Tuesday, July 02 2019

Transform the deep end into a dance floor with combinations of easy-to-teach chorus/verse choreography and then spark up the dance with some explosive HIIT drills.  Explore an exercise mash-up combines the best of dance choreography and aquatic athleticism.

Deep Dance Intervals features a warm-up, three dance combinations and three Tabata-style HIIT drills.  AEA Continuing Education Provider, Susan Abel Sullivan said she was inspired to create this format thanks to positive feedback after  introducing Tabata training in her classes. “The idea for this workout mash-up came from my deep-water class active agers wanting more Tabata intervals, yet needing longer than 30 seconds of recovery after each four minute Tabata rounds,” says Susan.  Therefore she decided to reinvent her deep-water aqua dance class by combining Tabata rounds with dance combinations.  “This format keeps everyone moving and allows for longer recovery before the next Tabata cycle.”  

According to Susan, everyone seemed to enjoy the interval mix.  Combining the two formats seemed to satisfy the folks who liked a more athletic focus, as well as the ones who like to dance.  “The class would groan when I'd tap my watch and say "Tabata time" before each cycle, but after class they'd tell me how much they liked Tabata,” says Susan. “And this happened after every single class.” she adds.   

Like all Fitmotivation videos, the teaching/pool notes are included with the video but these notes may appear a bit different.  “These are the notes that match the songs I originally choreographed each routine to in chorus/verse style,” says Susan.  In the video, Susan had to change her routine to reflect generic instrumental music without chorus and verse.  Instead, she used 32-count phrasing and 8-count blocks to structure the moves in the dance combinations.

Instructors have a variety of options for adapting the choreography.  Music phrasing, as demonstrated in the video can be used with any 32-count fitness music.  Pure-patterned choreography, as shown in the notes can be used with any pop fitness music that has vocals (chorus & verse).  Instructors can also download the original-artist songs Susan used for the dance choreography.   The song titles are included in the notes. For the Tabata rounds, Susan used the Tabata Gold playlists available at Yes! Fitness Music.

Instructors who choose to use original artists songs, downloaded for example from iTunes, may want to brush up on music licensing laws.   And yes these laws are confusing.  Before using this music in your classes you may want to ask the gym or studio if they pay ASCAP, BMI and SESAC licensing fees (USA only).   If the gym or studio does pay these licensing fees, then you should be covered, but only in that specific gym or studio.  Check out this 2017 article regarding The 3P’s of Music Licensing for fitness Instructors.  Susan did some of her own research on this and according to ASCAP's website, fitness studios pay licensing fees to be able to play millions of copyrighted songs in their classes.  “Out of curiosity, I checked on "Marry You" by Bruno Mars that I play in my wedding themed class and it's in the ASCAP repertory, along with the GLEE version and two other cover artist versions,” says Susan. 

Instructors unfamiliar with chorus/verse choreography should take a walk on the wild side and try Susan’s choreography with the recommended songs if their facility has the licensing.  Chorus/verse or pure patterned choreography is easy to teach because you can limit each combination to just three moves per song.  The three moves are designed to match the song structure of pop music, which includes a verse, chorus and bridge.  The verse typically tells the story of a song.  The chorus is usually the most energetic part and is repeated often.  The bridge is the instrumental portion that creates a transition between verse and chorus. Instructors assign one move to the verse, one move to the chorus and one move to the bridge and the moves repeat as that portion of the song is played.  Easy peasy and lots of fun!

The video depicts Susan using an alternative flotation device.  Designed to hold the body vertical in deep-water exercise, the Water Horse is a comfortable alternative to the flotation belt.  According to, the Water Horse is less constricting than a belt and features a comfortable cloth seat that allows for a greater and more comfortable range of motion. 

Fitmotivation extends yet another big thank you to Susan Abel Sullivan for sharing her passion and talents. Based in Brunswick, GA, Susan is known for combining her love of music, movement, dance and theatrics in her programming.  Check out her other two videos – Aqua Games & Themes and Fribata.  Visit her website for information on hosting AEA CEC workshops.   Susan is also a published author of fiction, including the novels – Haunted Housewives and Weredog Whisperer.



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.