Most standard equipped fitness spas are perfect for recreational swimming. However, a buyer will want to ensure it has these minimum features:
- a dedicated swim pump or water diverter valve to direct the pump’s output flow of water to either the therapy seats or swim jets;
- a swim pump capable of producing 606 litres per minute (lpm) (160 gallons per minute [gpm]) (closed flow), which is required to produce an adequate swimming current;
- an ozonator that produces 450 parts per million (ppm) to provide overall chemical reduction, which reduces the corrosive effects on the spa and relieves bathers from typical chemical odours and irritation;
- an LED lighting system, as they consume less power, operate on low voltage and offer a variety of lighting schematics;
- maintenance-free cabinetry (spa skirt) to lessen the time owners spend outside of the spa; and
- a lockable spa cover to prevent unauthorized access, as well as to minimize operational and maintenance costs.
Athletes and fitness enthusiasts
Fitness spas are designed to provide an aquatic gym experience for athletes and fitness enthusiasts of all levels. Some are even designed with separate swim and spa zones. The swim zone is a spacious area for treadmill swimming, while the spa zone is a separate hydrotherapy area with independent temperature controls.
Most manufacturers offer at least two different propulsion systems for varying degrees of swim resistance, in addition to multiple pumps and jets for hydrotherapy. These propulsion systems use high-powered jets, which provide adjustable underwater currents that allow bathers to perform a variety of swimming and aquatic exercises.
Some models are available with a dual swim jet feature designed for athletes, as it creates a ‘splash-free’ water current that is adjustable for varying levels of aquatic exercise or endurance training.
These spas also generally feature attachment points for exercise bands and other equipment. Bands come with hand attachments for toning and sculpting, while oars can be used for rowing exercises. There is often an adjustable belt feature, with resistance bands for walking, jogging or running in place. Some fitness spa models also have an optional tether feature, designed to intensify swimming workouts for athletes in training. This option includes a fibreglass rod that attaches to the spa and fitness belt that attaches to the swimmer to add additional resistance and stability.
Although performance is an important element of a fitness spa, it is equally important for potential customers to assess their personal needs. Buyers should first decide what levels of swim resistance and therapy they would like the spa to deliver before they make their final purchase.
A fitness spa is a rather large investment; therefore a buyer would not want to outgrow it within the first year by questioning their swimming ability. It comes down to whether the buyer is purchasing the fitness spa for recreational use (i.e. mostly for entertaining or kids playing) or whether he/she is a committed swimmer and plans on using it more than twice a week. For example, if the buyer is a mid-range swimmer looking for a swim zone and hydrotherapy, he or she will want to make sure the fitness spa includes the following features:
- A dedicated swim pump to produce more power and offer greater swim resistance: Most systems allow the user to either divert water flow or decrease intensity at the jet nozzle. By comparison, the only means to increase power is to replace the swim pump system(s) with larger pumps that produce more litres/gallons per minute (lpm [gpm], which is a costly procedure.
- Fitness equipment: Fitness spas, with available fitness equipment, add increased value to the buyer by simply offering more exercise options.
If the buyer is a highly skilled swimmer or athlete in training, they will want to make sure the fitness spa includes these additional features:
- A high-performance ozone system: Most people do not realize how much they perspire in an average hot tub, let alone exercising in one. High-performance ozone systems are considered a must to help the user maintain healthy, clean water without increasing the amount of powerful chemicals, such as chlorine.
- Tether system: These systems virtually eliminate the possibility of the owner out growing their fitness spa. A tether system provides resistance at any swim level—even for professional swimmers—and is an option a buyer should consider very closely.