I’m going to let you in on a little secret: There is no recession in aquatic therapy or rehab. And your pool will work for therapeutic exercise regardless of water temperature, depth and other pool features.
The potential for this market is incredible, and the ways to tap into it are many. Consider group or one-on-one programs for arthritis; multiple sclerosis; prenatal conditions; obesity; hip or knee replacements; back surgery or pain; stroke clients; fibromyalgia; asthma (or any COPD); diabetes; coronary artery disease; shoulder pain or surgery; or general aging (inactive) symptoms.
People who have weakness, pain, decreased range of motion, limited mobility, swelling, loss of balance, or have recently undergone surgery or experienced an injury are ideal candidates. The water is an excellent medium for all those populations — even if it’s cool!
Does the idea of adding aquatic therapy and rehab seem overwhelming? The truth is, it’s not hard if you take it by steps. The first step is deciding how to deliver rehab and therapeutic exercise. You have four options that you can use individually or together.
1. Rent or lease space in your pool to therapists, hospitals or therapy clinics.
2. Hire therapists or aquatic practitioners as independent contractors .
3. Hire therapists or aquatic practitioners as employees.
4. Train your current staff to provide therapeutic exercise services.
Using these four options, here are some income/expense generalizations:
• If you rent or lease pool space to therapists, hospitals or therapy clinics, the going rate seems to vary from $25-$75 per hour per lane.
• If you subcontract by hiring an independent contractor, the rental/leasing fees are the same. Another option is to negotiate the rent as 25- to 40 percent of their income.
• If you hire physical therapists, expect to pay them approximately $40 or more per hour.
• If you train your current staff, the rate is up to you. This option can help you with staff retention because it gives you the ability to pay the staff more, give them full-time jobs and offer them benefits.
Let’s take the option of renting one lane to two therapists. Charge $40 per hour for the lane. Only give them your slower time after morning lap swim and before evening lap swim. You will realize at least $300 per day or $1,500 a week of additional income. The biggest benefit (besides the income) is that there’s no extra work for you except negotiating the lease and putting up signage that a lane is closed.
The train-your-own-staff option involves more work for you. The additional work may include arranging for training, taking calls and scheduling clients and staff, and being involved with these clients on a daily basis. The income is greater, but the work is also greater.
Offering pool time to special populations can add to your public image, increase your revenue and visibility — it can become a member program. When these people are released from one-on-one programming, they will often continue their exercise independently in your pool.
So go ahead, try aquatic therapy and rehab! Then watch your pool fill with grateful people bringing you money.