The COVID-19 pandemic has upended water fitness classes all across the globe. However, some pools are starting to reopen; classes are slowly being reintroduced with restrictions and safety guidelines. These protocols are typically determined by individual facilities with guidance from federal and state governing bodies. Most of the guidelines I have heard from returning instructors include restrictions on class size and equipment use. However, I have also heard of restrictions on movement selection, including no travel and obviously no partner work.
Social distancing in the pool may require students spacing themselves out and potentially positioning themselves in less desirable depths. If you have ever participated in a water exercise class in shallow water at waist depth, you know how uncomfortable the impact can be. Classes held in shallower pools should be taught with low-impact exercise. In shallow water at waist depth, the only option for removing impact is by performing grounded or anchored movements. When exercising in a recommended depth at chest level, there are other options for removing impact, including lowering in the water into neutral or Level II position. WATCH a short tutorial on water depth to better understand impact implications.
Grounded movements are performed by anchoring one foot on the pool floor at all times. Most aquatic fitness exercises are bounded, by either transferring weight from one foot to the other as in one-footed moves, including jogs, kicks and leg curls, or by jumping on both feet as in two-footed moves, such as skis, jacks and moguls. Transferring weight from foot to foot or jumping causes impact on joints. Two-footed moves are actually high impact exercises and impact options should always be given for them. Many instructors default to Neutral/Level II cues when offering these options. Grounded options are often overlooked.
Instructors often avoid grounded options because they perceive them as less challenging. As demonstrated by Miff, the reality is that you can amp the intensity on anchored exercises by incorporating aggressive arm patterning. Additionally, grounded moves are often performed on the half tempo and the slower movement of the working leg forces it to work harder against the water’s resistance. If you are looking for a core challenge, try removing the arms so that the core is forced to stabilize while performing movements balanced on one-foot.
Adding grounded moves increases an instructor’s library of exercises and adds creative movement options. All base moves can be grounded. See examples below.
Jumping Jacks – one leg steps to the side
Cross Country Skis – reverse lunges
Jogs – march
Front kicks – ½ tempo front karate kicks
Pendulums - ½ tempo side karate kicks
Filmed while she was recovering from a broken foot, Boundless Opportunities was developed by Miff as a routine for herself to stay fit with a non-impact exercise routine. Instructors can take away several grounded arm & leg combinations to add in to their classes. All aquatic fitness classes should feature a healthy blend of grounded and bounded exercise, given that many of our class participants choose water exercise classes because they want to avoid impact and discomfort.
Fitmotivation extends a big THANK-YOU to Miff for once again sharing her water exercise passion with subscribers. We hope that the content in this video provides instructors with some usable ideas as they return to their classes and all new policies. Please provide us feedback about your facilities guidelines so that we can better provide suitable content with safety protocols in mind. Check out more Fitmotivation videos with Miff.
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.