We all know that swimming is a great, low-impact, full-body workout. But it’s not the only way to get in shape in the water. Over the last few years, traditional strength training, cardio workouts, and even yoga have taken to the water to deliver a form of exercise that is easy on the joints and effective at toning and strengthening the muscles. Sure, there’s water aerobics. But there are also a handful of other fitness styles that have taken the plunge into the pool, creating an entirely new experience for some of your favorite group exercises classes.
Aqua Zumba adds a fun challenge to one of the most popular group exercise classes in the world. The concept and moves are the same as in a traditional Zumba class, but the extra resistance created by pushing against the water adds a great strength-training element to the workout. The class is held in shallow water (about chest height for the average participant) and the instructor is positioned near the ledge of the pool (so that everyone can see her movements and follow instruction). Aqua Zumba is described as a fun pool party- where you don’t even realize that you get a great workout.
Traditional yoga classes come in several different varieties, all of which promote strength, flexibility and being centered within your own mind. The principles of Aqua Yoga are no different, and the added element of water provides a number of added benefits to the practice. In an Aqua Yoga class, yoga poses are performed in warm water to help develop strength, balance and increased range of motion. Holding yoga poses in water takes away the element of gravity and adds an increased sense of calm and relaxation to the body. Activities held in warm water are said to reduce anxiety, relieve stress and reduce chronic pain.
The concepts of Tai Chi and Qi Gong are combined and performed in warm water to create the exercise known as Ai Chi. Like traditional Tai Chi, Ai Chi combines deep breathing with slow, controlled movements of the arms, legs and torso. The class is held in shoulder-deep water, which helps facilitate relaxation and increased range of motion and mobility. The exercises are simple and effective and produce various health benefits for the body and mind.
Spinning is one of the best ways to get a heart-pumping cardio workout while creating strong, muscular legs. It may sound a bit strange, but some indoor cycling classes are taking their bikes and placing them under water for an entirely new cycling experience. Aqua Cycling has gained popularity in Europe and the trend is slowly making it’s way to the U.S. You won’t be able to gain the same amount of speed in Aqua Cycling as you would in a traditional Spinning class, but you will get a high intensity cardio workout. The water resistance adds an entirely new strength-training element to a typical indoor cycling workout.
Running and walking through water isn’t exactly a new concept, but it’s starting to make a comeback. The latest trends in Aqua Jogging even provide accessories such as exercise sandals and deep-water jogger belts to help make the workout more efficient. Aqua Jogging is a perfect addition to a runner’s normal training routine, as it takes away much of the impact that pavement or treadmill running adds to the joints. Since the pool environment takes away the normal element of gravity (and you’re not touching the ground), you’ll have to work extra hard to increase your heart rate. Like any other water-based exercises, Aqua Jogging adds an additional element of resistance to strengthen and tone the muscles.