Tuesday, July 02 2019

Featuring the Layer Technique

We all teach the same base moves – jumping jacks, skis, jogs, kicks, pendulums, hamstring curls, rocking horse, moguls and more. Fortunately, we have learned how to create variations of these base moves so that we don’t bore our students into a stupor. Even better, we can teach these base moves with different choreography styles. One of those styles is called the Layer Technique. Pick four base moves and create a combination:

  1. Jumping Jacks x 8 (32 beats of music)

  2. Skis x 8 sets (32)

  3. Kicks x 8 sets (32)

  4. Jogs x 8 sets (32)

Repeat the combination a couple of times. And then using the Layer Technique, change each move one at a time until you have a new combination of four moves. The changes can be gradual. Just pick a variation of each move using changes in arm patterns, tempo, travel/turns, impact level and more. For example:

  1. Change the jack to: Elevated Jumping jacks with neutral arms x 8 (32)

  2. Change the ski to: Ski 3 & ¼ turn x 4 sets (32)

  3. Change the kick to: Kick travel forward x 4 sets (16) travel back x 4 sets (16)

  4. Change the jog to: Jog at ½ water tempo x 4 sets (16)

Gradually changing one move at a time, you can seamlessly peel away layers to reveal a new combination once all four moves have been changed. In my video, Aquatic Layers, I actually use this base pattern (jacks, skis, kicks & jogs) and I change it FIVE times for a routine that provides 45-50 minutes of non-stop layering.

The Layer Technique became a prominent teaching style in the 90’s when step aerobics became so intricately choreographed that new students could no longer follow along. The premise was that you started with a basic combination made up of simple moves (turn steps, repeaters, over the top, etc…), ideal for beginners.

Gradually more intricate options were given for the simple moves until – PRESTO – you had a new combination that had more pizazz, appealing to the more advanced students.

My first experience taking an aqua class taught with the Layer Technique was in one Julie See’s sessions – I think it was at one of the AEA Charlotte Regional Conferences. (Julie is AEA’s Educational Director) Following along in the pool, I absolutely loved the logical progression of movement and the way it kept you focused on the workout. After that session, I started using the Layer Technique in my classes and I noticed that A) it created an element of excitement – with my students wondering what I was going to change the next move to B) kept them very engaged in the routine C) which meant they weren’t gabbing and ticking off other students.

The Layer Technique has apparently piqued the interest of aquatic fitness professionals worldwide. A preview video of Aquatic Layers has been posted on YouTube since October 2012. (See above video in this blog posting) It has become the third most viewed video on the Fitmotivation YouTube channel and it has garnered the most “likes” out of all of the 23 videos posted on the channel. I think this is largely due to the flawless performance Julie See turned in as my aqua student and the amazing under-water camera work and production from Troy Nelson, Angie Proctor and others.

Aquatic Layers, filmed in 2012, was the second installment of a 5-part Fitmotivation choreography anthology. AEA recognizes five choreography styles, Linear progression/freestyle, Pyramid, Add-On, the Layer Technique and Pure Patterned Repetition.

In 2011, I started the choreography anthology with Aquatic Pyramids, featuring Pyramid choreography. In 2013, Add-on was the featured instructional style in Aqua Add-It. Pure Aqua, was one of my new (2014) videos and it featured Pure Patterned Repetition. That leaves Linear Progression/Free style as the last choreography style in the series. Stay tuned for Aqua Free in 2015!

Interested in watching the full length Aquatic Layers, Aqua Add-It and Pure Aqua choreography videos… and printing out the notes to go with each routine? They are currently playing on the Fitmotivation website. Go push the Premium button and you can watch all three, along with several other videos.

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.