Getting Men in Water Exercise Classes

Sunday, December 08 2019

Water exercise classes have long been the domain of an older and more female audience, but that is changing thanks to the efforts of aquatic fitness professionals who are designing increasingly challenging and athletic programs.  Chris LaCour is one of those pros and he is back with more Dude Moves – this time in the deep end. 

Teaching classes in New York City, Chris and his wife, Jenni Lynn Patterson LaCour, have ignited social media over the last few years with short videos of their S’WET™ Fitness programs that feature a boot camp approach to water exercise with lots of equipment and athletic challenges.  Jenni Lynn has returned to Florida four times to film for Fitmotivation due to the popularity of her videos.  Chris filmed for the first time last year, introducing Dude Moves and Xtreme Aqua to video subscribers.   Back by popular demand, he brought more Dude Moves with him, but this time the exercises were performed in deep water. 

Dude Moves Deep was inspired by Chris’s deep-water class at the Yale Club in New York City.  According to Chris, the majority of the class is conducted in the deep end of the pool because most of his students have knee, back and hip issues.  He said the class participants could perform grounded work in the shallow end, but most preferred the challenging, zero-gravity environment of the deep end.  Creating programming to accommodate joint impact issues is a familiar thing for all aquatic fitness instructors; however, Chris’s participants are atypical when compared to most water exercise classes. “This class consists of past athletes, marathon runners and has a 2 to 1 male to female ratio,” says Chris. 

Getting men into water exercise classes has been a historic challenge thanks in part to the myth that these classes were for older women, but mostly due to the reality that many instructors perpetuated this impression over the last 40 years by leading ineffectual classes that morphed into a social hour.   Erasing this stigma has proven challenging but Chris has some advice for instructors when it comes to getting more men in their classes.  For starters, he says personability is the biggest factor. “Making them feel comfortable and invited into class is important when they walk onto the deck and encounter a sea of ladies,” says Chris.   He encourages instructors to go out of their way to let male participants know that it sometimes takes a few classes to feel totally comfortable.  Chris offers the following advice to his new male participants: “The first time might feel a little crazy to you.  You may not feel as coordinated as you do with movements on land, so just go with it, do your best and I’ll keep an eye on you and help you out.”  He said that this message usually relaxes them and gives them the okay to mess moves up and not feel self-conscious about it.   “After class I will always speak to them and let them know what they did great and, depending on how receptive the student seems, will give them tips on the things they had trouble with.”   Chris emphasizes the importance of encouraging men to keep coming back and to start owning their own intensity level.  “I let them know that when the movements start to come together, they can put more effort into the moves, which will then lead to a more vigorous and intense full body workout.”

Dude Moves Deep includes exercises with both hand buoys and noodles.  Chris reminds instructors that if they want to encourage more men to participate in their classes, they have to offer appropriately sized noodles and buoys.  He advises that the “Dollar Store” noodles are typically not dense enough to provide resistance or neutral support for more athletically built males.  “Hand buoys should also be larger-sized for a male clientele,” he adds.  It is important to note that the males Chris and Jenni get in their Manhattan classes are actually young and very fit.   And if you haven’t seen any of their class videos you may want to follow S’WET by Jenny Lynn Fitness on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and Twitter.  It really is heartening to see these young guys working so explosively and passionately in the water.  But to get these guys into a class requires instructors to offer programming and equipment that will provide a challenge.  Chris recommends HYDROFIT noodles, hand buoys and flotation belts.  “The quality is the best I’ve come across and the hand buoys and belts come in varying sizes to accommodate all.”  He cautions that the HYDROFIT noodles can be a little dense for some students’ abilities and recommends keeping both dense and less dense noodles poolside so that class participants can choose what is best for their fitness level. 

Flotation belts are recommended in deep water workouts, however in many of the S’WET videos posted on social media, participants are seen in deep water without belts.  Chris explains WHY in the following video. 

Fitmotivation extends a big THANK YOU to Chris LaCour for returning to Florida and filming more videos.  Stay tuned – more videos with Chris will be posting in the next two months. 






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.