Aqua Fitness Class for Healthy Joints

Wednesday, May 22 2024

Take away an aquatic fitness class format that includes steady-state cardio, HIIT, muscle conditioning, pool noodle barre exercises and core training. Sounds like many of the other 375+ videos on, right?  The difference is that Healthy Joints & Water Exercise is designed with range-of-motion (ROM) exercises to keep your class members’ joints healthy and supple. 



First and foremost, this 50-minute aquatic fitness instructor video is not an arthritis class. This is a regular high-energy shallow water class format that provides total body results by targeting cardio and muscular endurance. However, this class format is stocked with arm and leg movements from the Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program (AFAP). Young or old, fit or sedentary, everyone benefits from maintaining joint elasticity and ROM. Failure to do so leads to stiffness and pain, and eventually injury and disability.

Video Inspiration
Recently, I presented sessions at AEA's International Aquatic Fitness & Therapy conference (IAFTC) in Fort Myers, FL. Instructors from around the world attend this conference to learn from the world’s top aquatic fitness professionals. Among the sessions I instructed was Healthy Joints & Aquatic Fitness. My goal in this session was to show instructors that they could include AFAP exercises in any class component and format, including warm-ups, cardio, HIIT, muscle conditioning, noodle work, core training, cool downs and more. And that if they could, they should.  Including these AFAP exercises in their regular aquafi classes can help their students maintain healthy joints. Since I had already created this workout for the conference, I decided to share it on Fitmotivation.  Below is a photo taken at the conference. This was after my Ground Forces session. I'll also be filming that session and putting it on Fitmotivation in June.

What happens when joints become unhealthy

  • Pain & stiffness
  • Limited range of motion (ROM)
  • More prone to injury and chronic disability
  • Inability to perform regular activities and diminished quality of life.

What causes joints to become unhealthy?

  • Osteoarthritis (wear & tear)
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Injury
  • Obesity
  • Autoimmune diseases (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis)

How can you keep your joints healthy?

  • Move!
  • Make joint ROM exercises a part of your regular exercise routine
  • Choose low impact exercise
  • Strength training
  • Muscular flexibility
  • Stay safe and avoid injury
  • Maintain a healthy weight & diet

AFAP Exercises
Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program (AFAP) exercises are specifically designed to move your joints through their full range of motion, including jaw, cervical spine, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, lumbar spine, hip, knee, ankle and toes. Including these exercises in your fitness routine provides a total body tune-up for your joints, keeping them lubricated and functioning with a full ROM. My sole resource for stocking this routine with AFAP exercises was the AEA Arthritis Foundation Program Leader Manual, which is available for purchase on the AEA website for $45.00. Their website has everything you need to know about AEA's Arthritis Foundation Program Leader course and additional resources.

Aquatic Fitness Class-at-a-Glance
Healthy Joints and Water Exercise is a 50-minute water fitness instructor video that is divided into seven segments. All the exercises in each of these segments were designed with AFAP movements.
Segment 1: Warm-up
Segment 2: Cardio/Add-On
Segment 3; Interval/HIIT Training
Segment 4: Muscle Conditioning
Segment 5: Noodle Barre Work
Segment 6: Core Training
Segment 7: Cool Down, Stretch, Joint Tune-Up
Watch Mark talk more about the Healthy Joints and Water Exercise routine in the video below



Keeping our joints healthy is important at any age
I hope instructors take away ideas for incorporating healthy joint exercises in all of their class components and formats. To help your students be the best and healthiest version of themselves, it is important to balance out your class offerings and make sure that you are including plenty of stretching and joint range-of-motion activities. Helping your students keep their joints supple and their muscles flexible will help them move better, feel better and live better. I am confident that after they do this workout they will feel like every part of their body has been moved and revitalized.

Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.