I’m going to be completely honest with you: when I started drafting this blog about incorporating aquatic programming in summer wellness programs, I had grand ideas of fun program ideas, giveaways, and more. Every idea I had was a way to fill your pool complete with equipment, staffing needs, and administrative tasks – all the things we thrive on as programmers! And then I thought: will our readers have time for that? Between hiring, training, teaching, fixing things, and handling the programming they’ve already got on the books… well, there’s just no extra time for a lot of Aquatics leaders. So I did what we’ve always done best: I shifted my perspective and started again.
Regardless of how much time we have, our users’ needs haven’t changed. While the focus of summer programming tends to drift away from wellness, many people are still looking for ways to get or stay healthy, and the pool can offer endless opportunities both in the water and on the deck.
Share the Benefits of Aquatic Fitness
Many people think of “working out in the pool” as swimming laps, which can be intimidating for many reasons. In addition to offering people a way to get fit in the pool, now is a great time to do a little education. Whether you post in your facility, publish in your program guide, or post on your social media pages (this is my favorite), spread the word about the benefits of aquatic fitness and aquatic programming.
To make it easy, here are some great facts to get you started!
- The Mayo Clinic reminds us, “Aquatic exercise can also have several health benefits, such as improved heart health, reduced stress, and improved muscular endurance and strength.”
- Buoyancy – or the upward force of the water – reduces your body weight by 75% when you stand in chest-deep water. Whether you’re recovering from an injury or just looking for an alternative to pounding the pavement, aquatic exercise is a great way to give your joints a break!
- Unlike working out on the land – where you’re working against gravity alone – water gives you continual resistance in every move you make. And because you can’t make sudden movements, it’s a great way to focus on form in resistance training or running.
- Hydrostatic pressure – or the pressure of the water on your body – reduces blood pressure and improves circulation. This means that you can get a great cardio workout in a lower heart-rate range.
- Water exercise improves flexibility, muscle tone, muscular balance, and endurance!
- Water exercise is a great way to beat the heat during the summer! Move your run to the pool, join an aqua fitness class, or grab a kickboard and enjoy a great cardio workout without overheating!
Invite Other Fitness Professionals to the Pool Deck
When I was an aquatic director, some of my favorite aquatic programs were those published, promoted, and programmed by other professionals on my pool deck. Take a look at your schedule and consider when you can accommodate activities on the deck: pre-opening (while your team is there prepping for the day), during programs like swim team or swim lesson where part of the deck is unoccupied, or even on weekends when the pool is closed for in-service.
Think about these easy partnership ideas:
Studies show that being near the water is intrinsically relaxing, whether it’s a pool, a lake, or the ocean. Remember that a Yoga class is best when the environment is calm and quiet, so hosting a class during swim lessons or another high-volume activity might not be the best fit!
108 Sun Salutations
Another excellent idea for your Yoga classes is to celebrate the Summer solstice – or any changing season – by practicing 108 Sun Salutations poolside. Start the conversation with your Yoga instructor now so that they can begin preparing their classes for the event (it’s definitely something to work up to) and beginning to promote.
This one takes some heavy lifting, but moving your cycle class to your outdoor pool is a fun diversion from the regular grind. Grab some guards or maintenance team members and move your cycles to the pool deck. Be sure that you have a good sound system, and be careful of scheduling when you might already have instructional classes or water fitness going on, so they aren’t competing for attention. Offering avid cyclists who may have a stand that they use to ride their road bike is also an option, but I’ve found many cycle class participants do all of their cycling in the studio! If you have poolside concessions, this is also a great chance to showcase healthy snack options you might have available.
Beachy Boot Camp
If you have a boot camp or team class instructor who is willing to change things up, have them bring their classes to the pool. Show them where you store your equipment (and what you expect when they’re done!), and make sure that they understand when they can and can’t use the pool, what areas of the pool they can use, and how they reserve the space. If your fitness pros don’t have experience in the pool, they can always move their class poolside or even use the beach entry for part of their class.
Invite your personal trainers to connect with your aquatic group fitness team to talk about the principles of aquatic exercise if they don’t already have some background, and invite them to bring their clients to the pool. As with Beachy Boot Camps, make sure they understand the parameters and expectations around using the pool for personal training.
Double-Duty Fitness Classes
Often, you have a lot of parents on the pool deck waiting during your other programming. Whether during swim lessons or swim team, there is a captive audience for your fitness professionals. Getting these folks active helps them personally and models healthy behavior for their children, and optimizes program revenue. Whether you opt for a 20-min “stroller stretch” class for moms with toddlers, a 45-minute strength and toning class, or some other fun idea, give your partners a chance to flex their creative muscles and lean into the opportunity!
Share Fitness Tips on Your Pool Deck
I know you already have people who come to swim laps, water walk, or even just do exercises while hanging on the gutter (you know who I’m talking about!). Come up with a couple of tips each week that you can post in the facility or on your social media channels. Educate your team, and encourage them to talk about it with your regulars.
- Explain the proper use of a kickboard or water dumbbell.
- Healthline has a great article about pool exercises for a full-body workout.
- It’s easy to forget about staying hydrated while exercising in the pool, share tips and make water easily available.
- Share water fitness safety tips. This article on Water Aerobics Safety Tips is a great place to start!
- Give tips on underwater resistance training, 7 Ways to Build Muscle in the Pool without Swimming.
- Give tips for beginning triathletes who may be learning how to swim in open water. This article is a great resource on How to Prepare for Open-Water Swimming in the Pool.
Here’s the bottom line: your time is finite, and it probably feels like your task list is infinite most days. Finding ways to incorporate your partners into building your aquatic programming and attendance is a smart way to work efficiently and look like a rockstar!