10 Best Online Prenatal Workouts for Moms-to-Be
With COVID-19 wreaking havoc, staying at home is the new normal these days—but that doesn’t mean that you should succumb to the couch, especially if you’re pregnant.
“It’s important to keep moving because as your body changes, you want to make sure you’re aware of the changes in your movement,” says Rachel Welch, a certified health and wellness coach and founder of Revolution Motherhood, a doctor-recommended fitness method that integrates yoga, pilates, barre and pelvic physical therapy. Skipping exercise for three weeks shuts down the conversation with your body as it grows, making it feel like you have to start from scratch when you do get back to your wellness routine, adds Welch.
Exercising during pregnancy has other perks too: It can help ease pregnancy’s aches and pains, lower your risk of certain complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, keep your (and baby’s) weight in check and even make for an easier labor. Plus, “choosing the right type of exercise can actually boost your energy levels, even if you feel tired,” says Erica Ziel, certified personal trainer and founder of Knocked-Up Fitness, a pre/postnatal workout and lifestyle platform. “Even just 10 minutes of movement a day is extremely beneficial.”
If bribing you with a smoother labor or more energy doesn’t convince you, know that exercise can also boost your immune system and keep stress hormones at bay—something we could all use right now. Research even shows that physical activity may reduce your chances of respiratory illnesses because bacteria can’t deal when your body temperature rises as you sweat.
Keep in mind that every trimester will feel different. Moms-to-be may be afraid of hurting the baby or of injuring themselves while working out, but unless your doctor or midwife tells you otherwise, it’s usually safe to keep moving. “Find reliable resources that teach you about the body so that you know how it feels like when you’re in alignment without the teacher adjusting you,” Welch suggests.
You might want to take it easy by walking and practicing restorative yoga during the first trimester, since many moms experience nausea and extreme fatigue in the first few weeks of pregnancy.
By the second trimester, you might be feeling up for the workouts you enjoyed prior to being pregnant, such as prenatal pilates, barre strength training or HIIT—just keep in mind that your abdominal wall is stretching and you want to account for that in your exercise adjustments to prevent diastasis recti, and keep tabs on your pelvic floor.
Third trimester workouts should focus on using your breath and also staying strong through your thigh and butt muscles. “Know how to listen and protect your body,” says Welch. “Nothing is the same two days in a row. One day you’re on the couch, and then the next day you can walk 5 miles.”
You’ll find hundreds of live workout videos on Instagram and YouTube aimed at the general population, but while you can certainly make pregnancy-friendly modifications to the moves and improvise with props, be aware that your pregnant body is unique to you.
Since you won’t have a dedicated instructor adjusting your alignment, it’s up to you to stay safe. “Really listening to your own micro-feedback moments,” says Welch. “That small voice in the back of your head is wiser than you might think.”
Miriam Fried, a New York City-based certified personal trainer, recommends doing your own warm-up before any live-stream or on-demand class. “Check in with your breathing and ensure you’re properly engaging your core and maintaining alignment,” she says. “This will be especially important as you move into the later stages of pregnancy and your growing belly tilts your pelvis downward, shifting your center of gravity.” To alleviate pressure on joints, make sure your knees, front hip bones and ankles are parallel.
You’ll also want to skip any exercise that involves coning in your belly, holding your breath while you’re doing a move or tucking in your butt, Ziel says, as well as anything that makes you feel more exhausted after the workout than when you started.
Now, let’s get a move on! Here, some awesome prenatal and postnatal programs to keep you healthy (and sane!) as you shift your workout routine online.
The Studio Bloom program, of the ‘belly pump’ fame, works with seven pre and postnatal fitness instructors to curate movement that accommodates the changes during each trimester. You’ll learn the core foundations during the first trimester and add strength with cardio and HIIT classes during the second trimester. Come third trimester, you’ll delve into BirthPREP classes that fuse muscle-fatiguing exercises with specialized diaphragmatic breathing techniques that will teach women to use their core and primary muscles in conjunction. “For example, instead of simply working the lower body in a squat, we guide women to understand how to use their breath and the natural biomechanics of the core and pelvic floor,” says Brooke Cates, Bloom founder and prenatal and postnatal exercise specialist.
Price: Free three-class trial; $19 for the first month, then $29 per month or $240 per year. First month 50 percent off with code Fierce50
Check it out: thebloommethod.com
The Knocked-Up Fitness membership gives you access to more than 20 workouts that appeal to any workout aesthetic, be it prenatal yoga sculpt or kettlebells, and tackle issues such as core training, pelvic floor dysfunction, diastasis recti and poor posture. But the program also offers a holistic approach to preparing for pregnancy: Their signature Push Prep Method installment focuses on labor groundwork that helps minimize or even prevent tearing, and even includes coaching and doula support, recipes and meal plans.
Price: One free pregnancy workout, then $39 per month
Check it out: knocked-upfitness.com
To break up the monotony of Zoom conferences, get in a quick workout with Obé Fitness’s on-demand prenatal series. The 10- to 30-minute workouts cater to whatever tickles your fitness fancy—restorative stretching, power and strength moves, barre and even dance cardio. The 5- to 10-minute meditation sessions, including “positive energy” and “peaceful and relaxing sleep,” are worthwhile as well. After baby arrives, their Mommy + Me classes add a fun spin to working out with your little one.
