10 tips to Build Your Own Watsu / Therapy Pool

Building your own therapy pool is the best way to explore Watsu and Aquatic Bodywork. These therapies are recommended as part of a recovery program for injuries, aches, pains, anxiety and stress, leading to an increase in patient wellbeing and health.

There are important differences between a Watsu pool and an ordinary swimming pool you need to consider:

  • Depth: The pool ideally should be 120cm deep.
  • Temperature: A Watsu pool is heated to 35 degrees and is kept in the shade.
  • Cleanliness: Using UV and free-radical hydrogen to kill bacteria, the water quality of a Watsu pool is pristine, chemical-free with good circulation systems.

Before you begin to build your own Watsu or hydro therapy pool, here are a few points that will help you to avoid costly mistakes

Which Therapy Pool style?

There are so many options available to you when considering which pool is suited to your needs. You can divide your options, however, into two categories:

  • In ground pools
  • Above ground pools

In ground pools can look impressive and will come in a variety of different shapes and systems. Prices start from $10,000 and reach in excess of $1,000,000. Above ground pools are more restricted in terms of the choice available to you, however this should not deter you. Prices range from $2000 up to $50,000, plus it is always possible to add decking included in the above mentioned cost which can hide the structure of the pool. 

Optimal size for your Therapy Pool

How many people will use the pool at the same time? If you are solo operator then a 5 metre (check number) diameter or 3.50m x 3.50m pool holding 15,000 litres of water will suffice. This will allow enough room to manoeuvre your clients without fear of them brushing the sides of the pool. Depth of water is very important. The average depth of a pool is 1.20 metres. If you have a below ground pool it will be easier to vary the depth, allowing for practitioners different heights. Curved walls are more preferable to corners. The energy flow in a pool with curves lasts longer and is therefore more efficient. As an estimate you can multiply the usage for a single person. E.g. 2 people working together = 30,000 litres in a 7m x 3.50m pool.

Location of your Therapy Pool

It is essential you carefully consider the location of your Watsu pool. If you decide to use a solar heating system, then positioning your site to face the south-west will give you the optimum amount of sunlight necessary to properly heat your pool. Another consideration is to use solar mats during the day and heat pumps at night to maintain a constant temperature. Remember, the temperature of the water should ideally be 34 degree Celsius. Any mistakes made at this stage could cost you thousands of pounds in heating bills. Climate conditions also apply. I use black solar mats with a fully insulated pool and a heat pump. Different countries have different tariffs for electricity,   so it depends where you are. You will also need to consider wind direction, constructing a wind shield to prevent heat loss and to minimise intrusion from airborne particles.

Infrastructure for your Pool

You may have done some research already on the many different types of heating, filtration and water sanitisation systems that are available, but do not forget power supply. Make sure there is 3 phase power where possible. If you have to run on single phase electric power there may be restrictions to the size of pool you can maintain. The bigger the pool, the higher the energy consumption, and single phase power cables will limit the size of your operation.

Clean Water Supply 

Make sure you have a reliable and clean water source. If you are using well water check the acidity. Your pool water should be balanced at ph7.2 for efficient water sanitisation.

Designing your Wastu / Therapy Pool

Again this will depend on how many people you intend to work with in your pool. Here are a few pointers to remember:

  • Don’t place your solar panels facing north (south-west is best)
  • Do make sure your filter is oversized (to cope with excess waterborne debris)
  • Do make sure you have adequate sanitation
  • Do implement two separate heat sources
  • Do have a back-up water pump as a contingency
  • Don’t leave your pool uncovered
  • Do insulate your pool if above ground

Pool Filters

Filters are designed to remove small particles of dirt from your pool. There are two different types of filters, including many different types of material you can fill them with.

Cartridge Versus Sand Pool Filters

A cartridge filter does not need to be back-washed to keep it clean. This will cut down on the amount of water you have to use, however the cartridge is costly and has an environmental impact in terms of disposal. Sand, therefore, is cheaper but it will need back-washing after use to clean the sand particles.

Pool Pump

You will need to do your math’s here. If you are using solar power to heat your water there is a good chance the solar panels will be balanced higher than the pool. Ensure the pump has enough power to move the water, but not so much that the water moves too quickly through the filter. 

Your goal is to correctly circulate the water through your filter every day. You may opt for a variable speed pump, for example, if you are not using solar power at night, allowing you to reduce the pressure coming from your pump. Unlike a conventional pool you will most likely be running your pump all the time – therefore doubling up on your pump would be a sound investment.

Pool Sanitisation

A Watsu pool is heated to 35 degrees Celsius, perfect conditions for bacteria growth. We all remember using local swimming baths and emerging with streaming red eyes due to the amount of chlorine used. Times have changed.

You do not want to expose your skin or your clients to such harsh chemicals. It is usual to employ a few different methods in your fight against bacteria. I use UV and hydrogen free radicals to eliminate bacteria but you still may have to add H2o2 to the water. There are many different options available to you.I would recommend like the heating you use 2 systems to sanitise your water.

Therapy Pool Ph. Levels

Typically, your water will either be too alkaline-based or too acidic, commonly referred to as Ph. For your water sanitisation to work to optimum levels of efficiency you need to keep your water at ph.7.2 0 (this is neutral). Check your water daily. You’ll find there are many ph. testing kits on the market. Once you have ascertained the ph. level of the water in your pool, you can either add acid if the ph. is too high (7.2 and above) or pot ash if the ph. level is below 7.2.

Watsu / Therapy Pool Maintenance

Please remember that heated therapy pools need constant attention because of the high temperatures of the water. Pool owners have often likened their pools to having a young child who needs constant supervision but the results are well worth the effort.

Do not hesitate to contact us for more advice on building your own aqua therapy pool.


building a watsu pool

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