Tuesday, July 02 2019

The above preview is for Aqua Ball Workout, which posted on 4/21/16

In the last few months we have paid homage to noodles, kickboards and hand buoys.  This month we celebrate ideas for fun, function and fitness in the water with that childhood wonderment – the ball. 

The Aqua Ball Workout was recently posted and I have received lots of comments from subscribers, thrilled with the content.  This video, presented by Belgian Aqua Expert, Martine Flamen, shows how you can add resistance (upper body), buoyancy (core work), agility and fun into your workout with small balls, which are affordable, versatile and easy to purchase. 

Fitness balls, kick balls, beach balls, small balls, medium balls and Dollar Store balls – there are no strict rules here.  Keep it affordable.  The small (5 inch) green balls used for upper body in the video can be purchased for as low as $10.00 for 25 balls.  Information on purchasing the balls is included at the end of this blog.

The Functional Factor
Most pools are equipped with just foam dumbbells and noodles.  Adding small balls into your classes isn’t going to change the muscle actions due to the forces of buoyancy, but the balls will add more functional versatility to your workout.  The smaller surface area of balls allows them to be used more safely when performing multi-planar movements.  In the video, Martine performs a spiral movement up and down with the ball.  She also performs arm circles with the ball.    This type of circumduction would be risky, if not impossible with the larger surface area presented by hand buoys or noodles.   Gripping the balls is also much more user friendly for arthritic hands because the grip is wider (more open) and softer with a ball.

The Fun Factor
Childhood activities often include fun and games with balls.  Why stop the fun?  Students will keep coming to classes when they enjoy them.  As Martine demonstrated in the video, using a ball in an aqua class generates lots of smiles and provides lots of opportunities for agility drills that is not possible with other equipment. 

Upper Body:  One-Handed
The first segment in the video features unilateral arm patterns with the ball – moving in all 3 planes (sagittal, frontal & transverse), as well as multi-planar, moving in circles, spirals and diagonally.

Upper Body:  Two-Handed in Front
This segment includes bilateral arm patterns with both hands gripping the ball.   The movements occur in front of the body and include agility skills such as passing the ball under the legs and around the body.

Upper Body: Two-Handed Behind
In this segment, both hands hold the ball behind the body, providing a deeper stretch on the anterior deltoid (Participants with shoulder issues may not be comfortable in this position).  From this position, Martine demonstrates suspended cycling and traveling with the ball.

Lower Body & Core
In this segment, the ball is placed between the legs and the body is suspended with torso upright and with torso in a modified supine position.  The first part of the segment targets the inner thigh with variations on thigh squeezes.  The hip adductors are often challenging to target in a group fitness class and so the ball provides ideal training opportunities for this muscle group.   The ball is also used for supine abdominal and core training in this segment.

Ball Sizes, Uses & Purchasing
In the video, Martine is using two balls – the larger is an 8-inch Togu ball, which is a higher quality fitness ball and the smaller green ball in the video is a cheap mini (5-inch) beach ball – which was more suitable for the female participant in the video to hold on to for upper body movements.   According to Martine, the 5-inch balls are good for small hands in the upper body movements, but they do not provide enough buoyancy for neutral buoyancy – floating and performing leg and core work.

Therefore, it is ideal to have both sizes if you want to include both upper body and lower body/core as seen in the video.
Below are some links you can use for purchasing. 

Togu Fitness Ball (8 inch) Europe

Togu Fitness Ball (8 inch) USA

Oriental Trading (variety of ball sizes)

5-inch knobby (12 pack for $13.99)  The knobby can be easier to grip

These are just a few links that I “Googled.”  If you want the most affordable pricing, spent some time and do some detective work “Googling” 5-inch and 8-inch balls on the internet.

On behalf of Fitmotivation, I want to thank Martine Flamen for an outstanding video.  I think this video received more comments on Facebook than any other video I have posted.  Martine is the founder of VDRG Dance, the largest chain of dance schools in Belgium.  She is also the founder of Aqua & Move, a Belgian aqua fit and swimming organization. 

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.