A funny thing happens when I’m pregnant. I start to notice every pregnant woman around me. And I feel like they notice me too. It’s sort of like when you buy a new car and suddenly every other person on the road seems to have that same car. Preggos notice each other. Even if we never speak, sometimes we nod. Or sometimes we smile at each other in a knowing way. I like to think it’s a sort of camaraderie between expectant moms – a sort of “we’ve got similar projects going on here” type feeling. That’s what inspired me to do this series for expectant moms. While the experience of pregnancy is unique to each mother, pregnancy can also be a bonding experience between women. I hope this series encourages expectant moms in the area to enjoy pregnancy in ways they might not have ordinarily considered. And to maybe share with others whatever it is that helps them experience pregnancy in ways that are fulfilling and fun.
Over the next few weeks, I will share different resources and services geared towards expectant moms in the Tampa Bay Area. Some I discovered on my own and others came as recommendations from local baby-belly toting friends (as well as a few strangers!) This week, I’ll share a handful of Tampa Bay-based fitness programs and local eateries to help you stay healthy during your pregnancy here:
When I think of exercise for expectant moms, yoga is the first work-out that comes to mind. For an expert perspective, I turned to a local mom and prenatal fitness expert, Tina Lloyd, who is a prenatal yoga instructor at Namaste Yoga Studio in Lutz. She’s also a former pro golfer, a spokeswoman for the on-line diet plan, e-Diets, the creator of The Pregnant Glow, an online resource to support health and fitness during pregnancy . . . and an expectant mom to her third child! (Whew, talk about a super-mom!) Tina says fitness during pregnancy is all about practicing “consistency” in your workout routine. She views prenatal yoga as a great “compliment to a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy” as opposed to “a replacement for healthy eating or for other workouts.” According to Tina, prenatal yoga is beneficial for strengthening posture and learning techniques that can be helpful to the labor process like birthing squats and yoga-breathing. At a time when it’s easy for moms to get caught up in “planning” and “trying to decide things like which stroller to purchase,” Tina believes yoga is especially helpful for “encouraging moms to enjoy the moment and to embrace pregnancy.”
Here are the top two prenatal classes in the Tampa Bay area that come highly recommended by Tampa Bay yogis:
Namaste Yoga Studio – (23606 State Rd. 54, Lutz, FL 33559; T:815-505-1850 ): Offers a once a week prenatal class with Tina — she closes out her classes with relaxing foot massages and lullaby music to encourage bonding with baby
Yogani – (11i2 W. Platt St., Tampa, Fl 33606; T: (813) 251-9668): Offers a range of family friendly classes for before, during, and after pregnancy including prenatal, mommy & me, parent hot flow classes and specially scheduled workshops to prepare woman for the labor process
If you’re looking for a prenatal work-out outside of yoga, you might also look into these options:
Fit4Mom – Tampa Bay (T: 474-442-3677) – At 9 months pregnant, and only 2 weeks away from her due date, Regina Hord, owner and instructor of Fit4Moms- Tampa, is a great walking advertisement for Stroller Strides — the Fit4Mom group exercise class where moms come with babies, strollers, and exercise mats in tow! While the work-out is targeted to women who already have young children, moms who are expecting are welcomed to participant as well. (No stroller necessary!) Instructors offer modification for moms during different stages of pregnancy. Regina reported that two of her students due last month were actually working out in her program the day before they had their little ones! Regina and her instructors teach group exercise classes throughout Tampa Bay including classes in Citrus Park (an indoor location), the Shops in Wiregrass, various Parks in St. Pete and New Tampa, as well as Lowry Park. (A Lakeland location will also open in a few weeks.)
The Bar Method Tampa-Westshore (4102 W Boy Scout Blvd #1 Tampa, FL 33607; T: (813) 703-2227) – Bar Method workouts borrow moves from dance, yoga, and pilates for a long, lean dancer-like look. Jeanette Depuy, the owner and an instructor at the centrally located Tampa location, which opened in January, says the bar method is highly researched and approved by physical therapists as a great workout for expecting moms. Instructors undergo rigorous training, which includes work with pregnant moms. To begin, pregnant moms must first obtain written permission from their doctors. In class, they receive lots of instruction on modifications and personal attention to ensure moves are practiced in a safe manner. Jeannette reports that several of her pregnant students who train using the workout have experienced shorter labor times and seem return to their pre-baby bodies quickly.
