Source: Web exclusive, October 2009
Variety is the spice of an active life, but when the weather gets cooler it’s all too easy to fall into a fitness rut. Last autumn I was trying to get to the pool regularly to swim laps, but even though I love being in the water, it began to feel a little monotonous. On a whim I decided to try an aquafit class and to my surprise, I loved it! The music was great, the instructor kept everybody challenged and the hour flew by because I was genuinely having fun. Here are seven great reasons why you should try a class yourself.
1. It’s not just for Grandma anymore
As a twenty-something swimmer, I wasn’t sure aquafit would be enough of a challenge for me. But ten minutes into my first class, I was convinced.
‘We’ve been dealing with that challenge; overcoming the idea that it’s for people who are injured, who are older or who are obese,’ admits Charlene Kopansky, president and founder of the Canadian Aquafitness Leaders Alliance. ‘But even younger people who are extremely fit can reap the benefits of participating in aquafitness.’
2. Made-to-measure fitness
Regardless of your fitness level, you can get a great workout in the water. Your instructor will offer plenty of modifications to increase or decrease the difficulty of the moves, and you’re always free to go at your own pace. Using a flotation belt will help you stay afloat, or you can go without to really keep your heart pumping throughout the class.
3. You’ve never felt better in your bathing suit
Unlike traditional group classes such as aerobics or dance, aquafit is non-competitive. No one can tell if you mess up a move when you’re in the water and you don’t have to worry that anyone’s judging you. Many women find that they can be more focused on the movements when they aren’t worrying about keeping up with everyone else.
Stripping down to your bathing suit can be a daunting prospect, but a challenging aquafit workout is a great reminder that your body is instrumental, not just ornamental.
4. The options are endless
As more and more people discover the benefits of working out in water, pools and community centres all across the country are offering an ever-increasing variety of specialized classes, from water running to aqua yoga or aqua tai chi. Shallow water classes are a great option for people who aren’t strong swimmers or may be afraid of the water, while mothers-to-be and new moms can take advantage of pre-and post-natal classes that help them stay active even with baby in tow.
5. Killer cross training
Aquafit can help improve your performance in high-impact activities, including running, dance, or team sports such as soccer or softball. Thanks to the buoyancy of water, you’ll be strengthening your muscles and improving your cardiovascular fitness without subjecting your body to additional wear and tear‘leaving you feeling strong and refreshed when it’s time to give your all.
That’s why aquafit is also fantastic for people recovering from injuries‘it allows you to strengthen your muscles without stressing vulnerable joints.
6. Stay balanced
Aquafit helps you balance out muscle groups that may have become uneven through repetitive actions. Working out in water provides equal resistance through your full range of motion, a phenomenon known as double concentric muscle action. Kopansky explains it using the basic exercise of kicking your legs from below the knee: ‘When straightening the leg, the quads are shortening while expending energy and facilitating the extension at the knee. The lower leg is pushing against the water, lifting the load. Then the hamstrings shorten while expending energy to bring the heel towards the gluteals while the calf area is pushing the water back and up. This results in balanced muscle action around the knee.’
7. A true full-body workout
It’s not just your heart and muscles that stand to benefit from an aquafit class. Working out in water is also fantastic for your internal organs and lymphatic system. ‘Hydrostatic pressure, turbulence and buoyancy assist in venous return [the flow of blood back to the heart] and lymphatic drainage,’ says Kopansky. These extra benefits help explain why participants feel so good after a class‘the body is refreshed rather than exhausted.
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