November 14, 2013 | Volume 43, Number 45

Residents, borough warm up to possible sauna at pool

In an attempt to increase usership and revenue at the pool, the Haines Borough is setting up exercise equipment in the facility’s solarium and looking at installing a sauna.

  The treadmill and elliptical were put in the solarium about a month ago to draw people to the pool for reasons other than swimming. Pool manager RaeAnn Galasso said the pool is seeking more equipment to add to the room – another treadmill, a stationary bike, some free weights – and will trade a 20-punch pool pass for functional donations.

  “There’s certainly a need for an indoor recreation center that isn’t necessarily swimming,” Galasso said.

While open gym at the school offers a weight room and activities like volleyball and basketball, its late-night hours are often prohibitive to attendance, she said. “Open gym for some people is hard to hit at those times. We have kind of better hours than open gym for sure.”

Executive assistant to the manager Darsie Culbeck is also researching the possibility of installing a sauna at the pool. The estimated cost is $5,000 to $7,000.

  “To date, we have done some research on saunas, determined possible spaces, spoken with the fire department, our insurance company and public works,” Culbeck said.

  Hot yoga classes are held a few times a week in the upper deck area, and the idea is people might come to the pool to exercise on the equipment, take a yoga class or have a sauna, which they would have to pay the regular user fee to do, Culbeck said.

Galasso has been informally polling pool users about whether they would use a sauna if one were installed. More than 50 people have signed a sheet at the pool indicating their desire for a sauna, she said.

“I think it would bring in users we don’t see, a whole group of adults in the evening that we don’t get. I think this community is way overdue for a sauna. It’s so healthy,” she said.

  Galasso also tossed around the idea of a hot tub, but the maintenance and operational costs would just be too great, she said.

  Once the word gets out about the equipment in the solarium, Galasso hopes more users will start rolling in. The elliptical hasn’t been a great success, so she is hoping another treadmill gets donated so people can exercise in pairs.

  “(The elliptical) is not the biggest hit, so we are being selective on the donated material at this point. We really want it to be something people want to use,” she said.