The Philly Dance Fitness team is growing — literally! This summer, three of our instructors — Jaime Molyneux, Emily Sabalbaro and Maya Sethuraman — will welcome their first children into the world. In years past, you may have seen owner Deb dancing until the day she went into labor, or Pam tapping up until about a month before her youngest was born. But this is the first time in our 8-year history that we’ve had a trio of pregnant instructors at the same time. What’s more, they all happen to be due within a month of each other! In honor of this amazing coincidence, we caught up with our moms-to-be to discuss how being pregnant has changed their attitudes toward fitness and what advice they have for other women trying to stay fit while cooking up a baby.
What’s the most challenging thing about teaching while pregnant?
Jaime: Having Type 1 diabetes made me particularly nervous about the pregnancy. I wanted to make sure I could offer a good class and not show how nervous I felt. In the beginning I thought every jumping jack would hurt the baby. Now I feel much better about it!
Maya: It went in phases. I’d say it’s sort of like dealing with your center of gravity changing. You have the understanding that you’re going to have to modify movements. There were points during the first trimester when it was really rough and I was pretty sick. I actually took some time off from Philly Dance Fitness. But I got to the second trimester and felt great. When you’re really run down in the beginning you just may not be able to do as much as you’re used to doing.
How has being pregnant impacted the way you teach or modify moves for others?
Jaime: I’ve always reminded students to be mindful of injuries but I say that so much more often now!
Emily: My teaching helped me understand the concept of stability instead of flexibility. When you’re pregnant, you are more mobile then you were pre-pregnancy. You are able to overstretch. Some people can do certain moves but it’s important to ask, “Why? Do I want people doing that?”
Have people said any unusual things when they found out that you’re a fitness instructor and pregnant? Has anyone said anything you wish they hadn’t?
Emily: People generally look at pregnant women as broken. I teach yoga to seniors and sometimes I have to remind them that I can pick up a chair; I’ll be fine. It’s just the general attitude. People focus on what you can’t do instead of what you can do.
Maya: My loved ones are concerned that I might be doing too much. They ask how long I’m planning to keep going. I would love to go until a doctor, or my body, tells me that I should pull back!
Do you have any advice for pregnant women who still want to stay fit?
Emily: Movement in general is really important. Coming from my yoga background I tell all my students that yoga is whatever you want it to be. Students shouldn’t worry about limitations. There is so much pressure when you’re pregnant. You already have so much advice coming your way. Being pregnant is the time to listen to your body and nurture yourself. Take that time to enjoy being with your body instead of thinking, “I can’t keep up with the class.” Enjoy the way you can move in your body.
Maya: First, talk to your doctor. Start your fitness program before you get pregnant. Don’t start something new. If you’re doing something and your body is conditioned to that movement, you should be able to continue through your pregnancy. Modify moves to accommodate your changing body.
Anything else that you want Philly Dance Fitness readers to know?
Emily: Some days it’s so hard to physically get my body to class, but having my students there changes everything. Their enthusiasm boosts my mood!
Maya: I am so happy to be teaching during this pregnancy, and I’m going to miss it after the baby comes. It’s just an incredibly rewarding thing to be able to express yourself through dance and do it with people who love it as much as you do. I hope to continue shortly after pregnancy!