grace, which I find inspiring, and for a while there I felt that I was taking a modern dance class in an airy California studio. (Instead of, you know, in my living room.) And I really felt tired by the end.
My two warnings are that Diane doesn’t mirror, so you have to adjust for left and right, and while there is light rhythmic music in the background of the dance segment, the dancing is not done to the beat. These didn’t throw me off, since the general feeling of the dance portion was more loose and flowing, but they could if you are expecting mirroring and timing.
In sum, MommyShape Prenatal Complete would be great for you if you are earlier on in your pregnancy or have maintained a light workout routine, if you can adjust for left and right, and if you have some experience with basic dance moves. At 35 weeks, I find it gives me enough of a workout to really feel I have done something — beyond just stretching — but is still doable. If you are completely out of shape and/or want to be able to get everything on the first go, this is probably not the best program for you. My favorite aspects of the DVD are that it’s customizable but doesn’t force me to make decisions if I don’t want to, and that the dance segment is fun and well-performed.