MaryBeth Winstead wasn't ready to have her own children when she first learned to help expecting moms stay in shape and new moms get fit.
Winstead was a vice president of a telecommunications company who taught fitness classes on the side when she linked up with Shelia Watkins to learn about perinatal fitness to earn needed continuing education credits. Watkins founded Healthy Moms Fitness Programs in 1989 to provide exercise classes and personal training for new and expectant moms, along with education and training in perinatal exercise for fitness instructors, childbirth educators and others.
"I started teaching the program to women and I really fell in love," Winstead said. "This population is really fun to work with."
Winstead eventually married. After the birth of her second child, she left her corporate job and went into business with Watkins. The mom of two is owner of Healthy Moms of Wake County. Healthy Moms offers fitness programs for moms, moms-to-be
Since they teamed up, the program has branched out to offer a variety of classes, including low impact strength training, stroller classes for postpartum moms, aquatics classes, yoga, pilates and more. Many moms form close friendships with the other moms and instructors in the classes, she tells me.
Classes are held across the Triangle in Wake, Durham and Orange counties. There are options for moms of all fitness levels.
"It's not just an exercise class," Winstead says, "it's a life experience."
Winstead's goal is to get moms moving. The benefits of exercise for new and expecting moms include easier labor and postpartum recovery, she said. Just walking for 20 minutes a day most days of the week can help, she said.
"Our mission was really to have classes that were fun, but encouraging for moms to be in, in an environment where everybody is going through the same thing," Winstead said. "It's been a really, really rewarding thing for me personally."
I met up with Winstead and one of her instructors at Pullen Park last month. Healthy Moms' stroller classes, which are now at another location, will return to Pullen in the spring (if not sooner on warmer winter days).
To learn more about Healthy Moms, watch my interview with Winstead in the video and go to HealthyMomsNC.com for more about the programs offered.
Winstead and instructor Melissa Drenzek will be back on Wednesdays to offer exercise tips this month.