A yoga studio with a focus on new and expecting mothers has unrolled its mat in western Henrico.
Whole Heart Space opened last week in the Gayton Crossing shopping center. The studio’s programming caters to women who are pregnant or recently gave birth and their families.
Studio owner Rachel Knight had already been teaching yoga classes for a few years when she started to think about ways to provide a more all-encompassing experience for clients in her prenatal classes. And after she gave birth to her son in 2021, Knight said she experienced the same sense of having limited fitness options post-pregnancy that clients had shared with her over time.
“I realized how much care for parents is really lacking, especially in the fitness industry,” she said. “When you have a baby and you want to be in a good place physically and mentally, there aren’t many places to turn to in our community.”
Whole Heart provides postnatal classes in addition to prenatal sessions. It also has classes that include people involved in the pregnant woman’s life such as partners and friends as well as classes for people trying to get pregnant and yoga sessions for parents and their infants.
Given the natural built-in time limit on when people would be interested in Whole Heart’s yoga offerings, Knight said she’s planning for regular turnover in her membership. And she’s planning a wide range of classes that go beyond just the length of a pregnancy to help cast a wider net for members and hold onto members for longer.
“I’m trying to expand that definition of parenthood. We have the family-planning class, a bunch of prenatal offerings and the same with postnatal (among other classes),” Knight said. “We’re really trying to widen the breadth as much as we can to keep people as long as we can. We know we’ll have a constant churn of people and that’s OK.”
Whole Heart offers a five-class package for $110, a 10-class package for $200 and a 20-class package for $360, according to its website. An unlimited membership is $125 a month.
Whole Heart Space leases a roughly 1,900-square-foot space at 9726 Gayton Road in the center. The space formerly was occupied by an outpost of kids hair salon Pigtails & Crewcuts.
Knight said she invested about $50,000 in improvements to the space.
She formerly taught yoga at Humble Haven, and led classes there from 2017 up until recently. She still has ties with that former studio, as there’s an agreement between the studios to refer clients to each other.
Knight said her experience as a local yoga instructor not only inspired her decision to focus on parents but also has helped fill out her classes.
“I’ve gotten to know quite a few people, not only people who have been pregnant but in the wider birth community,” she said. “I’ve been impressed and honored by how many people have shown up.”
Knight said she has more than a dozen yoga instructors on her staff.
Gayton Crossing is anchored by a Kroger grocery store and also features a Starbucks in an outparcel space as well as the restaurant Les Crepes. Kids fitness center Kidstrong is planning to open at the center. Whole Heart is near the center’s Melting Pot restaurant.