Location: Olive Park Condominiums / Viridian

Cost: Single class: $36, multi-class packages available

Note: Classes are enrolled in 3 week sessions/class schedules vary and are subject to availability.

With a yoga studio on every other block, it’s no wonder that prenatal yoga classes are as popular as they are. And while I loved the one I regularly took, I always kept my ears open for prenatal classes that offered more of a cardio workout without much luck. Having done a sprint-tri the summer before I became pregnant, I really hoped I would find a class that would involve my renewed love for water. Plus, the bigger my belly got, the less I ran (because my hips wouldn’t have it), and the more scared I became to ride my bike in the city. While I didn’t find out about Aquabeba until I took my son for his first swim lesson at six-months-old (which I highly recommend!), I was so excited to learn that there's a class for expectant mamas. Prenatal swim instructor, co-owner of Aquabeba, and mother of two Heidi Reiss tells us more about how this cardio workout balances all the yoga you've been up to.

What makes swimming especially beneficial during pregnancy?

From the first step into the water, there is no doubting the beneficial effects swimming has on a pregnancy. The instant relief is so noticeable, everyone becomes almost giddy. We target people who have muscle pain or cannot move freely, or just the active woman who wants to maintain a workout regime during pregnancy. We do a pretty solid workout that helps boost energy and stretch out muscles. The water allows for the moms-to-be to exercise freely without any concern of injury. The zero gravity also relieves the pressure on the body that most women experience during pregnancy. And the more in shape you remain during your pregnancy, the easier it is to bounce back after your baby arrives.

How long has Aquabeba offered prenatal classes?

We started to offer them about 2.5 years ago. When I was pregnant with our daughter (before opening Aquabeba) I would go swimming with my husband at a public pool. I always found it freezing, and when I was further along, people swimming by me would accidentally kick me or come way too close to my belly, so I stopped. After opening Aquabeba, I would see how much pregnant women (on baby #2) would enjoy the water while swimming with their children, and we decided to add the classes. We mainly offer them to create a safe environment for pregnant women to swim freely.

I understand you teach in saltwater pools. How is that superior to swimming in chlorine?

Our Olive Park location is a salt water pool, and our Viridian location is a chlorine pool. We converted the Olive Park location so that we can offer a gentler environment for our Infant Swim classes. We feel that the more you can avoid adding chemicals, the better. That said our Viridian location has the lowest possible levels of chlorine and is quite mild. We are even more focused on water temperature. Both of our pools have warm temperatures to ensure a soothing, comfortable swim experience.

What elements to do you focus on in your classes?

We focus on stretching and flexibility to start, then we go right into a pretty solid cardio workout using a combination of water running and swimming. We incorporate weights and resistance training towards the end, and follow up with a final stretch. We always offer a harder version and a gentler version of whatever we are doing. We stress how important it is to work at your own pace and be conscious of what your body is going through.

Does swimming help prepare for labor in any way?

We feel like it does. We do a lot of exercises that strengthen your core muscles, which will definitely give you a boost during your delivery. We also focus on a lot of hip-opening exercises to help stretch out muscles and joints that have become stiff and tight.

What are some fitness tips you give your mamas-to-be during class?

I try to keep the moms-to-be motivated and on track. As a mother of two, I understand how hard and frustrating it can be to stay active while pregnant. I was thrilled to be able to get a really good workout in while pregnant with my second. We all speak about different things that they are going through. In the beginning of class, I ask how everyone is feeling, if they have any new discomfort, and offer advice on what they can try safely at home to help. I also recommend different foods that might bring relief. We try and be both a workout class and a support group in one.

Do you see a lot of the same moms who took prenatal classes come back with their babies?

I would say that we have at least 75-85 percent of the moms return with their little ones. I have a few moms that I taught prenatal classes to that now have 2.5-year-old toddlers enrolled with us. It is really amazing for us to know they have been swimming with us since they were in their mother's bellies!

Once mama has had her little one, how early on can she bring him/her to a class?

We start our infant classes at 4 months old. The Starfish is one of our best classes!