YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Ten months and 35 pounds after her last workout, Spc. Claudia Diaz showed up Wednesday at Yongsan Garrison’s Trent Gym for her return to morning PT.

She joined 13 other soldiers who were either pregnant or postpartum as part of a new program that helps expectant mothers stay in shape and new moms get back in shape.

Diaz, a diet technician at 121st Combat Support Hospital, described her return to physical training after the birth of her first child as "intimidating."

"I’m not used to being this big," she said. "Your body isn’t the same anymore. You don’t move the same anymore. It’s rough."

Trainers in the new program say that’s the point of the PT sessions.

"You just can’t tell the soldier, ‘Go out and do a sit-up,’ " said trainer Staff Sgt. Socorro Gavino, 5th Medical Detachment. "There’s a progression to get them back to where they can do a sit-up."

She said trainers attended a four-day class in which they learned how to do and teach a variety of exercises aimed at new and expectant mothers.

According to 18th Medical Command commander Col. James Jolissaint, the program is another step in the normalization of tours in South Korea.

"Until a year ago, once [a soldier] got pregnant in Korea, it was the unit’s responsibility to send her back to the States," he said.

Jolissaint said sessions for soldiers in their first trimester of pregnancy will consist of normal aerobic exercises, such as running, and second- and third-trimester soldiers will participate in low-impact aerobic exercise. He said at least one day a week will consist of water aerobics, and sessions will include education on nutrition and health.

The sessions are available only at Yongsan, but program coordinator Capt. Brian Santos, 121st CSH, said soldiers can expect to see a similar program kick off at Camp Humphreys on July 9 and at Camp Walker on July 23. He doesn’t know yet if the Pregnancy and Post Partum PT program will be at Camps Casey and Red Cloud.

For soldiers like Diaz, the program is a step in the right direction.

"I’d much rather be doing this [than regular unit PT] because people are going through the same thing," she said.

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