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Are Swim Spas Really Worth It?
Whenever you think of creating a space in your backyard where you can both exercise and relax, a swimming pool usually comes to mind. But there are a few other options that can be thought of either as an alternative or a complement to a swimming pool. So what about swim spas? Are swim spas really worth it?
A swim spa gives you the combined benefit of vigorous swimming, hydrotherapy, relaxation and a spot to socialize. It can be used for a much longer period during the year due to affordable heating costs.
I do admit that an above ground or in ground pool may be more appealing to a family with young children. However, a swim spa is possibly the best investment for a mature couple who are either physically active or need to undergo regular hydrotherapy.
Al swim spa can also be the focal point for relaxation and socializing with friends. The best part about a swim spa is that you could use it for much longer part of the year at very reasonable heating costs.
In my opinion the 11 top reasons why swim spas are really worth the money are that they:
- Extend The Swimming Season
- Are Smaller in Size than a Pool
- Have Lower Initial Upfront Cost
- Require Less Set Up Time
- Have Lower Heating & Operating Cost
- Require Low Maintenance
- Provide Convenience at Your Home
- Help Train for Competitive Swimming
- Can be Used for Hydrotherapy
- Help in Achieving Weight Loss
- Promote Physical & Mental Relaxation
Extend The Swimming Season
A swimming pool in your backyard is absolutely fantastic during summer. Your kids can run around and splash in the swimming pool during their summer vacations. You can go for a refreshing swim early in the morning and relax on the deck, with a glass of wine, in the evening.
But as summer draws to a close, you will be forced to decide between spending several hundred dollars each month to keep the pool heated during fall and spring or to winterize and close the pool.
A swim spa is an alternative, where you could continue swimming throughout fall and spring at very low heating costs. This is because a swim spa comes with in-built insulation and heater.
As a result the heating of a swim spa in colder weather is a lot more efficient and cost-effective. With a swim spa you could extend the swim season from 3 to 4 months to 6 to 12 months at a very affordable cost.
Are Smaller in Size than a Pool
Compared to a swimming pool, a swim spa takes a lot less space. A typical family size pool is 20’ X 40’. Pool manufacturers recommend leaving 4’ on each width side and 8’ on each length side of the pool. So you need to allocate 1568 square feet (28’ X 56’) for a pool in your backyard.
On the other hand, swim spas are typically 8 feet wide and anywhere between 12 feet to 21 feet in length. Swim spa manufacturers recommend leaving 3’ on each side for access. So you need to allocate only 378 square feet (14’ X 27’) for a swim spa in your backyard.
A swim spa therefore requires less than 25% of the space required for an inground swimming pool.
Backyard space is more and more at a premium, than ever before. Lots are getting smaller. You may have other interests and uses for your backyard too.
You may need more backyard space for your kids to play and for your pets to run around. Maybe you have an interest in gardening. Maybe you would like to reserve some space for a shed.
So depending on the space available in your backyard you may just find that swim spas are really worth it when compared to swimming pools.
Have Lower Initial Upfront Cost
To create a swimming facility in your backyard you have the following options:
- Above ground pool
- In ground pool
- Plunge pool
- Swim spa
In each case there is a range of sizes and qualities so it is difficult to give you an exact cost. But the table below will give you an idea of the range:
|Total Upfront Cost
|Above Ground Pool
|$3,500 – $10,500
|In Ground Pool
|$20,000 – $55,000
|In Ground Pool
|$45,000 – $85,000
|In Ground Pool
|$50,000 – $100,000
|$10,000 – $18,000
|$10,000 – $22,000
|$20,000 – $35,000
|$7,000 – $40,000
If space & money are not a constraint, then an in-ground pool is, of course, a great option. If you do not want to spend too much money but want to have fun with family, then an above ground pool is a budget friendly option.
Plunge pools & swim spas are mid range options both in terms of space and cost. You can do leisurely laps in a plunge pool but if you want a vigorous swim, then swim spas are really worth it.
