Fitness with Jennifer Hale

In the past several months, several of my friends and co-workers have found out that they’re pregnant, which sparked the conversation about how much exercise an expecting mother should get. Of course, every mom-to-be should adhere to what her doctor recommends. However, there are some universally recognized standards for most pregnant women.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests “expecting moms get at least 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise,” most days. The March of Dimes’ recommendation mirrors that, suggesting “healthy, pregnant women need at least 2½ hours of aerobic activity, like walking or swimming, each week.” The March of Dimes says regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of complications and discomforts like back pain, that often accompany pregnancy.
Of course, expecting moms want to be particular about the exercises they choose, making sure they’re safe. Finances are also something that often come into play as well, as exercise classes and gym memberships can be expensive when you’re saving for college funds.
One of my friends about to give birth to a little girl is Robin Barnes. You may know her as the “New Orleans Song Bird” who performs regularly, not just in New Orleans but around the country. She’s also the founder of a community health movement called Move Ya Brass that provides group exercise activities and classes for free. Recently, Robin expanded the class selection to include a new program called Baby Bounce, which is a low-impact dance fitness class created for adults and kids. “We incorporate movements that encourage the development of coordination, sensory skills, motor skills and positive thinking,” Robin explains. “I was inspired by this time period of my life, the transition into motherhood. I wanted our Move Ya Brass programming to include a class that other expecting moms, parents and caregivers could do as a fun activity with their kids.”

Baby Bounce is open to expecting moms as well as parents, grandparents and nannies as a fun way to get fit that encourages children to exercise as well. It’s a concept that New Orleans City Park is embracing. “We currently have a partnership with Storyland in New Orleans City Park, which we love,” Robin says. “It’s a dream come true for me to now have programming offered in a place I grew up loving. We’re in Storyland on Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m.”

Robin founded Move Ya Brass in 2013, after being diagnosed with a rare kidney infection. Doctors advised her to start an exercise regiment, but being a struggling musician, gym memberships weren’t in her budget. That’s when Move Ya Brass was born.

Since Robin’s diagnosis, she’s been more vigilant about exercising and her health, but balancing her pregnancy with her performance schedule boosted that commitment to another level.

“I had to learn how to listen to my body and pay more attention to what it was needing – mostly rest and water,” Robin says. “As a musician, I had to find the best way to balance and schedule it all, with late night gigs and early morning meetings. Exercise has been so important too. Having the community of Move Ya Brass helps motivate me and keep me showing up every week. Even though there are plenty of times that I feel tired, we motivate and encourage each other.”

For a list of all the group community classes offered by Move Ya Brass, go to

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