Tuesday, July 02 2019

Press the play button on your favorite 70’s playlist and transform the pool into a dance floor.  Enjoy simple blocks of add-on choreography designed with a touch of Saturday Night Fever and heaping dose of functional movement.  U.K Aqua Expert, Cassie Biddulph makes her debut on Fitmotivation with Disco Waves, a fun shallow water routine.

Dance fitness programs are enjoying popularity in both studios and in pools.  Zumba Fitness started a revolution of fitness programs based on specialized music and dance styles.  These programs harken back to the days of Jane Fonda and good old-fashioned dance aerobic classes.   Based on steady-state energy expenditure designed to promote caloric burning and muscle endurance, dance fitness has long been lauded for creating exercise adherence based on the enjoyment factor of music and movement.  Aerobic dance training is the antithesis of the HIIT programming that is all the rage right now.  Instructors should avoid being typecast in either style and instead embrace elements of each.   

Why is dancing so enjoyable?  Is it a human instinct?  Inquiring minds wanted to know and so of course I Googled.  Below is an excerpt from an interesting article entitled, The Neuroscience of Dance.   The original article was posted in the July 2008 edition of Scientific American.
"So natural is our capacity for rhythm that most of us take it for granted: when we hear music, we tap our feet to the beat or rock and sway, often unaware that we are even moving. But this instinct is, for all intents and purposes, an evolutionary novelty among humans. Nothing comparable occurs in other mammals nor probably elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Our talent for unconscious entrainment lies at the core of dance, a confluence of movement, rhythm and gestural representation. By far the most synchronized group practice, dance demands a type of interpersonal coordination in space and time that is almost nonexistent in other social contexts."


Advice for the choreography challenged
The movements in the five blocks of choreography are very simple to teach.  Cassie encourages a slow progression of instruction.  “Pick a segment, learn it, take your time teaching it with lots of repetitions and monitor your students learning curve,” she advises.  “Blocks can be added on when students are ready for more,” she adds.

Advice for choreography pros
Each block of choreography has 3-5 moves which are added on to form the final combination.  The blocks can also be added on together.  This is demonstrated at the end of segments 3 and 5 in the video.  Cassie also recommends that instructors have fun mixing and matching the combinations as well as changing the order of the moves.  As the student in this video I can wholeheartedly testify to the enjoyment factor of this routine, particularly when the blocks are added together.  I felt like I was dancing!

Purposeful Movement
According to Cassie, her goal for this program was to create a routine that was functional yet fun.  Many of the movements were designed with corrective exercise and activities of daily living (ADLs) in mind.  “I tried to make moves more reflective of opening the body rather than closing it like we do when driving or sitting at a desk,” she says.  Standard operating procedure for Cassie is to create the choreography first and then tweak it for functionality.

Grounded Movement
The Disco Waves routine is heavy on grounded movement, which makes it a low impact routine and ideal for more mature audiences.  Grounded/anchored exercises are often overlooked by instructors in favor or bounded one and two-foot moves, such as jogs, jacks and skis.  The perception is that grounded moves are easier because they are impact free; a notion that Cassie dismisses.  “As long as the grounded moves are full range of motion with big arm patterns they will not lessen the intensity,” she says.   Additionally, she says grounded moves challenge weight transfer, which enhances core recruitment and aides in fall prevention.

Slowing the cadence
Cassie recommends 128-130bpm for this routine.  The BPM used in the video was 128bpm, which surprised me because I always assumed that a slower BPM was a drag on shallow water cardio training.  However, I never felt as if I was moving to slow in the pool.   In fact, due to the abundance of grounded moves it would have been ineffective to try and move faster.  According to Cassie, the only way to make this routine effective in water is to keep the beat slower so that transitions can be comfortably executed with range of motion intact. 

Fitmotivation extends a huge THANK YOU to Cassie for traveling to Florida and sharing her choreography with video subscribers. As the Brits say…BRILLIANT!  WELL DONE!   Cassie is a master trainer and education specialist for Hydro-Actif, the United Kingdoms most widely recognized and respected aquatic fitness organization.  Read her bio here. 
 The British Invasion is not over.  Stay tuned next week for S.M.A.R.T Circuits with Steph Toogood, a frequent Fitmotivation video contributor. 

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.