Friday, April 10 2020

The best instructors are the most educated instructors.  Knowledge is power and continuing education is the key.  Fitness instructors should be able to explain the purpose of an exercise to their students.  Name That Muscle is a video tutorial that helps aquatic fitness professionals identify the working muscle – with and without equipment.  This video includes an optional Online Ed course with an extended 8-page handout and quiz approved for 2.0 AEA CECs (extra cost).

Aquatic fitness professionals should be able to identify which muscles are being targeted with resisted concentric and assisted eccentric muscle actions in every exercise they teach.  Class participants want to know the WHY behind the movement.  Sharing this knowledge with students gives the workout purpose and helps them to be more aware of their form and alignment.

In land fitness, instructors are only required to learn one set of muscle actions, those affected by gravity. Aquatic fitness professionals must learn much more because muscle actions change in the water depending on whether equipment is used and what kind. They must still understand gravitational forces for movements performed above the water or with weighted equipment.  Water fitness instructors obviously must understand the effects of submerged resistance when not using equipment.  What muscles are working? They must also understand what happens when you add drag equipment.  Lastly, aquatic fitness professionals must understand how foam equipment, such as hand buoys and noodles interact with buoyant forces and change the muscle actions.  Name That Muscle is a video tutorial intended to help, however fully understanding these concepts requires certification and continuing education. 

The Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA) is the world’s largest resource for certification and education.  Certified with AEA since 2000, I am grateful for 20 years of continuing education that has made me a better instructor and helped me create safe, purposeful classes.  Much of the 8-page continuing education handout for Name That Muscle is based on chapter 4 – Movement Analysis – in the Seventh Edition AEA Aquatic Fitness Professional Manual.  I hope the information in this video either serves as a refresher for AEA certified instructors or inspires others to pursue certification and continuing education.

This 36-minute video is divided into 5 segments, each presenting different scenarios for identifying the working muscle in an exercise.

Segment 1:  Land Movement
Before fitness professionals can identify the working muscle, they must first understand certain principles related to movement analysis, such as resisted and assisted movement.  Beyond that, they must also understand anatomical movement, muscle actions and movement planes.  This first segment reviews these important concepts and how they relate to gravity, which is the force that influences land movement.  Five exercise examples are offered for identifying which movements are resisted and which are assisted by gravity. 

Segment 2:  Aquatic Movement with Weighted Equipment
Weighted equipment is not very prevalent in the aquatic fitness industry. Examples include specially coated hand weights or ankle & wrist weights.  Very few pools offer any kind of weighted equipment, however, this segment is a good opportunity to find out WHICH muscles are being targeted by the force of gravity in the five exercise examples provided in land movement.  Adding weighted equipment simply increases the resistance encountered by gravity; the muscle actions do not change.

Segment 3:  Submerged Movement without Equipment
Submerged movement without equipment is affected by drag forces, which are related to the water’s thickness or viscosity.  This is a big sell for water fitness.  All movements are resisted and therefore muscle balance is achieved more easily and effectively.  In this segment, the same five movement examples are used to better understand WHY all movements are resisted by drag forces.

Segment 4:  Aquatic Movement with Drag Equipment
The muscle actions that occur with drag equipment are the same as using no equipment at all.  All movements are resisted and concentric and influenced by the water’s viscosity and drag forces.  Drag equipment simply increases the resistance encountered by these drag forces.  Examples of drag equipment include webbed gloves and the Aqualogix upper body belles and lower body fins. In this segment, the same five exercise examples are used to identify the working muscles in all of the resisted movements. 

Segment 5:  Aquatic Movement with Buoyant Equipment
Buoyant equipment is the most common type of equipment available to aquatic fitness professionals and therefore it is vital that they understand how muscle actions are influenced by buoyancy. Similar to the gravity vector, the buoyant vector is vertical.  However, the buoyant vector points upwards and thus all movement downwards (towards the pool floor) is resisted and concentric.  All movement upwards (away from the pool floor) is assisted and eccentric.  In this segment, viewers are asked to determine which movements are resisted and assisted and which muscles are being targeted in the five exercise examples.

Educating our class participants helps them move better, feel better and live better.  Whether this video was a refresher, or you are learning some of this for the first time, you will return to your classes a better instructor for having furthered your education.  If you are AEA certified, please consider the optional Name That Muscle online course that includes an extended education handout and a quiz worth 2.0 AEA CECs.  Fitmotivation now has 20 Online Ed courses, each worth 2.0 CECs.  Perhaps you can use this unexpected down time to earn some CECs. 


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.