What is an Aquatic Health Club?

Imagine a warm smile and friendly greeting as you walk in the door with your swim bag. The front desk staff knows you by name, and always looks happy to see you. “Hi Kathy, how are you doing today?”

Here, you have the opportunity to learn to swim, take your swimming to the next level, or experience water exercise in a variety of formats. You look forward to the personalized workouts. They not only feel good, they get results! Here, you have the flexibility to do your workout on the day and time that fits your schedule. And, most importantly, this place hires only the most trusted water exercise coaches.

This is an Aquatic Health Club.


Fitness Center versus Aquatic Health Club

Traditional fitness centers offer a variety of fitness focused formats. You’ll find aqua fit, senior water aerobics, cardio power, or whatever revolves around the latest equipment or fad.

Health clubs are more diverse. They focus on fitness and wellness. They offer health screenings, multi-faceted group exercise, and personal training. Programming is designed to promote healthy habits, such as proper exercise and good nutrition. A health club is a place where members can learn about injury/health prevention, participate in structured and unstructured wellness programs, and have access to local medical professionals.

However, members passionate about water exercise may feel like they’re on the sidelines.

The aquatic health club extends all health club services into the aquatic environment. Men and women of all ages and fitness levels can participate. This is an inclusive place designed to help everyone achieve their fitness and exercise goals. Creating an aquatic health club allows you to meet participant needs in incredible ways and maintain a sustainable business.

aquatic health club

An Aquatic Health Club is so much more than just water aerobics!


For members: It’s convenient and personalized.

People join because they can exercise on their own schedule, because they don’t need to worry about the quality of the classes, and because they know that water exercise will never take a back seat to other programming. The aquatic health club model provides educational sessions on land to complement the recommended exercises in the pool. The combined “dry-side” and “wet-side” of aquatic programming gets members engaged. Engaged participants get results. There is a culture that is almost impossible to replicate as a traditional health club.


For facilities: It’s community focused and sustainable.

People join because they can exercise on their own schedule, because they don’t need to worry about the quality of the classes, and because they know that water exercise will never take a back seat to other programming. The aquatic health club model provides educational sessions on land to complement the recommended exercises in the pool. The combined “dry-side” and “wet-side” of aquatic programming gets members engaged. Engaged participants get results. There is a culture that is almost impossible to replicate as a traditional health club.

This could be your Aquatic Health Club.


Make the Move to an Aquatic Health Club

Moving from a traditional model to an aquatic health club requires a shift in culture and mindset. Here are eight tips to help you make the move.

  1. Know your mission and share it with members. Knowing what you want and how you want to serve the community is a must.
  2. Call your program what it is. If you offer mixed formats, including workouts for strength, balance, core, mobility, and cardiovascular health, then you’re providing programming for whole body wellness. Congratulations!  Now it’s time to call what you do, what it is! Goodbye water aerobics, hello water exercise!
  3. Announce the workout focus every time you teach. Sharing the purpose of the workout gives personal motivation to stay focused.
  4. Know your participants. Learning WHY participants attend can be as simple as having a poolside chat. Get more formal using a written lifestyle questionnaire.
  5. Educate members on health prevention. Get local medical professionals to lead sessions promoting healthy habits in areas such as nutrition and mental health.
  6. Be part of the neighborhood. Participate in local events to build social networks and support your community outside of the facility.
  7. Go beyond expectations. Outstanding customer service begins by showing you care.  How are you reaching and staying in touch with your members? Develop a plan that ensures your entire team knows how to talk to members about current club offerings and their benefits.
  8. Don’t assume! When you say you’re going to the pool, people often think ‘swimming and recreational play’. Even your regulars may not understand vertical water exercise. Speak the language of an aquatic health club to start bridging this knowledge gap.

In the past, the perception was that you went to land exercise for “total fitness”. Not anymore. The aquatic health club has arrived. And just in time — especially with the aging population. Water exercise is gentle on the joints and offers full-service wellness for everyone.

It’s time to change mindsets. It’s time to build the culture of an Aquatic Health Club.

Need help building your Aquatic Health Club? Mick and Sue Nelson offer custom facility programming services to help you know exactly what to do and how to do it. 

EMAIL SUE

Sue Nelson

USA Swimming Aquatic Programming Specialist

Mick and Sue Nelson have over 47 years of experience in designing, building and operating profitable pools/aquatic centers. They also have experience owning and operating a swim supply business, serving over 700 pools at which they provided education and customer service.  Mick is one of the best-known consultants on water chemistry and Sue an expert on aquatic programming. They left the private business to work for USA Swimming. There, they provide members with a plan to build community focused, sustainable aquatic facilities using the model of the Aquatic Health Club.