Require Less Set Up Time
The time taken to install your swimming facility in the backyard can be an important consideration. Of course the longer it bakes the more it costs. But more importantly, as decisions are often made late, you do not want to spend most of the summer installing the facility.
Ground preparation and installation times depend on the size as well as the type of the swimming facility that you want. The table below gives the time range, which can be used as an indicator.
|Above Ground Pool
|2 – 4
|In Ground Pool
|28 – 56
|In Ground Pool
|21 – 42
|In Ground Pool
|90 – 180
|14 – 28
|7 – 14
|28 – 42
|7 – 10
If you are short both on budget and time available, then the best option is to go for an above ground pool. You can usually order it online. The ground preparation and installation is a relatively simple DIY project. You can accomplish it over the weekend with some help from family and friends.
On the other hand a proper inground swimming pool is the way to go, if money and time are not the constraining factor. An inground pool is an investment for a lifetime and will add to the property value of your home.
Even when you do not have much time, swim spas are really worth it. They can be installed in a week or so. The actual installation just takes a day. The balance is for preparing the pad.
A concrete pad is advisable but not essential, A solid base made from gravel, pavers are good enough. Synthetic pad or the existing deck is also a viable alternative.
Have Lower Heating & Operating Cost
An important reason for installing a swim spa rather than a regular swimming pool is so that you can swim almost all around the year. So the bulk of the operating cost of a swim spa is going to come from the heating cost.
Swim spas can be used for swim training, hydrotherapy or general relaxation. The temperature requirement for each activity is different. You can adjust the water temperature of the swim spa as per the activity planned. This is not possible with a pool.
According to the World Health Organization, water temperatures ranging from 78 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit are generally comfortable and safe for those engaging in moderate physical activity in a pool.US Masters Swimming
Hydrotherapy or Aqua Aerobics
In general, pool temperatures between 83 F (28.3 C) and 88 F (31.1 C) are usually comfortable for most types of water exercise. Pools that are used for physical therapy typically have warmer water to help relax muscles and make stretching exercises easier.Mayo Clinic
Relaxation to Soothe Muscles
Hot tub water temperatures should never exceed 104 degrees Fahrenheit. A temperature of 100 degrees is considered safe for a healthy adult.Consumer Product Safety Commission
Swim spas cost less to heat, compared to a swimming pool, as they lose less heat.
The smaller surface area reduces the heat loss due to evaporation. You can further reduce the heat loss by using a swim spa cover when it is not in use.
Swim spas can be, and often are, insulated. This further reduces the heat loss from a swim spa.
And, of course, you need less energy to heat up a swim spa as even a large one has only around 6,000 gallons as compared to 30,000 gallons in a family sized swimming pool.
Above ground pools iPad be easier as compared to an inground pool.
Require Low Maintenance
Maintaining a backyard pool is never an easy task. To maintain an inground (or even an above ground) pool you will need to perform certain maintenance activities every week, at least.
- Testing the water chemistry regularly
- Topping up the pool chemicals as required
- Shocking the pool once a week
- Scooping up the floating debris such as dry leaves
- Brushing the pool walls to prevent algae growth
- Vacuuming the pool floor regularly to pick up dust & dead algae
- Back washing or cleaning the pool filter
Compared to a pool the maintenance requirements of a swim spa are much less.
The smaller surface area itself ensures that less debris falls into a swim spa. The filtration system of a swim spa can handle this.
The swim spa walls & floor are made from a very smooth acrylic surface. The surface often has an antimicrobial coating too. As a result you do not really require to brush your swim spa to keep it clean
Many high end swim spas are self-cleaning. They include a floor vacuuming system so that you don’t have to worry about it
By and large the only maintenance a swim spa requires is regular testing of the water chemistry and topping up the required chemicals.
Provide Convenience at Your Home
Swim spa makes it very convenient for you to swim at a time of your choice. You may want to get a workout early in the morning or may prefer a leisurely swim in the evening. Whatever your need, the swim spa is just a few steps away.
