AKWA: Your Perfect Pool!

This article was originally published in AKWA: The Official Publication of the Aquatic Exercise Association.

The water is just the temperature you like it. Chemical balance is correct. The pool area is free from drafts, but well ventilated. The space is well lit, but without water glare. Soft music plays in the background. A shower is near by. You can swim whenever you want. Travel distance is nonexistent. Where is this ideal aquatic venue? Your house! Home indoor pools are increasingly becoming the ideal personal aquatic environment.

Whether for personal fitness, therapy or business, the great variety of pool structures available allows individuals to customize a home pool to their own specifications. The home pool has been a staple of home recreation for many years. Outdoor pools dominate the market; but outdoor pools are weather dependent. Indoor pools have the advantage of year round use. However, cost and indoor space have been limiting factors. Now, there are indoor pools that can be built practically anywhere; a basement, sunroom, porch, or garage can easily be converted into an aquatic area for lap swim, exercise or therapy. Eighty-five to ninety percent of current pool customers buy for recreation and for health reasons; the other ten to fifteen percent are athletes (Weitzell, 2002).

Design of a Personal Pool

Personal pools are available with still water, as well as with capability to have moving water - a current.

There are differences in the way speed of moving water is gauged. Some manufacturers measure it in number of gallons moved per minute. Some say it's not speed that is important; it is volume - how much water you are moving. The point is that the current can be easily adjusted from zero to the rush of a swift river current, depending on your choice or comfort level. Propulsion systems may include jets, propeller at the front and/or paddlewheel at the back.

Type of current and how that current is generated determines water condition. On some, the water on the sides is calm, so the exerciser can move out of the current to rest. This is a safety factor. Some have lower jets (nozzle type) that can only be slightly adjusted. They can be directed to position the current under the exerciser, giving him greater buoyancy. If exercisers pull or walk harder on one side or the other they may move out of the stream of flow. Adjustable jets, if available, can help with this.

Lap swimming
Size has become a non-issue. Today's personal pool can be designed with water current generation. Space is not needed to swim laps. The swimmer swims against a current, literally staying in place. Therefore the pool does not have to be much longer than a body length. Width only needs to be sufficient enough to allow for swimming a full variety of strokes.

Aquatic Exercise
Personal pools aren't only for lap swimming. Depth of water varies with design. Several depth choices, including underwater platforms and/or benches are available. This makes the personal pool ideal for aquatic exercise. The variable depth design allows you to exercise standing in water from waist to shoulder depth or sitting in water up to shoulder depth. Some pools also have grab bars which enable prone and/or supine exercise similar to that done grasping a pool gutter or noodle.

Aquatic Therapy
A personal pool is the perfect solution for aquatic therapy. Water temperature can be easily controlled, as can environmental lighting and sound. Two people can comfortably fit in the water area, both standing on the bottom or therapist standing/sitting on a side ledge and client centered in the main area of the pool. Without current the personal pool becomes the ideal venue for relaxation therapy and Ai Chi. An indoor pool can be designed to fit your space and needs.

Accessibility to the pool depends upon space available. If the pool can be set into the ground, access is easily managed over the low ground side. If the pool cannot be set into the ground the access must be over the side using steps, a lift or bar.

As with all pools, personal cleanliness greatly influences maintenance. A soap shower before swimming, wearing a cap to keep loose hair out of the water, and covering the pool helps maintain chemical balance, and reduces cleaning demands. Make sure that your filtration system can handle the use you intend to keep your pool running with ease. Check bather load specifications and do not exceed them. Some industry experts suggest for indoor units you will want a solid cover, however soft corners that roll to the side are practical where space is limited. Reduction or avoidance of natural light directly onto the water will help reduce algae buildup. Adequate ventilation, without drafts will keep the rest of the home free of pool odor. Ventilation is also important to maintain air quality for all users and particularly important for users with respiratory conditions.

