Shallow Water Impact-Free Workout

Tuesday, July 02 2019

Cleanse your aqua class of joint-impact by building a routine comprised of grounded, neutral and suspended moves.  AEA Training Specialist, Lori Templeman, shares a bounce-free water exercise routine that is challenging, uniquely aquatic and easy on the joints. 

Sink or Swim is one of Lori’s signature programs and also the first workshop she ever created.  Inspired by feedback from her students, she sought to create a workout that maintained intensity and challenge but eliminated joint impact. “For many of my students, the rebounding movements are uncomfortable for joints and chronic conditions,” says Lori.  

Older adults choose aquatic fitness because the exercise is reduced impact compared to land.  However, the reality is that there is still around 25-35% of body weight impact when exercising in water at chest level.  Add to this an abundance of two-footed moves such as jumping jacks, cross-country skis, twists and moguls and you end up with lots of bouncing and a good deal of impact in your aqua class. Two-footed moves are the highest impact moves in aquatic fitness because they must be “jumped” on both feet in order to be executed.  Impact can be eliminated from two-footed moves if they are performed at Level II (neutral – shoulders lowered), Level III (suspended) or grounded (one foot anchored to pool floor).  Therefore, if you want to offer your students a non-impact shallow water routine, all of the exercises would need to be performed neutral, suspended or grounded.    

Bounded moves can also make movement easier because they create momentum. “I wanted to teach a class that focused on muscular effort against the resistance of the water,” says Lori.   Grounded moves, like those featured in Sink or Swim, derive their power from aggressive arm and leg patterns that are resisted by the water’s horizontal drag forces.  Teaching tip:  try teaching a move, such as a swing kick, bounded and then have your students perform the same move grounded.  The drag forces experienced from not adding momentum in the grounded version will add much more muscular resistance to the movement.  And because the heart has to pump out oxygenated blood to that resisted movement; the cardio benefits remain intact. 

Aquatic fitness workouts should feel and look different than land workouts.  Simply doing a land workout in the pool without maximizing the properties of the aquatic environment makes for a rather lame water workout.  Sink or Swim features swim style movements that give the workout an aquatic feel.  “It is fun and effective to do movements that we wouldn't do on land and it can serve as a crossover for those who like to swim and vertical aquatic exercisers,” says Lori.    Recent videos, such as Extreme Aqua, prove that lap swimmers, even young men, will participate in a class that combines swim movements with intense water exercises.

Sink or Swim contains a warm-up, 8 combinations, and a brief stretch and relaxation.  This workout is taught in a linear/freestyle manner which will appeal to those instructors who are not comfortable with more sequenced choreography.  Each combination has four movements, alternating between grounded and suspended.  Instructors can decide on the duration or number of repetitions based on the abilities of their students.

For non-swimmers or anyone uncomfortable with suspending, a neutral option is always given.  According to Lori, this workout can be performed alternating grounded moves with Level II (neutral) instead. “I have taught the entire class with neutral moves, eliminating all the suspended options and students still found it challenging,” adds Lori. 

Interested in adding equipment to this workout?  Lori suggests that webbed gloves would be ideal for Sink or Swim.   “Not only do they add additional resistance, but they also provide better upward propulsion to the suspended moves for those who tend to sink a bit more,” she says.     

Fitmotivation would like to thank Lori Templeman for sharing her signature aqua program with video viewers.  Check out Lori’s other video, Circuit Wave Workout, and stay tuned for her upcoming express video, Top 10 Favorite Noodle Exercises. 

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.