We Tried It: Swim Lessons with Fitness Alive

This newly expanded, South Philly-based swim school gets two Wee thumbs up Read more


My five year old can’t swim.

I chalk this up to an apprehensive disposition, the fact that she’s growing up in the city, and, well, me — I don’t really love pools myself. (Sidenote: My mother-in-law is an Olympic swimmer. She has a medal. Seriously. I can only image how she feels about this sitch.)

It’s time for her to learn.

Sasha had taken private lessons with Holly Waters a few years ago, and she is an awesome instructor, but we weren’t very consistent and Sasha wasn’t quite ready. Holly has expanded her business by leaps and bounds since then and now has a full-fledged swimming program, Fitness Alive, with nine instructors (and counting!) and a full menu of classes. The classes run out of Fitness Works in South Philly, but they can come to your pool, too. 

Here’s what we loved about our experience: First, the class sizes are capped. The Tadpoles (Level 1) has three kids, Goldfish (Level 2) has four kids, and Dolphins (Level 3) has five kids. Sasha got a ton of one-on-one attention and didn’t have to spend a lot of time waiting for her turn. (Momentum is key here, with these fidgety kids.) Next, the class is 30 minutes long, which felt like just the right amount of time to us. (See: fidgety kids.) Also, the sessions are six weeks long, so we didn’t feel like we were making some huge, weekend-altering commitment. Lastly, the teachers are really great. Not just great swim teachers, but great with the kids. And that can make or break an experience like this for the littles. (Note: they also do private and semi-private lessons and those have been popular, too.)

I chatted with the Fitness Alive team, and they’ve been busy. The next session is already sold out, but they expect to release sign-ups for Sessions C (which runs from July 9th through August 19th) soon. And new for this summer, they are adding a few “intensive” options, which are four or five classes in a row for one week. The idea here is to get kids swimming faster and that you don’t have to worry about busting up Shore weekends.

How did Sasha fare? Really well. She’s putting her head under and backstroking (with a kickboard) across the pool. Most importantly, for us, she is way more comfortable in the water and will only improve from here. Tokyo 2020, here we come.

(Full disclosure: My pal Emily Leaman is Holly’s partner and helped expand Fitness Alive. But I loved my experience and would have written about it regardless.)