Review: BarreAmped DVD Workout

Among my best tips for healthy pregnancy is this: get some good workout DVDs and use them! And when it comes to quality DVD workouts to use during your pregnancy, Suzanne Bowen is the best instructor out there.

I tried out A LOT of pregnancy workout DVDs in my quest to find the very best ones, and of the 6 that I decided were top-notch, 3 were made by Suzanne. I think her workouts are spot-on when it comes to pregnancy because she realizes that you are pregnant—so no one-armed burpees or jumping jackknives for now!—but that you are still capable of working hard to stay strong and fit while exercising for two. Starting the day with a good workout is one of my strongest safeguards against giving in to the urge to binge when stressed or cranky, and I’m grateful that good workouts like BarreAmped exist so I can still push myself and work hard even while I’m pregnant. The best price you’ll find on it is on Amazon for $16.99.

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my tips for healthy pregnancy include using this BarreAmped DVD

Like most prenatal DVDs I tried, this one is broken down into short segments, each one with a different focus. This is great because it allows you to create a customized workout based on which areas of the body you want to work on a given day. It also allows you to make your workout last anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour, depending on what you’re feeling like throughout pregnancy. I love the flexibility and customization BarreAmped offers because of its mini-segment structure. Here’s a breakdown of what each workout on the DVD includes:

Warm Up (runtime 2:57 and 8 calories burned)

Especially during pregnancy, it’s important to emphasize doing things safely. I’ll admit that I’m often one to skip warming up and cooling down, but this warmup segment is so short and sweet that it’d be silly not to do it. Suzanne takes you through some light cardio that gets you moving and loose and ready to roll.

Light Weight Work (runtime 12:42 and 55 calories burned)

In this segment you’ll be using light dumbbells to do high reps of what look like simple, wussy moves. Ha! I was DYING and taking breaks with my 3 lb dumbbells towards the beginning of the segment. This is tough, effective stuff! I really like how my shoulders are looking lately, and I think it’s due to this segment and ones like it on my other DVDs. I was able to kick it up to 5 lb dumbbells towards the end of the segment after I’d done this workout a few times (during the chair series that focuses mainly on the back and triceps). This is definitely on my short list of the best upper-body workouts to do during pregnancy.


Thigh Work (runtime 13:54 and 52 calories burned)

I’m going to go ahead and say this section is the toughest one on the BarreAmped DVD. Yowza! You are going to feel your thighs ignite as you do this workout and then, the next day, feel that nice, satisfying level of soreness where you can feel you worked out hard but are still walking fairly normally. 🙂 This is definitely more toning work than cardio, so don’t expect your heart rate to be through the roof, but you’ll still be working hard. Suzanne’s cueing on form and alignment is especially good through here, which I appreciate since I’m new to barre workouts.

Seat Work (runtime 12:12 and 21 calories burned) 

This section is one where you will definitely need to use a chair, as Suzanne recommends in various places throughout the DVD. You’ll be starting out with standing glute work that will require a chair for balance (I don’t know about you, but at 22 weeks I’m already a bit off-balance thanks to my growing bump). You might be a little thrown by the screen going black around the 6:00 mark—I was the first time I did this DVD—but don’t worry. The segment goes for another several minutes, but that little break is just where Suzanne changes from standing work to work down on the mat (so along with your chair, make sure you’ve got a soft mat to work on).

Mat Work (runtime 14:14 and 33 calories burned)

 I thought this section was great because it hit all sorts of areas—it’s a good, quick, total body toner that would work well for really busy (or just really tired!) days as well as in combination with other workouts on the DVD. You begin with a tough modified pushup series that will kick up your heart rate a bit and then continue into moves that hit everything from shoulders to thighs. I will say that Suzanne spends a lot of time talking between moves in this one, so you may want to just continue doing a move during those talking breaks until she actually begins demonstrating the next move if you’re hoping for more of a challenge.

Cardio Tone (runtime 13:17 and 69 calories burned)

Although this segment is at the end of the list, it’s one I like to do right at the start because it’s a toughie! I found that it was a nice continuation of the Warm Up and does a good job prepping your body for any of the other toning segments to come. You use dumbbells for part of it, and I found that 3 lbs was a hair easy but 5 lbs was a crazy-tough challenge, so pick your poison there. 🙂

I did find myself following the modifier, Sweden, through most of this one (side note: I wish I had even the remotest connection to the country Sweden other than that I like Ikea because I think Sweden is a super cool name and would totally consider it for this baby if it wouldn’t be so random). Anyhow. Sweden is great throughout the entire DVD for (1) being a visual reminder of how awesome and fit you can be and look even during third trimester and (2) demonstrating moves that are still challenging but that don’t require any balance at all, which is good if you’re either in your third trimester yourself or flat-out clumsy in general like me. I also thought a few of the moves here, although the section is labeled cardio, were really tough on my booty. So bonus points to Suzanne for that!

Relaxation Stretch (runtime 9:17 and 9 calories burned)

All of the pregnancy DVDs I tried out included some sort of stretching at the end. I’ll be up front and say I don’t use any of these stretch workouts as often as I ought to, but this is the very best one of all the stretching segments out there.

It’s short enough that I actually do it now and then, and I feel like every single move is actually doing something for me. It was both relaxing and efficient if that makes sense—I didn’t feel like any time was wasted on moves that weren’t legitimately helping some part of my body feel nice. The stretches you do down on the mat while using a chair for support were fabulous for my lower body (which got WORKED in the Thigh and Seat segments of the DVD!) and the stretches she gives for your neck and shoulders felt heavenly. I think I carry a lot of my tension in my neck, so I really appreciated the focus on working some of that out.

