Pools make a big splash at health clubs, but how do you as a club owner ensure you are getting the most usage out of the pool? According to Jessica Heller, the aquatics director for Elite Sports Clubs-Mequon, located in Mequon, Wisconsin, proper time management is a good place to start.
“Understand your membership, and then structure pool time to accommodate all demographics,” said Heller. “Find the balance between family time, lap swim time, group exercise classes, lessons, swim team and other activities. Put together an organized pool schedule that is easy for all users to find, read and understand.”
Getting the most out of a pool can look different for both indoor and outdoor pools, and be dependent on the time of year. “We focus more on social programming in the summer, such as adult-only happy hours, youth recreational programming and family parties,” said Heller. “With the outdoor pools, we always think about how to utilize the entire pool deck area, not just the pool.”
When it comes to utilizing space, it helps to think outside the box. In the past, Elite Sports Clubs-Mequon’s cycle and yoga instructors have moved their classes outside to the pool deck when weather permits. The club has even hosted neighborhood block parties and wedding receptions on the outdoor pool deck, getting more out of it than just fitness.
When it comes to marketing your club’s pool, Heller said it should vary by target demographic. “Make sure your marketing is directed to each specific group,” she explained. “Families are sold on our lessons program and many hours of recreational swim time. Lap swimmers enjoy ample time for swimming in our lap pool. Parents with younger children and water walking seniors enjoy our warm water pools.”
Getting the word out about your pool events can come in a variety of forms. Debbi Moore, the director of aquatics at American Family Fitness in Richmond, Virginia, said they use quite a bit of social media marketing and in-house signage. “We also have ads on our in-house TVs,” she explained. “A few of our locations have kid pools with play features, which draws quite a bit of traffic into our pools.”
American Family Fitness also offers unique events that get more people into its pools, such as a triathlon. Additionally, it offers “Movie Float Night,” where members can float in the pool and watch a movie.
Rentals can be a great way to get more people in your pool and bring in more revenue. “Birthday parties, scout badge testing, school groups and lock-ins are all examples,” said Heller. “We have also rented time to our local college occupational therapy class, so they can get real, hands-on experience with aquatics therapy.”
In order to get members in your pool, you should have an overarching strategy, and that starts with your team. Heller said to make sure your team is personable and approachable to both your members and their guests. Along with positive personalities, your team should be educated and always learning.
“Educate staff on multi-use techniques,” explained Heller. “Lifeguards should be moving around and talking to patrons, not just sitting in a stationary chair, staring at the pool if it’s not busy. Swim instructors need to be aware of the space they are using if there are other activities going on at the same time. Face-to-face communication needs to be taught. Learn skills with your teams, especially with the younger staff.”
How your club physically divides the pool is also important. Your water walkers may need a separate lane away from the lap swimmers, or swim lessons might need to divide the pool area based on levels. Additionally, swim and group exercise programs should have varying ability and goal levels, not a one-size-fits-all approach.
According to Heller, clubs also need to focus on the proper pool temperature for each program and user. Lap swimmers need cooler water, seniors and young children need warmer water, and multiple-use pools should have a happy medium.
“Setting up time and space that make sense for the varying groups of users will make sure everyone gets to enjoy the water you have,” said Heller.
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