Price: Free 7-day trial, then $27 per month or $199 per year; The Bump readers can use the code ATHOME for a free month
Check it out: obefitness.com
Yoga superstar Kino MacGregor’s online yoga platform OmStars—known for its ashtanga, yin yoga, yoga nidra and pranayama classes—has partnered with yoga instructor Sonia Ribas to bring you 40 week-by-week prenatal yoga episodes. Each spans 20 to 40 minutes, reflecting the ever-changing stages of pregnancy. You’ll find classes like “Embrace Change,” a vigorously paced vinyasa-flow session that focuses on opening the heart and hips; a “Create” session that uses a pillow to encourage you to embrace and cultivate stillness; and a “Feel Supported” class that suggests a sequence of supported postures using blocks, a blanket and the wall. Whether you follow the week-by-week chronology or skip around, you’re sure to find your prenatal om.
Price: Free 14-day trial, then $15 per month or $150 per year
Check it out: omstars.com
Kendra Alley, a former gymnast and prenatal barre specialist, has created over 60 safe, challenging and effective barreBUMP workouts that focus on building strength and posture throughout each trimester, as well as the fourth trimester after baby arrives. (Her Instagram account @barrealley gives you a sneak peek at her energy-boosting approach to barre.) BarreBUMP also gives you access to postpartum education and support from their pelvic floor physical therapist, as well as meal plans and grocery lists for yummy recipes, including healthy cravings alternatives and a freezer meal schedule.
Price: Free 30-day trial, then $42 per month
Check it out: barrealley.com
Get six new workouts every month from the New York City-based studio Fit Pregnancy Club, a licensed Fit for Birth facility that now offers online classes. All you need is yoga blocks (or thick tomes, if you don’t have those handy) and weights ranging from 2 to 8 lbs (water bottles or cans will do). The Prenatal Signature series focuses on low-impact, high-intensity exercises that prep the body by strengthening, toning and stretching. Each class integrates a Pump & Kegel segment into its routine. When you’re ready, the Postpartum Signature series zeroes in on high-intensity, high-impact workouts for increasing strength. Bonus: Fit Pregnancy Club’s Facebook group is filled with active members so you don’t have to give up your prenatal fitness community because of social distancing.
Price: Free 7-day trial, then $20 per month for on demand
Check it out: fitpregnancyclub.com
One Strong Mama is the brainchild of Lindsay McCoy, an exercise physiologist, childbirth educator and a birth doula, and Lauren Ohayon, a yoga and pilates teacher who specializes in core and pelvic floor issues. The 25-minute prenatal videos focus on things like pelvic mobility by zoning in on unexpected factors, like tight hamstrings. The program teaches proper alignment so mamas-to-be can protect their back, ligaments and joints.
Price: From $27 for 3 months, or care packages from $77 to $277
Check it out: onestrongmama.com
MyYogaWorks, an on-demand platform form YogaWorks (the venerable yoga studio franchise that offers up a buffet for yogis of all practices—ashtanga, vinyasa, hatha, iyengar, kundalini, etc.), offers 1,300 classes that you can search by teacher, style and duration. Our ‘Pregnancy’ search pulled up classes like “Mama Birthing Balls—Labor Prep” and “Prenatal Energy.” Looking to get a taste of their approach? YogaWorks is live streaming more than 50 daily classes from teachers across the country. Not only do you have the option to try yin, restorative and candle flow yoga, as well as HIIT Fusion and Pure Power Flow, but you can also add the weekly prenatal vinyasa-meets-breath-meets-meditation classes to your calendar.
Price: Free 14-day trial, then $15 per month
Check it out: myyogaworks.com
While you don’t need to use resistance bands in your workout, Booya Fitness: Fit Mama Prenatal Workout incorporates ReXist360 bands that promise twice the workout in this virtual group fitness class. We love that the instructors show both advanced and modified poses. Booya Fitness also offers plenty of other (albeit non pregnancy-specific) options, including “Bollywood Blast” and “How to Improve Posture,” as well as supplementary workout plans like “Stay Strong During Pregnancy,” “Post-Baby Bounce Back” and “Mental Detox.” (Yes, please.)
Price: Free 30 day trial, then $10 per month or $100 for a year
Check it out: booyafitness.com
Heading into the home stretch of your pregnancy? Cue up Revolution Motherhood, which offers workouts designed for new moms. Think of it as a gift from your postnatal fairy godmother. You might not think that you need it, but you’ll be hooked after you try the three-phase fitness method. Not only do the workouts help rebuild strength and combat achy back pain (that baby doesn’t cradle itself, you know), the “Common Injuries” tutorials guide women through unwelcome postnatal injuries like diastasis recti and pelvic organ prolapse. You can start with classes like “Connect & Repattern” even when you’re still pregnant; the workout uses a soft roller and mini foot balls that help get your swelling down and improve circulation from feet to pelvis. They’ll also keep the transverse abdominals strong to help you connect with your pelvic floor.
Price: Free 7-day trial month, then $20 per month or $199 per year
Check it out: revolutionmotherhood.com
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.