Feature Article - July 2008
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Splash City Roadmap

Trends in Aquatic Design & Programming

By Kate Bongiovanni

Recreation Redesign

When designing the modern-day aquatic center with waterpark features, the options are endless. They can include what was seemingly impossible before: making a waterslide longer or following a winding path, adding oscillating rides and bowl rides that slide guests around the feature, and other thrills that technology has allowed and manufacturers have built.

At waterparks, Ezra of the WWA said that rides are becoming more elaborate, while keeping a focus on the family. Family rides or raft rides have continued to expand since their introduction in the 1990s. "This emphasis is primarily due to the fact that families are the backbone of the waterpark industry," Ezra said. "Thus, waterpark designers are keeping families in mind as they design the rides of tomorrow."

Mendioroz agreed and added that Aquatic Design Group takes into consideration adding features that have been designed in one of their approximately 2,500 previous projects, or looking to other parks, or from their clients who might have seen a feature somewhere and want to incorporate it into their own facility. "It's just seeing something and then tweaking it in a way that is specific to your project site," he said. "That's how we generate ideas, looking at other things that have been done in the past and then tweak it in a way that makes sense for that particular site that we're working on."

Splashing Spirit

All ages can find an aquatic activity to suit both their fitness needs and interests. Here's a sampling of some of the popular aquatic classes, beyond basic laps and lessons:

WATER AEROBICS: Facilities may coin a different term for this activity, such as aqua aerobics, AquaFit or Hydro Evolution, but the end result is the same: resistance and cardio training in the water, which places less impact on the joints. Some of these classes incorporate the aid of flotation devices.

PARENT-TOT LEARNING: When parents want their infants and toddlers to learn to swim, mom or dad can accompany their child in the water to assist with strokes and breathing while working in a little bonding with their child and getting them ready for individual lessons.

DEEP-WATER RUNNING: Injured athletes turn to the pool, especially the deepest area, for aquatic therapy to aid recovery and practice running without pavement pounding, but still increasing the heart rate. At select YMCAs across the country, a similar class is called Deep Water Aerobics or Deep Water Jog and is not only for recovering runners, but also those seeking to increase endurance while improving overall strength and muscle tone.

HYDRO DANCE PARTY: Developed by Jeff Howard at Equinox Fitness in Chicago, this class pairs a cardio workout with the water and dance music from salsa to hip-hop.