As much as I adore swimming and being in the water, I’ve never actually taken a water aerobics class of any sort. It’s always on my general agenda, but I just never get to it. My Fit Bottomed Grandma is the queen of water aerobics classes, and I really need to take a cue from her because it really is great exercise. I guess my biggest hesitation now is that it’s winter and I’d have to shower and dry my hair before leaving the gym — and that just seems like a lot of effort for a class. And? I just have this nagging feeling that the moment I’d hop into the pool, the childcare center would be tracking me down to come change a dirty diaper. Maybe, too, it’s a bit of the fear of the unknown. Because even though I’ve taken numerous land-based classes, I’ve never taken one in the water. Maybe I’m just afraid! Which is why when Becky Flanigan wanted to share her passion of aqua aerobics with me, I was all ears. Today, she rounds up five aqua aerobics classes you should be doing. Maybe it’ll be the final push I need to jump in … once it warms up! —Erin
5 Aqua Aerobics Classes to Try
What appeals to people about aqua aerobics is the variety. Some of my friends swear by one class or the other, but for me, the best part is just that there are so many choices. Here are five great options for taking an aqua aerobics class.
1. Tai chi. Do you want a soothing, calming and relaxing workout? On land, tai chi provides just that. In the water, all of that calm is enhanced by the relaxing effect of the water. The practitioner of tai chi performs a sometimes complicated pattern, but in a quiet manner, with smooth transitions through a whole routine of moves in combination. It’s almost like a blending of ballet and yoga. The instructors always encourage keeping the breathing in rhythm with the movements. It is a relaxing class, but with a purpose.
2. Yoga. When I took yoga on land, I was surprised at the way I was sweating after an hour-long workout. We did very slow and serene movements — similar to tai chi — but we held the poses and extended our stretches until we cleared out and released a lot of energy. It was soothing, but a great workout. With the water supporting my weight, I can actually do more than I could on land. I can hold tree pose, where you put your foot up against your other knee and hold your hands together over your head, for a long time. I come out of an aqua yoga class very relaxed but needing to hydrate.
3. Kickboxing. In the gym, the main thing I felt in kickboxing class was awkward. I couldn’t kick nearly as effortlessly as our lean and fit instructor, and I felt like I was always half a step behind. In the water, all of that awkwardness went away; the water supported my movements superbly. In addition, with the resistance of the water, I couldn’t kick as hard as on land — I was doing the kicks almost in slow motion — but I didn’t fall once! I got off balance, but so did others in the class. I really liked kickboxing, and when I tried it in the water, the enjoyment of the experience was only heightened.
4. Zumba. I know this is the latest fitness craze, but when I took a Zumba class at my gym, I was shocked at all the sexy hip grinding-type moves we did. But in the water — hey, most of my body was underwater, and I didn’t feel so conspicuous. It was a lot of fun, and I heard someone break out into laughter more than once. We still got a super workout — I was sweating and reaching for the water bottle very quickly. It’s a fast-paced workout, and I think they pick instructors who could do those exercises all day long. Except for short breaks, you work out at a fast pace for the whole time you’re in class.
5. Aqua jogging. This is the old staple for a cardio workout. Injured runners have been using jogging in the pool to recover from injuries for a long time now. If you don’t think you’ll get the same cardio benefits as you would on the trail, try it once and see if you don’t change your opinion! The element of water provides low-impact but greater resistance than the running trail, so I get a solid cardio workout, without putting stress on my knees.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to aqua aerobics. The variety of options will give anyone wanting a workout something that will appeal to them. The main thing is to get out and try aqua classes — you’ll quickly become a fan like I did! Also, you typically don’t need anything other than a bathing suit and pool noodle (I found mine here).
Becky Flanigan is a freelance writer and an avid gardener — and even helps friends landscape and decorate their yards. Becky has a great time on family weekend trips with her husband, three kids and two golden retrievers. She spends many hours at the family swimming pool, watching the kids and dogs splash around.