Taking a Pregnant Pause at the Pool
If you're thinking of trying water workouts, but you aren't sure where the nearest pool is, consider the following locations that may have a pool that you can use:
- YWCA or YMCA: Many Ys built pools in the '70s and '80s, so if you have a Y in your area, it probably has a pool. YWCA and YMCA pools are often open very early in the morning (5:30 or 6:00) and remain open throughout the evenings and weekends, but the pool may also be quite busy during those times. Ys with pools also generally offer a wide variety of swimming and water aerobics classes and may even offer prenatal water-aerobics classes. To find the Y nearest you, log on to YMCA.net and enter your Zip code on the home page.
- Fitness center or gym: Although smaller, nonchain gyms usually don't offer a pool, the bigger chains often do. Call all the gyms in your area to see whether any offers a pool. When you find one that does, ask whether you can get a free pass to try it out — most gyms do nearly anything to get potential members in the door and will gladly grant your request. Anywhere from one-day to two-week free memberships are common. Also get a schedule of classes — a fitness center or gym with a pool is likely to offer water aerobics classes several times a day.
- Local community center or parks and recreation building: The trend in community centers is to become more sophisticated and try to provide one-stop fitness shopping for the public, so some are adding pools in addition to their indoor tracks and fitness equipment, and they offer plenty of classes at those pools.
- Boys' or girls' club: Boys' and girls' clubs often have full gyms at which kids can play basketball, take gymnastics lessons, and so on. Once in a while, you can find one that has a pool, but because the boys' and girls' clubs are supposed to serve children, adults may have limited pool hours. If you have a boys' or girls' club in your area, give it a ring and see what pool amenities it offers you.
- Local high school: This is the most common location for a community pool, but because of daytime use by physical education students and swim practices before and after school, the pool may not offer a lot of opportunities for you to work out.
- Local college or university: If you're fortunate enough to have a college or university in your area, find out whether the school has a pool and, if so, whether you're eligible to use it. Many small, liberal arts colleges don't have their own pools, but community colleges and large universities often do, and they make them available to the local public.
- Local hospital: Because water therapy (also called hydrotherapy) is an excellent way to return injured and/or older patients to their full capacity, some hospitals have pools for this purpose. Although most aren't open to the public, if your hospital has a pool and an excellent prenatal program, you can bet that they'll let you use their pool for a fee.
- Hotels in your area: Most hotels offer pools to their guests because people expect this amenity, yet few hotel guests ever use those pools. If that's the case at a hotel in your area, you may be able to convince the hotel manager to let you pay to use its pool during nonpeak hours. Peak hours vary: A business-class hotel gets the most use before and after the workday; a family-oriented hotel pool is usually brimming with kids from about 10 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m. Few people tend to use hotel pools between check out and check in (usually noon to 3 p.m.), so if you're available during that time, you may be able to convince the hotel manager to let you use the pool then, unless, of course, that's when the pool is cleaned. Oh, and be prepared to sign a densely worded legal waiver, because a lifeguard will almost assuredly not be on duty.
- In some areas, hotels even offer low-cost membership programs to encourage the local community to spend time at the hotel. A hotel in your area may even allow more than one person to sign up on an account, which means that you can split the cost with a friend, or you and your partner can pay just one fee.
- A friend's house: If you live in a warm area (or, if you have a friend with an indoor pool), you may be able to borrow your buddy's pool for one hour, a few days per week. If your kind friend agrees to this arrangement, consider drawing up some paperwork that eliminates her liability if anything happens to you while you're in the pool.
After you find a pool that allows you to work out at times that fit your schedule, consider signing up for adult swimming classes, if offered (these are pretty rare) or a water aerobics class. Because water aerobics is very popular among pregnant women (and, incidentally, among the elderly — it's definitely not the hippest sport in the world), you may even find a prenatal water aerobics class in your area.