Review: Erica Ziel’s Prenatal Sculpt

Looking for a killer pregnancy workout DVD? Erica Ziel’s Prenatal Sculpt DVD is one of my absolute favorites.

Erica Ziel is  exactly what I want in a workout DVD instructor. She’s very friendly and upbeat, but she’s not obnoxiously perky. She doesn’t feel the need to jabber the entire time, but the directions and cueing she does give are legitimately helpful. The backdrop of the DVD is also awesome. For this DVD you get to work out looking at a stunning, rocky coastline view. It that makes me feel like I’m back in my childhood playing on the Oregon coast.

Erica Ziel

Now, how are the workouts themselves? They are absolutely incredible, but in a totally pregnancy-safe way! If are looking for a pregnancy workout DVD that’s an actual challenge rather than a let-down or an insult, then this one is a must-have. If you weren’t super active before pregnancy, I’d still recommend it. Simply stick with Erica’s moodier, Monica. She looks to be third trimester in the DVD (and is still in fabulous shape!) but does a good job demonstrating less-intense versions of the moves Erica does throughout the workout. You can get this DVD on Amazon for $19.99, and it’s worth every penny.

Just a heads up: This page and a few others on my blog contain affiliate links. That means if you click on a link on one of my posts that takes you to another site where you buy a product I recommend, I get a small commission. I take that as a huge virtual high-five and thank you from my readers! So, if you like something I recommend enough to buy it, it would make my day if you used my link to make your purchase. But I hope you know that I have a staunch policy of ONLY including affiliate links for products that I actually own and think are incredible, as well as only linking to the best price I can find for any given product. 🙂

Here’s my breakdown of each section, including exact runtime and how many calories I burned per workout.

Prenatal Cardio Workout (runtime 19:22 and 176 calories burned)

Most prenatal DVDs that feature cardio are lame. They tend to be hokey, boring, and overly easy. But this one, my friends, is none of those things. I found myself working up a serious sweat and was shocked to see my calorie burn by the end. I’d even go as far as to say that, in my opinion, this segment is the best and toughest prenatal cardio DVD on the market today. I felt AMAZING knowing how hard I’d worked by the end. Yet there wasn’t a single move that required any kind of jumping or jarring movement. It was 100% safe, effective, and fun. I absolutely love this one and give it a wholehearted 5 stars.

Lower Body Workout (runtime 21:36 and 107 calories burned)

 Why does it matter to have strong glutes during pregnancy? Well . . . maybe it doesn’t other than for vanity, but I know I’m not above wanting a beautiful bum. Ha! Judge all you want. 😉 In fact, my caboose is one of my favorite parts about myself physically speaking, so I was excited to see a workout unabashedly stating that it’ll help you keep your butt lifted and perky throughout pregnancy.

This segment was largely mat work, very reminiscent of Beachbody Brazil Butt Lift’s High & Tight, for anyone familiar with that particular DVD. While my heart rate wasn’t through the roof, my thighs and bum were on fire by the end of many of the exercises. I thought this was a great segment, and one I’d definitely consider doing even non pregnant. For an extra challenge you could throw on some ankle weights . . . but I haven’t been that brave yet! And as an added bonus, the short stretching segment Erica includes at the end feels absolutely divine.

Prenatal Core Workout (runtime 15:24 and 37 calories burned)

This core workout is made up mostly of standing moves and mat work on all fours that hit your obliques. The first time I did it I was unimpressed; I get that it’s hard to put together a prenatal core workout simply because most traditional core moves aren’t safe for pregnancy, but this seemed more like easy stretching than core work. But I gave it another try and was glad that I did. The key is to really focus on engaging your core muscles by “pulling your baby close to you” and trying to lift up your pelvic floor. Do these two things consciously as well as make sure to breath in the way Erica cues you to and you’ll find this to be a great little core workout. Engaging those abs is the key that will take a move like the “kneeling circles” from meh to fabulous.

Prenatal Arm Sculpting Workout (runtime 18:33 and 72 calories burned)

 I’m just going to say it: this section is a bit repetitive. You spend your time standing and using dumbbells in a series of arm, back, and shoulder moves, and some of those moves come up a few times within the 18-minute workout. That being said, though, the moves were hard enough that while I noted that they were repeats, I wasn’t actually bored simply because I was so challenged. I appreciated the emphasis on triceps, since I know that’s a region of my physique where extra calories like to settle in.

Alignment (runtime 11:23 and 14 calories burned)

 My two-year-old joined me for this segment the other day. That cute little stinker wouldn’t sleep quite long enough for me to finish my workout. 🙂

Erica Ziel

Honestly, the stretches Erica includes at the end of each of the other segments feel sufficient to me, so I wouldn’t feel the need to do this one as a daily cool down. However, it did feel great, and I plan to throw it in on any days that I feel particularly tight. I especially liked the mermaid stretch sequence at the very end. It felt awesome and was very fitting for the beach setting.

So there you have it! Erica Ziel offers a wonderful challenge for every area of the body in this amazing pregnancy workout DVD. I grabbed it on Amazon for $19.99 and I’m glad I did—it was worth every cent for the cardio section alone. I hope you like it too!

