Water Walk & Stretch Interval Program

Tuesday, December 17 2019

Pool walking is a popular activity for fitness seekers who want to exercise but prefer to do so in the supportive environment of water.  Aqua Training Specialist, Jackie Lebeau proves that moving more slowly and purposely in the water can actually be more challenging than jogging.  Suitable for all populations, Stride and Stretch is an aqua interval program that provides an ideal blend of cardio and flexibility.

Observe any recreational pool for a day and you will see an avid collection of pool walkers, similar in their passion to mall walkers.  Walking alone or with a buddy, these water striders take their sport seriously.  Walking in the water creates extra muscular resistance while eliminating impact.  The viscosity of water also provides a supportive safety net for those who fear falling due to balance or musculoskeletal issues. 

Water walking is also an opportunity to socialize while exercising.  Striding activities require less attention to choreography and the moderate cardio output allows people to walk and talk.  Considering that many older adults live alone and often battle loneliness, the combination of fitness and socialization can be a powerful exercise adherent with an added bonus of helping people feel connected.   Watch a short clip of Jackie talking about the importance of exercise and socialization.

Observing people walking the length of a pool, you will typically see them stride to one end and turn around and walk back.  Walking in this manner is perfectly fine, but it can be made so much better.   Attend a water walking class, such as one of Jackie’s Aqua Interval classes and you will see walking patterns performed in a variety of directions.  “We are given two 25-meter lanes to work with and so I incorporate long multidirectional walking patterns interspersed with sets of higher intensity resistance work,” says Jackie.  Pairing water walking with other fitness activities is an excellent way to achieve greate results.  Instead of interspersing the walking intervals with HIIT drills, Stride & Stretch was designed to appeal to those looking for a gentler exercise experience.  The walking sequences are alternating with stretching segments for an outcome that is designed to promote enhanced flexibility and range of motion. 

Water walking is typically more effective in larger pools with more expansive space to move around.  Smaller pools will require more frequent turns or possibly even stationary movement. This water walking program features four walking sequences that feature different striding directions and progress in range of motion, speed and impact.  Each walking sequence is followed by a stretching segment.

Water Walking Sequence 1
The walking pattern in this sequence is forward travel (toe, ball, heel), with movements progressing in range of motion and impact. The stretches in this segment focus on back, chest and neck.

Water Walking Sequence 2
The movement is reversed as backward walking patterns (heel, ball ,toe) are featured in this sequence.  The stretches at the end of the walking target core, hips and quadriceps.

Water Walking Sequence 3
Sideways walking patterns that target inner and outer thigh are featured in this sequence.  The stretches include flexibility training for the arms and shoulders.

Water Walking Sequence 4
This walking sequence features a mixture of walking patterns designed to train balance and core strength.  The final flexibility segment includes stretches for calves, glutes and hamstrings. 

How can instructors use this programming?
The programming presented in this video can be utilized in its entirety or portions can be added into any type of water exercise format.  The walking patterns make for a great warm-up or cool down in a higher intensity class.  The pool temperature is a determining factor in how this material can be used.  Chilly pools would require more vigorous walking patterns and dynamic stretching.  However, Jackie advises instructors to encourage participants to avoid rushing and morphing the walking into jogging.  “There are amazing benefits to slowing down and using full range of motion with the arms and legs during the walking sequences,” says Jackie.  Repetition is also an important factor in her water walking classes.  “The first time through is the learning phase, the second time through is the "dress rehearsal" and the third is "final show" where movements should be very strong and purposeful.”

Music Playlist
The music playlist used was Mark’s Dance Instrumental Mix and is available for download at Muscle Mixes Music.  The cadence used was slowed to 126 bpm. 

Fitmotivation extends a big THANK YOU to Jackie for returning to Florida for a third time to film.  Check out Jackie's other videos. If you want to host Jackie's CEC Workshops you can contact her through her website - JLA Fiitness.  Stay tuned for more videos with Jackie posting in the next two months. 



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.