Tuesday, July 02 2019

The video preview above is for Arthritis:  Aquatic Essentials, posted on 10/25/16

 The facts.  More than 50 million adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.  That’s 1 in 5 people over age 18.  By 2030, more than 67 million adults are expected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.  Arthritis is the nation’s number one cause of disability.   If you lead aquatic fitness classes you can safely assume that several of your students have been diagnosed with arthritis and many more are on the way.

 As an aquatic fitness professional, what can you do to help those already diagnosed and those yet to be diagnosed?   Step #1:  Educate yourself.   Check out the recently posted video, Arthritis Aquatic Essentials.  This video collaboration between Fitmotivation and the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA) showcases the essential components of an AEA Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program.  Working with AEA’s Director of Education, Julie See, the goal in this video was to provide fresh ideas for your existing arthritis classes or for adding joint mobility into your regular programming.


Over time, a lack of exercise can make joints painfully stiff, less mobile and more likely to degenerate.  Add extra layers of joint mobility and protection in your classes by incorporating the five essential components featured in an AEA Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program (AFAP).  The 45-minute video, Arthritis Aquatic Essentials, features a sample lesson plan that includes all five components, as well as a warm-up and the specific recommendations for all six segments.


Warm-up A proper warm-up prepares the body for exercise – both mentally and physically.  Physically, it is important to increase the temperature of the muscles, tendons and ligaments to reduce the potential for injury during the more strenuous exercises.  Mentally, the warm-up also offers the perfect opportunity to establish rapport, make announcements, share health education, explain safety considerations and include social interaction to foster a feeling of inclusion.  A warm-up includes Category I & II exercises found in the AEA Arthritis Foundation (AF) manual – and as demonstrated in AEA AFAP Movement Library DVD.  The warm-up example in this video demonstrates how you can design a creative warm-up with just a few of these Category I & II exercises.

 Flexibility & Range of Motion
The purpose of this essential component is to maintain or increase the movement potential of each joint, optimizing mobility and function.  Plan to spend about 5-10 minutes on this component, choosing from over 75 different Category I exercises found in the AEA AF Manual.  Make sure to target all joint areas of the body – neck & jaw, shoulder & elbow, wrist & finger, trunk, hip & knee, ankle & toe.  Since becoming an AF Program Leader, I have been incorporating a 5-minute "joint tune-up" in ALL of my classes (land & water) and my students love it.  This video provides you with a ready-made 5-minute joint tune-up for your classes. 

 Muscular Strength & Endurance
The purpose of this essential class component is to maintain or increase the ability of the muscles to perform work, which will assist with efficiently completing daily activities.  Increasing muscle strength and endurance improves joint stability and may reduce the symptoms of some forms of arthritis.  This segment is allotted 5-10 minutes and also utilizes Category I exercises.  However, the movements can now be performed with more force or with approved resistance equipment.  In this segment, a Nekdoodle was used as a supportive aide.

 Cardiorespiratory Endurance
This essential class component progressively increases heart rate and breathing with movements that use the large muscle groups of the body.  The AF manual includes approved cardiorespiratory exercises. The sample cardio combination in the video shows how you can be creative and effective without the traditional rebounding and impact experienced in traditional aqua cardio combinations.

 Balance & Coordination
This essential class component should challenge the body through both static and dynamic exercises, with a goal to enhance activities of daily living, improve self-confidence and to reduce the participants’ risk for falls.  In the video, I absolutely love the sample combination Julie designed for this segment.  In the past month, I have been using this balance choreography in my regular aqua classes and my students really enjoy this creative approach to challenging balance.

Relaxation techniques are shown to be effective in reducing stress and pain.  Thus the relaxation aspect is an essential component for classes geared toward participants with arthritis.  The AEA AF Manual shares several different relaxation techniques that you can include in your program.  In this video, Julie demonstrates a superb stretch & relaxation sample. 


“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it”     
Margaret Fuller

Having taught group fitness for 21 years I can honestly say that I have reinvented myself time and time again by attending workshops, watching videos and learning new programming. Since preparing to become an AEA Arthritis Foundation Program Leader, I have been enlightened yet again by the pursuit of knowledge and my students have benefited from it.  My classes all now include a planned segment for joint mobility. 

If we stress the importance of ALWAYS including a stretch for the major muscles in our classes – then we should also be advocating the importance of ALWAYS "oiling" the joints that move those muscles?

Whether you are interested in leading AEA AF classes or you simply want ideas for adding a planned joint mobility segment to your classes, the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA) is your go-to resource.  Check out the AEA Arthritis Resource blog for information on the manual, the DVDs, the AF training course and continuing education workshops.  And be sure to check out the Fitmotivation Video News interview with Julie See for extra details on the ArthritisAquatic Essentials video and AEA’s recent acquisition of the AF Exercise Programming.   

Fitmotivation would like to extend a huge THANK YOU to Julie See and AEA’s Executive Director, Angie Proctor, for this video collaboration and for all of their efforts in launching the revamped AF programming and products that will help thousands of fitness professionals inspire millions of people who suffer from arthritis.    













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.