town topics

Sara Sites, right, is one of the partners in Whole Way Doula, a company that offers post-partum services to new mothers, and classes in childbirth, breastfeeding and other topics. Whole Way Doula is located inside the Yoga Whole Studios on Broadmoor Avenue. Learn more at the Yoga Whole website.


THE WHOLE WAY DOULA  Sara Sites likens herself to a Sherpa, but instead of helping her clients climb Mt. Everest, she helps them have a pleasurable pregnancy.

Sites, and her partners, Debbie Vignovic, owner of the Yoga Whole, and Michelle Zoric Chenevert, launched The Whole Way Doula Services located inside The Yoga Whole Studio on Broadmoor Avenue in August.

“As mothers ourselves, we’ve seen the lack of quality workshops and classes in the South Hills,” says Sites. “We wanted to bring these services to the moms and families of the South Hills in their backyard.”

Sites provides a range of services and classes to help support women during their pregnancy.

Not only do they offer birth doulas, who act as a labor coach, but they also offer post-partum doula services.

“A post-partum doula would come to the family’s home and do whatever needs to be done so the mother can mother the baby,” says Sites. Anything from grocery shopping to laundry to breastfeeding support to holding the baby while mom takes a shower.

The classes range from childbirth to breastfeeding to early motherhood. At the class called Born to Breastfeed, women receive an introduction to breastfeeding. Sites leads a weekly group called Café au Lait where moms bring their babies and young children and can support and encourage each other.

“I am very into offering evidence-based information. You can go to the computer and Google something and it can be very daunting and overwhelming to weed through the information. I strive to bring moms accurate information to empower them to make educated choices,” says Sites.

Sites and Vignovic are certified through Doulas of North America International.

Cara Snyder, Pine Avenue took classes to prepare for birth and then used their doula service during birth at a midwife center. “It was really great to have a doula available to speak out if any medical issues were to come up, to make sure my needs were being met, as well as the needs of the baby. A doula is there like your middle person,” says Snyder.

True Gym_Linda Hackett
Alyssa Durkin, above, is the owner of True Gymnastics, which she recently relocated from the North Hills to the Ice Castle on Castle Shannon Boulevard. Durkin, an Atlanta Place resident, offers gymnastics, tumbling and obstacle courses for children from preschool through high school.

Little ninjas and aspiring tumblers have a new place to learn gymnastics. Alyssa Durkin, Atlanta Place, has moved her True Gymnastics studio from the North Hills to the Ice Castle on Castle Shannon Boulevard to be closer to her hometown.

“We had wanted to move back here for a while,” says the 2006 graduate of Mt. Lebanon High School. “Besides having grown up here, I knew that this was a community that really wants to build their kids up to be strong young adults. We are teaching them discipline and confidence.”

Durkin received her bachelor’s degree in sport and exercise science from Gannon University. She started taking gymnastics classes at the age of 4 and was a team gymnast for 10 years. Durkin has been coaching gymnastics since age 16 and is certified to coach all ages. She has coached more than 30 state champions in the past three years.

The studio serves children in preschool through age 18. Parents take classes with the youngest students—as young as 18 months. The gym features age-appropriate equipment, such as a 24-foot trampoline and a ninja-style obstacle course.

“Our ninja class is designed for kids who want to be active but gymnastics isn’t for them,” says Durkin. “It’s almost like a small version of the American Ninja Warrior setup; it’s a small obstacle course where the kids have to use their body strength to get through it.”

The studio also offers floor space for tumbling. “It’s a very safe environment. It’s not a playground. The classes are small and instruction-based.” True Gymnastics also offers birthday parties.

Durkin hopes to create a studio-based competition gymnastics team with a showcase at the end of the year so the students can show what they have learned. “Our goal is to have small, individualized classes and a strong curriculum,” Durkin says. “Our studio has been around for 24 years, so we know we have a product that works. We also focus on skills; building small skills into big skills and teaching progression.”

You can find True Gymnastics on Facebook, online or at 412-343-3635.

Whole Way Doula photo/George Mendel, True Gymnastics photo/Linda Hackett, Olivia Bean Photography