Aqua fitness classes could be the missing link in your fitness workout. Water fitness programs are appropriate for almost anyone to participate in, and provide a safe, fun, energizing option for exercise that is non-competitive and endlessly customizable, according to Best Health.
Working out in the water is ideal for all ages and fitness levels, from newborns to expectant mothers to seniors, and can be especially beneficial for those who need a solid workout without joint impact. Aqua fitness classes taught by instructors certified by the Canadian Aquafitness Leaders Alliance (CALA) are designed for ultimate safety and the best workout possible for each individual.
Different water fitness classes that may be available at a centre near you include:
Often taught as a group aqua fitness class, water aerobics is designed to provide gentle yet challenging exercise without causing exhaustion or requiring repeated impact on the joints like jogging, running, treadmill or stair-stepper regimens. Water aerobics classes are often divided based on water depth, and include:
- Chest deep, which means participants have their feet on the pool floor with the water reaching their chest.
- Suspended chest deep, which means participants are still in water up to their chest, but have their feet lifted off the pool floor and are using a pool flotation device such as a noodle or small board.
- Deep water, which means participants are in water over their had and using a flotation device.
Water aerobics are commonly recommended for seniors and people undergoing recovery or rehabilitation after an injury or surgery but can be a fun and challenging class for younger, fit individuals as well.
Aquasize is another group water fitness activity that is a little faster-paced than water aerobics. It is also low impact, but geared toward increasing strength, stamina and flexibility. Also known as "aerobic rhythmics," aquasize classes are often set to music, and consist of repetitive actions performed as a group. Aquasize is a full body workout, and classes are often divided by age or fitness level.
Yoga can be done in the water, adding water resistance to the already myriad benefits of yoga. Aqua yoga classes usually are small groups, and an instructor leads from the front by example similar to a regular yoga class. Yoga focuses on balance, flexibility and building a strong core. According to the Canadian Chiropractic Association, water exercises like aqua yoga can deliver similar benefits as "dry dock" exercises, without the heightened risk of joint injury or overheating during a workout.
Aqua Cycling or Spinning
This is just what it sounds like – a spin class performed in water! The cycles are submerged in three to four feet of water and participants cycle against the water resistance of the pool. Just like a regular spin class, this kind of water fitness exercise is often accompanied by upbeat music and an instructor who is highly motivational. These classes may also be referred to as "HydroRider" sessions.
Also known as SUP, stand-up paddleboarding is another water fitness program that has become extremely popular. Participants stand on a lightweight wood or inflatable board, and can either use a paddle to perform routines that require balance and dexterity or do exercises on the board without a paddle. Gaining in popularity is SUP Yoga, which combines stand-up paddleboarding with yoga. According to Victoria-based yoga instructor Jen Craig-Evans, SUP Yoga is a magical experience best done out of doors if possible, although some centres are offering this type of yoga at larger indoor pools.
Aqua kickboxing combines aqua fitness and martial arts for a more challenging workout. Based on authentic kickboxing techniques, this water fitness routine provides both resistance training and cardiovascular benefits to its participants. Typical routines include series of repetitive punches, hand strikes, kicks and other self-defense moves, but the buoyancy provided by the water reduces impact, making this an energizing workout with less chance of injury.
Based on the high-energy, Latin-inspired landbound workout routine of the same name, aqua Zumba is a fun, interactive workout set to flamboyant music and appropriate for all ages. Normally done in water that is between waist and chest deep, this routine is performed at half tempo, since the water resistance slows down each move. Aqua Zumba is excellent for people seeking a workout that is low impact for their knees, hips, or back.
All of these water fitness exercises can be adapted for and participated in by a wide range of individuals, and classes can be done one-on-one or in groups as large as 50 or 60 people at a time.
Those who can specifically benefit from water fitness include people with chronic pain or fatigue, those with diabetes or obesity, and individuals who have difficulty with traditional exercise routines due to stiffness of the joints, osteoarthritis, recent injury or illness, or who have undergone a surgery of some kind.
According to Fit To Function, many people who fall into one or more of these demographics may avoid exercising due to pain or an inability to move smoothly or bear their own weight. Water fitness can provide a way to exercise without pain and with the added attraction of providing buoyancy, so the participant can focus on movement without becoming exhausted or overwhelmed.
As always, check with your health professional before starting any new fitness routine. Wear comfortable, properly fitting clothing, and don't forget to hydrate. With a little experimentation, you'll be able to find an aquatic exercise routine that fits your needs and is enjoyable enough to keep you coming back for more!