If you are a competitive swimmer and like to train regularly, then a swim spa at home is a fantastic alternative to going to a public pool for training.
You are assured of a clean swimming environment and on your terms. You can swim all year around and at any time of the day or night.
Should you be suffering from a muscular or joint injury, then your physician may recommend hydrotherapy for you. With a swim spa at home you don’t have to go to a hospital or any other facility. You can do all your water exercises at home.
Aqua aerobics is great for anyone, but especially recommended for pregnant women. A swim spa in your backyard can ensure that you can engage in the required water exercises right at home.
Help Train for Competitive Swimming
The main difference between a swim spa and different types of pools, such as above ground, in ground or plunge pools, is that a swim spa has jets which create a current of water that you can swim against.
Even though you are swimming, you are actually stationary with respect to your surroundings. Swimming in a swim spa is similar to running on a treadmill. You are getting the workout without actually moving from point A to point B.
Swim spas typically have 4 jets and can have 4 pumps to power them. If all the four pumps are installed and working, the current of the water is strong enough to train for competitive swimming.
If you want a lower level of resistance then you can cut out one of the pumps. However, if you use only 1 or 2 pumps then the current is not strong enough for a swim. You can then use the swim spa for hydrotherapy, aqua aerobics or just as a hot tub.
Can be Used for Hydrotherapy
Not all of us are as fit and athletic, as we would like to be. Sometimes age catches up; at other times it might be an unfortunate injury. Whatever the reason, aquatic therapy is often prescribed by physicians to improve muscular & joint strength.
Aquatic therapy reduces muscular pain for people who are recovering from surgery or have some chronic condition.
Your physician may advise you to go to a facility where a physical therapist will guide you through the hydro therapy sessions. After the initial phase it may not be possible for you to continue with this arrangement due to the high cost and the inconvenience of visiting such a facility.
A swim spa lets you engage in hydrotherapy in the comfort of your own home. You are at liberty to set up your own hydrotherapy schedule.
The buoyancy of water, the soft gentle resistance it offers, the massaging effect of the water jets and the warmth of a swim spa, are all responsible for giving you a complete hydrotherapeutic experience.
Help in Achieving Weight Loss
It is a common misconception, hyped up by the media, that you need to sweat to burn calories and lose weight. Sure, you have to put your muscles to work! But you don’t need to sweat it out or indulge in High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
All swim spas have a seating area and a workout area. At the end of the workout area are powerful jets which create a current. The power of the current can be adjusted depending on how many pumps you run.
You can swim, jog or just walk against this current. You’ll get all the benefits that you would from a workout in the gym, without breaking a sweat.
Just like a treadmill you can also adjust the difficulty level by adjusting the jet flow. Increase the difficulty level and the duration of your workout in the swim spa. Slowly but surely you will be moving towards your weight loss goal.
Ultimately you would have lost weight and replaced the flab with muscles.
Swim spas are worth it because they can get you into shape without grueling, sweaty workouts in the gym.
Promote Physical & Mental Relaxation
Life seems to get more and more stressful every day. Stress can be both mental and physical.
Fortunately the swim spa is not just for swimming and hydrotherapy. A swim spa can also be used like a normal spa or hot tub for relaxation and well-being.
Sitting in a swim spa with the bubbling warm water massaging every part of your body, not only soothes those aching muscles but also puts your mind in a more relaxed mood. Many studies have shown that a spa experience helps in lowering anxiety levels.
When you immerse yourself in the warm waters off a swim spa the blood vessels expand and the amount of blood pumped by your heart increases. Feel good neurotransmitters such as dopamine & serotonin are released by the brain. They improve your mood and emotion.
Getting a good night’s sleep, after spending some time in the swim spa, is very natural.
If the previous 10 reasons have not convinced you that swim spas are really worth it, then this 11th reason will certainly convince you!
Thank you very much for reading the post. I do hope you found it informative and helpful.