If you’re an expectant mom, you’ve likely heard that exercising throughout pregnancy can bring with it a host of benefits for both mom and baby: it can give you more energy, reduce your chance of developing gestational diabetes, help you stay more comfortable and pain free throughout your nine months, reduce stress and may help you sleep better. Getting active and taking prenatal fitness classes or programs can also contribute to an easier labour and quicker recovery.
If you were exercising before you were pregnant, maybe you’re looking for different fitness options that suit your changing body and energy levels. If you weren’t very active before, you may be unsure about what kind of exercise would work for you. Fortunately, we have some great fitness providers in Ottawa, many with classes and programs specifically geared to expectant moms.
I personally love some variety in my exercise routine, so I was more than happy to pay a visit to several facilities around town to see what they offer. If you and your baby belly would like to get moving, maybe one of these options will work for you!
5 Great Prenatal Fitness Options in Ottawa
*As always, check with your medical provider before starting any new fitness program.
1. Aqua fit
Health and wellness coordinator Anna invited me to try one of her classes at Dovercourt, an aqua fitness class specifically for prenatal mamas in a luxuriously warm pool. This class was a world apart from my previous aqua fit experiences, where I was about 30 years younger than the average age of the other participants. This aqua fit class is high energy and focuses more on strengthening exercises than cardio work, using water resistance and aquatic dumbbells. The weightlessness of being in water, combined with the modifications provided by the instructor for those later in their pregnancy, makes this an ideal class for almost all expectant moms. Anna is also extremely approachable, fun, and enthusiastic and shares invaluable tidbits of doula knowledge throughout the class. Classes run Thursday evenings at 7:30 pm.
2. FITMOM 2B
This is a fun, full-body workout consisting of a series of strength exercises including lunges, squats, and upper body moves using light hand weights. I love the social dynamic of this class, with participants sharing thoughts, jokes and asking questions throughout. There’s a real sense of community and camaraderie in the FITMOM Ottawa classes, and you can tell that pre- and post-natal fitness is owner Sue’s passion. What I find extremely reassuring is that not only are instructors certified as Personal Trainers or Fitness Instructors, but they also have additional training and certifications in prenatal and postnatal fitness. I can’t wait to try FITMOM & Baby with my new arrival this fall! The FITMOM 2B class takes place in Old Ottawa South, indoors during the winter months, and moving outdoors as of May 26th. Classes run Thursday evenings at 7:00 pm.
3. Personal Training
I believe that personal training is always a great choice whether or not you’re expecting; you get a customized, efficient session, with a trainer’s full attention ensuring that movements are done in a way that is both safe and beneficial. I can’t think of a better time than pregnancy to invest in personal training, while your body is undergoing significant postural and muscular changes. A trainer also offers encouragement, motivation and accountability on days where it’s a struggle to exercise, which I think is invaluable! I started seeing Craig at Studio One on Beechwood Ave, who puts me through the paces with squats, walking lunges, resistance band exercises, incline pushups, cable machine exercises, as well as upper body work with dumbbells. Before I know it the half hour is up, I’ve worked every major muscle group, and I’m pumped to start my day. If personal training isn’t financially accessible, many studios offer small group training, which is also a fantastic option. Evertain Lifestyles will start offering small prenatal training classes this June, for example, with particular emphasis on building and maintaining pelvic floor and core strength.
4. Salsa Bellies by Dancing Mama
I’ve always loved to dance and this is a fun, low-impact way to get moving. The class includes a warm-up and instruction of basic Latin dance steps such as salsa, meringue and cha-cha, followed by floor exercises. Dancing Mama, aka Daniella, is passionate about the program, and emphasizes the safety of these classes for participants. Salsa Bellies was developed with top Canadian pre/postnatal fitness certification providers, and instructors are required to go through a thorough Certification program. Dancing Mama is now offering classes at the Ottawa Birth Centre which is a beautiful, spacious, light-filled venue.
5. Prenatal Yoga
During my first pregnancy, I practiced yoga almost every Saturday morning from week 11 through to the week before delivery. I absolutely loved starting my weekend on a relaxed note, and thoroughly enjoyed the combination of breath work and movement. I was thrilled to find during this second pregnancy that my neighbourhood studio, Kalyana Shala, now offers prenatal classes. I can’t say enough about how beneficial prenatal yoga can be: stretching and strengthening muscles that are so crucial in supporting a growing baby, learning breath techniques that can be used during labour, and just taking time to yourself to relax. The next Tuesday evening yoga for Birth session at Kalyana starts on June 21st. Prenatal classes are also available at studios around town including Rama Lotus, Little Lotus, Pranashanti, Metta and others.