Whether you live in a warm or cool climate, there is something luxurious about having access to a pool. Today, a modern aquatic center is an amenity that expresses a community’s commitment to wellness. The decision to update or add a pool environment is not without its challenges. Providers and their selected project teams need to evaluate options in order to create an aquatic center that meets their residents’ needs resulting in a community amenity that is used and enjoyed on a regular basis.
When determining the size and shape of the pool, the community needs to take into account how the pool will be used. The typical senior living community pool has two specific fitness uses. The pool needs to accommodate basic fitness classes and the beginner level swimmer while also providing the proper lengths to appeal to the life-long lap swimmers. A design that addresses both fitness levels must offer:
- Proper depths
- Proper slopes
- Proper air and water temperature
A pool that is 40 to 42-feet in length adequately addresses the needs of seasoned lap swimmers so they can adjust their turns and timing accordingly for their fitness routines. The decision to slope the pool lengthwise versus widthwise provides more space to accommodate water aerobics and other fitness classes. While either is an acceptable choice, it is up to the team to decide how the pool will be used and what is most appropriate for the specific community. And of course, addressing both the proper air and water temperature is key to maintaining comfort for residents and staff in order to encourage the ongoing use of the pool.
There are sanitation options for pools that affect the pool water, thus directly impacting residents and the physical plant. Chlorine, bromine or salt water sanitation systems each have its pros and cons. While chlorine can be an irritant to the more sensitive skin of an aging senior, salt water can be hard on the mechanical equipment. Research on these disinfection systems as well as conversations with the project team will help providers make the best choice for their community.
While a pool is not a pool without water, this element needs to be carefully considered when selecting finishes for an aquatic center. Water resistant materials, flooring with slip and grip factors, and painted rather than tile pool markings are some of the preferred specifications. A well-designed HVAC system is also critical in order to maintain air movement, prevent condensation issues and for odor control.
Aside from the pool itself, there are other things to consider when designing a modern aquatic center. Hot tub or no hot tub? There is not a right or wrong answer, just a choice a community needs to make. The reality is that a limited number of people take advantage of this amenity, so is your decision to address the masses or provide something for everyone?
The design of the locker rooms or changing areas is another area to consider. As part of repositioning efforts, many communities are elevating this experience to be in-line with current health and fitness club facilities, and even including spa-like amenities such as massage rooms.
When it comes to designing the ideal aquatic center for your community, there are numerous factors to consider, codes to address and systems to implement to create an amenity that best serves your residents while being a safe and efficient operating environment on your campus.