Maybe you’ve heard about aqua aerobics, but aren’t quite sure how to get started. Maybe it’s the mental image of a bunch of smiling people standing in the water waving their arms that makes you think it might not be a fit for you. But did you know that marathoners use aqua aerobics to cross train? If you try it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised, and here are some thoughts on how to start:
Determine your goals. What do you want out of an exercise program? Do you want to cross train from your running group? Are you a social exerciser, and want a group class to make your workout more fun? There are a lot of options for working out in the water, so check a few things out, talk to some people, and see what might work for you.
Try some things. Go to your local gym and see what water classes they have on the schedule. You’ll likely be surprised. A lot of gyms now include water classes that range from kick boxing to yoga, from the latest craze Zumba, to tai chi for relaxation. When the lap lanes are open, you can try aqua jogging for an excellent cardio option. Try a group class to see the range of exercises you might find there.
Appreciate the health benefits. Aqua aerobics can help with everything from arthritis to back problems. It has been shown to help control diabetes. So there are lots of health reasons to be there in addition to just getting a great workout. Why is that so? Think of two words – buoyancy and resistance:
The water supports a lot of the person’s weight, so the buoyancy provides a low impact workout experience. Doing lunges on land often leads to a clunky and awkward landing of the foot – in the water, that impact is reduced to a gentle touchdown. It’s a wonderful experience to perform exercises and have their stress reduced because of buoyancy.
The resistance component is felt when you try to push through the water, and feel the water making you work harder. With aqua jogging, the motion is the same as on land, but it’s almost like the water is holding you back, so you have to force yourself to push against the water. That just means extra work, but in a gentle and soothing water experience. What could be better?
If I like it, I’ll do it more. It’s just reality that if something is not fun – even exercise – that’s a deterrent for doing it for very long. That’s probably why so many New Year’s resolutions are left by the side of the road. If someone hasn’t been working out, and then tries a very strenuous workout routine, the odds are that they’ll overdo, possibly injure themselves, and stop exercising. Water is very forgiving in that way – because it’s so gentle, it’s not as stressful on the body, which reduces the likelihood of an injury. The soothing element of being in the water also makes the experience more enjoyable. Think of this – grunting and grinding in the weight room, or doing a substantial but gentle workout in the water – which sounds more enjoyable?
It’s a lot of fun. Maybe there’s a reason the mental image is of smiling people in a water workout class – the water is a fun place to be. It could be that it reminds people of the fun of the swimming pool as a kid, but for sure, the people in water classes really enjoy themselves.
The bottom line with aqua aerobics is to just try it – you’ll likely find an exercise solution that works for you, have a lot of fun working out, and keep exercising. That’s a winning situation!
To learn more, here are some sites with great information about water workouts: