Hip hip hooray for the pool noodle – the incredible, indispensable, inexpensive, versatile king of water fun and fitness. Beloved by all ages, from seniors to children, the pool noodle is used as a toy, a play weapon, a lounger, a blowhole, exercise equipment and much more. The noodle is clearly a favorite of Fitmotivation subscribers because it was the top suggested topic for a video. And because you asked for it, you got it. The full 30-minute video, Noodle Cardio Mix, is now streaming on the Fitmotivation website.
How long have noodles been around and who invented them? When searching the history of the noodle on the Internet, it gets a bit convoluted. There is no one single patent for the noodle and there are different claims to fame regarding the inventor.
Claim Number 1: Over thirty years ago, Steve Hartman was a young aspiring engineer entrepreneur. He and his dad started their own company in Ontario, Canada called Industrial Thermal Polymers. With a used tandem extrusion machine they made backer rods. These foam rods are used to fill joints before caulking for the construction industry. These grey foam rods soon found their way to his home and eventually his pool. Steve noticed his nieces and nephews loved playing with them. So in the mid-1980s, Steve developed some color versions and tried to market them in Canada as a water toy. Sales were slow at first, but their big break came when Canadian Tire placed a large order in 1987. According to this claim, the Canadians were soon enjoying pool noodles but they were still missing in action in the U.S. until a few big orders arrived in the early 1990s. Read the full article
Claim Number 2: This claim “seems” to tie in to Claim Number 1 – but all of the glory goes to a manufacturer in North Carolina. Introduced in 1990, the pool noodle had its origins in Canada when a distributor discovered that his children loved playing in the pool with Nomaco’s three-inch-diameter foam backer rods. (So…was this distributor Steve Hartman from Claim Number 1?) Nomaco redesigned the product for mass production for the retail industry; found a distribution partner; and before long was selling as many as 16 million pool noodles a year. Read the full article
Claim Number 3: This claim goes back to Ontario, Canada but to a completely different person. I know…right? This is getting confusing. And in this version they are called Water Woggles. In 1986, Rick Koster was a part time entrepreneur making training equipment and supplies for competitive swimming clubs across Ontario. In this version, pull buoys gave birth to pool noodles. Pull Buoys are a swim aid that assists in training the upper body by limiting a swimmers use of their legs while providing buoyancy. Pull Buoy originate as white polyethylene foam rods purchased in six foot lengths. These rods were cut into ten inch pieces and then paired by a piece a nylon rope. Working out of his garage in 1986, it wasn't long before Rick was encouraging his children to play with the six-foot lengths of poly foam in the backyard pool. He immediately recognized the potential in marketing these white foam rods as a pool toy since nothing like it existed. Read the full article
While Googling the history of the noodle, I also came across a Wikipedia listing that includes more fun facts and information on pool noodle patents, history and uses. One of the uses listed is a drinking game called "blowhole," in which a hollow pool noodle is filled with 4-8 ounces of beer and two contestants simultaneously blow into the noodle in order to spray their opponent with beer. This sounds like a blast and I am hoping someone will try this game with me at IAFC next year.
Speaking of noodles, are you looking for some noodle ideas for your classes? Look no further. Noodle Cardio Mix is now streaming on the Fitmotivation website. This 30-minute video features some really fun noodle choreography that challenges the core and the upper body. This high-energy aerobic routine includes resisted and supported noodle exercises.
The twist in this video is that you actually get to see me teaching this routine on deck to one of my classes. Another suggestion I received was for a video that shows me teaching to a real class. If you are a subscriber, the full video has an error at 22:52. Can you guess what it is? Needless to say, I messed up while teaching to my students and didn’t realize it until the editing room. My poor video guy had a heck of a time trying to match up the deck footage with the pool footage because of my screw-up.
Next month we will add to the noodle cardio routine with yet another full video dedicated to creative core moves with the noodle. Noodle Core Mix will post in mid November. And guess what? There is even more noodle action coming in December. Anne Pringle Burnell will be the next featured Fitness Friend and she will be filming a video that features her Peyow Aqua Pilates program and some Pilates exercises that include the noodle. Stay tuned to this channel – there is lots more noodle action coming up!