Choose a Pool that Suits Your Needs
By Ronda Brodsky, MS
Have you ever wondered how to choose the best pool or aquatic facility to fit your needs? We all have different needs and expectations so we must first decide what we are looking for in a pool.
The first thing I always look for is a pool that is safe and clean. By this I mean are there lifeguards at the pool paying attention and is the water clear? I know this sounds like every pool should be this way but there are different regulations on lifeguards and water conditions in every state.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself while checking out facilities:
- Are you looking for shallow water, deep water or both? Do you like exercising in a certain part of the pool? An ideal pool will have both areas so you can do both deep- and shallow-water exercises.
- What is the class schedule at the facility? Are you looking for any specialty aquatic classes like kick boxing, yoga, or cycling? What is your ideal class length (45 minutes, 60 minutes, etc.)?
- Do you want a smaller or a larger class? Or would you prefer personal training?
- Do you like warmer or cooler water temperatures?
Do you prefer shallow or deep water? Both are good for getting your heart rate up for a great cardio workout, but you find that shallow water is preferred for some programs and formats, such as basic level arthritis and stretching classes. If you are comfortable in deep water and you can swim, then deep water is an excellent choice to eliminate impact and provide even more challenge for your core. If you have a fear of water or cannot swim, then I would not initially suggest deep water. Flotation belts are recommended for deep-water training; however, they are not lifesaving devices. Know your swimming ability and acclimate yourself to shallow-water activities first.
Do you like specialized classes like martial arts inspired workouts, mind body programs or water cycling? Check for facilities that offer what you are looking for in programming. Do you have arthritis or related conditions and hoping to find a class to target your specific needs? More and more aquatic facilities are now offering these classes as the demand is there. Classes tend to fill up quickly, so do you need to pre-register to guarantee your spot in the class?
How much time do you want to allow for your class? Do you shower and change after the class, or do you plan to go home for that? Check out the bathroom and dressing room facilities. Are you looking for a more serious workout or more socialization? Ask if you can observe the class or if you can try a class before committing to a full session or membership.
Do you like a lot of people in your class or do you like it more private? Ask the facility the average numbers of the water fitness classes. How much space is in the pool? Do you have enough room to feel comfortable? Is class the only activity offered during the designated time slot, or are other activities occurring at the same time? This influences available space and how well you can hear the instructor’s cues. Look at the pool at a whole, check out all activities in the pool at the class times. I work at a multipurpose pool and we have a lot going on at a time but each activity has its own area and the members are aware of all activities. For example, if the water fitness classes have more than 15 participants we open up another lane for the class to use. Check out the policies of the facility you are looking at to use. What are their rules and regulations?
Last, but not least, check out the pool temperature. This will depend a lot upon what activities are in the pool at any given time. If you like warmer water, you may prefer therapy pools; if you like the cooler temperatures you may want to check out the local high school pool. As a standard, multipurpose pools are kept at around 82 degrees. Water temperature as this can influence your comfort level and determine how you prepare for class (e.g., you may need a swim jacket to stay warm enough).
Take time to choose the pool and the facility that best suits your needs. Remember this is your workout, so what you want matters. Take advantage of virtual tours, if available, to quickly eliminate those that are not going to work for you. Safety is always my number one priority with fun being second. If you keep these things in mind while searching for your ideal pool, you will likely attend more classes, make more friends, and enjoy the journey a lot more!
Ronda Brodsky is a Physical Education and Health Teacher at a charter school in Detroit, Michigan, with a master’s degree in physical education. Ronda is an American Red Cross CPR, first aid, lifeguarding and water safety instructor. She has over 35 years in the aquatic industry as an AEA certified professional and a past presenter at IAFC. Ronda is a frequent contributor to Akwa magazine, AEA’s member publication, and the author of Aquatastic: Swimming Made Simple. Ronda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org