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Contextualizing an aquatic fitness product to fit today’s fitness regimen.


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An exercise pole for the water is the newest aquatic fitness craze in Italy.

Acquapole takes advantage of the benefits of working out in the water, and combines it with novelty equipment for an energized experience that participants love.

Our objective was to bring Acquapole to the U.S.

understanding fitness culture

Describing culture’s increased fixation on fitness as a “healthy obsession” is contradictory.

Over the last five years, Americans have become obsessed with fitness, and the 43 million #fitspo posts on Instagram is enough to prove it. Individuals of all ages are transforming their day-to-day to pursue a fit and active lifestyle. 

Everyone wants to be a success story, but at what price? Whether it’s sharing routines, personal “transformations”, or a post-workout update, each post tells a story of a more punishing workout than the last.

Even the most common motivational quotes reveal the fitness community’s advocacy of punishment.

Here are my #fitspo favorites as illustrated by Terry Crews:

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We’re pushing ourselves too hard and our bodies are paying for it.

Our bodies can’t handle the limits we’re pushing towards, frequently resulting in burnout, or worse, physical injury. The cost can impact both our wallets and our well-being especially as we continue to age.

The prevalence of health conditions associated with older ages are getting younger. As it stands, currently nearly 2 million people under the age of 45 and 6 million people between 45 and 64 have symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. (Deshpande 2016) Additionally, one study projected that more than 50 percent of total hip replacements will be performed in patients younger than 65 by 2030. (Kurtz 2009)


our water aerobics experience

At 8am on a Monday morning, we made our way to the gym for a water aerobics class with our water aerobics instructor, Cody. We learned that at a university of over 30,000 students and 20,000 employees, it was hard for Cody to get even more than three people to sign up for water aerobics, including the evening classes. When they do sign up, “it’s a more senior crowd,” he said.

Our Water Aerobics Journey Map:

The insights:

1. The pool gets attention for being an amenity, not a fitness destination.

We took a look at what types of aquatic fitness programs were given the spotlight at fitness facilities. These fitness clubs touted having a pool, but did not offer more than the early morning water aerobics class or at most, a water Zumba class.

Fitness clubs, personal trainers, and physical therapists have shaped the perception of aquatic fitness to be for the injured and the elderly, and it has seriously impacted who chooses to participate.  The realization that a low impact, high resistance workout can be incorporated into a routine for the uninjured and the non-elderly has yet to make it’s claim to fame.

2. Fitstagrammers are dedicated to goals that are in a constant state of redefinition: their discipline is rooted in consistency.

We followed the Instagram accounts of active members within the fitness community to understand what dedication looks like to them and their followers. These Fitstagram accounts were of users who posted at least once to three times daily, had over 1,000 followers, and used hashtags associated with lifting, nutrition, CrossFit, etc.

They frequently hit the reset button on their diets, routines, and goals, and encourage others to do the same. They want to continue to push themselves, but must do so by successfully navigating between boredom and burnout.

3. Once they get the hang of the “pool prep”, those who get into the water, stay in the water.

Within fitness forums, we gauged interest of getting in the water for the purpose of fitness, not sport. We read recent posts from Reddit users with a variety of goals from gaining muscle to losing weight. Even with varying fitness goals, users most commonly posted to ask for clarification on pool etiquette, suggestions for proper swim technique, and recommendations on how to manage getting in and out of the pool. The requests for help and opinions online have one objective in mind: to get back in the water for a better workout than the last.

However, the main barrier of entering the pool is the Pool Prep: the routine created for both before and after getting into the pool. This includes remembering to pack a pool towel, a shower towel, change of clothes, shower flip flops, soap, shampoo and conditioner. The gear is also part of pool prep since users have to consider if their swimsuit it too revealing, and that their cap and goggles fit just right. Although pool prep is burdensome, for most, it’s worth getting into the water for.

I started swimming laps and it just clicked with me. I feel compelled to swim.
— - Reddit User

THE Objective

Establish an aquatic fitness facility that overcomes the current perception of aquatic fitness.

the result

Introducing Aqua Fit, a specialized aquatic fitness facility. 

An aquatic fitness facility located in Denver, CO features workouts centered on the Acquapole and its accessories. Aqua Fit merges together the endurance of a high intensity workout with the tranquility of the water, and is designed to challenge people of all shapes, sizes and abilities. Regardless of fitness level, there is an Aqua Fit workout for everyone. We’ve created an environment that accommodates the entire experience of participating in a water aerobics program, from entering the water to exiting the building.

the brand values

  • Well-being
  • Passion
  • Transformation

the brand strategy 

The most gratifying workout.

the target


the branD IDENTITY

The Aqua Fit brand identity captures the kinetic energy of water with sleek and powerful imagery.  

Two logos were created for Aqua Fit's brand identity: one for official signage, and another lock up for commercial use. 


the in store experience

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The Aqua Fit interior replicates the brand identity with clean lines, white space, and powerful motivational imagery related to water. 

The front reception area is intended for checking in and is adjacent to a small retail area for branded merchandise. This front area is isolated by a hallway that acts as a barrier to help regulate the humidity to prevent getting slapped in the face with the smell of chlorine. 

The locker room is modeled after the locker rooms of luxury fitness studios. The floors are tiled with durable, easy-to-clean drainage matting that helps keep floors from staying wet in between mops. The locker rooms also feature multiple spin-dry stations that allow patrons to quickly dry their wet swimsuits. 

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To alleviate the pain points associated with the "Pool Prep", Aqua Fit provides a complimentary pack of toiletries for each fitness session purchased. These Aqua Fit branded shampoos, conditioners, and soaps create an opportunity for a partnership with a skincare brand for additional exposure and revenue. 



As a way to increase revenue, exposure, and loyalty, we created Aqua Fit merchandise including swimsuits, swim caps, towels, totes and water bottles. 

For messaging, a similar tone is used for the merchandise as it is inside the Aqua Fit facility, but the voice is a bit more playful to help elicit intrigue. 



The Aqua Fit website features more information about Aqua Fit, including the benefits of adding low impact, high resistance workouts into the average fitness routine. How-to's, reviews, class description and schedules are also available both on desktop and online. 

Scheduling classes is easy. Users can select a date, type of class, and sign up with a phone number. Class selection also shows how many poles are available to reserve. 

the team

Chelsea Sams, Creative Brand Manager
Hieu Nguyen, Creative Brand Manager
Annie Shepard, Art Director
Brendan Howard, Copywriter
Michael "Moose" Musatow, Experience Designer