(SPOT.ph) Here at SPOT.ph, we're pretty big on fun workouts that don't actually feel like workouts. Sweating it out through laser tag, appreciating the great outdoors through hiking, and hitting the dance floor? Count us in! This is true for swimming, too. This cardio workout that doubles as full-body exercise burns A LOT of calories that you have every excuse to do some carbo-loading right after. Convinced already?
Since not all of us have easy access to private pools, we scoured the Metro for public-access pools that are perfect for your next sesh. We also ranked them based on pool size, cleanliness, crowd volume, value for money, and accessibility; and disregarded the ones that we'd rather have not seen.
All SPOT.ph Top 10 lists are researched, paid for, tested, and selected by the writers and editors. They are discreetly conducted without any notice made to the facilities or their owners.
10. Ace Water Spa - Pasig
United corner Brixton Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig City
Fee: P600 for four hours
Open from Sunday to Thursday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and from Friday to Saturday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Ace Water Spa, which boasts temperature-controlled indoor pools, can be very crowded on the weekends. This means having to deal with swimmers who cut in front of you mid-stroke or couples hanging in the middle of a properly labeled "non-stop" swimming lane. Be ready to share the lane with up to six swimmers at a time since the rest of the 25-meter, 4.3-foot lap pool is reserved for either recreational swimmers or swimming lessons for kids. But if you don't mind the influx of people and poor crowd control, its hydrotherapy facilities and separate children's pool are worth a visit. Relax your tired muscles on the Bubble Bed and Bubble Pool or lie down under the various types of Jet Massages. You can also take a dip in the hot herbal pools scented with mint, lavender, or jasmine. The 600-peso entrance fee, which is valid for four hours, comes with the use of a hot-and-cold shower.
How to get there: Ride a jeep bound for Pasig from EDSA - Shaw, then get off in Kapitolyo.
9. Amoranto Sports Complex
140 Don A. Roces Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City
Open from Tuesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (with lunch break from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.)
There aren't a lot of public pools in the north side of Metro Manila; and if you're looking for a 50-meter lap pool, Amoranto Sports Complex is your only option. It's right beside a public theater that's used for church service, so expect to hear praise songs during your drills. Having the cheapest admission fee on the list also means dealing with a less chlorinated pool (not exactly a good thing for public facilities) and communal showers with weak water pressure. But still, triathletes and freedivers train here for its length and varying depth from four to six feet. The Sports Complex has a lot of entry points, and it's best to enter through Gate 5.
How to get there: Ride a jeep bound for Cubao - Roces from EDSA-Aurora Boulevard.
8. Patio Isabel Resort
Block 2 Lot 2 Sacred Heart Village, Novaliches, Quezon City
Open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
As a privately owned resort, Patio Isabel charges a 150-peso entrance fee. This can be steep, considering that it doesn't have an Olympic-sized swimming pool. However, the facility makes up for it by providing clean showers and toilets, a 25-meter lap pool with clear water, and a small round pool for the little ones. It's also a good spot for family outings since tables and chairs are included in your fee.
How to get there: Patio Isabel Resort is a 10-minute walk from Fairview Terraces.
7. Lourdes School of Mandaluyong
Shaw Boulevard, Greenhills, Mandaluyong City
Fee: P100 for half-day stay
Open to the public every Saturday and Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with lunch break from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
Lourdes School of Mandaluyong, a private school for boys, allows the public to use their pool facilities on weekends. The P100 fee, however, is only good for half a day, either from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. or from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Not a lot of people frequent this place so you can maximize your swimming session at the 25-by-15-meter pool, which has a depth of four feet in both sides and six feet in the middle. Their in-house coaches also offer adult swimming lessons (P4,500 for 10 sessions) during the summer. There are only a handful of toilets and shower cubicles beside the pool area, but since it's housed within a private school-expect that they are well-maintained.
How to get there: Lourdes School of Mandaluyong is a 10-minute walk from MRT Shaw Station.
6. Ateneo Grade School
Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City
Open to the public every Saturday and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (with lunch break from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
On weekends, Ateneo de Manila Grade School opens its swimming pool to the public. And since not a lot of people know about this, you can swim a whole lap without bumping into other swimmers. The distance (25 meters) and depth (from 3.5 feet to 4.5 feet), however, may be too easy for you-it is a kids' pool, after all, and toddlers often take their swimming lessons here. There are more than enough decent toilets, shower cubicles, and dressing rooms. The downside is that getting there can be tricky on Sundays when only the main gate of the university is open-the long walk, however, can be a good warm up.
How to get there: Walk from LRT-Katipunan Station to Esteban Abada Street, and take a tricycle going to Ateneo de Manila University.
5. Marikina Sports Complex
Jacamar Street, Santa Elena, Marikina City
Open from Tuesday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (with lunch break from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.). It extends its hours from March to early June with operations from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Public pools that offer night swimming are a bit hard to come by in the Metro, and Marikina Sports Center resolves this by opening their doors for an extra slot from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.-at least for the summer season. The swimming pool is half-covered, which means the shade from the roof depends a lot on the time of day that you're there. Though it's Olympic-sized, swimmers go for the 25-meter distance instead of the usual 50-meter lane with a depth varying from three feet to five feet. It's a big plus that more people can swim back and forth at a time, but the lack of line floaters can be a problem if you're aiming for a full lap. Showers and toilets are not squeaky clean, but the number of cubicles is enough to accommodate everyone. Since there are also outdoor showers right beside the pool, lifeguards are strict about rinsing off before getting into the water. Lockers are available for P10-just bring your own padlock.
