Sunday, March 01 2020

Teach your class like it is a group personal training session in the pool!  Simple but powerful, Water Exercise 321 is a water workout that delivers triple results by improving stamina, strength and flexibility.  A favorite of my YMCA participants, this 50-minute aqua class routine features six triads; each include 3+ minutes of cardio, 2 minutes of muscular endurance and 1 minute of flexibility. 

Looking for deep water ideas, I borrowed the 321 concept in fall 2019 to create Deep 3-2-1, which featured circuits that included 3 minutes of cardio, 2 minutes of muscular endurance and 1 minute of flexibility.  The video got positive feedback and I loved doing the workout myself in the pool.  Inspired by Deep 3-2-1, I knew I had to create a shallow water template. 

Since launching the Fitmotivation streaming video service, templates are my new favorite thing.  Instead of trying to invent new moves or provide pre-choreographed routines that instructors follow verbatim, I have strived to make Fitmotivation an online class planning tool that helps instructors build their own routines that reflect their experience and individual style.  If a video includes a template or structure that can be recreated with new moves - as many Fitmotivation videos do - than  an instructor can reinvent the routine over and over with their favorite moves and with different outcomes.  New moves are fleeting.  Templates live on. 

Aside from being a fan of templates, I have also become a fan of simplicity.  Known as a choreography fanatic, I can assure you that simplicity was not always my thing.  Yes, I have killed a few classes by making them too complicated.  In Water Exercise 321 there are only 2 moves in each cardio segment.  Repetitive?  Yes.  Boring?  No.  The 2-move cardio segments are easy-to-teach and maximize inertia with powerful travel that goes forwards and backwards and laterally.  Watch:  How does inertia impact water exercise intensity?

This workout features a warm-up and six circuits/triads that include 3+ minutes of cardio, 2 minutes of muscular endurance training and 1 minute of flexibility. 

Segment 1:  Warm-up
The short warm-up in this workout serves as a preview for the cardio moves.  The cardio segments in each of the six triads features just two moves.  All 12 cardio moves are performed for just 15 seconds (32 cts) each. 

Segment 2:  Triad 1
The first triad establishes a 3-minute cardio template with two moves.  The two moves are both variations of front kicks. In all of the cardio segments, Move #1 travels forwards and backwards and Move #2 travels laterally.  The 2-minute muscular endurance segment plays off the kicks by targeting leg muscles - quads in the front and hamstrings in the back, followed by 1-minute of flexibility for the same muscle groups.  The stretching in this workout is dynamic so that movement stays active and the body stays warm.

Segment 3:  Triad 2
The cardio in this segment is all about cross country skis and the total time expands to 3:30 as the kicks and skis are added together at the end.  The muscular focus switches to the upper body and targets the chest and back, followed by dynamic stretching for the same muscle groups. 
NOTE:  Instructors who want to keep each cardio segment 3-minutes and avoid the add-on should follow the template and repetitions established in Triad 1. 

Segment 4:  Triad 3
Jumping jacks are the focus of cardio in this segment and the time expands to 4 minutes as the kicks, skis and jacks are added on at the end.  Playing off the jumping jacks, the muscular endurance training targets inner and outer thigh, as does the flexibility. 

Segment 5:  Triad 4
The cardio segment in this triad is all about jumps, side-to-side (moguls) and forward and backwards.  The muscular focus moves back to the upper body with 2-minutes of shoulder training, followed by a 1-minute dynamic stretch for the shoulders.

Segment 6:  Triad 5
Rear kicks are the focus of cardio in this triad and the total cardio time increases to 5 minutes.  The 2-minutes of muscular endurance targets the legs, as does the active stretching. 

Segment 7:  Triad 6
The last cardio segment is all about sprints and the total time increases to 5:30 minutes as the grand cardio finale adds together kicks, skis, jacks, jumps, rear kicks and sprints.  The muscular endurance portion targets the biceps and triceps.  This 50-minute workout concludes with dynamic flexibility for the arms and some final rhythmic stretches.   Since flexibility was introduced throughout the workout, a long final stretch is not needed.

Keeping with my preferred approach to pool workouts, the water’s resistance WAS the equipment. However, additional drag equipment, such as webbed gloves or the Aqualogix upper and lowers, can be added to create additional resistance and should be if the workout challenge starts fading.  Adding extra resistance is just one way to add progression for continued results.  Progressive Overload is a key physiological principle and all exercise professionals and participants should understand and adhere to it.  Watch:   How does Progressive Overload affect fitness results?

The Water Exercise 321 workout should not be viewed with a “one and done” approach.  The goal here was to provide instructors with a starter template.  If you like the routine as is, teach it the way it is for a while.  However, don’t just abandon it once you have taught it verbatim.  Keep the template and reinvent it with fresh exercises and different outcomes.  Change the exercises. Change the timing.  Change the types of formats to include HIIT, kickboxing, balance, core, equipment and more.
And always remember… new moves are fleeting but templates live on. 


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.