I’ve never spent more time on the couch than I did during my last two weeks of pregnancy. Anytime I tried to take a step, my SI joint felt like it was ripping apart, so even walking out to the sidewalk became nearly impossible. By the time my daughter arrived, I was craving any kind of movement I could get.
Of course, I wasn’t about to just jump back in to my old workouts. Even more than during pregnancy, I clearly needed some structured guidance from a pro to stay safe; my body felt probably 95 percent fine, but I knew things were still healing down below. I wanted classes that were specifically designed for the postpartum period–with exercises that would strengthen the muscles that had grown weak, without overtaxing anything that might not be ready to work out yet–and found there’s actually quite a few options online. Overwhelmed by all the choices, I decided that I might as well try as many as I could.
And I quickly learned that there’s a massively wide range of what a “postpartum workout” consists of. Some are barely more than breathing intentionally, while others are high-intensity cardio meant to burn major calories and “get your pre-baby body back.” Sometimes, it’s hard to even tell which extreme you’ll get until you’re already in the middle of a class.
But I also found several high-quality platforms that helped me connect to my body again. After testing out 18 different postpartum workout programs, these are the eight I’d most recommend to other new moms.
1. The Bromley Method
Pros: It’s safe to start just two weeks after an uncomplicated vaginal birth.Cons: The classes can feel very slow–you won’t exactly get that endorphin high you might crave from exercise.Cost: $147 one-time payment for on-demand classes, or $97 per month for additional access to live group classes. Sign up at thebromleymethod.com.
This 12-week series, led by postpartum Pilates specialist Emma Bromley, is focused on building back your core using Pilates-inspired movements. Each day offers two or three 10-20 minute workouts (which lets you easily slip them in when you can throughout the day) and always includes one that’s focused on the pelvic floor. Bromley shares a lot of detailed form tips, which slows down the workouts, but I found her explanations finally helped me “find” my pelvic floor for the first time in a way that made sense.
Pros: These workouts are super-targeted for the postpartum period, and since they were created with input from a PT, you can trust that they’re both safe and functional.Cons: You need a good deal of equipment specific to P.volve in order to do most of the classes.Cost: $95.58 annually or $19.99 monthly. Sign up at pvolve.com.
This three-week series offers 12 classes that are filled with unique movements I’d never done before in other fitness classes–which kept me engaged even on days I was dragging. Designed in concert with physical therapists, these exercises focus on mobility, balance, and strength lost during pregnancy, plus what feels good for exhausted new moms who spend hours holding and feeding their babies. I found they activated postural muscles that left me feeling taller and better aligned even hours after I’d finished working out.
3. Bodylove Pilates
Pros: This platform has a massive library of Pilates, yoga, stretch, and barre-based classes.Cons: It’s not always the sleekest production quality, and workouts have no music.Cost: $181.25 annually or $19.48 monthly. Sign up at bodylove-pilates.com.
This program was the only one that really worked my tight, achy upper back in the way I was craving after hours of breastfeeding. I loved the huge amount of classes–I never felt like I had to do the same one twice (as useful as that can be), and I could always find a video to match my energy level. Instructor Ali Handley even offers a “Birth to Bodylove” program that you can start from day one home from the hospital. There are also some core and stretch classes designed to be done with your baby, though I was never brave enough to try one myself.
Pros: An algorithm gives you class recommendations based on your interests and preferences.Cons: There’s no structured postnatal “program” to follow, just several classes to choose your own adventure with.Cost: $169.99 annually, or $24.99 monthly. Sign up at obefitness.com.
The high-energy ob? instructors offer a couple dozen workouts–including strength training, barre, boxing, and stretching–that are designed specifically for postpartum safety. I particularly appreciated how the trainers give advice about working out postnatally as they demonstrate the movements, so you get info and insight while you’re moving and working up a sweat. As any new mom can tell you, multitasking is essential to life with a little one.
5. The Bloom Method
Pros: In addition to workouts, you get access to educational videos that really explain things like doming, diaphragmatic breathing, and the pelvic floor anatomy.Cons: Some of the trainers can sometimes feel a bit like motivational speakers, which can be great or grating, depending on your taste.Cost: $240 annually, $74 quarterly, or $29 monthly. Sign up at thebloommethod.com.
This program includes dozens of postnatal-specific workouts, including some for pelvic pain and pelvic organ prolapse. There’s boxing and cycling, along with traditional strength, barre and yoga, and even on-the-go audio workouts. Most had me dripping in sweat. My favorite class was a 34-minute grounded flow that seemed to know exactly what my body needed: stretching the side body and upper back, strengthening the hips, and challenging my balance (something that had been sorely neglected ever since my center of gravity had shifted forward, and then back again).
Pros: The site regularly releases new postnatal-specific classes, including some designed for breastfeeding, midnight meditations, and feeling overwhelmed.Cons: Although Glo offers other workouts like Pilates fusion and strength training, its best stuff is really its yoga content.Cost: $245 annually or $24 monthly. Sign up at glo.com.
I’d forgotten how hard chataranga was after skipping it for so many months with a pregnant belly. But these 20-60 minute classes, including some that involve your baby, offer a nice amount of challenge–you feel bursts of burn (with variations offered), yet they’re balanced with more restorative poses. The yoga instructors are top-notch, and offer vinyasa, hatha, and restorative flows.
7. Fluidform Pilates
Pros: You start off with a personalized 21-day program designed by one of Fluidform’s instructors–this includes some workouts that repeat, so you can see your progress over time.Cons: The classes are all Pilates-based, so if you’re looking for variety, this one isn’t for you.Cost: $13 per month for an annual subscription or $22.74 monthly for a quarterly membership. Sign up at fluidformpilates.com.
Pilates trainer Kirsten King‘s five- to 25-minute classes focus on smaller, concentrated movements done with correct form–she cues you throughout to remind you of which muscles to engage and how. The exercises are slow but specific, with high reps, and mainly focused on engaging your core and realigning your body. Several times, they left me truly sore the next day in places I’d never felt before. Membership comes with an equipment pack of resistance bands, a small ball, and discs–the only thing missing is the ballet barre.
8. The Sculpt Society
Pros: Set to pop music, these workouts really get your body moving for a heart-pumping, endorphin-boosting release.Cons: With her perky personality and Hollywood body, celeb trainer Meagan Roup is a bit of an idealized “Workout Barbie,” which could be more intimidating than inspiring during those postpartum days.Cost: $179.99 annually or $19.99 monthly. Sign up at thesculptsociety.com.
Following a six-week pelvic floor-and-core rehabilitation program, the six-week postpartum program offers a weekly calendar of five- to 30-minute sculpting workouts, stretch sessions and meditations. I loved how these classes often included dance-y movement that let my body go of all the stiffness created by so much sitting and nursing and stressing.
Start your postnatal fitness journey with this free full-body workout:
Tags: Fitness Tips, Parenting Advice
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