How to get there: Ride a jeepney bound for SSS Village from EDSA-Aurora Boulevard.
4. Rizal Memorial Sports Complex
Pablo Ocampo Street, Malate, Manila
Open from Tuesday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (with lunch break from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
The pre-war Art Deco-inspired Rizal Memorial Sports Complex houses the training facilities for most of our national athletes, from a weightlifting gym to a track oval. So it doesn't come as a surprise that they don't easily allow walk-ins into their swimming pools. But if you do wish to train alongside competitive swimmers and avoid the crowd, you can just type up a letter of request addressed to Merlito Ibay (Executive Director of the Philippine Sports Commission) citing why you need to use their facilities-whether you want to take swimming lessons through their in-house coaches (P4,500 for 10 sessions) or train for an upcoming aquathlon. Just make sure you let their coaches know if it's the latter. Processing takes less than a day and once you get their approval, you're good to use the well-maintained Olympic-sized (50-by-25 meters) swimming pool for the rest of the year. Aside from the lap pool (which has a varying depth from five to seven feet), there's also the four-foot pool and a 17-foot diving pool. It's also the easiest public pool to get to if you're commuting, being just right beside an LRT station. If not for that extra step to use their facility, Rizal Memorial Sports Complex would have made a podium finish.
How to get there: Ride the LRT to Vito Cruz Station.
3. PhilSports Complex (ULTRA)
Capt. Henry Javier Street corner Martin Street, Pasig City
Open from Tuesday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (with lunch break from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
With its location in the middle of Metro Manila, PhilSports Arena (formerly known as University of Life Theater and Recreational Arena or ULTRA) in Pasig City is a favorite among Manilenyos looking to let off some steam-whether through jogging at the track oval or doing some laps in their Olympic-sized outdoor swimming pool. Swimmers may have to share the lane with up to two other people since the rest of the pool is occupied by groups of athletes training for their next competition or students taking basic lessons. The six-foot dip in the middle of the pool helps in pushing you to complete the 50-meter lap and go back to a shallower depth as soon as you can. The communal showers can definitely use some scrubbing. Lockers are available for rent at P20.
Note: Effective March 14, 2019, PhilSports Arena is temporarily closed to the public to make way for renovation.
How to get there: Ride a jeepney bound for Binangonan or Antipolo from EDSA-Shaw.
2. Philippine Army Gym
Lawton Avenue corner Bayani Road, Western Bicutan, Taguig City
Fee: P100 for day; P125 for night swimming
Open from Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (with daily lunch break from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
Expect to see paddlers practicing for their next rowing competition on the sides or pro-swimmers speeding through a lap when you drop by the Philippine Army Gym. It is housed within a military facility, after all, and anything less than perfect is just off the table. Line floaters and starting blocks are only installed when there's a competition; otherwise, trust fellow swimmers to follow the lanes and recreational swimmers to stay on one side. The pool's depth stars at four feet and progresses to six feet, adding a bit of a challenge to your practice session. Running water can be weak when someone's taking a shower in the stall beside you, so patience is key. There are no lockers and bleachers, but one side of the pool has benches under a tent for spectators. Or you can just leave your things in your car (if you brought one), since there's plenty of parking space, too. The Philippine Army Gym also houses a picnic area with tables and chairs, a children's playground, and indoor courts for basketball, badminton, and volleyball-making sure that there's something for everyone.
How to get there: Ride a jeepney bound for AFP/PNP Housing-Guadalupe from Guadalupe MRT Station (northbound side).
1. Makati Aqua Sports Arena
Dr Jose P. Rizal Extension, West Rembo, Makati City
Fee: P50 for Makati residents, P150 for non-residents
Open from Tuesday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; every Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and every Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (with lunch break from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.)
For a city-owned facility, Makati Aqua Sports Arena is surprisingly spic-and-span. The staff is always around to maintain the cleanliness of its surroundings, from the spectator bleachers to the shower rooms. It has an outdoor 50-meter, five-foot lap pool with eight diving blocks and lanes separated by line floaters. This means being able to practice your swimming techniques with people aware of lane courtesy (Read: Keep right). But if you're out there to play and just wade around, no need to worry-a section of the lap pool is reserved for recreational swimmers. There's also a separate three-foot pool for the kids (and even kids-at-heart). There are no lockers, but leaving your belongings on the benches is generally safe.
How to get there: Ride a jeepney bound for Pateros from Guadalupe MRT Station (northbound side).
BONUS: Vermosa Sports Hub
Daang Hari Road corner Vermosa Boulevard, Imus, Cavite
Open daily from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Technically outside Metro Manila, Vermosa Sports Hub is still worth a visit if you're from the South. It opened its doors in March 2018 and was launched as a one-stop shop equipped with an Olympic-sized swimming pool, an international-standard track oval, and a store for fitness and sporting goods. At P300 for four hours, the entrance fee to the lap pool can be expensive. But that's a price to pay if you want to experience a 10-lane, 50-meter pool with Anti Wave Starting Blocks-which are also used at the Olympics, FINA World Cup, and other international swimming competitions. Discounted rates are also available for Vermosa Sports Hub members.
This story originally appeared on Spot.ph.
Minor edits have been made by the SPIN.ph editors.