Memphis Kroc Center practices addition by subtraction with Aquatics Center

Feb 26, 2019 | by Brad Rowland

Memphis Kroc Center practices addition by subtraction with Aquatics Center

By: David Ibata

Five years after the Aquatics Center at The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Memphis, Tennessee opened, management realized some things had outlasted their welcome.

The center's management took a second look at various Aquatics Center features, like the "blasters" along the Lazy River that, when triggered by youngsters, dumped a gush of water on the adults lounging in the pool. The grownups weren't amused.

Last fall, the Aquatics Center closed for a six-week renovation. When the center reopened Nov. 14, the blaster pumps, water gun towers and other water-park-like gizmos were gone.

"With any facility like ours, we have gathered a lot of information about the way our members use the space," said Erik Houston, business operations director at the Memphis Kroc Center.

"Any facility, whether a YMCA, a Kroc Center or any nonprofit community center with a fitness component, often plateaus in membership around Year 5," Houston said. "We wanted to make investments to make our facility better for our members and continue our growth."

Aquatics Center management gave careful thought to some of the facility's original features.

Are giant squirt guns around the zero-depth pool, for example, appropriate for a space frequented by toddlers? The squirt guns came out.

"In our opinion, it was addition by subtraction," Houston said. "We put more age-appropriate features into the space and did some other cleaning up around the deck, removing things that didn't work anymore and just creating a cleaner overall appearance for the aquatic center and better visibility for our lifeguards, which is really important."

The changes also meant more square footage for members of all ages; more modern, kid-friendly features; and a cleaner, safer pool entry space, according to a fact sheet emailed to Kroc members.

Now, Houston said, "we're able to offer a wider variety of swim lessons because the space is opened up a little more. And we can offer a wider variety of water-fitness classes, because we're able to move the swim lessons to other areas of the pool."

"Our members reacted well to the changes. They say the space is much more useful now."

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