Supplement Feature - February 2013
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Programming for Profit

A Strong Business Model Plus Creative Programming Can Keep Your Aquatics in the Black

By Rick Dandes

At the other end of the spectrum, there is a greater emphasis on specialty programs like rehabilitation through partnerships with hospitals, rehabilitation centers and sports medicine clinics for people who want a higher level of water therapy training to increase athletic performance, or who are recovering from injury or have a specific medical condition.

"Within rehab," White said, "we see people from all walks of life and all ages, from high-level atheletes to seniors who are either wanting to come back from an injury or are out to prevent something. We also see people who just want to remain active longer." People are turning to the idea that if they get hurt running, they can turn to running in a pool; in a fashion, this is rehabilitation with less stress on the body.

Yes, the aging population is driving more and more aquatic physical therapy and advances in water-based exercise, said Ray Lauenstein, business development manager for Aquatic Development Group in Cohoes, N.Y. Group classes, water running and cycling training are all happening in pools around the country. Warm water pools are more popular for working with a range of therapy applications as well as parent/infant classes.

"The obesity epidemic in the United States continues to get worse," Lauentstein said, "and water-based exercise is a popular alternative to this population in the right setting."

Group Exercise Gains

Holding group aquatic classes is another trend on the upswing, Barr said. "What's interesting is you are seeing more of those dry group exercise programs translated into the water; witness the popularity of holding aqua yoga classes or pool Pilates."

These classes can be very cost-efficient. "You can teach a group of 15 to 20 people with an instructor and a lifeguard," Barr added, "and thus generate a significant amount of revenue. The revenue derived from these programs is higher than you might get from a basic learning-to-swim program, where you have six to eight kids in a class. This is a trend that I do not think is going to slow down."

Lauenstein suggested other examples of water exercise and aerobics:

  • Sport-specific training: Water running, spinning-type classes on submerged bikes, and triathlon training and events are growing in popularity (mirroring the growth in triathlons in general).
  • The aging and active baby boomers still want to compete and train hard, and water-based training is friendly on their worn-out joints.
  • Zumba and yoga offered in the water will continue to evolve. Even paddleboard yoga (using a stand-up paddleboard) could be done in a traditional pool or wave pool.