When Carey Kegel, 30, joined Plymouth Fitness in Plymouth, Mass. eight years ago, she was looking for a club that offered a variety of group fitness classes and that had a good selection of cardio and strength equipment. Family-focused programming wasn’t necessarily her top priority.
Kegel’s preferences were altered 17 months ago when she became pregnant with her first child, Owen. After Owen’s birth, family-focused amenities such as childcare and kids-oriented programs became a huge bonus. Most notably, a post-natal class called H2Oh Baby!, created by Oh Baby! Fitness, piqued her interest.
Certified instructor Katelyn Woodard leads the H2Oh Baby! class at Plymouth Fitness. In the class, participants swim with their babies at their sides (in flotation devices) and focus on aerobic conditioning and muscle strengthening. “Often, new moms feel a sense of guilt leaving their new babies in a gym day care to go exercise, so they forgo exercise altogether in order to not feel guilty,” said Woodard.
As a result of the class, Kegel no longer had to answer the question: “Do I leave my baby at home and work out?” Thanks to H2Oh Baby!, she could not only bring Owen, but also exercise with him. “I liked being able to introduce my son to the water in a fun and safe way, meeting other moms and the exercises,” said Kegel. “As you can imagine, the last thing moms want is to put on a swimsuit after giving birth. But Katelyn makes it very comfortable for everyone.”
Paul Baldrate, the manager of Plymouth Fitness, said the class has benefited both the club and members. “One of the benefits is getting great exposure to the community,” he said. “We do see non-members coming in, in addition to members — it’s a great prospective program. It’s also a great service to have for our members. By partnering with Katelyn, we’re able to have that service available to them so they don’t have to go elsewhere.” There’s a monetary benefit as well. “We receive a portion of the revenue. It’s a triple win — it’s a win for the club, a win for Oh Baby! and a win for participants.”
Thanks to H2Oh Baby!, Kegel improved her cardio and strength. In addition, the class helped her get back into the general mindset of health and fitness. Now that Owen is a bit older (nine months), Kegel plans on making use of Plymouth Fitness’ other family-focused amenities. “The pool, which I had never used in the past, is great now, [after] having a baby,” she said. “Having the option to take Owen to the pool during open swim to get him accustomed to the water, and also take swim classes when he gets older, is great.”
The class has served a need for Plymouth Fitness that might otherwise have gone unfulfilled. “Many pregnant women cease exercise when pregnant because they don’t know how to exercise, don’t feel comfortable exercising or feel they can’t exercise in the traditional way,” explained Woodard. “Clubs that offer Oh Baby! Fitness classes allow their pregnant members to maintain their memberships and participate in safe and effective classes that are taught by certified instructors.”
WhatCarey likes most about H2Oh Baby!:
1. Scheduled exercise.
2. Friendly instructor.
3. Meeting new moms and babies.
4. Getting her baby accustomed to water.
5. Working out while still interacting with her baby.
By Rachel Zabonick