Every month, I get hit with some variation of annoying PMS symptoms. Usually, it's headaches, minor bouts of insomnia (which inevitably leads to fatigue throughout the day), and mood swings. During those symptom-filled days leading up to the onset of my period, I temporarily pause my favorite HIIT classes and turn to workouts that are a little bit gentler on my mind and my body, and recently, that's been Pilates-focused flows by certified yoga and Pilates instructor Melissa Wood Tepperberg.
After regularly turning to Melissa Wood Health for the past five or so of my cycles, I can confidently say the instructor's flows are some of my all-time favorite workouts to do when my period is throwing me for a loop. Here are a few reasons why:
The Workouts Are Low-Impact
Melissa Wood Health mat-based workouts are all focused on strengthening and stretching the body through small, low-impact movements, which is much more appealing to me than multiple sets of burpees when I'm physically exhausted and emotionally drained. For most of the class, you're either lying on your back or side, or you're situated in a tabletop position.
The tiny movements feel way less demanding on the body than burpees or weighted squats. I'm not drenched in sweat by the end, but I still always feel the burn seconds into each set of moves.
I also appreciate that Wood changes the move or reverses the motion after about 10 repetitions, always counts down, and actually does all of the moves with you. My motivation is usually pretty low during PMS, so all of these thighs help to keep me moving and engaged with the workout.
The Workouts Start With Breathing
Instead of jumping right into a series of difficult moves, Wood-Tepperberg starts many of her classes off with a quick breathing exercise to help you reset your intentions, let go of some of your stressors, and approach the workout in a more mindful, relaxed way. I find that I'm more willing to push through the last few reps of leg circles when I've grounded myself first.
There Are a Ton of Quick, Short Workouts
I rarely have the energy (or desire) to commit to a 45-minute-long workout when I have particularly intense PMS. Even 30 minutes can feel like a lifetime. Another thing I love about Melissa Wood Health is that there's a ton of super short workouts videos offered within the platform. You can find arms segments that only take eight minutes to complete, full-body flows that clock in at around 15-17 minutes total, and even five-minute meditations.
Stretching Is Worked Into the Workouts
Melissa Wood works stretching into the total time of the class rather than just suggesting stretching when the clock strikes zero after you've finished your last rep. For example, roughly the last two or three minutes of, say, a 17-minute Pilates flow is all about cooling down the body with gentle movements and stretches. This is particularly helpful for me, someone who has a horrible habit of totally skipping post-workout stretches even though I know stretching can be helpful for certain PMS symptoms.
You Don't Need Props or Weights
Sure, there are classes where Wood recommends using one-pound ankle weights or a resistance band in certain moves, but she also makes it very clear, in every single class, that your bodyweight is more than enough to get in a solid workout. I never feel pressured to push my body further than it wants to go when I'm fatigued.