HomeNewsArticle Display

New PT program aimed to help new moms

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Adrielle Pickens, 51st Intelligence Squadron (IS) unit training and deployment manager, and Staff Sgt. April Cassidy, 51st IS executive officer, devised the Pregnancy & Post-Partum Fitness Program to assist women who are either pregnant or within the first 12 months of post-partum with staying fit to fight or preparing for their first fitness assessment after giving birth.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Adrielle Pickens, 51st Intelligence Squadron (IS) unit training and deployment manager, and Staff Sgt. April Cassidy, 51st IS executive officer, devised the Pregnancy & Post-Partum Fitness Program to assist women who are either pregnant or within the first 12 months of post-partum with staying fit to fight or preparing for their first fitness assessment after giving birth. The group fitness classes will be free to join and led by a personal trainer with certifications for group classes as well as pregnancy and post-partum exercise. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- After carrying a child for approximately 270 days, the average woman gains 25 to 35 pounds, which can be difficult to lose. Some new moms may find getting back into their pre-baby shape or even making time for a fitness routine challenging.

Two Team Shaw Airmen devised the Pregnancy & Post-Partum Fitness Program to assist women who are either pregnant or within the first 12 months of post-partum with staying fit to fight. The program helps prepare mothers for their first fitness assessment after giving birth.

The pilot program has been approved and funded by the 363rd Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing Leading Innovation and Opportunity Now Board, and is slated to begin Fall of 2018.

“The goal is for members to begin the program as early as possible and stay in through their first official fitness assessment,” said Staff Sgt. April Cassidy, 51st Intelligence Squadron executive officer. “This pilot program will be conducted for a limited time and will be evaluated periodically to measure its success.”

Staff Sgt. Adrielle Pickens, 51st IS unit training and deployment manager, initiated the program following a personal experience attempting to regain her fitness level prior to her first pregnancy.

Pickens described how she believed she would be able to jump right back into her fitness routine and regain her pace without a problem after giving birth to her first child, but found that was not the case upon returning to work.

Pickens went on to say that while she has a great support network of family and friends outside the military, she wished she had a local support network within her active duty family who could relate to meeting military obligations and standards as well as balancing family life.

“There just seemed to be obstacle after obstacle, and the clock was ticking for me to get back in shape to prepare for my first fitness assessment,” said Pickens. “During unit PT sessions, I found my post-partum fitness levels to be at a deficit in comparison to others. It was then that I got the idea that working out with other new moms on a tailored fitness program just makes sense, and could be of real benefit for us.”

In June, Pickens decided to pitch her idea to the LION Board in hopes of starting a pilot pregnancy and post-partum fitness program.

“I was selected to pitch my idea for the pilot program at the first LION Board and quickly gained support,” Pickens stated. “My Group leadership was on a temporary duty here, at Shaw, for the board and happened to have a meeting with the 20th Fighter Wing that same day. Shortly after, I was given the green light to take my pitch to the next level to execute the pilot program here at Shaw.”

Any Air Force member can submit an innovative idea to the LION Board website each month, located on Mil-Suite.

All submissions are reviewed and the top three ideas are chosen during evaluation based on mission priorities and cost benefits by the LION Board Council, consisting of leadership from the 363rd ISRW, 363rd Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group commander, 361st ISRG commander and the 365th ISRG commander or their designated representatives.

The innovators pitch their ideas to the board to garner monetary, personnel, or time support to develop and advance their submissions until a desired outcome is reached.

After gaining approval to begin the program, Pickens appointed Cassidy as the alternate program manager. Since then, they have been working together to get the program off the ground.

During the initial pilot, members will be joining the program at various points throughout their pregnancy, so methods of data collection to measure progress will vary in comparison to the full program.

“The hope for this program is for moms to receive more physical, social, and emotional support providing better accountability and increased motivation to stay active during and after their pregnancies,” said Cassidy. “Many women experience things like post-partum blues or depression, and support networks like this can really help us take care of each other.”

The group fitness classes will be free to join and led by a personal trainer with certifications for group classes as well as pregnancy and post-partum exercise. There may be opportunities for units to have more ownership over the program and for physical training leaders to lead their own sessions if the program is successful.

Cassidy said the program’s intent is to help members regain their fitness level to Air Force standards and improve their performance on their first fitness assessment post-partum.

Once a week, the program will offer a one-hour group session to active duty mothers at the main fitness center during the duty day. Class times have not yet been determined, but can be suggested via the online survey to assess days and times that work best for the majority of participants.

For more information about the program, email or call Pickens at (803) 717-6339, Cassidy at (803) 717-6325, join the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Shaw-Pregnancy-and-Post-Partum-Fitness-Pilot-Program-268230440655016/, or take the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PYB868P.

To submit an innovative idea to the LION Board, go to https://www.milsuite.mil/book/groups/lion.