With the range of sleek, economical and compact pools available, a small space is no hindrance to water fun in the sun
Pools can be aesthetically beautiful features, whether in your yard, designed into your decking or even within your home. Compact versions such as plunge pools, lap pools and swim spas make it possible to have this stylish statement, even when you only have a small space at your disposal.
Take the plunge
Plunge pools are very popular for any small space as they can fit comfortably almost anywhere — a courtyard, a small backyard, a deck or even inside the home. Plunge pools can be custom-designed in fibreglass or concrete in almost any shape to fit your space — square, circular or rectangular.
Cold-water plunge pools have been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. They were also extremely popular in ancient Rome, where they were used after heavy exercise routines or time spent in a sauna or steam room. The therapeutic effects of plunge pools are astounding; the transition from a heated environment to a cold plunge stimulates the body instantly.
A 30-second dip in a cold plunge pool is enough to stimulate the circulation and the nerves of both the body and brain, inciting a release of endorphins and hormones with analgesic properties at the same time. The cold water also activates nerves in the autonomic nervous system, meaning repeated use of a cold-water plunge can actually stabilise blood pressure.
Years ago, the use of plunge pools in public baths was common due to the belief that the practice would ward off disease. Science explains that the cold water causes the release of cytokines and other specific chemicals within the body that boost the immune system.
Heated plunge pools are also extremely beneficial for rehabilitation and hydrotherapy purposes. They can come with inclusions such as water jets, special seating and disabled entries and exits, and offer the ability to exercise in the water’s density and resistance. With less than a quarter of the space a full-size pool would require, plunge pools aid with osteoarthritis, sciatica and many other conditions, using only a small space to provide you with all the benefits of a pool.
Lap of luxury
Though significantly larger than plunge pools, lap pools are still an economic and significantly easier-to-maintain option in comparison with the traditional pool. Taking up just a strip of your backyard, a lap pool can be installed in-ground, above ground or even indoors if you have the space. Some companies boast such immense above-ground structural support that a lap pool could be erected on a rooftop if you so desired.
Designed primarily for exercise, whether it be swimming or running resistance laps, the narrow shape of lap pools allows you to utilise any small space effectively. These pools compare well to a traditional above-ground pool, with filters, pumps and vinyl liners expected to last roughly 10 years, while a concrete shell has a life of more than 25 years.
Aesthetically, lap pools provide very clean lines. They can be built creatively into decks and can be constructed into different shapes by attaching swim spas or hot tubs.
As with all pools, the greatest health benefit of lap pools is their ability to provide a stress-free, private environment to engage in extensive cardiovascular exercise and muscle toning without any stress on your joints or bones. They also help expand lung volume and promote general health and wellbeing.
In terms of size-to-use ratio, the swim spa is easily the most efficient pool for those lacking outdoor space. A hot tub and pool hybrid, the swim spa enables exercise by either swimming or running against the water resistance created by a jet. These nifty pools can range in size from 4m long by 2m wide and just over 1m deep. The pool needs to be one-and-a-half times the length of the swimmer with their arms stretched out and wide enough so the swimmer will not feel claustrophobic or bump the sides of the pool.
Swim spas are usually seen above ground and either outdoors or on a well-ventilated deck. There is always the option, if you have the space, to position the swim spa in a home gym or basement, but it may result in more trouble than it’s worth as the majority of units will not fit through common doorways. Occasionally you can install a swim spa partially or fully in-ground. While this is a more difficult set-up, it provides for a cleaner look and the feeling of a recessed pool.
Swimming laps has the ability to burn calories and with water providing resistance to your exercise, the swimmer can work largely unused muscle groups that remain idle on land.
The swim spa’s large propeller, often around 16in, powered by a hydraulic motor, is its greatest feature. It allows for roughly 5000 gallons a minute to travel through the pool’s grills and has an adjustable current ranging from zero to three miles per hour depending on the user. Other features offered by swim spas include hydrotherapy seats and jets, which offer the characteristics of a hot tub and a pool in one compact, easy-to-use unit.
Swim spas offer all the benefits of large traditional pools without the overuse of space and expensive running costs. When not in use, keep your swim spa covered as this encapsulates the heat, and prevents evaporation and debris from falling in the water. Consequently this means you need fewer chemicals to keep the swim spa clean.
No matter your lifestyle, there is a style of pool perfectly designed for you to provide a wealth of health and therapeutic benefits.
Written by Jessica Griffin
Originally in Poolside Issue 48