April 12, 2021 10 min read

There’s nothing like kicking back at the pool after a long week. It’s the quintessential kickback spot. It’s where everybody wants to be during the summer, it’s what you’ve spent all spring working on your beach bod for.

But, sometimes, they’re hard to find. You might not have a rich friend with a backyard pool, or maybe the public pool is full at your local park. Whatever the case may be, you might be looking for a big box gym near you that has a pool.  Here are the eight that might be most likely to house a little water recreation for you.

1. YMCA

You should always check for your local YMCA first. The YMCA is pretty widely distributed around The United States. They’re usually well-stocked in some form or another, and they’re always much cheaper than a lot of other gyms that are out there. The YMCA is all about building community and making it accessible to folks that aren’t as wealthy as others.

To that end, the YMCA will usually try to keep up a pool for their local community, because what could be better in the summer than meeting your neighbors for cheap around a refreshing neighborhood watering hole. It’s going to be pretty dependent on where you live, but if you’re looking for a pool, your best bet is definitely going to be the YMCA.

If you’re finding a YMCA with a pool, you’re finding more than just a hole with water in it. The YMCA usually bundles their pools with aquatic classes, swim lessons for the kids, and there’s usually also a sauna and a steam room that comes alongside a swimming pool and hot tub.

A store front sign for the upscale gym known as Equinox

2. Equinox Fitness

Equinox is a pretty high-end gym usually catered towards middle-aged adults with a little bit of money on them. Equinox Fitness puts that money to good use. They’re kind of rare, with only about 100 in the United States, but if you can find one, you’re in for a treat.

The pools at Equinox Fitness are beautiful and massive, and sometimes they’re outside for the ultimate summer experience. Equinox Fitness is all about luxury and wellness, if you’re lucky enough to be near one, you’re going to be getting some of the best facilities available.

They’re comfortable and clean, and they’ll make your days a beautiful breeze. After the pool at Equinox, you’ll want to check out their luxurious spas, so you can reset yourself before heading back out into the rough and wild world.

3. LA Fitness

You're probably near an LA Fitness, and you’re probably near one with a pool. LA Fitness is one of the more solid gym options out there. Their membership prices are always pretty reasonable, and they’re usually well-stocked. The only real downside to hitting up an LA Fitness is if you just happen to be near one that’s not kept up as well as the others.

You can’t really do much to single-handedly turn an LA Fitness around, so if your local one is a letdown, we’re sorry about that. They’re an easy and cheap option for finding a pool, though, even a shabby LA Fitness with a pool will beat most other gyms when you’re in the mood for a little underwater action.

4. Lifetime Fitness

Lifetime Fitness will go all out when they have a pool. Lifetime is more focused on providing a family experience than other gyms. Because of their focus on providing an experience for everyone out there, they usually end up with some really cool pool areas. Lifetime Fitness pools will usually come stuffed to the gills with amenities.

You can find things like kiddie pools, waterfalls, umbrella tables for lounging poolside, and water slides. If you can find a Lifetime, you’re probably going to find a pool, and if you find a Lifetime pool, you’re finding a good afternoon full of fun. There’s a dark side to this, though.

Since Lifetime Fitness is so family-friendly, if you’re trying to get a good quiet workout in, you’re going to have to contend with the families and kids that are going to be having their own fun at the pool. Keep this in mind, though, if you find a good time to come by in the middle of the day, then you can probably catch the pool at a lower capacity.

5. 24-hour fitness

24-hour Fitness is a great fit for folks with unusual schedules. If you’re working third shift, or your job falls on the weekends, you can usually get a 24-Hour Fitness all to yourself. If you can find a 24-hour fitness with a pool, then you’re going to be finding an oasis you can take advantage of in a wider range of times.

They’re usually pretty simple, but that’s really all you need. A 24-hour fitness with a pool will usually come with a couple of lap lanes, a hot tub, and something nice to treat yourself with like a sauna or a steam room. It’s nothing fancy, but you’re going to be getting exactly what you need when you need it, and you can’t really ask for much more than that.

Exterior of Gold's Gym in Birmingham, Alabama.

6. Gold’s

Gold’s Gym is one of the gold star pool locations. Gold’s has great membership prices, especially for everything they offer in their facilities. A Gold’s with a pool will offer some nice, relaxing hot tubs, aquatic fitness classes, and plenty of spa features for sweating off your day, and cleansing your body. If you’re lucky, you might be close to one of those Gold’s with an outdoor pool, but even if yours is indoors, it's a great way to spend your day.

7. Crunch Fitness

You’re not going to find a pool at most Crunch Fitnesses. If you’re going to be looking for a Crunch Fitness with a gym, keep an eye out for their “Signature Clubs.” These are more high-end versions of Crunch Fitnesses, and if you’re near one, you’re sure to find a pool inside.Be aware that if you’re heading towards a Crunch Fitness Signature Club, you might have to shell out more cash for the higher-end amenities.

8. Fitness First

If you’re taking a trip across the pond and you’re looking for a place to take a dip, Fitness First has an international reach, they’re going to have a wide range of facilities in a number of countries, so if you’re an aquatic globetrotter, you’re going to love finding Fitness First.

Going For A Swim

Swimming is a great source of cardio. If you’re looking for alternatives to the cardio you’re used to, it might be worth branching out and opting for a swim. Human beings are incredibly versatile. We’re capable of adapting to pretty much everything and making it a part of our lives.

Swimming is a particularly interesting adaption we’ve come up with. When you think about what aquatic animals have built into their anatomy for traveling through the water and compare it to human’s we’re pretty unsuited to it. We can’t breathe underwater, we can’t hold our breath for very long, and we have to make these very specific strokes in order to propel ourselves, but there’s an interesting upside to that.