Pregnancy, for many women, brings food cravings and aversions into overdrive. Combine that with morning sickness, doctor-ordered rules around foods to avoid, and feelings of unsatisfied fullness after even the smallest bite that some moms experience, and eating . . . well, it can become a tricky thing. Here are recommendations for good eats in the Tampa Area that might help beat some of the common pregnancy dilemmas related to eating:
Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cusine – (4342 West Boy Scout Blvd. Tampa, FL 33607; T: 813-873-7697): Sushi is typically off limits for pregnant women. But thanks to the creation of a chef at the Roy’s restaurant franchise, who wanted a safe sushi option during her own pregnancy, expectant moms can enjoy the Big Island Ebi Roll — a fully cooked roll. A friend of mine reported that this roll is delicious and has worked wonders fulfilling her sushi cravings during pregnancy. Roy’s also offer several delicious non-seafood options as well.
The Fly Bar & Restaurant – (1202 N. Franklin St., Tampa, Fl 33618, T: 813-275-5000): I love food, especially good food. And when I have an appetizing plate in front of me, I want to eat till my stomach’s content. During pregnancy though, just a few bites into a meal might lead to an unsatisfied feeling of being full. That’s why I think the small plates concept behind the The Fly in Tampa’s downtown district is perfectly suited for my fellow preggos. An eclectic mix of interesting dishes served in small portion sizes allows patrons to graze without feeling gorged right away. They also offer a relaxing environment with local music performances — a great way to spend a night out unwinding before the whirlwind of having a newborn in the house.
Evos – Fast food and healthy eating might seem like a contradiction, but not at Evos. This Tampa-born chain is quickly gaining popularity and establishing locations throughout Tampa, Florida, and beyond. Evos takes a whole-foods and “guilt-free” approach to American classics. Think burgers raised from naturally raised beef, air-baked fries, and organic milkshakes. This place is my new go-to when I crave comfort foods. I like the option of not having to settle for traditional fast-food that is processed and filled with junky ingredients.
Fresh Healthy Cafe (Shops at Wiregrass, #170 – 28139 Paseo Dr., Wesley Chapel, FL 33543-5367) – Tampa is hot! Especially when you’ve got a baby baking inside! A smoothie is my pick when I need something cool, nourishing, and refreshing that will go down easy (even on the worst of morning-sickness days). The problem with smoothies during pregnancy though, is that a lot of places use those icky soft serve machines that we’re supposed to avoid due to bacteria build-up. Other places load smoothies up with so much processed sugar and syrups that the word “healthy” should never be used to describe them. Fresh Healthy Cafe uses fresh ingredients and actual blenders to make their nutrient packed smoothies. Tina, of Namaste Yoga Studio, said she was a big fan of the Kale Pineapple Supper Smoothie for breakfast when morning sickness kicked in during her first trimester.
Fresh Market at Tampa Bay – If you’re looking for a place to stock up on ingredients for your own culinary masterpiece in the comfort of your home, a visit to any of the Fresh Markets is worth a trip. There you will find beautiful fresh produce from local farms and whimsical hand crafts. My favorite thing to do on a weekend afternoon with my family is to visit the Fresh Market at Wiregrass or Hyde Park. I get in a little walking exercise, treat myself to a fresh, all natural ice pop from Whatever Pops, and browse baby items from local vendors like personalized baby blankets from Elsie’s Alphabet. Then I scoop up some local produce that I’ll use later on for dinner, when I work on perfecting my ratatouille recipe. I also love the sense of community I feel at the Fresh Markets — something that always seems especially significant to me as I prepare to welcome a little one into the world.
Fresh Market at Wiregrass: 1st and 3rd Saturdays year round
Hyde Park Village Fresh Market: 1st Sunday each month year round