Thursday, November 26, 2015

Elizabeth Street


Mix Up Your Pregnancy Exercises With Dance-Based Workouts

Oct 29, 2013

Mix Up Your Pregnancy Exercises With Dance-Based Workouts

Dance and ballet-based fitness classes are definitely having a moment right now and who can blame someone for wanting the coveted lithe arms and legs of a dancer? What’s even better about these low-impact workouts is that even a baby bump won’t stop you from working out like a ballerina! FitBump’s fitness expert Mahri Relin gives a workout that is appropriate for pregnancy, but that targets muscles associated with a dancer’s physique. With modifications depending on your trimester and fitness level, this dance-based sculpt workout will keep your muscles strong throughout pregnancy and is also a great way to get back in shape post-baby. 

Sculpting Dancer Arms 
Setup: Grab a set of 2-lb weights, or hold two full 1-liter water bottles in each hand. Stand with your feet hip distance apart, knees slightly bent. The chest should be lifted, and the shoulders should be anchored down the back.
1) Extend each arm out to the side with the elbows slightly bent and the arms held slightly in front of the body. Circle the arms back 20x, then forward 20x
2) Keeping the arms out to the side, pulse them repeatedly up and down.
3) Reach the arms in front of the body and bend them at 90-degree angles, lifting the elbows up to shoulder level. The arms should be parallel to each other. Pulse the arms slightly up and down to the beat.
4) Start with the arms bent in front of body at 90-degree angles. Keeping them bent and lifted to shoulder level, repeatedly open them out to the side and then close in front.
5) Bend slightly forward, reaching the arms behind the back while keeping the chest reaching forward. Keeping the arms lifted above waist level and the palms facing up, pulse the arms up and down.
Modification: Try doing these exercises while sitting on a large yoga ball. You can sit still, or you can try moving your hips a little in response to the arm movements.

Abs - Pelvic Tilts on Hands and Knees
Engaging the transverse and pelvic floor muscles is crucial at all stages of pregnancy. Do this exercise as much as possible!
Setup: Come to the hands and knees on a mat or a double-folded towel. Make sure you keep your wrists directly under your shoulders, do not dip down in your lower back.  
Exercise: Take a slow, deep breath in (about 4 counts). As you slowly exhale (about 4 counts), curve the back into a yogic "cat" position while pulling the abdominal muscles into the spine. Release your abdominals and return to a neutral spine position as you inhale. The next time you exhale, return to a "cat" position while pulling the abs into the spine.  This time, also try engaging your kegel muscles. Release everything as you inhale and return again to a neutral spine.  Repeat this exercise 8 more times.

Sculpting the Thighs - Deep Plies
Setup: Stand in front of a chair, and place your hands on the back of the chair for balance. Stand with your feet a little wider than hip distance apart, and turn out your toes 45 degrees. Keeping your abs pulled in and your back and chest upright, bend your knees into a deep plié position. Make sure that your knees bend directly over the toes and do not roll forward. Also make sure that your knees do not bend past the toes, you may need to open your legs wider if this happens.
1) Staying in a deep plié position, pulse slightly up and down to the beat of the music. Try varying the tempo, sometimes going twice as fast and sometimes half as fast. 
2) In the same position, continue pulsing for a bit while lifting one heel of your foot and then repeat with the other foot.  You can also alternate lifting each heel with each pulse.
3) Staying in a deep plié, pulse the knees back. The movement is small, and you should feel your glute muscles engaging as well as your thighs.
Modification: Instead of staying in a deep plié the whole time, try coming all the way up to straightened legs and then down to a plié to the beat of the music. Stay controlled with the movement and do not come up and down too fast.

Glutes - In Attitude
"Attitude" is a dance position in which the leg is lifted and held in a bent position directly behind the body. The knee is lifted, and the hips should be as square as possible. (Try to avoid over-lifting the hip on the working side.)
Setup: Remain standing, holding on to the back of the chair. Slightly bend the standing leg (in this case the left leg first), and lift the right leg into an attitude position behind the body. Do not lift the leg too high. Bend the upper body slightly forward to avoid stressing the lower back.
1) Keeping the right leg bent and lifted, pulse the leg slightly up and down to the beat of the music.
2) Keeping the right leg lifted, pull the right knee forward toward the right shoulder, then extend the right leg straight back behind the body. Repeat 10x. Repeat both exercises on the other leg.
Modification: If standing is too difficult, you can do this exercise on all fours. On a mat or towel, come to the hands and knees, and extend the right leg directly behind the body at hip level. To get into the attitude position, bend the leg and keep the knee lifted to the side. Make sure to avoid lifting the right hip too much. Perform exercises 1 and 2 as described above on the right leg and then repeat on the left.

By FitBump’s Mahri Relin

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