My first time… doing prenatal aqua pregnancy at Inspire Mum & Baby
Who: Written from the perspective of Ting, who is currently four months into her second pregnancy
Where: Inspire Mum & Baby at 188-2 Tanjong Katong Road
What: Prenatal aqua pregnancy classes is a low-impact, water-based fitness programme designed specially for expectant mothers. It is a relaxing experience that promises expectant mothers the benefits of opening up the pelvis, stretching and strengthening the spinal and abdominal muscles, better control of the pelvic floor muscles and expanding breathing capacity. Best part: you don’t have to have any prior experience or even know how to swim to take a class!
When: I went for the 7.30pm class on the 21st of January 2021. I couldn’t make an appointment online because the website was not easy to navigate so I ended up securing my slot through Whatsapp. A 45-minute long trial class costs $45.
Why: I read about prenatal aqua pregnancy classes in a guidebook at my gynae and decided to give it a try. I’m always on the lookout for safe, low-impact exercises after the traumatic spinal injury I sustained (link to the Founder’s Journey here). Living with a slipped disc and chronic back pain doesn’t mean I don’t move my body. On the contrary, it’s given me the knowledge and body awareness that everyone, injured or not, should have.
Before the class: The front desk staff had already left when I arrived at 7.30pm so I was a bit confused on what to do. I had to walk past a small pool to get to the changing room. As there was a class going on in the pool and it was already past 7.30pm, I thought my class had already started. After quickly changing into my swim wear, I stood awkwardly by the pool wondering whether I should join them. Thankfully, people started getting out of the pool, which was when I realised that my class hadn’t started yet - the previous one had just ended.
During the class: My prenatal aqua pregnancy class, which consisted of six people including myself, was essentially a full body stretch underwater. The stretches targeted the upper back, the lower back, the hamstrings, and the neck in a systematic fashion over the 45-minute session. Before the class began, the instructor, Linda, thoughtfully asked the newcomers if they had any medical conditions. After informing her of my slipped disc at lumbar segment 4 and 5 (L4-L5), she assured me that she will look out for me and modify the exercises if necessary.
All six of us started off by standing in a circle in the pool. We bent our knees slightly so that the water level reached our shoulders. This minimised the impact of our body weight while stretching as the buoyancy in water exerts less stress on our joints and ligaments. For the first half of the class, we held a foam bar around our arms and stretched to further minimise the impact of our body weight. For the second half, we held onto a metal bar at the side of the pool while performing lower body stretches. Linda readily shared pregnancy-related tips like how to avoid leg cramps while stretching throughout the entire session.
After the class: I felt some relief from the lower back strain I usually feel due to my previous spinal injury. I believe that stretching underwater helped release a lot of tension in my body. Mentally, I also felt relaxed and less stressed.
Things I liked:
Safety of the class, which was assured by Linda’s qualifications and experiences. Prior to signing up for the class, I did my research and found out that she has been teaching prenatal and postnatal classes for 14 years. In addition to this, she is also a practicing doula (a trained companion who supports another individual through a significant health-related experience such as childbirth) and Singapore’s first Watsu practitioner. (Watsu is a form of aquatic bodywork used for deep relaxation and passive aquatic therapy). She seemed well versed in body anatomy and knew how to handle conditions like a slipped disc. I felt like I was in good hands.
Size of the class was kept small so Linda could pay attention to each and every one of us and ensure we knew exactly what we were doing.
Things I would have liked:
Although the instructions during class were easy to follow, I think students would benefit more if Linda explained the rationale behind each stretch more thoroughly - specifically, how it benefits us.
Prenatal aqua pregnancy classes promise to expand your breathing capacity. It would be helpful if Linda could have taught us breathing techniques while stretching.
All things considered, would I recommend the class?
Yes! You won’t break a sweat, but you will release some physical and mental stress that comes with carrying your baby around 24/7. Fitness is not about breaking sweats and pushing limits. It is about taking care of your body during exercise and feeling good after.