New St. Clair fitness studio specializes in health and wellness for pregnant and postpartum women

What started as a blog, an effort to connect with others, has now become a full-fledged business in St. Clair’s Riverview Plaza.

Gigi Verstegen celebrated the grand opening of The Wise Core earlier this month, a personal training and fitness studio that specializes in pregnant and postpartum women’s health and wellness. Verstegen also offers more generalized strength and training classes that can appeal to everyone.

This started as a blog, just me reaching out to women that just had children and were trying to go back to exercising,” Verstegen says. “The problem is that a lot of the information out there is just the wrong information. Doing what you did before a pregnancy just might not be realistic. And talking about postpartum issues can often be seen as taboo.”

As Verstegen, a mother of three, was going through her own postpartum fitness journey, she was empowered through connecting with others. And when she learned about core and pelvic floor physical therapy techniques, she felt compelled to share those techniques with other women going through the same issues.

“The main goal is to feel healthy, to enjoy exercising and to feel good about it, to live your life without attaching yourself to numbers,” says the Wise Core’s Gigi Verstegen.“I went to the gym but I struggled a little bit after our third child. After a pregnancy, women can experience symptoms like incontinence and pain,” Verstegen says. “And in trying to figure out how to go through this, no one wanted to talk about it because people felt uncomfortable. Doctors would say, ‘Oh well, this is what happens when you have a baby.’”

So Verstegen became certified in postpartum and personal training services, first offering classes and coaching online, then in the park, and now from her studio in St. Clair. It was only after having children did Gigi rediscover her passion for personal training and fitness, setting her on the path to open The Wise Core.

A big move

Gigi Verstegen has had an interesting journey on her way to opening The Wise Core in St. Clair.

Born and raised in Brazil, Verstegen would move to Chicago at 19 years old. She actually started her career in personal training at the age of 21 but would soon shift to the culinary arts, a shift that would eventually land her in Michigan.

It was while attending a Chicago culinary school where Gigi would meet her future husband Jacob Verstegen. The two would get married and start a family, eventually moving to the Blue Water Area so Jacob could take a job as executive chef at The St. Clair Inn.

“It’s pretty small compared to Chicago, which took a second to get used to. And it doesn’t have as great a variety of food options,” she says. “But it’s been an awesome experience. Everyone has been super nice and very inviting.”

Verstegen’s brand of physical training is one that focuses on core strengthening exercises.‘The main goal is to feel healthy’

In the year and a half since the Verstegens first moved to the Blue Water Area, they have put their roots down, purchasing a home in St. Clair, raising their family here, and now Gigi has opened a business in the Riverview Plaza. It wasn’t always the plan to open the studio, she says, but something that grew naturally over time.

“I’ve been doing this for five years and as the conversations have grown, it’s made me want to be more of a part of it,” she says.

Verstegen’s brand of physical training is one that focuses on core strengthening exercises, relying less on machines and more on free weights, functional strength and functional training exercises. She offers a six-week postpartum class, helping women find issues and identify solutions, as well as more generalized fitness classes, open gym memberships, and one-on-one coaching.

She’s currently working on becoming certified for nutrition coaching, too.

“The big thing is that we don’t focus on numbers but on how you feel,” Verstegen says. “Do you feel better, stronger, healthier, happier? We focus on progressive overload and progressive weight lifting, the huge impact diet has on the body. But the main goal is to feel healthy, to enjoy exercising and to feel good about it, to live your life without attaching yourself to numbers.”

The Wise Core is located in the Riverview Plaza in St. Clair.