Tuesday, July 02 2019


A comedian once said, “If you are over 55 and wake up in the morning and nothing hurts, you died in your sleep.” Well, I am not quite 55 yet, but every morning I wake up wondering what body part will be in agony on this fine day.

It always runs the gamut, from shoulder, to knee, to ankle, to feet, to wrist, to hip – a body part suddenly hurts. And just when I start thinking, “Oh great, now I am screwed,” the pain suddenly vanishes. Despite the mystery pains, I always get myself to the gym for some weight training in the mornings. Cardio? That’s another story. Tired of working through the aches and the pains on treadmills and steppers, I have committed my cardio to an activity where my body never hurts. Can you guess what it is?

People always think us fitness instructors must be the healthiest people on the planet, free of aches and pains. Seriously? It makes me wonder if people understand what “wear & tear” means? Having taught group fitness for 20 years by body has survived:

  • Step aerobics (plantar fasciitis, orthotics and the enormous boot I had to sleep in for months)
  • Kickboxing (rotator cuff tendinitis and a pulled hamstring that has never been the same)
  • Gliding (bilateral hernia repair)
  • Aquatic fitness (bouncing around on cement decks until my knees feel like someone took a sledgehammer to them)

The point being is that my body hurts when I try to run on land or a treadmill. My knees feel especially lovely on the stepper and elliptical machines. Gravity is no friend to my body. How about buoyancy? Buoyancy is the upward vertical force exclusive to a fluid environment. It is the opposite of gravity, which is a downward vertical force. In water, buoyancy lifts you up - decreasing the effects of gravity and reducing impact on joints. In other words, your body doesn’t hurt when you exercise. And so yes, I have taken my cardio to the pool.

In the pool, I can run – I can run fast. In water, I can do intense bursts of activity similar to boot camp and CrossFit training. I can do full Tabata workouts and push myself to anaerobic levels I thought were history. In the pool, I can exercise with upper body equipment and do intense workouts that combine both cardio and toning.

And I am not alone. The students in my aquatic fitness classes at the Sarasota YMCA can do all of these things as well. And yes, these are older adults. It IS Sarasota, Florida after all. My students run, they do intense exercises for timed intervals, they do Tabata, they kick, they punch and they jump (well...some of them jump). It doesn’t matter if they were athletic in their past, they can be as athletic as they want in the pool. They are exercising intensely and their bodies don’t hurt.

Buoyancy makes a difference. Uplifted, the body can move without impacting achy joints. Water provides an opportunity for people to exercise pain free. The message is: don’t give up if you are following an exercise program that hurts your body. We never truly appreciate our health and wellness until we don’t have it anymore. There is a solution. Get in the pool and exercise.

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.