The unnatural nature of going for a swim is incredibly beneficial exercise. It’s going to fully engage pretty much every aspect of your body. If you’re just looking for a way to get your cardio in without getting all hot and sweaty and nasty, that’s what the pool is for.

Low Impact

Your body is pretty buoyant. When you’re in the water, you’re effectively weightless. If you’re trying to get a lot of cardio in, and you’re worried about the impact that running will have on your joints, then maybe aquatic athletics are what you’re looking for.

When you’re in the water, it’s really just you and the water around you. You’re not going to be over-exerting yourself by lifting weights, you’re not going to be overheating yourself with a long run on a summer day, and you’re not going to be pounding on your joints. Water sports are a great way to get yourself in shape without having to beat up your body too much.

Toning

If you’re working on getting toned, you’re going to want to hop in the pool. It’s an easy way to burn a lot of calories and get your entire body in on the exercise. If you’re trying to get toned, you want to focus on compound, low-impact exercise that isn’t going to bulk you up too much. Guess what swimming does for you.

By going for a swim once or twice a week rather than opting for the weights, you’re going to get the benefits of a good workout, while giving yourself the opportunity to chisel away at your body. It’s a nice change of pace that works your body out in a unique way, and the results don’t hurt either.

Stress Relief

We often forget to treat our minds the same way we treat our bodies. It’s easy to forget your brain has needs, it doesn’t get sore, and you don’t exactly get hunger pains in between your ears. This is why you have to be extra vigilant when it comes to your mental health.

If you’re constantly stressing yourself out and making yourself miserable, then you’re going to perpetuate a pretty nasty cycle. Sometimes, you need to make the effort to break out of it. Enter: the swimming pool.

There’s no denying that going for a swim is just good clean fun. It’s so unlike everything else you do when you’re on the ground. It’s the closest we can get to flying without trying yourself to something and getting flung around. A good swim will be just like a good workout, with the added benefit of totally switching up the element you surround yourself with.

You get all the endorphins that a good workout will provide you with, along with the added benefit of doing something novel. If you’re in a rut, just bring a towel and some trunks and just give the pool a try every now and then. You’ll feel a million times better.

 Muscular Man In Underwear At Swimming Pool

Pool Activities

Hitting the pool is a little less intuitive than lifting weights. When you’re lifting, you have the benefit of feeling the resistance against your muscles. The pool is a little different. Something as simple as taking a step is going to be mired in all of the weirdness that being surrounded by water brings along with it.

You have to think about moving around in a fluid, you’re constantly pushing water out of the way when you’re trying to move in the pool, and weight is weird. It’s all a strange thing to acclimate to, but once you have a few exercises under your belt you’ll see how much it can benefit you to take a dip in the pool.

Getting a good workout while you’re in the water is all about learning how to move so you can benefit from the exercise. It’s a lot like weighted training, you can’t just throw on a heavy vest and expect your overall fitness to improve, and you can’t just expect your arms to get stronger just because you’re flailing around in the water.

Walking in Water

This one sounds a little silly, but think about what you’re doing when you’re in the pool. You have to push all of the water between you and your goal out of the way in order to get anywhere in the pool.

Taking a long, deliberate walk in the water is a great way to get a sense of how different the environment is while challenging your full body. It’s a good warm-up, and it’s a great way to acclimate yourself to working out in the water.

  • Start in the shallow end of the pool
  • Push yourself down towards the bottom by extending your spine and aiming for the heel of your foot rather than allowing the buoyancy to force you up onto your tiptoes
  • Keep your arms by your side
  • Keep your core engaged the entire time, so that your upper body remains vertical and your arms swing as naturally as possible
  • Walk around the pool for about ten minutes

Kickboard Press and Pull

This is a great compound upper body exercise, you’re going to be getting a lot of good, deep work done in your back, shoulders, and upper arms if you can keep it up. If you’re used to weight lifting, counting out how long you should be doing a set of these is a little weird. It’s more about time and fatigue than it is about the number of reps.

  • Start by standing in the shallows with a kickboard held upright like a tombstone in the ground
  • Grab the top and bottom of the kickboard with the flat of the board facing the wall
  • Push it away from yourself and pull it back as fast as you can, the resistance provided by the water around you is going to make this movement tougher than you’d expect
  • Do it as fast as you can until you need to take a breather, take a short break, and repeat for about three sets

The Gutbuster

This one is another kickboard exercise, you’re going to get a lot of core action in. The flutter kick you’re using to propel yourself with the kickboard creates a lot of turbulence in your upper body, and the only way you’re going to be able to keep yourself upright is with all of your auxiliary stabilizer muscles.

You’re also going to get a little bit of swimming good, old-fashioned swimming in. This is going to be a great way to solidify your core along with getting a little bit of additional cardio in. 

  • Start with a kickboard in your lap, keeping your torso vertical
  • Pull your legs up parallel to the surface of the water, making an L shape with your entire body, using the kickboard to keep yourself afloat
  • Face your back towards the opposite end of the pool and use a flutter kick to propel yourself away from your starting point 
  • Keep your back upright the entire time, you should be feeling it in your core until you make it a decent distance down the lane
  • Take a short break, swim forward a little while, and grab the board again
  • Repeat until you’ve made it all the way across the pool

More Than a Summertime Treat

Going for a dip on a scalding summer day is the kind of thing that everybody dreams about. Getting in the cool water and feeling your skin relax, is unparalleled, but you don’t have to use the pool just as a brief escape from the harsh summer sun. The pool can be just as useful to your workout routine as a treadmill or a brand new set of weights.

If you’re willing to learn some new skills, the pool can work out your muscle groups in unique ways that you literally never could unless you were floating in the water. Hopping in the pool is a great way to expand your horizons and treat your body to new and exciting challenges. 


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