Water Walking. More Challenging Than You Think.

Tuesday, July 02 2019

More than just walking, the latest video, Water Walking Exercises, breaks down the movements required for a healthy stride. This aint no aimless stroll through the pool. UK Aqua Training Specialist, Steph Toogood, shares drills and skills that require focused concentration and precise muscular coordination.  The challenge is set with a stationary movement before progressing it into a walking pattern. This water walking program can be used in its entirety or you can insert portions at the beginning or end of your class for balance, mobility and gait training.  


First and foremost, Steph emphasizes that water walking is not an easy option and that jogging is much easier because it involves bouncing and momentum.  “Walking in water requires balance and strength to push through the water in a gliding motion as opposed to bounding,” says Steph.  Practicing the routine with her students, she said they were quite surprised at how challenging the walking patterns were, both physically and mentally.  “I would like to impress upon both the instructor and the student that each drill or mobility pattern needs to include a full focus of attention from the brain to execute the task properly and make the movements meaningful.”  Steph adds that her students have been commenting on how the intense focus on specific movements seems to make the time fly by.  The feedback she has received also indicates that the students are enjoying the routine and experiencing results.  

Observing her own students as they walked from the changing area to the pool with stiffened joints affecting their gait, Steph was inspired to implement some exercise solutions in her programming.  Additional ideas came from watching the masses at airports and the variations in stride length, use of arms and foot placement.   Lastly, Steph gleaned valuable information from the book “8 Steps to a Pain Free Back” by Esther Gokhale.  “This book contains images and text that explain efficient walking which made me realize that the people I observe with enviable gait actually appear to glide along effortlessly,” says Steph.   The book refers to this as “Glide Walking” and according to Steph it is actually best practiced in the pool.  Watch below as Steph further describes her inspiration for creating this water walking program.


Featuring three segments, this program includes specific exercises to work on ankle and hip mobility, trunk stability, pelvic and thoracic rotation, along with strengthening weak musculature involved in walking, all designed to prepare the individual to move efficiently and effortlessly.

Segment 1:  Posture & Mobilization
The focus in this segment is foot and pelvis awareness, along with shoulder stabilization and mobilization.  The purpose here is to prepare the body for walking activities and to reinforce the importance of the arms in walking along with other critical factors.  Several walking patterns are introduced.

Segment 2:  Dynamic Lengthening
Established in the first segment, the same strategy is used in demonstrating a movement stationary and then putting the same movement into a walking pattern.  Among other things, attention to stride length and strength is evident in the walking patterns featured in this segment.  

Segment 3:  Drills/Skills & Movement
Intense focus and muscular coordination progresses in this final segment as additional stationary and walking patterns are introduced.

In the video clip below, Steph shares teaching tips that she believes are vital to a successful water walking program, including posture cues, warming up with joint prep, available pool space, multidirectional strides, stability before mobility and much more.

Fitmotivation extends a big THANK YOU to Steph for once again traveling to Florida and sharing her passion and knowledge for creating exercise solutions for aging bodies.  Steph is the founder of Hydro-Actif, the United Kingdom’s most widely recognized and respected aquatic fitness organization. Check out Steph’s library of videos on Fitmotivation.com.


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.