Harmonizing Wellness With Nature's Wisdom

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Logo Header 65fc64715cdd3 664cddfb2a068Joël-Eric Mignault had been working in the pool industry for eight years when he was the victim of a chemical explosion. He lost his breathing capacity, sense of smell, and sense of taste. 

Screenshot 2024 03 21 At 1 03 29 Pm 65fc767c557e6 664cddfb36e3f"I felt stupid for having these chemicals explode in my face," he says, with a slight laugh now that the accident is 30 years behind him. That is when he began his journey of pool and spa industry education. Fast forward 15 years to when he discovered the concept of biomimicry and how it can be adapted to pool and spa operations.

With this new insight, Mignault developed a new business model for his company, the Quebec-based JEM Arte & Agua: "Give back life to water to give back health to people."

BIOMIMICRY AT WORK

Mignault's study of biomimicry began with the work of Viktor Schauberger, an Austrian forester from the first half of the 20th century who is sometimes referred to as the Master of Water. Schauberger's motto was, "Observe, comprehend, and imitate nature."

In the pool, spa, and hot tub industry, much of the equipment and chemicals used are already trying to imitate nature. "UV light is the sun, ozone treatment is the sky, and water that flows through the ground percolates, and that percolation is filtration," Mignault says.

At JEM Arte & Agua, Mignault's team treats their clients' water differently. "We're not reinventing the wheel," he says, "but we look at the way pool equipment is normally aligned, and we change the alignment to be a more natural way of treating water. At the end of the day, we maintain perfect water quality with up to 70% less chemicals. Our clients could drink the water out of their pools."

He explained that a properly working pool is like the human body. There are core parts that the human body needs in order to function: the heart, the lungs, the arteries. Pools also have core parts, but biomimicry doesn't take away from the pool's core. "There are up to 10 pieces of equipment and technology combined together to make a pool 100% biomimicry oriented," he says. "Clients can start with three of those, and we can always add on later if they want. We know how the technologies will affect the results at the end of the day, and we know how to compensate for the parts that the client doesn't choose."

Mignault highlights the importance of understanding the physics behind the equipment before making these changes, though. He has taken the tools and calculations he learned through GENESIS pool construction and engineering courses, such as flow charts and velocity, but changed the mathematics slightly to get the health-oriented results he wants.

Sparkling and well-ordered equipment pad built by the team at JEM Arte & Agua.Sparkling and well-ordered equipment pad built by the team at JEM Arte & Agua.

HEALTH THROUGH WATER

As Mignault's fellow GENESIS instructor Kirk Bianchi explained in the March 2024 issue of AQUA Magazine, the word "spa" is actually an acronym for the Latin phrase Sanitas Per Aquam, or Health through Water.

Mignault took this phrase to heart during the pandemic, when he began the entrepreneurial pursuit of creating the "Formula 1 of spas," which he now calls the VIKTOR series — in recognition of the inspiration he received from Viktor Schauberger.

"When we step into water, we bring 200 million microorganisms with us that will be floating on top of the water," Mignault says. The average spa or hot tub design has a skimmer in one corner that filters any floating debris, but all VIKTOR spas have a perimeter overflow with a Lautner edge design. "There is no skimmer; the entire surrounding is a skimmer," he explains. "With the perimeter overflow, those microorganisms are getting out right away."

Additionally, Mignault's spas incorporate color therapy, isochrone music, aromatherapy, microbubbles, and nanobubbles.

Nanobubble technology came to North America from Japan in the early 2000s. Athletes, such as football players, would soak in nanospas to treat injured limbs. They started to notice that if, for example, they only soaked their injured leg rather than both legs, the injured leg that was being treated in the spa had a healthier skin texture and physical appearance.

"Nanospa water looks like milk," Mignault explains, "but what you're looking at is oxygen. It's like putting yourself in a hyperbaric chamber. The water itself is applying pressure on the body, and since there is extra oxygen in the water, that oxygen permeates your skin and makes a complete detoxification."

Mignault's spas can take it to quite an extreme level of milkiness, but they also have a microbubble setting where the bubbles release from the floor of the spa to aid in relaxation. "It's a more sensorial experience," Mignault says. "It gives you goosebumps."

There are also four color zones for chromotherapy, as well as small peristaltic pumps that can send in a variety of odors, such as eucalyptus, for olfactory stimulation.

One piece that Mignault is very proud of is that the shell of the VIKTOR spa itself is a speaker. There are no outside speakers. When you lie down in the hammock of the spa, your head is partially underwater, and you can hear the music that way. "Water is more conductive than air, so the sound is brought to your internal ear from your skull. It brings specific frequencies to your ear that puts your brain into many stages of relaxation."

Mignault's VITKOR spas, with perimeter overflow and a Lautner edge, create a unique and compelling look.Mignault's VITKOR spas, with perimeter overflow and a Lautner edge, create a unique and compelling look.

WELLNESS EDUCATION

After Mignault's chemical accident early in his career, he didn't want his employees or his clients to be physically injured by the presence of hazardous chemicals like he was. He wanted to become more educated in proper handling and storage, so he earned his Certified Pool & Spa Operator (CPO) certification. Shortly thereafter, when attending a trade show in Atlantic City, N.J., to complete his CPO Instructor training, he met GENESIS Co-founder Brian Van Bower.

As Mignault began to take GENESIS courses, what really stood out to him were the stories from instructors like Bianchi and Feras Irikat. "Before I bought their technique, I bought their story," he explains. "That's what made them very good teachers and communicators. The storytelling they brought to the table was giving credit to my story, and my story was giving credit to their story."

Now, Mignault is a Certified Master Pool Builder & Design Professional (Master CBP), having completed more than 300 hours of GENESIS courses.

He has also found a way to merge the ideas from Schauberger and the concepts from GENESIS into his own success story. "Our success rate with signing a new client is 97%," he says proudly. "The added value is not immediately tangible, but when you talk about health, you get people's attention."

This year, GENESIS is focusing on developing new curriculum centered on wellness. Bianchi will continue to expand on this topic in this series in AQUA Magazine; GENESIS Design Faculty Chair Paul John Boulifard led a webinar for the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) this spring on the scientific power of water and its healing properties; and the entire faculty is looking forward to premiering new courses at the fall trade shows.

"I have been attending the industry trade show in Lyon, France, since 1998, and the Europeans already had an entire area of the show dedicated to wellness back then," Mignault says. "Today, there is a great opportunity for GENESIS education to be the leader in incorporating wellness into our industry. There are ways to make wellness a part of every step of the process, from construction and engineering to design. We can show students a new business approach that emphasizes the role Mother Nature plays, and how the equipment we use impacts the health and wellness of our clients."

The shell of the VIKTOR spa is itself a speaker that vibrates to produce sound which is then conducted through the water to the bather.The shell of the VIKTOR spa is itself a speaker that vibrates to produce sound which is then conducted through the water to the bather.

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