With the launch of ABC’s Your Move campaign, to help Australians explore their own health and fitness journey, reporter Marnie Vinall is setting out to experience some of the growing exercise trends across the country.
Every time I go swimming in my local pool and have aqua aerobics classes at the same time, I feel a bit of envy as they go up and down the ABBA trails, while doing freestyle courses back and forth.
the main points:
- Water aerobics is a type of resistance exercise designed to take pressure off the joints that usually comes with land aerobics
- Sessions tend to last from 40 minutes to an hour and you don’t have to be a strong swimmer to participate
- New forms of water aerobics have evolved over time, including water cycling and water column dancing
It seems to be the most fun option.
So, I decided to bite the bullet and give it a try, especially since I’m now at the age where my knee starts to hurt when I run a lot.
I reached out to Jennifer Schembri-Portelli, a registered aquatic trainer and personal trainer, who has been teaching water aerobics classes for over 20 years.
She told me to come take a class at the Sandhurst Club, where she was studying that night and I enthusiastically accepted.
Before I went down, she gave me an idea of what the activity was all about.
She told me that the buoyancy of water supports the body and reduces stress on joints during movement, increasing range of motion.
“For people who want to exercise on land, they are limited by gravity, their knees and joints, but when they are in the water, their ability is enhanced… We find that people who can exercise in a way that is limited on land, but it can increase their cardiovascular fitness even more. In the water,” she said.
Schembri-Portelli also noted that aquatic fitness is good for all ages, as resistance can be increased with speed in the water to make exercise more challenging.
So basically – expect exercise.
I arrived early and spoke with some of the other participants. One of the women had been commuting for more than a year, another commuting and on and off for seven years and another for more than 12 years. They all praised the classes, and one woman told me she can no longer jump on land but feels freer in the water.
When we got to the water, the soundtrack started and the warm-up started. And we’re talking here about a playlist of these hiking boots for Nancy Sinatra, Uptown Girl for Billy Joel, Cook on Wood for Mom Stewart, and Sue what’s from Pink.
And look, I’m not going to lie about this. From the start, I had a huge smile plastered on my face.
It was incredibly fun – although not to get it wrong, it’s still an effective and at times challenging workout.
Workouts throughout the class included jogging and sprinting on the spot, forward and side body kicks, dance moves including blinking and upper body exercises using hand-held dumbbells used underwater.
Although the dumbbells are very light, they gained resistance underwater and it was especially difficult to push them from one side of my body to the other in time with the music.
At some point, I screamed that I was starting to get a little upset.
“Think of what great-grandmother would feel,” said one of the women beside me, pointing to the woman to my left who had sent me back.
After class, I reached out to Dr. Sophie Heywood, a physical therapist and aquatic trainer, to learn more about aquatic fitness.
When I told her about how much fun I and the others around me had in class, she didn’t seem surprised.
“We know from the research that it’s considered a conducive environment. That means if you’re in pain or weakness, you can do more things in the pool,” she said.
“And I think that’s a real reward for people…it puts people in the right space, they can be successful, and it can be successful and interesting and fun and less annoying.
“There is a lot of research showing that for people with joint pain – such as people with arthritis or other musculoskeletal injuries – being in the pool is beneficial for improving their fitness.”
Dr. Heywood said these fitness improvements are also carried over into floor workouts.
“Not only do you enjoy it while you’re doing it, but it also improves with your balance or walking when you’re out in the pool,” she said.
Additionally, she tells me, water aerobics is often used in elite sports to rehabilitate and recover and support other forms of exercise, such as running or cycling.
“This unloading from buoyancy is really good for recovery and also for rehabilitation and exercise,” she said.
“I think in the past, water exercise was usually seen as an easy option…it was seen as very easy for the elderly, but in fact, we know that a lot of young people really like to do sports in the pool and really find it helpful. “.
I, one for one, found it useful. For fitness and fun.
Next time my mom is in town, I’ll definitely take her to a class.
What is water aerobics?
Aqua aerobics is a class often held at the shallow end of a pool, in which an instructor guides participants through various movements that aid in strength and fitness.
Not only does water resistance help build muscle and improve your cardiovascular systems, but it’s also gentle on joints like the knees and ankles as a low-impact exercise.
Other forms of water aerobics include water cycling, which uses an exercise bike in the water, water column dancing, which — you guessed it — is pole dancing but in the water, and deep water aerobics, which is done at the other end of the challenge. The added bonus of walking on water.
How much does a class cost?
Water aerobics classes are often offered within a pool or gym membership, and can range from $10 to $30 per session.
Where can I do water aerobics?
Most public pools and gyms with a pool offer aqua aerobics classes. Search your local pool and “aqua aerobics” or “aqua aerobics” to find your nearest class.