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Our first-trimester tester checks out 4 new workout DVDs

Confession: I am not an exercise fanatic. And I am dealing with a bad case of morning sickness.

But I did try these four new DVDs, hoping to find one that matched my level of comfort and fitness. And what I found is that some exercise programs really do inspire you to want to get in shape. Others inspired me to eat ice cream.

Here's the scoop.

"Denise Austin's Fit & Firm Pregnancy"

Produced and directed by: Cal Pozo

Cost: $12.99 at www.amazon.com; $12.88 at www.walmart.com

Aimed at: Women in all stages of pregnancy

Host: Denise Austin, perky (but not pregnant) fitness icon

The workout: 20-minute workouts for each trimester, plus a breathing and core awareness session

Difficulty: The cardio session includes a lot of marching, squatting and kicking and features the kind of vigorous exercises a nonpregnant person would do. The toning session for the second trimester features hand weights, push-ups and sit-ups, and I got tired just watching.

Other perks: There is a quick postnatal workout that focuses on abdominals and obliques. I will definitely try that when the time comes.

Confession: This routine is way too strenuous for me, so my favorite part is the breathing session, where you remain seated and practice breathing. The rest was really fun to watch in fast-forward.

The bottom line: If you were fit and fab before pregnancy, and if your obstetrician has given you the green light for very vigorous exercise, this DVD is for you. But if you're normally just a casual exerciser or anything close to sedentary, don't try this one at home.

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"Tracey Mallett's 3-in-1 Pregnancy System"

Produced and directed by: Cal Pozo

Cost: $17.99 on amazon.com

Aimed at: Women in all stages of pregnancy

Host: Dancer and fitness professional Tracey Mallett

The workout: Uses pilates and yoga, with 20-minute sessions on lower body, upper body and posture, and stretches you can do with your partner, plus some abdominal and pelvic-floor exercises that promote stretching and relaxing.

Difficulty: Even I could do these wonderfully relaxing moves, or at least some of them.

Other perks: The best part of this video is that the host is pregnant, in her third trimester, and very pleasant. She has a nonpregnant helper who demonstrates all the exercises to full capacity, and Mallett demonstrates the exercises at a level appropriate for women in their second or third trimester, so there is flexibility in the workout.

Confession: I cheated ... a lot (but again, I blame that on being in my first trimester and feeling miserable).

The bottom line: I would highly recommend this one. When I reach the dreamy second trimester, I will try this workout again, and I'm confident I will enjoy it.

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"Complete Pregnancy Fitness with Erin O'Brien"

Produced by: Christian Capobianco

Cost: $21.99 on amazon.com; $24.99 at www.barnesandnoble.com

Aimed at: Women in all stages of pregnancy

Host: Certified prenatal exercise specialist Erin O'Brien, who is very pregnant in this video

The workout: 40-minute workout and a 20-minute partner workout, featuring O'Brien's husband, James Denton (of "Desperate Housewives"). The workout includes squats, modified push-ups, leg lifts, lunges and such.

Difficulty: Not too difficult

Other perks: This two-DVD set comes with a Postnatal Rescue.

Confession: The only reason I really wanted to do this one was to see Denton, who, by the way, looked absolutely thrilled to be participating (note the sarcasm).

The bottom line: The workout is nice, but I really couldn't stand all the camera tricks used. It was like the cameraman just got himself a brand-new camera and wanted to use all the effects possible in the shortest amount of time -- fading in and out, quickly flashing to black and white and back again, switching to a grainy, shaky lens all of a sudden, using odd angles. It gave me a headache.

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"Sara Holliday's Prenatal Yoga: Third Trimester"

Produced by: Sara Holliday

Cost: $14.99 on amazon.com

Aimed at: Women in their third trimester of pregnancy. (Holliday's yoga workouts for the first and second trimester are also available.)

Host: Aerobic, yoga, martial arts and fitness instructor Sara Holliday

The workout: 37-minute yoga class, designed for the third trimester to ease some of the discomfort and pain caused by pregnancy, and to get you ready for labor

Difficulty: I wasn't flexible enough to do all of the positions, and I would say this workout is for people who are familiar with yoga. As I move further along in my pregnancy, I would love to try this workout again.

Other perks: The setting is nice: The entire workout takes place beachside, which I thought was a little cheesy at first, but it was so serene and calming that it really grew on me.

Confession: I was eating a Skinny Cow fudge pop during this one.

The bottom line: The host is lovely, and yoga seems like the perfect exercise for pregnant women -- not too strenuous, and extremely relaxing. In fact, if I hadn't been eating the fudgy pop, I might have fallen asleep.

Note: Talk to your doctor before trying these or any exercise routines.

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