Make a Splash: Getting Started with Aquatic Fitness

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Splashing didn’t come easy for me.  The water absolutely terrified me as a child.  I spent summers either sitting on the first few steps of the pool or screaming during swim lessons while my mom waited in the locker room.  Splash-forward to high school and I was in the pool daily.  I learned to love the water through teaching aqua fitness activities.  I learned how to swim laps, flip turn, and all the strokes when I trained for an Ironman during college.  Eventually, with much preparation and trepidation, I taught others how to swim.

My mermaid friend and colleague, Jennifer Strobel, however, was born with gills!  She started swimming when she was 3 years old!  As an accelerated learner, she was encouraged to swim competitively by the age of 8.  Her middle and high school years were spent swimming on teams year round and traveling all over the place.  Her swimming experiences gave her full exposure to the life guard culture: zinc, white noses and all, and she wanted in!  She trained as a lifeguard at fifteen as a PE credit in Ohio and then taught nearby third graders swim lessons as their PE (full circle😊).  She holds so many credentials related to water fitness, skill, and safety, I won’t list them all.  Jenn is an aqua pro.  She is fluent in all aquatic languages and flows seamlessly from teaching beginners to endurance to fitness enthusiasts.  Aquatics is the center of her universe.

Wonders of Water

What’s all this got to do with you?  About 60-65% of our bodies are water, and we live on a planet that is well proportioned for flow (71% of Earth’s surface is mostly high-quality H2O).  Water has the power to facilitate life, destroy entire communities, and is most definitely necessary for survival to all living existence.  It facilitates inter/intracellular communication in our bodies, helps regulate our temperature, mood, and digestion.  And, it holds incredible opportunities for us to move with support, resistance, and fun!

Assets of Aquatic Training

Whether swimming, water walking, treading, aqua fitness/wellness activities offer compression.  It’s like putting a on a pair of tights all over your body.  It gives us a squeeze and facilitates flow and increased circulation.  Water also offers buoyancy which allows us to feel like we are weightless.  It holds us, so we don’t have to hold all the weight of ourselves.  This served me as I worked through a significant lower back injury and continues to offer support during flare-ups.  The water permits me to continue exercising without doing further damage by decreasing the impact forces and alleviating pressure on my joints.  I experienced the water as a cradle of sorts during my pregnancy by allowing me to move with ease and comfort.  Jenn received the benefits through rehabilitation with her knee and is certain that the water is the only way she is still walking.  Shout out to the power of moving in water!

Stepping into water almost immediately decreases blood pressure, improves respiratory efficiency, and impacts our brain and neurological response.  Immersion in warm water down-regulates our fight, flight, freeze system and helps elevates our rest and restore paths to support a relaxation response.  Don’t take our word for it. Test the waters for yourself!

Here are some practical tools to make your splash more satisfying:

  • Don’t overthink it; just get in and move! Walk around, move comfortably through the water, do what feels good to your body.😊 If it hurts, analyze and adjust.  Need more?  Check out the Aqua Fitness Workout in 3 Reasons Why You Should Try Exercise in the Water This Summer.
  • Supportive swimwear supports aquatic exercises.  Purchase a suit that feels good on you.
  • Aquatic sneakers make an aqua fitness class even better!
  • Hydrate.  Yes, you’re in water, but you aren’t getting hydrated.  Fluid intake (water is preferred source) is absolutely one of the most critical forces well-being.  There are plenty of sources and suggestions as to how much, and they pretty much all agree that 8, 8 oz cups, is not enough for most people. Drink up!
  • Find a pool by looking at your local Parks and Recreation Service, YMCAs, or other fitness and aquatic centers.  At SAS, our Recreation and Fitness Center offers tons of opportunities to get you splashing around!  Check out what is happening this month in the RFC Newsletter  and enjoy your Wednesday afternoon dip with our regular aquatic fitness class!

You can start your aqua venture anywhere!  The water awaits you!

 

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About Author

Rebecca Allen

Recreation and Fitness Program Coordinator Wellness

Rebecca E. Allen is passionate about helping others develop and nurture practices of well-being.   She earned her BS in Sociology and MA in Exercise and Sport Science and holds fitness certifications from ACE, AFAA, Zumba®, Les Mills™, IFTA, and NESTA.  She is registered with Yoga Alliance as a 500 RYT, and enjoys long walks in the woods with her husband, Chip Davis.

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