The 6-month-old smiled and giggled as his mother, MacKenzie Oakley, held him in her outstretched hands while she did a strengthening yoga chair pose at a public beach in Islamorada.
Oakley was getting a great workout and her baby boy, Worth, was enjoying the activity and attention.
“The heavier he gets, the harder the exercise is for me,” she said. “And he’s already up to 24 pounds.”
Oakley, 33, also worked out with Worth while he was developing inside her womb, getting guidance from physical therapist Micky Marie Morrison to make sure the exercise was safe for both of them.
Over the past seven years, Morrison has become an expert on safe and effective pre- and post-natal exercise. She developed a program called CoreMama that she will present in a free session Saturday morning at the University of Miami Health System’s Wellness Center, which began offering the program last fall taught by instructors Morrison trained.
“A lot of women would freeze their membership when they got pregnant, thinking they couldn’t keep working out because it wasn’t safe,” said Catherine Bernath, accounting manager for the 2,800-member Wellness Center. “We wanted to have a specific offering for pregnant mothers. We also wanted to have something that would lure new moms back in the facility sooner, and offer a class where they feel more comfortable.”
Morrison, who splits her time between the Florida Keys and Guatemala, said it all started during her own pregnancy when she modified a core workout class she had been teaching. Soon, pregnant women in the small Guatemalan mountain community of La Antigua— mostly expatriates working for diplomats and non-governmental organizations — sought her advice on exercise.
“Because of my medical background, I kept getting asked questions and realized a lot of women wanted to know what they could and could not do,” Morrison said. “I felt it would be simple and easy to write a book.”
After three years of research and writing, she produced Baby Weight: The Complete Guide to Prenatal & Postpartum Fitness (Body Works, 2011). It details her CoreMama program, which focuses on muscles weakened during pregnancy and childbirth, especially in the abdomen and pelvic floor.
“Everyone who reviewed it, and a lot of the consumer feedback, said: ‘You need videos,’ ” Morrison said.
And so, on Wednesday, she launches BabyWeight.TV, a digital library of 70 streaming fitness videos that offer beginner, intermediate and advanced workouts for moms-to-be and new moms.
The first batch of videos was filmed in La Antigua, where she owns the Healing Hands Therapy Spa, with a volcano as the backdrop. Another 10 videos were taped on a beach in the Keys, and are scheduled to go online in the next few weeks.
“Most were shot outdoors because it’s much more peaceful and interesting to watch,” said Morrison, 39, who has a 7-year-old son and 10-year-old stepson.
She said she hopes to address the needs of women of all fitness levels throughout their pregnancies and post-partum recovery, whether they deliver naturally or by Caesarean section.
Like many women, Oakley experienced too much morning sickness early in her pregnancy to even think about exercising. She’d been a jogger, swimmer and tennis player before conceiving, but by the time she started wanting to exercise again, two months before her due date, she was out of shape and much heavier.