April 05, 2014

Aqua Aerobics: Getting Started

photo: wikipedia

This next guest post is by Becky Flanigan, who writes for An Apple Per Day. Becky says she finds it "a fun experience to be writing at her desk, with her calico cat Patches curled up on the corner of the desk supervising her work. When she’s done, it’s off to coffee with good friends." 

So the whole topic of Aqua Aerobics seemed like another great one to leave to a guest poster, as Crabby herself has not spent much time in any sort of pool in the last few decades.  Why not? Well, duh--it's WET in there!

But guess what?  After reading this submission, and then finding herself in a hotel that had a big hole in the ground with heated water inside, Crabby felt unusually inspired. She donned a suit and invented her own weird-ass routine which she may bore you with later you can read about here:
Beginning Aqua Aerobics for Cowards.

But please welcome Becky with a much more helpful post!

Tips To Start an Aqua Aerobics Fitness Routine

Several of your friends have raved about aqua aerobics, so you've decided to try it. But other than walking past a water class at the local gym, you don't really know what it’s all about, or how to start.

Here are some thoughts about getting started with aqua aerobics.

What are your goals? Designing a routine for aqua aerobics really starts with this question – what do you want to accomplish? There are a lot of choices for water workouts, so it really depends on what you decide. For more information, take a look at this article describing specific water fitness exercises, this discussion with general tips for working out in the water, or this excellent video discussing how to safely work out in the water. Then check out the various options until you find one that suits your current needs:

Cardio work. You were a runner for a long time, but your knees have been acting up, and you would like a workout that doesn't pound as much as the running trail. Think about aqua jogging. You really have to work to push through the resistance of the water, but the water also makes impact very gentle. Go to the pool when the lap lanes are open and start down one with a jogging motion. Your breathing will escalate pretty quickly. It’s a great cardio experience.

A vigorous challenge. If you really want to get your heart rate up, and have a workout that will leave you breathless and aware of all your muscles afterward – try either kick boxing or the very popular Zumba. You perform a variety of motions that will be a real challenge, and the sessions are intentionally fast paced. They're usually taught by cheerful instructors who look like they can perform these moves all day long, and in one hour, you will realize you've found your challenging workout.

Strength workout. The resistance of the water can provide a wonderful way to do strength work – an alternative to working through a lot of stations at the gym. For instance, consider how to do flybacks in the water. In chest deep water, start by bending slightly at the waist, and putting your arms in front of you, with your palms reversed, so your thumbs point down. Pull your arms in a wide arc back to parallel your body. Feel the resistance to your arm motion? Then reverse your palms and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 15 times – but the first time, don't overdo. You're getting more work than you might realize.

All around conditioning. If you're the type of person who likes working out with a class, this is where you'll get an all around workout. The instructor will lead you through a series of exercises that will challenge the core, arms and legs. One favorite is the Spiderman. While treading water near the side of the pool, run your legs up the wall of the pool and back down. Do this a number of times, starting with the opposite leg each time, and you’ll be able to feel it in arms and shoulders, as well as your legs.

Calm and meditation. If you'd like to unwind and calm down after rough days at work, think about aqua yoga or tai chi. The gentle movements through the water, coordinated with the breathing, are soothing and yet provide a solid workout. You get the same workout that you would on land, but the water provides an extra relaxing element.

The enjoyable part of water workouts is that you don't have to commit to doing just one thing – there are a lot of choices, which can meet the goals you set up for yourself. The workouts are so enjoyable that once you try, you'll keep coming back.


  1. Thanks for this post! I never thought about using pool training for meditation / relaxation! That sounds way less intimidating for me: I don't have to worry about looking all dorky/weird/completely out of my element (which - of course I would be!) because things are nice and slow and easy-ish. Plus - great way to force myself to actually pay more attention to that area of fitness. Thanks for this excellent suggestion!

    1. Give it a shot and I think you'll love it!

  2. This was THE perfect post for me to read today. I was discussing water exercise with my husband just yesterday. Our neighbors have a pool and they're always offering it to us! I think I just might take them up on it!

    Great post!

  3. Thanks for inspiring me to get my rear in gear! I have PFS (runner's knee) and have been doing lots of different workouts lately (yoga, Zumba, Pilates, body weight exercises etc) but it's been a long time since I've done an aqua aerobics class. Yes, I've done 'em before at the local Y. It's really easy to feel comfortable there as you can enter the pool area right from the locker room. Ya don't have to parade around in a bathing suit at all!!!

    I do have a swimming pool and even though it's a beautiful sunny Southern California day,high of 82 today! don't hate me!, my pool is just too cold for a workout. I guess I'll just need to log on and download the pool workout class schedule. Oh the effort to be fit and protect my knees.

    1. Aqua aerobics is so low impact, you're knees will love you for it :)

  4. I am not a pool person myself BUT this is great to know anyway & I have read about these workouts in the past. Pool is go good for those coming back from injury too!

  5. We had a pool in the back yard growing up, and i remember how good a workout it really was. And fun, too!

  6. I want a pool but mostly just so I can have an excuse to lay out in my backyard without the neighbors thinking it's weird!! I don't really swim or do water stuff for exercise - I know it is good for you but I just like the water to cool off when I get hot (meaning when it is over 100!).

  7. I've been doing aquafit (aqua aerobics) for two months now. It has stabilized my knees (wrecked by dreadmills, city streets, overextension) and made it possible for me to largely resume a normal, active, upright and walking life. I have NO intention of going back to powerwalking or the dreadmill as I don't want to set myself back! My back doesn't hurt as much either. I'm developing muscles I forgot I had and the husband is appreciating the early signs of definition. Keeping sanity in mind, I work out as hard as I dare and am definitely benefiting from the effort. Beats the heck out of sweating and sore feet, deer flies and bad knees. LONG LIVE CHLORINE!


  8. I started exercising to get my blood pressure down and I usually go to the gym and walk, but it was my first time at aqua. I thought it was going to be cushy – but it wasn’t. You get the impression that if you’re doing stuff underwater it will be easy, but you’ve got a force you’re pushing against. I’d try to continue it.


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