A Workout for a Wounded Warrior

A swim spa helps a California veteran

In a previous life, John Trzcinka, owner of Dimension One Spas of San Diego, spent many years as a road warrior. He cops to already being a “big guy,” but the sales lifestyle — think fast food and long car trips — was weighing on him, quite literally. A former football player with an arthritic back and bad knees, Trzcinka has added himself to his list of walking swim-spa advertisements.

“I started working out [in a swim spa] at the beginning of 2010,” he says, “and I dropped almost 50 pounds initially.” Though he admits he’s gained some of that back, Trzcinka says people seeking these kinds of health improvements “are absolutely the main demographic” for his swim spas — who, frankly, are desperate to reverse declining health.

Because of the natural buoyancy of water, aquatic exercises are easy on the body yet still provide an excellent weight-bearing activity. For this reason, a swim spa is a smart choice for individuals whose weight has created health problems such as difficulty moving around, shortness of breath and high blood pressure. Aquatic exercise will help build heart and lung capacity and muscle strength without the side effect of painful joints. Adding aquatic equipment such as buoyancy belts, weights designed to be used underwater, and Water Walkers will increase muscle mass faster and burn more calories than the same exercises done on land.

In 1991, Benjamin Salaski was serving in Desert Storm. He was wounded when a Scud hit barracks housing the 447th Transportation Company, killing 28 fellow soldiers and wounding many others. In the years following, his weight ballooned to 320 pounds.

“The Salaskis were our very first sale when we got started,” Trzcinka says. “We’re in San Diego and they’re in Pennsylvania, so we did this completely over the phone and through our website.” They never met each other, but they’re “like family,” he explains.

Formerly a high-school swimmer, Salaski, 52, is classified as 100% disabled and says the water is “really the only place I can exercise.” He goes into the swim spa (theirs is the 5-feet-deep AquaPro 19) every day after work, working on upper body and leg strength.

His renewed flexibility allowed him to return to work part-time, parking cars. “I come home and immediately go in the swim spa and stretch,” he says. His wife, kids and grandkids also use it: In fact, his kids built and insulated the deck around his swim spa, which is enclosed.

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“We had a $6,000 exercise room, and found ourselves enjoying the pool so much more,” says Salaski’s wife, Sandy. “I would like to see more swim spas at the VA where I work.”

After delivery, Trzcinka includes six weeks of in-home training sessions with a personal trainer. Offering this additional perk is well worth it to get people in the habit of working out.

“I don’t want the swim spa to become like the pool table and Ping-Pong table in the garage,” he says. “Once we’ve got it delivered, we need it to have the best chance for success.”

Trzcinka calls Sandy, 44, “a true advocate” for swim spas. Sandy says Trzcinka’s enthusiasm inspired her in kind. “It started with my husband needing to do therapy,” she says, “and it became something I felt very strongly about.”

On her own time and for no pay, Sandy speaks to people on the phone about swim spas and has had a few people over to her home to test it out. “They ended up purchasing a spa from a dealer near us,” she says. “We couldn’t get them out of our tub.”

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