There it is. I hands-down recommend Suzanne Bowen’s Prenatal BarreAmped workout DVD and love having it in my exercise rotation. It’s available on Amazon for $16.99, which is the best price I found. I have loved this DVD and I hope you do too!

The 6 Worst Pregnancy Workout DVDs

So, not to be mean or anything . . . but there are some pretty lame-sauce prenatal workout DVDs out there.  I ordered and tried just about every pregnancy exercise DVD I could find on Amazon, and I found that some were fantastic and some were, well, not.

Check out the reviews for The 6 Best Pregnancy Workout DVDs if you’re looking to buy some DVD workouts to stay in shape during pregnancy. To accompany that post, however, here’s my list of the 6 worst prenatal workout DVDs I’ve come across.

I do this in the spirit of saving you time and money, not to tear down the people who put these workouts out there. I promise! Remember that episode of Gilmore Girls where Rory writes the horrible, snarky review of the ballet for the paper at Yale? That’s one of the BEST ones . . . but even so I’m taking a lesson from Rory’s little ballet situation and reigning in a bit in my critique. Haha. But I am going to tell it straight and let you know which pregnancy workout DVDs I didn’t think were worth investing in.

worst workout DVDs
Image from Poor jerk-face Rory Gilmore . . .

The 6 Worst Prenatal Workout DVDs

Here’s the list of DVDs I returned or donated after a try or two. I didn’t do a full review on these ones like I did for the ones on my 6 Best list, but I did write a little blurb giving the gist of why I didn’t think each was all that:

Niece Pecenka’s Pilates During Pregnancy

This one wasn’t much of a challenge at all, and the instructor, Niece, had you lie flat on your back for a substantial part of the workout. That made me uncomfortable, so I sent it right back to Amazon. I also thought Niece’s outfit selection was odd—a dark browns and blacks against a dark mat—which made it tricky for me to always see what she was doing. Combine that with the bad cueing and I might as well have just thrown down a mat and made up my own moves. Some of the Amazon reviews were so glowing for this one that my hopes were high, but I was majorly disappointed once I actually tried the DVD.

Sara Haley’s Expecting More.

This one could have been great, so great . . . but I’m just not a fan of Sara’s style. At all. She is VERY bubbly. Like, very. And  on top of that she has all sorts of cheesy, cringe-worthy names for workout moves. I’m sure there are lots out there who would really enjoy how happy and enthusiastic she is, but I found myself feeling majorly awkward an embarrassed through most of the workouts. I could have overlooked the ooey-gooey aspects of Sara Haley’s demeanor if the workouts had been absolutely phenomenal, but they were just okay.

Denise Austin’s Fit & Firm Pregnancy

This was my least favorite of all the ones I tried. It felt dated, blah, hokey in the extreme, and made me depressed to think that THIS is what some people apparently think exercise during pregnancy should be like. If you exercised at all pre-pregnancy, you can do so much more than Denise leads you through here! So much! I’d say this one would only be good for someone extremely new to exercise and fitness. It’s definitely one to pass on if you’re looking to be challenged. Also, Denise is trying waaaaay too hard to look perky and excited. Like, humorously so. It was awful.

Lindsay Brin’s Complete Pregnancy Workout

The strange purple background made me feel like I was playing a computer game in 1998, not getting a good workout in. I get that having a perfect studio set and perfect filming equipment is rare, but even some of the workouts I listed in my list of favorites have some production quality issues: odd shadows due to wonky lighting, seeing cars drive by through a window, etc. That can be mildly distracting, but it’s no big deal if the workouts are great. But the fake purple background in this one? It was majorly off-putting and odd and made me wonder why I should care more about my workout than the makers of the DVD seemed to.

Tracy Anderson’s Pregnancy Project

Like the Niece Pecenka DVD, this one had a lot of rave reviews on Amazon. However, I was unimpressed by the actual workouts. I was baffled by the very non-workouty set Tracy chose (fancy couches and lamps . . . yeah, I work out in Paris Hilton’s living room too!). I was similarly perplexed by her wardrobe choices. Tracy’s cleavage was spilling out everywhere and her foofy workout gear is more reminiscent of Victoria’s Secret than Nike. I’m all about feeling sexy while pregnant, but this DVD just felt bizarre. Like the Sara Haley DVD set, the workouts were fine, but not spectacular enough for me to put up with the things about Tracy that drove me crazy.

Summer Sanders’ Prenatal Workout

This one wasn’t as awful as the others on this list, but it wasn’t nearly as challenging or fun as the 6 keepers I listed above. I didn’t hate it, but I had a hard time wanting to do it instead of the others in my stack that I thought were truly awesome as opposed to this one that was just all right. I’ll also freely admit an irrational fear of resistance bands thanks to a conversation I had at the gym years a go with a lady who LOST HER EYE when a band she was using snapped and hit her face. Her eye, you guys! HER EYE!  So I passed on this one after doing it just once.

So there’s the list of what I think are the 6 worst pregnancy DVDs out there—ones to pass on rather than purchase, unless you’re looking for sheer entertainment value.

What do you think? Anyone out there who can back me up on some of these? Or should I have given one of them another chance? Let me know in the comments below!