It’s no surprise that pregnancy is one of life’s most exhilarating—and exhausting experiences. Each week and every trimester brings with it unexpected aches, pregnancy pains and symptoms that impact both the mind and body. You can’t wish away your morning sickness or insomnia, but you can better prepare for and recover from childbirth through exercise and have fun while doing it. I found just that at the original dance fitness program, the one and only Jazzercise.
I was 18 when I took my first Jazzercise class. I was amazed to see women of all ages and stages of life dancing side-by-side, being led by an instructor elevated on a stage. The music was stimulating and the movements captivating. It only took a few routines, and I was hooked.
Three months later, it was me on that stage leading my first class as an instructor. Little did I know then what an integral part Jazzercise would play in my life. Thirteen years and four babies later, I am still Jazzercising, and it remains central to my physical and mental health, especially as a young mom in her childbearing years.
Jazzercise helped me find my inner strength and confidence in giving birth
When I was 38 weeks pregnant with my second baby, I woke up early in the morning to precipitous (or rapid) labor. I didn’t know it at the time, but he was coming fast. With our 2-year-old daughter in tow, my husband and I rushed to the hospital. I’ll never forget the nurse in triage, nor how I felt when I heard her say, “Oh, honey. You’re dilated to 9 ½ cm.” Anxiety set in as I realized what that meant—I would be delivering without an epidural. Which was decidedly not part of my birth plan.
When wheeled into labor and delivery, I was overcome with fear. While I’d safely delivered my daughter vaginally two years prior, I had been medicated. I hadn’t prepared for an unmedicated birth! I was tense and terrified, and my nurse could see it all over my face and body. It was as if she were reading my mind when she sincerely looked into my eyes and assured me, “You can do this. You were made for this.” And then it clicked.
As she walked through what I would feel and experience without medication, I felt an unexpected sense of confidence wash over me, though a sense of confidence in mind and body that I had experienced before—at Jazzercise. Though I may not have prepared for an unmedicated birth in the traditional way, I realized then that I had been preparing for this moment all along and I had all the mental and physical strength needed to deliver my baby.
He was born 15 minutes later. Without medication. Without complications. And without any tearing.
Jazzercise has been the steady throughline that has helped me navigate the ups-and-downs of all of my pregnancies: Morning sickness, pre- and postnatal anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, gestational diabetes, three placental abruptions (yep, three!), postpartum depression, and a 2-week stay in the NICU.
It has kept me motivated to move during the challenges of each trimester and excited to return to exercise postpartum. Every class has boosted my mood and confidence and given me greater love and appreciation for my ever-changing body.
While exercising during pregnancy has tons of research-backed benefits, many of these physical, I have also experienced firsthand the equally important social benefits of group fitness. Today, women of all ages and stages of life are still dancing side-by-side at Jazzercise. (Trust me: There’s a reason why the brand is still thriving after five decades!)
This diversity makes for generations of mothers supporting and cheering one another on. This community, both in-studio and online, has been an invaluable source of mental and emotional strength to me and can be for moms and moms-to-be at every stage of motherhood.
Recently, I had the opportunity to co-create the Pregnancy & Post-Baby Collection for the Jazzercise On Demand channel, which features low-impact workouts specially designed to meet the unique needs of a mother’s changing body. While working on this series, I was in my fourth pregnancy, and I found it especially important to include movements that were functional and core-based and encouraged flexibility and body awareness.
In pregnancy and postpartum, Jazzercise can help specifically to:
- Ready the body for daily activity (like getting out of bed or holding baby), which makes for a stronger, more capable body leading up to and following childbirth
- Increase core and pelvic floor strength and stability leading to less pain during pregnancy and quicker postpartum recovery
- Reduce tension and pain in the ligaments and muscles needed to support extra weight as the pregnant body changes, grows and recovers
- Connect the mind and body, leading to safer movement during pregnancy and easier, more effective labor
What to know about starting Jazzercise
Aside from online, Jazzercise classes can be found in-studio worldwide, with complimentary childcare offered at many locations. Here’s what else to know before your first class.
- While some studios provide equipment, plan to bring a set of hand weights, a mat or towel for floor work, and a water bottle to your first class.
- Dress to move and plan to sweat! Just be sure you’re cleared for physical activity first by your birth provider if you’re pregnant or recently gave birth.
- Pricing varies by location—check out your local studio to learn more.
Despite the unexpected difficulties in pregnancy, my childbearing years have been beautiful, and I have Jazzercise to thank for that. Yes, it has strengthened me physically. But most importantly, it has empowered me mentally to carry the load of motherhood with confidence and instilled in me a love for my body I didn’t know I would need.
Whether you’re 6 months pregnant or still trying to conceive, talk with your doctor today and find something that motivates you to move. It might just be the one and only Jazzercise.
This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother's journey is unique. By amplifying each mother's experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you're interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.