The 6 Best Pregnancy Workout DVDs

Just a heads up: These review posts and a few others on my blog contain affiliate links. That means if you click on a link on one of my posts that takes you to another site where you buy a product I recommend, I get a small commission. I take that as a huge virtual high-five and thank you from my readers! So, if you like something I recommend enough to buy it, it would make my day if you used my link to make your purchase. But I hope you know that I have a staunch policy of ONLY including affiliate links for products that I actually own and think are incredible, as well as only linking to the best price I can find for any given product. 🙂

To stay look and feel my best this pregnancy, I’ve relied heavily on pregnancy workout DVDs. As far as I’m concerned, workout DVDs are awesome. They’re like having a personal trainer right in your home, ready to work out with you whenever you’d like. And prenatal pilates and barre workouts tend to be my very favorites.


prenatal pilates, barre, and strength DVDs
However, there are a LOT of options out there when it comes to pregnancy workout DVDs! This is both good and bad. Which ones were the best? Which would be challenging and fun, and which would be way too easy for my fitness level?

I read and read reviews on Amazon, which was helpful to some extent, but I still didn’t feel like I knew which ones I should buy. Before throwing down the cash on Beachbody’s Focus T25 last fall, for example, I really appreciated blogs like Dumbbells and Diapers and Dysfunctional Parrot that gave super in-depth reviews of not just the workout program overall but each individual DVD. Things like the runtime, calorie count, and what muscles each workout focused on were all really helpful and information for me and helped me decide that T25 was something worth investing in.

But nothing like this really seemed to exist for pregnancy DVDs. Yes, there were brief reviews on Amazon, but it was almost comical to see the wide variation in opinions there—”This workout was SO hard!” vs. “I’m pregnant, not dead!” for the exact same DVD.

So I decided to order any DVDs that looked good and then write the really detailed reviews I wish had existed a few months ago for other fit, pregnant girls like me who wanted the scoop and didn’t want to go through as much hassle as I did. So, drumroll please . . .

The 6 Best Pregnancy Workout DVDs

Here’s my list of DVDs that I loved and deemed worthy of keeping. Each one has a link to a detailed review where I tried to give as much info as possible to help you know if it’s a workout you might like too.


Where Can I Get These DVDs?

Each of these DVDs cost about $12 apiece (some a little more, some a little less). That’s nothing! Invest in yourself a bit and get a handful you can rotate through so that your workouts stay fresh and fun your entire pregnancy. Here are the links to the best prices I’ve found for each DVD if you’re interested in grabbing any or all of them for your own collection.




How Can I Best Use DVDs to Stay Fit During Pregnancy?

Raise your hand if you like pretty, printable, FREE posters and charts! Yeah, me too. I like having cute, bright-colored calendars, quotes, printables, and charts to help me stay on track as I work towards various health and fitness goals. I find best results come if I track my progress with huge check marks in my favorite color of marker or invest in some shiny gold star stickers. ?

Once I’d found my list of pregnancy workout DVDs worth keeping in my rotation, I put together a schedule for myself so that I could cycle through all the DVDs without getting bored.  Here is the link to the PDF version of my FREE Pregnancy Workout Calendar. Grab it so you can print it out, hang it up, and rock a fit pregnancy right along with me.

The calendar has you working out for 45 minutes a day, 6 days a week.  Two days a week you’ll focus on strengthening your upper body, two days a week you’ll focus on strengthening your lower body, two days a week are cardio days, and you’ll take one day a week to rest.

pregnancy workout DVD calendar

I also put together a Beginner’s Calendar. Maybe you weren’t working out consistently before pregnancy. Or maybe you simply don’t have the energy to do 45 minutes a day. That’s okay! We are all different. Listening to your body is crucial when it comes to exercise during pregnancy. This version of the calendar follows the same format as the Advanced Calendar but has you putting in 20–30 minutes a day of exercise instead. Here’s the link to the Beginner’s Calendar PDF—which is also free. Woohoo!

pregnancy workout DVD beginner calendar

Buying all the DVDs this calendar requires costs about $90 total on Amazon. Yes, that’s a chunk of change, but I think it’s absolutely worth it to have challenging, fun, pregnancy-safe workouts I can rotate through without getting bored for these coming months. And, of course, if you want to buy fewer, you can write up your own calendar or use mine as a blueprint. For example, you could just do, say, Weeks 1& 2 plus Week 5 because those are the DVDs you bought, and then start back at the beginning of your own personal rotation from there.

So far following my calendar has kept my pregnancy workouts fun, fresh, and challenging. My weight gain has stayed right on track as well (I’m up a healthy 13 pounds at 22 weeks. Wahoo!). I like feeling like I’m moving in a specific direction and accomplishing something concrete rather than aimlessly shuffling through my pile of workout DVDs at random. For me, following (and then finishing!) a calendar or plan takes my workouts to a whole new level. My workouts become empowering and exciting rather than routine and mechanical.

Also: don’t despair if you don’t feel up to either workout schedule during your first trimester. I was lucky enough to feel crappy but decent for all but a miserable 2-week stretch of my first trimester. But many women (including very fit ones!) just aren’t up to exercising much in those hard early weeks. If you are one of those girls, my heart goes out to you, and I’d just remind you that these DVDs and my calendar will be right here waiting for you once you start feeling better again. Keep nibbling those saltines and hang in there!

Are there any great pregnancy DVDs I didn’t mention that I need to run out and try? Or are any of my reviews dead wrong? And what do you think of the calendars? Let me know in the comments!