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By Michael Clark, Business Development Director for Swimming Nature

In recent years, there has been a tremendous uptake in water-based fitness like triathlon, stand-up paddle boarding, water polo or even pool-based yoga. However, many pools are underused and offer little innovation missing a major opportunity to capitalise on this trend. For the most part, pools are still offering the basics: aqua aerobics, lessons and lane swimming. Because pools are often the most underused and expensive piece of real estate in a gym, ignoring the innovation potential in the pool is a missed opportunity. Unfortunately, many operators don’t know where to start or don’t have the same in-house expertise as they would say Group Exercise so the potential of the pool often remains unexplored.

The good news is that with the right programming, operators can start attracting new people beyond the traditional swimmer into their pools, and do it in a way that doesn’t alienate or annoy the traditional swimmers. It takes creativity, and it can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach, but there are ways to benefit from the rise of pool-based fitness and maximise the ROI of private sector pools.

At Swimming Nature, we are working on a Water Fitness product that is sold like PT for the pool. We will be able to white label the product, provide trainers, or upskill and train PTs to deliver the sessions. The water is a fantastic place to condition, get fit and lose weight, but a regular user may not know of an alternative to traditional lane swimming. In the water, you can do functional training and add bits of small kit to add resistance. It’s very low impact, but it’s a real challenge. The benefits of this model are immense because it allows an operator to be a real innovator. It is also a great development opportunity and differentiator for PTs and it offers members something different which aids in engagement and retention.

To do this effectively, operators need to expand their view of the audience for water-based activity. It’s not always the triathlete. It might be a regular member who just wants to lose half a stone. They aren’t likely even considering the pool as a part of their fitness programme. The biggest opportunity is to partner with a specialist and educate PTs and members to view the water as a credible way to meet their fitness goals.

The growing interest in pool-based activity presents an exciting opportunity for operators. Expanding into the water allows operators to add more PTs with more room and more time available, but at the same rate as a gym-based PT session. For members, they now have an opportunity to escape the gym floor by adding more variety to their sessions. These opportunities can help with retention of both members and PTs, and potentially attract new members with a different, innovative offering.

Ordinarily, when operators think about adding something new, they think about the costs involved. However, adding more pool-based programming doesn’t have a similar cost because there is not a need to build or buy anything. The investment is reasonably small, but the ROI is huge.