Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 13, 2011

Zumba and baby

Pregnant mom still dances to the beat

By JAMIE PARSELL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

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Bluefield Daily Telegraph



During the song “Hero,” Abby Honaker made two women puke during one of her high-intensity Zumba classes. The owner and instructor of the Brickhouse Cardio Club didn’t feel bad for pushing the women to the limit. As gross as it seems, it is a good thing, she said.

“They didn’t get sick; they just hit their limit. I know they were working hard,” she explained. “They are coming in for fluff and they think it is easy. It motivates me to push them even harder.”

She wants to prove anybody can workout, even if they are tired, overweight, scared or in her case, nine months pregnant.

She is due on Dec. 5, but plans to be in class on her due date.

“Hopefully, it will put me in labor and get things started,” she said. “This is my fourth baby and I know my body.”

At age 33, Honaker and her husband Tom have three children, Eden, 7, Nathaniel, 5, and Gabriel, 1. During each pregnancy, she has been involved with either dance or Zumba. A professional dancer, she has danced during every pregnancy and performed on stage with the Beckley Dance Theatre when she was five-months pregnant.

When she was expecting Nathaniel, she went into labor during a rehearsal.

“Labor is hard, but it is awesome. I am training for it,” she said.

She compares pregnancy to training for a marathon. She said runners wouldn’t sit on the couch until race day. Why shouldn’t she prepare her body for labor? She believes an active lifestyle will help her in the delivery room and has no plans to quit. Rest will come after the baby, she said. In class at the cardio club, she teaches with the same intensity as other instructors, regardless of her baby bump.

“I don’t modify. I know my body. When I start to feel tired, or something starts to feel uncomfortable, I will bring it down to a lower level. I bring my body back to a comfortable level,” she said. “I know when to stop pushing myself and take a break.”

With less than a month to go, she does more low-impact work and leaves the high-impact dance moves for other instructors. When her students see her working out, it pushes them to work harder, she said. Her health professionals are OK with routines. So is her husband Tom. He is used to her high-energy pregnancies and active lifestyle.



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A professional dancer from Wyoming County, Honaker has traveled all over the U.S.

“I worked in L.A., I studied with Joffrey Ballet, Joe Tremaine Ballet, Paramount and Norwegian cruise Lines. I worked with CBS and NBC for dance and TV shows. I studied in New York,” she said.

She met her husband, who is from Summers County, in L.A. They survived a long-distance relationship, married and settled down in their home state. She was happy to be home, but couldn’t find professional dance lessons. She had become the teacher.

 “I wanted to do something. I decided I was going to try out a Zumba class in Bluefield. I took two classes and went to get my license. It was a perfect fusion,” she added.

Last spring, she was given the opportunity to open Brickhouse Cardio Club, a franchise fitness facility that offers Zumba, Turbo Kick and more. She spent five weeks researching the possibility and opened the Princeton location in April. She started out with six students. Now, more than 40 women and sometimes men attend classes every evening. Because of the high-demand, she started morning classes as well. The Princeton location has 13 classes each week; Honaker teaches six of those. An additional location, owned by Angie Nash, opened in Bluefield during October.

“It is a women-focused facility,” she said. “But anyone can come. It is $5 to walk in. The concept is having a facility that offers what you need. People tend to have treadmills at home. But they can’t get the atmosphere of a class.”

People can also purchase several classes at once, Honaker added. But it is not about making women sick in class, Honaker wants to help them make a lifestyle change. One of her students has lost 100 pounds. She also notices the confidence in her students. It makes her happy to help, teach and be active.

 She doesn’t expect other pregnant women to follow her lead.

“Everybody is different in what they need to do during labor and activity,” she said.

The baby bump is motivation in class. Students want to work hard to prove they can keep up with an instructor, who has both a pregnancy and fitness glow.

— Contact Jamie Parsell at jparsell@bdtonline.com.