You wouldn’t believe how sore I am today after doing it in the pool.
Yep, I love it in the water.
Aerobics, that is.
I am an aqua aerobics convert and no one is more surprised than me.
Aqua, water aerobics, aquafit, call it what you will, is a great work out alternative to traditional fitness classes.
Despite the stigma of being a pastime for the older generation and those recovering post-op or injury, water-based exercise classes offer a lot of benefits for people of all ages and fitness levels.
Have you ever wondered why footballers are often shown training in the pool or ocean? That’s because exercising in water provides an added level of resistance while being low impact.
Fitness instructor Kelli-Anne Mackley explains that aqua is a beneficial form of exercise for the whole body. “Aqua is great for improving cardiovascular health, improving fitness levels and strengthening various muscles whilst moving in the resistance of water.”
Because training in the water has very little impact on joints, you are able to twist, turn, stretch and even sprint without putting unnecessary stress on your body. “I love being in the water and pushing my body to new limits,” says Mackley.
As with most other fitness programs, aqua classes are available in a range of intensity and experience levels. There are low intensity classes designed to stretch and tone muscles, circuit classes to build general fitness and high intensity cardio classes such as boot camp. There is even Zumba in the water!
Many aqua classes incorporate equipment such as noodles, kickboards and aqua-dumbbells to enhance the work out. Classes are usually held in a standard swimming pool with participants recommended to be in chest level water. “Deep” classes are carried out in water where participants can’t touch the bottom but wear bouyancy belts or straddle a pool noodle. The deeper the water, the greater the water resistance and benefits of a full body workout.
I initially started aqua aerobics when a back injury inhibited my ability to do yoga. Not usually a fan of group fitness classes, I was immediately drawn to aqua for a number of reasons:
- Working out in the water means you don’t get hot and sweaty. I always feel cool and refreshed after a workout even though I’ve worked hard.
- The low impact nature of aqua means that I can do exercises I previously haven’t been up for such as running and interval training. The added buoyancy of the water also helps with balance and stretches.
- Working out in chest level water means that no one can see how uncoordinated I truly am! If it takes me a few reps to get the hang of a particular sequence, there is no public humiliation.
- Although the prospect of working out in a swimming costume was initially intimidating, underwater no one can see all those jiggly bits!
- I have definitely seen the benefits of aqua for my general fitness and body tone. I’ve lost weight, have improved core and upper body strength, as well as noticing increased flexibility in and out of the water.
While at 35 I am in the younger cohort of attendees at my local aquatic centre, I am definitely not alone among a sea of grey at my classes. The benefits of water fitness for people with impaired movement or health issues are clear but that doesn’t mean it’s just for oldies. The ability to complete a full body workout at whatever intensity level suits your needs is a great advantage of aqua for all ages.
So, if you are considering structured fitness classes or are just looking for something new to mix up your existing exercise routine, check out your local aqua options.
You may find you like doing it in the water as much as I do.
Would you give aqua aerobics a try?
Image of the US synchronised swimming team performing at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, sadly not Renee’s actual aqua class.