I (or anyone, for that matter) would not describe my lifestyle as "active" or "healthy"--probably just "moderate". In any case, I did want to exercise a bit during the pregnancy as I heard that helps you bounce back faster after delivery. The other benefit is that you feel a modicum of justification in eating that sleeve of Girl Scouts Thin Mint cookies in one sitting. Or the entire box of chocolate covered pretzels. Or the "trail mix" that is mostly chocolate, the pieces of which you pick out so that in reality, it's like eating a bag of chocolate chips. Which of course brings us to the actual bag of chocolate chips. Mixed with a generous heap of peanut butter.
Anyway, I've been going to a weekly prenatal yoga class, but I would not call this "exercise". Well actually I do, to make myself feel better, but it's really not. We spend about 20 minutes at the beginning doing breathing exercises, another 20 at the end in relaxation pose, 10 minutes in a "sharing circle" (where we give updates on our pregnancy and talk about that week's topics, like using vocalization to help relieve labor pain), so that we're left with a little over 20 minutes of actual movement which takes place at the pace that one would take if almost completely paralyzed. I love it!
Otherwise, about twice a week, I choose among various DVDs. None of these give a serious or intense cardio workout--they do get the heart rate up (some more than others), but overall the intensity is like what you would get from gentle to moderate pilates and calisthenics. I'm not saying you'll start snoring through them, but these are not your CrossFit/kickboxing/spinning type of activity.
My prenatal workout DVD collection includes:
Haha I am kidding.
This DVD gives full-length and express workouts for each trimester. I have primarily used the first trimester express workout, which is about 30 minutes. I found that I was comfortable doing it as my pregnancy progressed, so I haven't bothered trying the other trimester workouts. Oh, I tried the full-length routine once, and the main difference was more sets of the same exercises (not new exercises), which got me all bored so I stuck to the express. You go through standing warm-up exercises (squats and lunges), then there are arm exercises and sit-ups, and a short stretch and cool-down session. Overall I like this--it's short and peppy.
I guess I didn't read the description carefully because I thought I was buying a yoga DVD (because of the pose on the cover), but this is not a yoga DVD, it's more pilates. There are three segments, and I usually do all of them (skipping the relaxation at the very end of the last segment), which takes about 45 to 50 minutes. She starts with standing/moving poses, then floor work, then stretching. Some of the exercises seem a wee bit ineffectual to me, but I try to concentrate on my core like a good girl. I like this about the same as the Summer Sanders workout--it just depends on how long I feel like working out.
I held off on buying this for a long time because at almost $18, it was more pricey than the other DVDs which I had been able to buy for cheap on eBay. But I have two friends who recommended it, and in the interest of adding some variety to my workouts, I purchased the DVD. The entire routine is about an hour long (I fast forward through certain portions so make it about 45 minutes). I really like the production quality of this DVD. There are the instructor and 4 students, and the instructor's real-time cues (as opposed to a voiced-over narrative) helps it feel like I'm in a real class. Again, this isn't a cardio workout, but I felt the poses were effective for strength and flexibility, and there are some hip and pelvis opening positions that I may try during labor (that, or I will be screaming for an epidural).
This isn't a prenatal yoga DVD and I don't recommend it if you haven't done yoga before. I was and am no yogi--I've sporadically taken yoga classes at the gym and practiced at home for the past 10 years. Hm, 10 years sounds like a long time, but I would emphasize "sporadic". I would say that I am advanced beginner or intermediate. I had used this yoga DVD before the pregnancy, and a few weeks ago decided to try it with modifications because I wanted a little more of a challenge. The whole routine is about an hour, but I cut out certain sections to make it about 45 minutes and I modify a lot (i.e. instead of upward facing dog, I get on all fours and arch my back with my eyes towards the ceiling; standing with my legs apart and bent for forward bends; doing half bridge pose instead of full bridge pose; saying "fuck it" to the exercises that just won't fly).
I've only tried this once so far. It is very mild, which is a drastic change from her Yoga Shakti DVD I used before getting pregnant when I wanted to get a really good flow yoga workout that got my heart rate up. I may try this again if I'm feeling really chill and just want a mellow yoga workout, but since I have others to work from that I like, I don't feel much desire to use it.
I was excited about this DVD because of all the different-length practices (ranging from 15 to 75 minutes) and I thought it would give me the same kind of "flow" experience that I liked pre-pregnancy with Power Yoga and Yoga Shakti. However, this DVD didn't work for me. She does move quickly, but in a way that I felt was too rushed. It wasn't that it was hard or challenging, but the poses felt a bit perfunctory and I couldn't get much out of it. Lots of people on Amazon love this DVD though, so I'm in the minority.
And that, my friends, is how I spent money on something to be used for only a few months in my life. We won't talk about how much I've spent on maternity clothes. It blows my mind.