Review of Tracey Mallett's 3 in 1 Pregnancy System

There are a couple of things that are confusing about Tracey Mallett's pregnancy videos. The first is that she's done two, 3 in 1 Pregnancy System and Fit For Pregnancy. I have both, and if you read their covers they seem pretty similar. Both make a big deal about being 3-in-1 in multiple ways -- three stages of pregnancy, three disciplines (yoga, pilates, and sculpting), and three body sections. This makes it seem as though you're going to get some kind of complicated modular system with an elaborate DVD menu. This is not the case.

Look! Normal sofa cushions! I have those too.
At least as far as 3 in 1 Pregnancy System, which I did this morning, is concerned, what you get is a simple, hour-long workout that does indeed balance all the body parts and draw from different movement practices, and that has modifications for the third trimester. And you know what? That's just fine. The video really hit the spot for me, and if anything, I'm rather relieved that I could just do it without making too many decisions.

The workout is divided into four sections (four? four? what happened to three?!):

Warm Up & Core Conditioning
Lower Body
Upper Body
Partnered Flexibility

Tracey has you mainly warm up using yoga moves, but most of the video seems pilates-based. I'm near my due date and not feeling that strong right now, despite maintaining a movement program, and I was able to do all but one position in the entire video -- the plank. There is a modified hundred, which I haven't seen on other prenatal videos, more abdominal work that is challenging but just barely doable for me right now, and some nice leg strengthening exercises. The toning moves are mixed in with some very satisfying stretches, which I really like. And the upper body section uses light weights to give you a little bit of muscular work.

So far so good. Sounds pretty basic, right? It is pretty basic. But I liked it. Tracey herself is adorable -- she has an English accent, is pregnant in the video, and often jokes about not being able to perform certain movements anymore. She somehow makes the video really cheery and lighthearted. The attention to making moves comfortable for pregnant women is constant -- I never felt rushed when moving from one position to another, always had time to get a sip of water, and even difficult moves felt controlled and well cued.

That's it. I'm never going back to cushion-less pilates.

There is minimal prop use, but it's also thoughtful. For example, Tracey has you use a folded towel under your palms to reduce the strain on the wrists in push ups (and it does!). She also has you use three cushions under your body while doing pilates leg exercises, and it makes the whole thing sooo much more comfortable! And guess what -- these are not specialized yoga pillows or anything, but just regular sofa cushions. For once I didn't have to adjust for the fact that I don't have a yoga bolster in some kind of very specific shape.

What ruins the numerology of the program is the "partnered flexibility" section -- but while it spoils the numbers, it really makes the video. Tracey has her husband come in and help with some gentle stretches, most of them focused on the upper back and neck. Now, I did not get help with these, but Tracey's husband often provides tips on how to do them alone. And still, they were so, so good. It's easy to forget that pregnancy will take a toll on the upper back and neck too, and I suffer from tightness in that region anyway. (Who doesn't?) The super-precise instructions given for these stretches gave me much deeper, more satisfying stretches than I usually get, and I expect to turn to them again and again just to deal with computer-related stiffness.

Husbands make great props, it turns out
So there you have it. Tracey Mallett's 3 in 1 Pregnancy System is not nearly as complex as the cover would make it seem, but it challenged and stretched me in just the right ways for the third trimester. I can imagine doing it as a postnatal exercise too, as a way of gently building up strength again.

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