Feature Article - November 2017
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In the Swim

Creativity & Variety Boost Aquatic Success

By Deborah L. Vence

"The aquatic fitness classes that we offer go June through mid-August so there is not as much of a gap between summer programming and when the regular fall fitness programs begin," she said, adding that a variety of aquatic programs are offered, from parent-tot water orientation classes to adult swim lessons.

"This includes private and semi-private swim lessons, as well as aquacise, deep water aquacise and Aqua Zumba for the aquatic fitness classes," she added.

Offering variety in aquatic class formats is just as important as offering variety in land-based group exercise. The aquatic class schedule, See said, should reflect a similar structure as classes in the aerobic and cycling studios:

  • "Options for each day of the week and various times of the day to accommodate time preferences and work schedules. It should not be assumed that all aquatic participants are retired. Even those who are retired have preferred exercise schedules."
  • "Unique formats to attract participants with various fitness interests and backgrounds. For example, consider including gentler programs designed to meet the needs of individuals with arthritis and related musculoskeletal conditions, but also include classes that target high intensity, possibly equipment-based, training as well."

For example, besides offering group and private lessons for children and adults, and standard types of aquatic programming, such as learn-to-swim, the Mizzou Aquatic Center also offers stand-up paddle board yoga through its TigerX group exercise program, as well as battleship tournaments that are held regularly through its RecSports program.

"We have also hosted special Tiger Tower Plunge events when we give participants the opportunity to conquer their fear and jump from the various levels of the diving tower, after some instruction," Seris said.

In early fall, the Mizzou Aquatic Center became one of the host sites for the first ever Key Log Rolling Collegiate Tournament Series, which was expected to bring participants from schools around the Midwest.

What's more, masters swimming classes are offered at Mizzou Aquatic Center, with open recreation and leisure time in the center's four pools. The 50-meter swimming pool and diving well is for competitive training and lap swimming, water walking and jogging. The Tiger Grotto is the aquatic center's indoor, warm-water leisure pool, which features, a lazy river, and vortex, which are great for resistance work, as well as sauna and steam rooms.

"We also provide tables, chairs in this area, and Wi-Fi throughout the facility, which makes it a popular area for study or relaxing," he said.

The center's outdoor leisure pool, Truman's Pond, is a place to get some sun and relax while laying out or floating around on deck chairs, which can be taken out in the pool as a floating lounger.

"We have also added stand-up paddle boards, which are available all day for open use, and log rolling with two Key Logs during specific nights of the week, and outdoors during the summer, as well as some special events," he added. "We have special nights for water volleyball in the Tiger Grotto, and we also change the feel of that space with special lighting and music selection changes at different times of the day."

Though not part of Mizzou Aquatic Center's programming, there also is a large club sports program at Mizzou.

"We have several aquatic clubs which we schedule. Triathlon Club, Swim Club, Water Polo Club, and the Canoe and Kayak Club all practice several times per week in the Mizzou Aquatic Center pools," Seris said, adding that other programming offered includes American Red Cross classes through the Mizzou Aquatic Institute.

"We conduct Lifeguarding, CPR, First Aid, AED and WSI classes throughout the year, which are open to the Mizzou community as well as the greater Columbia community and beyond," he said.

Kevin Post, principal at Counsilman-Hunsaker, an aquatic engineering and design firm, noted that the biggest challenge with pool programming is the direct cost of offering the program.

"The main area is the staffing involved with offering a quality program," Post said. "One creative method is to go with a 'personal training method.' With personal trainers, they will work one-on-one with an individual to teach technique and provide motivations, but they expect the participant to do some work on their own between sessions.

"Traditionally, a pool may offer water aerobics on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and staff an instructor there each day. The personal training method would be where the instructor is there on Monday, but leaves the participants with self-guided exercises to be completed on Wednesday and Friday," he said.

"Then," he added, "everyone meets back up the following week to review progress and get the next level of training. This is both beneficial for the facility since they don't have to staff someone the entire week, but also for the user since they can come on their own time after the initial instruction."

The other change is in how billing is done.

"The traditional way is to have participants sign up for a session, that has a start and end date. To be more efficient and help with budgeting, some operators are switching to a membership-based program," Post said.

"The idea is that people become members of your program. Then you advance them through class as the participant progresses," he said. "This way the users stay continually challenged, and the facility has a regular/plannable revenue stream to balance costs."