“If you don’t use it you lose it” as the saying goes, so we know we need to keep working out, staying fit and making sure all our muscles, tendons, and ligaments are regularly flexed, stretched, and stressed.
Bones on the other hand do not like to be stressed, but working one without wearing out the other is a tricky track to tread.
The answer however seems to be rather simple… How can we stress the muscle groups without distressing the joints? By exercising in water!
Water acts as a counter-balance to gravity, so it’s a perfect medium for high-intensity training with low impact. Athletes depend on it to hasten rehabilitation, but the benefits are not exclusive to professional peak performers.
Let’s meet a woman who has been doing Aqua jogging and Aqua aerobics for more than 20 years.
Louisa Cunningham not only has more energy and drive than most people of significantly less years, she also looks amazing. Louisa keeps herself in peak condition by spending an hour every other day, aqua jogging or doing aqua aerobics in the pool. She lives in Pattaya, Thailand with her husband who also aqua jogs.
LG: How did you discover Aqua aerobics or aquarobics?
Louisa: Back in 1995 we were living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and I read about it somewhere. It just made total sense because I used to work out every day and I could feel the strain it put on my body. So I tracked down a belt, some gloves and basically taught myself!
I became really good at it. In the late 1990s I was living in France where I taught a swimming instructor how to do. He is now the main advisor to Aquaspeedo in France.
LG: You mention a belt and gloves, what kind of special outfit do you need for a good aqua workout?
Louisa: The basic equipment is a floatation belt to keep you upright, a pair of webbed gloves for good water resistance and a pair of styrofoam anklets to help you create great leg work outs. As you get more proficient, you can add weights to the gloves and anklets for extra resistance. There are also water pedals for hardcore enthusiasts, and waterproof music headsets are a great accessory.
LG: I notice you call it aqua jogging and aquarobics, what kind of movements are you doing?
Louisa: I usually start out with some jogging to loosen up, followed by a series of aerobic exercises: straight leg scissor running, bringing legs to the surface for straight leg splits, all combined with biceps and triceps extensions. Then I introduce some aqua boxing moves: roundhouse kicks, hand punches, side kicks with upper body twists can work every muscle group including my back, stomach, hips and shoulders with no joint strain.
LG: It’s a lot harder than you make it look – I know because I’ve tried it with you!
Louisa: It’s super high intensity – I can burn 11 calories a minute! As you said it looks easy because the movements are slow against the water but that’s also why it’s so tough. Each movement is strong, controlled and from the core. I usually work out for an hour so that’s a tick for calories, toning, and cardio. It really gets your blood pumping!
Louisa’s friend Anne-Marie is also a big fan of aquarobics and another wonderful example of someone who could easily be twenty years less than her numbers.
LG: Anne-Marie, how did you get into aquarobics?
Anne-Marie: It was when I was told I needed knee surgery. I thought: this is the beginning of bits of me being replaced… there’s got to be another option! I’d seen Louisa doing this funny thing in water, so I thought maybe I’ll give that a try. I don’t know exactly how it worked, but it did and 12 years later I have still not had that knee surgery.
Anne-Marie lives in Italy most of the year, and tells me you can just as easily do aquarobics in the sea. Plus since it’s all about core balance and buoyancy, you don’t have to get your hair or face wet. So all in all aqua fitness does appear to tick all the boxes for working out without wearing out – it’s not even going to wear out your hair!
If you fancy giving aquarobics a go, start by googling “aqua aerobics” or “aqua fitness”. There are lots of classes you can join, or you can follow Louisa’s example and get yourself a belt, gloves and teach yourself. The benefits are clearly great either way.