Susan Newman has been doing aerobics for seven years and has helped teach aerobics classes for almost as long.
Now when she teaches five "Danceworks" classes a week for the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department, she has a new partner.
Newman is six months pregnant.
She is an enthusiastic advocate of exercise during pregnancy with moderation.
"More doctors and experts are encouraging it now," she said. "Any type of activity you did before your pregancy, you should continue, within limits.
"If you pay attention to what your limits are, your body will tell you when to slow down."
When Newman became pregnant, her obstetrician told her to continue participating in some kind of exercise program.
AN EXPECTANT mother who exercises usually ends up having a much easier labor, Newman said, adding that's why she still does every single sit-up that the students in her classes do.
"When you go into labor, stomach muscles are the best kind of muscles you can own, because they do most of the work. My doctor was thrilled to see someone with stomach muscles. She said, `It makes your job easier and my job easier.'"
Still, impending motherhood has forced Newman to make some adjustments to her exercise regimen. Because she has gained some weight, she can't bounce around quite so much and has to walk through some of the "Danceworks" routine.
"That's the only difference I've noticed so far, at six months," she said. "I have no idea what it's going to be like in a while. Probably my knees and shins will tell me to slow down a bit more."
YEARS AGO, the main reason Newman began working out was to get into the best possible shape to have children. Now that she is midway through her first pregnancy, she continues biking, walking and teaching five one-hour aerobics classes a week, in addition to working a full-time job at Bendix-King.
Newman has been a "Danceworks" instructor three months, although she had worked out with the classes before and acted as an occasional substitute teacher.
"When a class started recently, I told them, `For those of you who don't know, I'm five months pregnant,'" she said. "A lot of mouths dropped. People said, `You're five months pregnant? Where are you five months pregnant?'"
She said it encouraged her when class members told her, "I keep thinking I want to give up. Then I see you doing all the same exercises and I think, `If she's six months pregnant and can do it, I should be able to do it.'"
NEWMAN SAID she planned to teach "Danceworks" as late into her term as she could.
"I'd like to teach it at least into my eighth month," she said. "Or longer. Who knows?"
Although she is one of the few pregnant women who participate in the class, special prenatal and postpartum exercise classes are offered elsewhere.
Susan Hardesty, acting coordinator of the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Wellness Center, described the center's classes as very low-impact and of moderate-intensity and said they incorporate toning, strengthening and stretching.
Participants must obtain a release from their physicians and follow the doctors' guidelines, she added.
"We also monitor heart rates during the class," Hardesty said. "Each person knows her target heart rate. When she goes above that, she knows to back off."
Dr. Howard Ellis of The Women's Healthcare Group, 3211 Clinton Parkway Ct., said his group not only encouraged exercise during pregancy but actively participated in it. The group conducts a special exercise class at its Overland Park office.
Exercise has been shown to improve fetal growth and enhance the flow of blood and oxygen to the fetus, Ellis said.