Pools aren’t just for the kiddos. Discover how to diversify.
From swimming laps and Masters Swim to group exercise and pool parties, an aquatic facility is a great way to add a plethora of activities for your members to enjoy. Pools offer something fun for everyone.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, swimming is the fourth most popular recreational activity in the U.S. Due to this surge in popularity, numerous clubs are beginning to expand and enhance their aquatic facilities in order to increase member satisfaction.
So how can you use your pools to attract new members and keep current ones engaged?
The first step is to launch a unique and diverse offering of aquatic programming. Provide the best quality classes, clinics and programs.
“We have group lessons that range from ‘Mommy and Me’ classes all the way up to pre-competitive level lessons,” said Sally Reed, the athletic director of the Bellevue Club in Bellevue, Washington. “We also offer private swim lessons for all ages and levels. Then we have a large inflatable obstacle course that we set up in our 25-meter pool every weekend for open play and reserved birthday parties.”
Implement programming that everyone can participate in. From toddlers to teens to older adults, ensure everyone can get involved. “We have the Masters Swim for those who are very diehard, committed swimmers,” said Liz Kantor, the marketing manager at Zenergy Health Club & Spa in Ketchum, Idaho. “Then we have the aqua fitness classes [for] some of our older ladies who use the pool because it is easier on the joints. Then we have the little kid’s swim clinics for kids who are learning different strokes for swimming.”
Besides offering a wide variety of services, it is also imperative to keep programming fresh. Tracy Meazell, the aquatics director and programs director at Concourse Athletic Club in Sandy Springs, Georgia, said it is crucial to stay on the cutting edge, making sure that the water instructors are providing the latest, most up-to-date exercises for participants.
However, a class will only be as successful as the instructor. A big factor in the success of your aquatic programming is the quality of the staff. Make sure you have a talented group of instructors and coaches in place. “If someone comes to take a swim lesson here at our club you are going to get an instructor who has multiple certifications and years of training and teaching experience,” said Meazell. “You are going to get a different level of swim instruction here than you would get somewhere else.”
Provide your staff with the ability to continuously learn and keep their skills in top shape. “Our management company, WellBridge, offers all of its clubs’ instructors an opportunity to work on their continuing education,” added Meazell. “We try to host workshops whenever we can and all of the coaches and instructors have the opportunity to attend these clinics.”
Hosting a wide variety of events is another successful recipe for encouraging members to use the aquatic facilities. How could your members resist coming to the pool if you throw parties and cookouts with food and beverages, live music and fun activities for the entire family?
“The pool is a hot commodity,” explained Meazell. “We have a wonderful instructor who facilitates the birthday parties. A lot of times I think the adults wish they were doing the parties too. They are a lot of fun.”
Meazell, who has been at Concourse Athletic Club for over 15 years, was inspired by the high-end country club experience. “I would think about the things that the expensive country club would offer its members,” she said. “There was no reason why we couldn’t do the same things.”
Consider hosting a family pool day, complete with entertainment, refreshments and events for the kids to kick off the pool season. It’s a fun way to get your members energized about the pool.
Strive to make your aquatic facilities as aesthetically pleasing as possible. The outdoor pool and oversized saltwater hot tub at Zenergy Health Club & Spa are open year-round and boast views of Bald Mountain, the local ski resort.
“In the summer we have a grill and a cabana set out on the lawn, so we get a lot of people hanging out at the pool during the day,” said Kantor. “Then in the winter we have a lot of people who will go skiing and then come over and get in the hot tub and have an après-ski experience.”
When offering extensive aquatic programming, however, it is crucial to stay on top of scheduling. You do not want a member coming to swim laps for exercise, only to find out that the pool is closed due to a private birthday party.
When working out on the fitness floor, if all of the treadmills are taken, you can use an elliptical or another piece of equipment. In contrast, exercising in the pool requires a lot of preparation and lacks flexibility. After changing and showering, it is frustrating to find that no swim lanes are open and it may discourage members from using the pool in the future.
“For all aquatic facilities, it is a balancing act of allocating and scheduling space, and then being consistent with that space allocation,” said Meazell. “It is shared space so putting together a schedule of when we offer lap swim, clinics, programs, water aerobics and recreation swim is a necessity.”
Of course, none of your members will use the aquatic facilities if they are not pristine. Regular maintenance of the pools is essential to make sure the pumps are working correctly, the filters are running properly, the chemical levels are correct and the water temperature is perfect.
“In addition to our regular filtration and chlorine levels, we also vacuum the bottoms of the pools nightly, scrub the deck nightly and include constant deck walks by lifeguards to ensure that our facility stays tidy during open hours,” said Reed.
Also consider an option other than chlorine. Both Zenergy Health Club & Spa and Concourse Athletic Club chose to fill pools with saline instead. “That tends to be our biggest draw,” explained Kantor. “We have saline pools so you don’t have that odor that you carry with you throughout the day after swimming in a chlorine pool.”
Finally, it is important to have a close relationship with your members so they feel comfortable giving you feedback. “A lot of our members have been members for a long time , and same with our staff,” added Meazell. “We have a lot of good relationships with our members so that if something is wrong we are very open to having them say something.”
When it comes down to it, if you offer friendly service, a well-maintained facility, diverse programming and knowledgeable coaches and instructors, members will not be able to resist using the aquatic facilities.
By Emily Harbourne