Tracy Anderson works with some of the hottest celebrity moms around—including business partner Gwyneth Paltrow and new mom Molly Sims. But in her latest workout DVDs, "The Pregnancy Project," Tracy's own growing bump is the star of the show as she leads moms-to-be through nine months of workouts—one for each month of pregnancy. BabyZone caught up with Tracy to talk about "The Pregnancy Project" and get some great tips for staying in shape all pregnancy long.
Congrats on "The Pregnancy Project"! What stands out in the DVDs is that viewers get a chance to see you—in real time —working out during all nine months of your pregnancy. What kinds of benefits did regular exercise provide you with as a mom-to-be?
This project is something my partner Gwyneth and I wanted to do for a really long time, so the second I became pregnant, it was like, "OK, we're going do this." At first, I thought I would film everything in my second trimester, but Gwyneth said "No, we're going to film it so women get to see you going all the way through pregnancy."
This plan ended up being perfect, both in how the project turned out—and what it did for my own pregnancy! I can say that at 37 years old, having these tools available made my pregnancy worlds apart from my pregnancy when I was 22. I gained 60 lbs the first time; this time I gained 30 and felt so much more in control and connected. It was much easier for my body to go through the pregnancy—and so much easier to get it back afterward.
When you first found out you were expecting, was it easy for you to switch from your usual fitness routine to a prenatal workout?
In the first trimester, we tend to be really tired, and many of us are really nauseous—I know I was! We also tend to be really cautious and worried because a lot can happen. I had a miscarriage before this pregnancy and I just wanted to sit still and not move a muscle for those first three months. It was my doctor who told me, "You need to keep moving." And so I did. However, I really believe in a very conservative approach during pregnancy. My goal for working out was to be effective, but still conservative.
For a mom-to-be who might not have worked out before pregnancy what tips do you have for her to start exercising?
If you have a healthy pregnancy and your doctor gives the OK to exercise, think of it [working out] as staying in tune with your muscles and keeping yourself strong and connected. Exercise should get your circulation moving, but this is not the time for a fitness boot camp, or crazy cardio, or lifting or doing lunges, or any of that. Give yourself the goal of staying strong in your muscles, but go at your own pace.
To find motivation, the best advice I can give is to understand that the way you lead your life is a big example for your children. Especially since we're in this fight against childhood obesity, it's really important to make that lifestyle change for yourself, as your child's role model. Getting into the habit of exercising now will make it easier to start again after your baby is born. Think of it like this, "I need to connect to my body each day for 30 minutes to an hour each day. I need to make the time to take care of my body because if I take care of my body, I take care of my health, and then I can be better at everything."
How do workouts change over the course of pregnancy—since a workout at two months is different from a workout at eight or nine months?
Well, at two months, it still feels like you're in your body and at eight months, your body feels like it's been taken over by an alien! Seriously, at eight or nine months, your spine has shifted, your hips have expanded, and nature has really done its thing. However, there's a hormone that goes through us in pregnancy that relaxes our joints so they can expand. If you are able to keep your muscles awake and alert during late pregnancy, then once your doctor releases you to exercise again [after giving birth], you still have that relaxed state for a while and if you pick a really good program, it's a chance to really redesign your body. I have had more success with many moms right after pregnancy than at any other time.
Can you tell us a few of your favorite exercises for moms-to-be?
I like leg work and butt lifts when you're down on all fours, because as your stomach grows its really great to let your uterus hang. In "The Pregnancy Project," there are eight or nine lifts in each DVD for this reason. For example, in my "Attitude Butt Lift," simply get down on all fours, take turns lifting each leg behind you in a slightly bent position, rotated out, and then lift it the ceiling.
I also love my arm exercises! I think there's no reason for us to lose arm strength; in fact, for a number of underlying reasons, the more arm strength we lose during pregnancy, the more difficult it is for us to get our bodies back. Arm exercises I really like for pregnancy use only 3-lb arm weights—no heavy lifting!
Was there an exercise you just couldn't or wouldn't do during your pregnancy?
I can't do cardio during pregnancy. I thought I would be able to do it this time because I've been doing my method [Tracey Anderson Method] for 14 years. But my first pregnancy I just could not do cardio and the same thing happened to me this time.
Really good doctors will tell you that they know a lot, but they don't know more than the moms in some ways, and I really believe that. A mother's gut instinct is the most powerful thing. And if you're really listening to your instinct, if something just doesn't feel right to you—and for me, it was jumping up and down when I have a baby growing inside me—even though your doctor says hey, this is totally fine, listen to your gut instinct.
Instead of cardio, I would walk in the afternoon with the dog or my son and did my muscular structure, probably between three and five days a week. I definitely didn't do my typical six-day-a-week schedule, and sometimes it came down to, "It just isn't happening today"—and that was completely OK.