Body after baby: Getting back into the groove

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Krisitna Newton
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Pregnant women are given a lot of information about what changes to expect during the 40 weeks it takes to carry a baby to term. They are told they should maintain a balanced diet, continue to exercise, and that they can expect to gain 25 to 35 pounds.

With the ongoing emphasis on physical fitness and new bi-annual testing requirements, it's more important than ever for new moms to get back into shape after having a baby.

That is where health and wellness center officials can help. The staff at the HAWC makes continuous efforts to create innovative programs to cover practically every aspect of physical fitness improvement and injury prevention. One of the newest physical training programs was designed especially for new active-duty mothers.

The post-pregnancy PT class, which began May 19, is the brainchild of Sheena Frey, a health and fitness specialist at the HAWC.

"The goal of the class is to help new mothers between six weeks and six months postpartum get back into shape in a safe and accepting environment," Mrs. Frey said.

The class was originally scheduled to run three days per week for three weeks, but after careful consideration, the staff at the HAWC decided that just wasn't enough time.

"I realized that I can't take these ladies from basically no physical activity and get them ready for unit fitness programs in only three weeks," Mrs. Frey said. "That would just cause injuries and put them back on profile."

For this reason, the length of the course increased to six weeks with the option to re-enroll.

"Basically, we made it so the ladies could stay in the class until they are due for their physical fitness assessment or until they decide they no longer need our help," Mrs. Frey said.

The class is meant to provide the member with the tools necessary to accomplish an all-inclusive lifestyle change, and not just be a quick fix, Mrs. Frey said.

New mothers are provided not only physical fitness instruction, but also nutritional guidance and lifestyle tips.

Before beginning the class, which requires her supervisor's permission, each student receives a one-on-one orientation, a nutrition class and a body composition measurement.

The body composition module is similar to the "dunk tank," but rather than using water displacement to measure muscle mass and body fat, it uses air displacement, Mrs. Frey said.

"The body composition can be intimidating for the moms because they are afraid the number is going to be really high," she said. "But almost all of them were surprised at how low it was."

Senior Airman Sheila DeVera, a 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs photographer, just completed the first six-week course.

Her second body composition measurement showed she had dropped seven pounds of fat and gained four pounds of muscle.

"When I saw those numbers I was so happy," Airman DeVera said. "Sometimes you don't see it on the scale, so you're not sure it's working. But then you see it for real, and it's amazing."

Airman DeVera said she has also seen improvement in other areas.

"I lost two and a half inches from my waist, doubled my pushups and scored an 83 on my PT test," she said. "When I started this program, I hated physical training, but throughout the program (Mrs. Frey) listened to all of us and asked us what we would like to focus on. She made the PT fun ... and brutal."

Airman DeVera is not the only success story.

Many of the women have seen similar improvement, Mrs. Frey said.

Some of the best, she said, are those who honestly believe they just can't do certain exercises.

"I have had girls who say they can only do one pushup or five sit-ups, and some even say they can't do any," Mrs. Frey said. "I tell them they can do it, because they can do a modified version to build their strength. Just don't give up."