By Brian R. Sheridan
May 2010 - Lake Erie LifeStyle
They may never make a movie called “Resistance Pool Time Machine” but the at-home exercise pools are becoming as popular as hot tubs with some homeowners. Even 94-yearold fitness guru Jack LaLanne promotes their use to help people stay fit and injury-free as they age. The pools offer the same benefits as a full laplane pool at half the size and less the cost.
FOR THOSE LOOKING for a low-impact, whole-body workout, swimming is the best exercise. The resistance pool offers the swimmer a constant, wave-free current in place of distance. You basically swim in place as the water pushes against you.
The main reason people purchase a resistance pool is space, says Suzanne Marchetti, the vice president of sales at SwimEx. “They love that in a small area you are able to swim your laps, and get a total body workout, in just a 12-by-20-foot area,” she says. “It is also a plus for the Lake Erie region that this specialized pool can fit indoors, allowing for year-round swimming.”
Currently, two companies manufacture resistance pools for home use, SwimEx and Endless Pools. Each company uses a different technology for creating the pool current. Endless Pools, of Ashton, Pa., creates its water current with a propeller housed inside an acrylic case that is driven by a hydraulic motor. SwimEx, of Fall River, Mass., has a paddle-wheel system developed by two MIT engineers. Both companies offer different styles and depth of pools. They also included heated water like a hot tub.
The pools were originally purchased primarily by swimmers, but the market has expanded beyond that group to people of all ages and athletic abilities.
Fun And Fitness “We now have people with knee or hip replacements and they use it for recovery,” says Marchetti. “We have former runners with knee problems, people with multiple sclerosis, and severe arthritis. The whole gamut can benefit from being in water.”
“Once I swim for a couple days, I find myself saying that I can’t do anything until after my swim. It is enjoyable, it is healthful, and it is relaxing all at once.”—Kelly Bacharach
Therapy for an injury caused Mike Peck, president of Renaud Peck Custom Builders in Erie, to install a resistance pool in his house. He and his wife found the pool more useful than their hot tub as they incorporated it into their workout regime.
“You can’t get into a Jacuzzi and get any exercise. The purpose of the pool was for exercise. It wasn’t to have a glass of wine and a giggle. We actually use it,” says Peck. “You can keep swimming in it until the cows come home.”
Peck also likes the ease of using the pool. “It is so convenient. You push a button and the current starts. You step and away you go,” he says.
Kelly Bacharach, an Erie homeowner, also liked the idea of an in-home, low-impact water workout. She was concerned, however, that the resistance pool’s current might be too much for someone who only swam for fun during the summer.
“When we first looked into it, people told us it was like swimming upstream in a river,” she recalls. “I thought that maybe I wasn’t strong enough to do that, but it isn’t like that because you set the pace and you set the current. It is also amazing how quickly you build up your strength against the current and if you don’t feel like swimming, you can walk in the pool.”
Marchetti says the adjustability of the current is a major selling point. “We have competitive and master swimmers that use our pools, but we also have people who just want to do a calm, relaxed breaststroke. The current can be as gentle as you need it to be,” she says.
The resistance pools also offer multiple water speed settings, much like a treadmill. The user can create a workout where the settings change automatically.
If you are planning to take the plunge into buying a resistance pool, the prices fall more into the deep end when compared to a basic hot tub. A basic pool model can cost between $37,000 and $45,000. If you desire the top of the line, it can cost as much as $95,000. The cost goes up with increased depth of the pool and other optional extras added to the package. But the cost can actually be seen as a plus for some people.
While some joke that investing in exercise equipment, like a treadmill, was like investing in an expensive clothes hanger; taking the plunge on a resistance pool is motivational, say Bacharach.
“I think to myself ‘OK, I spent the money now I am going to use it,’” she says. “But it also is addicting. Once I swim for a couple days, I find myself saying that I can’t do anything until after my swim. It is enjoyable, it is healthful, and it is relaxing all at once.”LEL