Confession: It's been a while since I managed to do any on a regular basis, but Pilates is still, hands-down, my favorite form of exercise. Flexibility-boosting, like yoga, with all the firming-up action of lifting weights (minus the risk of strain or injury). And it works the all-important core muscles like nothin' else. So I'm psyched that Hilary Duff has made Pilates her pregnancy workout of choice. Because she's gonna need those core muscles big-time!
There are two major benefits to doing Pilates while you're pregnant, and if you haven't tried it yet, these reasons might just sell you on the idea ...
First, Pilates targets the exact muscles that are going to help you through labor: Abdominals, back, and pelvic floor. And I'm not kidding when I say that these muscles help you. Of course everyone is different (read: don't yell at me if you don't have the same experience), but I personally credit Pilates with giving me the strength to deliver my daughter in three pushes. (My son took six, but still, nothing to complain about, from what I've heard.)
Second, keeping those muscles in good form while you're pregnant makes it about a zillion times easier for them to snap back into shape after your baby is born. (Don't make the mistake incontinence spokeswoman Kris Jenner made by not learning to do Kegels until your kids are all grown up!) Putting off the need for adult diapers for another 10 years or so is a good thing, as is reclaiming your abs before your baby's first birthday.
There are plenty of Pilates-for-pregnancy DVDs on the market, so this is a super-simple workout to do at home. Just be sure you have a good mat -- Pilates mats are thicker than yoga mats. And if you've never, ever tried it before, you might want to take at least one prenatal Pilates class to make sure you're doing everything right. (One thing about Pilates: If you don't do it the right way, it won't do anything for you.)
Tell your pelvic floor I said "you're welcome."
Have you ever tried prenatal Pilates?
Image via Thom Puiman/Flickr