Pregnant women and new moms must look carefully for organized
exercise opportunities that cater to their 'condition.'
Ann Mendelbaum's sweatshirt makes the point during a pre-natal exercise class at the Maple/Drake JCC.
regnancy springs many sur-
prises on a woman, including,
if she is fitness-conscious, fin-
ding an organized exercise program.
It is easier to find a health club with
classes, rather than a class specifical-
ly for pregnant women.
The Maple/Drake Jewish Com-
munity Center offers exclusive pre-
and post-natal exercise classes. Vicki
Spisak, coordinator of the Center's
program, offers land and water
classes for pregnant women and a
separate program for new moms and
Other clubs have knowledgeable
staff who advise their pregnant
female clients on how to work out.
They, like the Center, operate under
the guidelines set down by the
American College of Obstetricians
Spisak says women at any stage
of pregnancy can join the Center's
classes if they meet certain
guidelines. "We usually suggest that
they start after their third month.
But they all have to have a doctor's
note or physician's approval. And they
can exercise all the way up into their
Cindy Ockerman, aerobics direc-
tor at Franklin Racquet Club, taught
classes through seven months of her
second pregnancy. "And the eighth
month I did low-impact (aerobics) .. .
But that was three and-a-half years
ago. I don't even let my teachers do
The Center's pre-natal program
includes stretching, pelvic tilts, arm
motions, knee bends and non-impact
aerbics. Expectant mothers do relax-
ation exercises at the end of the
workout, then sit down for a discus-
sion on pregnancy, child care, etc.
The water classes are similar,
with greater emphasis on exercises
done while holding onto the edge of
the pool. "It's really nice in the
water," says Spisak. "They get to use
the resistance of the water to tone the
muscles and they don't get the poun-
ding. If they have a backache, knee
problems, anything, the water is the
perfect place for them to be."
Pregnant women at Franklin go
into regular classes. Once Ockerman
knows they are pregnant, she tells
them "certain things as far as what
they should or shouldn't be doing and
expecting. And when we're doing cer-
tain exercises, we give them other ex-
The main changes Ockerman
makes in pregnant women's workouts
involve keeping their heart rates
"The more pregnant you
are the more awful you
feel as far as looking at
yourself in the mirror.
And knowing that you're
staying within your
weight range ... is
definitely going to make
you feel better."
below 140 beats per minute and keep-
ing them off of their backs.
"Certain abdominal exercises I
wouldn't let them do;' she says. "I sug-
gest they lie on their left side for a lot
of the work, to do it there or just do
pelvic tilts or something instead of
the abdominal exercises, for free ox-
ygen and blood flow to the baby. .I sug-
gest they don't use weights or rubber
bands because they don't need the ex-
cess stress on their joints. And I en-
courage them to drink lots of fluids
throughout the class. If I don't see
them do that I'll make them go out
at least three or four times through
the class. And we recommend that
they take the low-impact classes as
opposed to high-impact."
The Beverly Hills Racquet Club,
like Franklin, has no special classes
but gets many pregnant and post-
pregnant women. Beverly Hills is con-
sidering a pre- and post-natal pro-
gram beginning this fall when their
swimming pool is completed. Mean-
while, their instructors are taught the
Miry Perna, junior fitness direc-
tor at Beverly Hills, formerly taught
pre- and post-natal fitness at the
Jewish Center. Now six months into
her first pregnancy, she is doing a
high-tech workout involving tread-
mill walking and weight machines.
She uses "very low" weight resistance
with high repetitions.
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS