Tuesday, July 02 2019

Exercising in deep water provides a unique opportunity to free the body and free the mind with flowing movement in a gravity free environment.
Steph Toogood

 Deep water exercise has traditionally featured lots of jogging, running, skiing and cycling from one end of the pool to the other.  Over the past decade, deep water formats have evolved to maximize the benefits of gravity free exercise.  UK Aqua Expert, Steph Toogood, recently shared her free-flowing and functional deep water odyssey, Deep 360, with Fitmotivation subscribers.

 Envision a circle or a compass and then imagine hitting all points of that compass with multi-directional movement.  This creative and functional workout moves the body vertical, horizontal, diagonal, prone, supine and side-lying.  Moving freely in the water in this manner not only feels good - it is good for the body. 

As the body ages, stiffening joints often cause pain and mobility issues which can impact quality of life.  According to Steph, one of the biggest problem areas is the back due to a reluctance to mobilize the spine in all directions in a gravitational environment. “In deep water, we can unload the pressure on the discs with optimal alignment, allowing people to move the spine more freely,” says Steph.  Because so many of her students provided positive feedback about how good this workout made them (and their backs) feel, she decided to make this one of her signature workshops and videos in 2017.

Steph’s initial inspiration for this workout was watching dolphins at play. “I found myself wishing I could move in the same way,” she says.  With a background as a swim instructor she loves being immersed in the water and exploring movement.  “I found that by moving and playing freely in the water with less rigidity, my spine was allowed to flex and flow in all directions, literally a full 360 degrees, hence the video title.”  

While functional training has become popular in shallow water over the past few years, there has been little of this programming offered in deep  water.  According to Steph, this may be due to the fact that working in full 360 degrees in deep water is challenging because there is no base of support.  She considers core control and sculling skills essential in this workout.


1. All Points Set – movement that hits all points of the compass
2. Off Axis Stability Challenge – purposefully taking the body out of vertical alignment to enhance core stability and strength
3. Twist & Turn Medley – spinal mobility exercises with rotational movement
4. Flex & Flow Set – creating total body mobility with fluidity and flow

5. Mono Balance Challenge – unilateral lower body movements to target strength and stability

6. Cycle & Core – multi-directional core exercises and a cycling challenge

7. Warm Down/Free Expression – the ultimate cool down, unstructured & unplugged

The segments are very unique and feature base moves that progress gradually with a recurring transition.  As always, instructors are encouraged to “cherry pick” moves and combinations in this video that are compatible with their teaching style.  Steph teaches this Deep 360 workout to her local classes on the Isle of Wight (UK). My students are an eclectic mix of ages and fitness levels but all agree that this is a feel good workout,” she exclaims. 

 Steph is the founder of Hydro-Actif, the U.K.’s leading resource for aquatic fitness certification, education and products.  Look for Steph at the International Aquatic Fitness Conference (IAFC) in May.  

Fitmotivation would like to extend thanks once again to Steph for sharing her workout.  If you liked 360 in deep, check out Steph's 360 in shallow water.  In 2016, Steph produced two original Fitmotivation videos – 360 Degree Angles for Balance & Core and Hand Buoy ABCs.   Steph also has three other previously produced DVDs streaming on – Deep, Deep, DeeperHand Buoy Solutions and Mature Moves.   Next month, another original Fitmotivation video featuring Steph will post.  Stay tuned for H2O Core Solutions!

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.