Using a Personal Pool

Lap swimming is probably the most traditional use for a personal pool. A lap swimming work out in a personal pool is more demanding than in a traditional pool because there are no turns to make in the personal pool. Swimming is continuous. In addition, the generated current can be varied in intensity. By increasing the flow of current the swimmer will have to pick up the stroke pace. Decreasing the current allows the swimmer to swim slower.

Adjusting the intensity, strength and duration of the current should be easily accomplished without leaving the water. In this pool adjustment controls are on one end of the pool deck. All strokes are possible. However, strokes with a glide (i.e. breast stroke, elementary backstroke, sidestroke) use a slower current speed, which allows time for the glide. A mat line down the floor of the pool helps a swimmer move in a straight line. In a supine position the swimmer can focus on a point on the ceiling.

The potential for water exercise is unlimited. Water walking/jogging can be done at any pace for any distance. The personal pool can work like a treadmill, increasing the current to provide a more difficult workout. By turning off the current, the pool can be used for more traditional water exercise. Equipment can be added while standing or sitting at one of the side ledges. For example - water mitts can be used with or without the current to increase resistance and help build strength.

Best of all, exercise to the music of choice in a lighted environment suitable for your activity. Relax to soft tones and subdued lighting or psych up with loud rock and a strobe light. In your personal pool you can change the mood and environment daily.

Personal pools are ideal for aquatic therapy. Clients with chronic health needs can have a pool right in their own home. The therapy can be a daily ritual or as needed. The possibilities of doing life enhancing aquatic activities in your own home are incredible. Therapists can also travel to clients who have pools in the same way personal trainers travel. Starting a home-based aquatic therapy business has never been easier.

Personal pools can be installed almost anywhere. You could remodel an unused portion of your house or add a room like a sun room (depending on climate). Obviously, building a new home and being able to design pool area features from scratch is the best scenario, but remodeling or making an addition to your home, while more time consuming, can be well worth the work.

For some families with a family member with a disability, adding a personal pool to their home is a major improvement in quality of life. They not only have the wellness and therapy benefits of aquatic activity. They also save on travel time and expense if an aquatic therapist travels to them. Carryover valve increases when family members are present and participate.

Safety in a personal pool is just as important as safety in any other aquatic facility. An owner must have an emergency action plan. Accidents can happen anywhere. A phone in the pool area is a must.

Clear policies about swimmer cleanliness are important. An adjacent toilet and shower area are not only a convenience, but also a pool maintenance necessity. Pool owners should know CPR and first aid. Pool rules should be clear to all. A pool rules sign could include pictures as well as the written words. This type of sign would be useful if your clientele includes children or persons who speak English as a second language. Personal pools are not designed for head first entry and NO DIVING should be allowed.

The best way to obtain information on costs of a personal pool is to contact the manufacturer of the specific pool under consideration. The pool in these photos has a base cost of approximately $23,900*. Obviously, structural modifications to the area housing the pool will affect investment. Optional features can increase costs, as can installation charges. Once installed, use factors will affect maintenance costs, as well as climate. A reputable manufacturer should be able to provide referrals for contact regarding pool installation and operation in a specific geographic area. There are lots of options available: tile color, underwater lights, with jets or without, handrails for vertical exercise.

About This Pool

The pool in these pictures was built as part of a new home. A cover helps maintain water temperature and chemical balance. When not in use, the cover easily rolls to one side. The 5' water depth is deeper than average and was done at the request of the owner. Additional matting has been placed on the pool bottom and supplemental coping on top.

The pool area has been personalized with a wall mural, painted prior to pool installation. Ventilation is in the ceiling. Sliding glass doors limit access to the pool area. A phone is easily accessible next to the sauna. A bathroom with a shower is immediately outside the pool room.

What does it feel like to get out of bed in the morning and slip into one's own pool for a workout? Would a home aquatic therapy business be better than traveling to work? Better, how would it feel to come home to a warm pool, dim lights, and a private Ai Chi session? With a personal pool anyone can find out!

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