Exercising in the water rather than in the gym? Now there’s a good idea: it’s more fun, easier and more efficient. Here’s our guide to the pool fitness craze.
What is it?
Aquaerobics is a traditional exercise class in the pool or sea. It uses diverse accessories such as boards, bars, flotation belts, dumbbells, and flippers as well as larger equipment such as a step for aqua-step or a bike for aqua-biking. All you need is a swimming costume and cap!
Aqua fitness incorporates a number of different types of lessons, some which tone more than others. You can do almost everything you can in a fitness class in the water as well as in the gym.
-Muscular work. Movements that tone different parts of the body, with or without accessories. You will be immersed in the water to different degrees depending on the class (aerobics, gym, body toning and weights).
-Cardio-respiratory work. With music, these lessons aim to get you moving as much as possible to work the heart, strengthen breathing and increase energy expenditure (dance, biking and jogging in the water).
-A combination of muscular and cardio-respiratory work. Intense and set to music, the emphasis is on alternately targeting the different muscle groups of the body with step and boxing in the water.
-Relaxation. Centred on breathing, balance and stretching to gently tone and encourage relaxation (yoga and stretching).
Tip: the name of the session might vary from pool to pool and from one teacher to another so you might well find the same content in two lessons with different names.
Exercising in the water rather than on the ground is beneficial on more than one front:
-It limits injury risk. In the water, we weigh no more than 10% of our normal weight. Shocks and impacts are therefore limited, which reduces the risk of injury. Aquaerobics is suitable for anyone, including pregnant women, people who are overweight and on a rehabilitation programme.
-It facilitates movement. Because we’re lighter in the water, the exercises are easier to do, and you can do them at whatever intensity you wish.
-It tones all over. To move in the water, you have to use all of your muscle groups...without realising it. This tones your whole body evenly.
-It burns calories. Your body has to fight against the temperature of the water and the resistance makes your muscles work harder, burning more energy.
-It improves blood flow to the heart (venous return). Both the pressure of the water and the hydromassage encouraged by the movements you make in the water help blood return to the heart. It also drains the heels well because water pressure increases with depth.
-It fights cellulite. Leg massage + toxin elimination + improvement of venous return is a winning formula for fighting dimply bits.
-It’s relaxing. The water is generally heated to 30 degrees, which encourages muscular and psychological relaxation. Pain, stiffness and stress disappear!
Aquaerobics classes can be found at:
-Swimming pools and leisure centres (contact your local pool to see if they offer fitness classes)
-Holiday centres and clubs
-Health centres and spas