My Favorite Exercises Right Now

Dumbbell

Before I was pregnant and during my first trimester my exercise of choice was spin and barre class. I would do spin 2 days per week and barre 3 days per week and then one day I would do a work out video at home such as Jillian Michaels or P90X.

I love spin class because it is great cardio and I sweat like crazy so it makes me feel like I am really working out hard. It also depends on where you take it and the instructor. I have taken spin classes all over from Soul Cycle and Fly Wheel to classes at my local New York Sports Club and boutique club Work It Out Fitness. No matter where I take a class, for me, it is all about the instructor and the music. If the music is good, I really get into it and the time passes by so quickly; I’m sure you can relate, we all want to get our workouts done and over with so that we can get on with our day. I’ve taken classes where the instructor is not good or I’m just not into the music and it has seemed like the longest, most painful class ever. Finding a gym and instructor you love is the key to commitment. If you enjoy going, you will make an effort and be consistent. If you dread going, you are more likely to fizzle out. Spin is a great cardio workout and it gets your heart rate up. It is good for the core because you have to maintain posture. It is a fantastic leg workout, especially when you are climbing up those dreaded hills, the resistance really forces you to dig in and push hard. Most of the classes I take also combine some type of arm workout, whether it be small hand held weights or incorporating pushups into the routine. My favorite is Soul Cycle because I feel like I am at dance class. The instructor has a routine prepared that goes along with the music and integrates moving back and fourth on the bike, up and down in the seat, and pushups so that the class is in sync. It is so cool to look up and see everyone moving in rhythm to the beat. While it can be intimidating, it forces you to focus your mind elsewhere, which is something that helps me get through my workout. And once you get it, you feel so proud and you feel like you are part of something much bigger. If you haven’t tried a spin class, I recommend it. It’s also good because you adjust the level and speed you are comfortable with. It’s all about pushing yourself. Find a class and instructor you love and you will be obsessed!

Growing up, I was a dancer. From the young age of three until my first semester of college, I was always in some type of organized dance. For me barre class makes me feel like I am in organized dance again. For those of you that don’t know what barre class is, it is basically a fusion of ballet, core conditioning, strength training and stretching to combine a total body workout. While there are several different barre classes all of them incorporate some type of workout using the ballet barre and then put their own special twist on everything else they do during the class. I love these classes because I feel like it shapes and tones my legs, gives me a long lean body and improves my flexibility. Those of you that have taken it, I actually enjoy when my legs are shaking as I am in a squat position with my heels in releve and my hands in prayer trying to balance so that I don’t topple over (for those of you that don’t, don’t be scared. It is something that you work up to!) The class I take incorporates different levels so that you can constantly be challenged and push yourself during class. This class targets the minute muscles in different areas of your body that you didn’t even know you had and probably never use. It also makes you feel sexy while you are doing wall slides in releve, or as my instructor says, “pretend you are wearing 6 inch stilettos.” We also do a hand weight series using lightweights to tone our arms and end with some traditional core exercises. I look forward to going to these classes and love the way they have transformed my body. I always say that dancers have the best bodies and these classes prove the truth behind that.

Now that I am pregnant I will continue to do both of those workouts, of course with modifications, but they are fine to do throughout pregnancy. I may not be squatting as low at the barre once my belly is protruding out so I can’t see my toes, but I will try my hardest and do what I can. I will also add in some prenatal Pilates and yoga to my workout routine. Pilates in general is great for strengthening your core and for flexibility. I used to do it religiously, but stopped to try some new things. My husband has degenerative disks in his lower back and he swears by Pilates. It helps build up his core so that he doesn’t put as much pressure on his lower back and uses his core for daily chores and activities. He says that when he doesn’t do Pilates his back kills him and when he does it consistently his back doesn’t hurt him at all. I for one love how flexible I am when I do Pilates. I don’t feel tight and sore and it helps me perform better in other activities. I also did a lot of Pilates after my first baby and it really helped to tone and strengthen my core and get my body back in shape.

I’m not a big fan of yoga. I have only taken regular yoga a few times, however I loved prenatal yoga. I took it at least twice a week with my first pregnancy and I credit my great pregnancy and easy delivery to yoga. I have a hard time relaxing and prenatal yoga really took away all of my anxiety and for that one or two hours each week I felt completely and utterly relaxed and my mind was free of all the junk that had cluttered it. I wish I could get into regular yoga and I know someday I will. People swear by it and it is so good for the mind and the body. For those of you that take it please send some tips my way and for those of you that don’t, I recommend you try it. I am looking forward to taking prenatal yoga again in the coming weeks and I hope that it eases my mind and body as it did the first time.

There are so many different exercises out there and you are sure to find something that you are passionate about and love to do. Try new things, you may find something that you love and you won’t know unless you try it. My one recommendation is to include cardio, strength training and flexibility into your weekly routines. Cardio exercises are activities that get your heart rate up and keep your heart healthy, such as speed walking, running, spinning, dancing, aerobics or the elliptical. Strength training uses the force of a muscle against some form of resistance to build muscle strength, size and endurance. Some forms of strength training exercises include using hand weights, doing sit-ups and pushups and swimming. Flexibility is the ability to move joints through their whole span of movement from a flexed position to an extended position. Incorporating flexibility exercises into your routine helps to increase the amount of flexibility in your joint, which can make you perform better during activities. That is why stretching is important before, during and throughout exercise. Some exercises incorporate flexibility such as yoga, barre and Pilates. No matter what you choose, get up and move. You will have more energy and feel better both inside and out.

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