Use the pool's natural fun factor to teach a balanced workout.
“Nekkid Water Fitness” is a fun-based format designed to accommodate an apparently healthy population in shallow water. The class uses traditional and nontraditional exercises to achieve both cardiovascular and muscular strength and endurance. Absolutely no equipment is needed. Enlist your imagination, and bring your own style and expertise to the workout. Bottom line? This class should be as much fun as you can stand while still being productive in the water.
Song: “Quixote” by Bond (4 minutes, 46 seconds [4:46])
Use traditional exercises to warm up in the cooler water environment. Work the body in all planes with a variety of lever lengths. Lead your class through all three working positions (neutral, rebound and suspension). The goal is to increase respiration rate, joint fluidity and core body temperature. (For a more detailed look at warming up in the water, refer to “Splash Start” on page 92 of the September 2006 IDEA Fitness Journal.)
The first few minutes of the warm-up are designed to get participants accustomed to buoyancy, so the movements are more stationary. Class members spend the last couple of minutes moving through the water as if they were baseball players warming up for a game. Move laterally, forward and backward. Song: “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” by Toadsuck Symphony (2:05)
Play Ball! (cardio)
Song: “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” by Bruce Springsteen (2:43)
Guide the class through an imaginary game of baseball. A spare pool noodle doubles nicely as a “bat” if you have one, but is not mandatory. The instructor and class members take turns being batter and pitcher. Here’s an example of how it works: participants (moving in unison) “pitch” the ball, run back to catch the fly ball and then run back in to tag the runner/instructor. The instructor points out the bases (ladder, water depth marker, pool gutters, etc.) and calls the plays. The goal is to get the class moving, elevate heart rates and then bring everyone back to comfort level.
The Hop (cardio)
Song: “At the Hop” by Danny & The Juniors (2:38)
Use the music to give participants a breather and engage them in a sing-along. Then begin doing jumps—neutral jumps, rebounds or super rebounds (bellybuttons out of the water), depending on your class population and their goals and motivation. Perform the jumps in a stationary position or while traveling. Use lateral as well as forward and backward movements, and mix big jumps with little ones. Have fun, and keep your class engaged.
Song: “Bem, Bem, Maria” by Gipsy Kings (3:05)
Change the pace with a segment targeting muscular strength and endurance. Instruct the class to stand still in neutral (shoulders submerged), feet wider than hip distance, one arm extended in frontal plane, palm facing down. Participants move the arm as far behind them as they can while keeping it in their peripheral vision (start position). Then they move the arm as far in front of them as possible without protracting the shoulder. As the arm travels from back to front, it can move in a downward motion or remain in line with the shoulder. Encourage participants to find a hand position that challenges them (slicing, fisting or palming). The goal is to strengthen the pectoral muscles; therefore, there is no resistance in the return phase. The hand is always slicing, and the arm is flexuous. Participants set the boundary for the movement. They do not have to use their entire range of motion, nor do they need to fully extend the arm. However, the degree of extension should stay the same throughout the movement.
If a participant needs more intensity, she can increase resistance by shifting her weight forward and to the side along the path of the arm movement. Have everyone find a position, work there for a little over 1 minute, return to the start position and turn away from the extended arm to stretch. Repeat on opposite side.
Free Form Dance (cardio)
Song: “Chantilly Lace” (Angelmuse Remix) by Big Bopper (4:01)
This is one of the most difficult sets because participants may become self-conscious. Be bold, and lead the dance for the full time allotted without expecting participants to mimic you. Your role is to give examples of movement and to encourage class members to have fun and find their own individual styles.
Sand Crawl (cardio)
Song: “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)” by Outkast (5:04)
Instruct participants to do a “sand crawl,” which means running while the body is in a diagonal position (shoulders in front of hips, hips in front of feet). Have them move across the short end of the pool in neutral or suspended position. To recover, they walk or run (forward, backward or laterally) back to start position. Repeat.
Lats and Hips (strength and endurance)
Song: “End of the World Party” by Medeski, Martin & Wood (5:10)
Lats. Stand in neutral (shoulders submerged), legs in lunge position, arms extended in sagittal plane, palms facing each other. Pull arms down to hips and return to start. Match the desired intensity with the hand position (slicing, fisting or palming). Always slice back to the start position. If participants need more intensity, have them move their bodies down and back to match the arm movement and increase water resistance.
Hips. Water is a three-dimensional hip machine. Instruct participants to stand on one foot. Help them find neutral spine and tell them to keep the upper body immobile. Cue them to bend the working leg and do a figure-eight movement, extending the leg to increase intensity. Participants should learn (or “mark”) the movement before switching legs. After this set is complete, return to the first leg and add lever length and speed as needed. Work for about 1 minute, then switch and repeat.
Song: “Can Can” by Studio Group (2:12)
Use the music to encourage cancan-style kicking and knee lifts. As the song ends, do chorus-line kicks.
Song: “Shanti/Ashtangi” by Madonna (4:28)
Walk forward, backward and laterally. Use both neutral and suspended positions, and incorporate arms to increase speed. The class can move in an organized, planned manner or in a random pattern with cues (“no straight lines”!). Constantly cue direction changes and working positions.
Song: “The Voice of Enigma” by Enigma (3:03)
Instruct half of the class to do a couple of standing yoga poses, such as tree or warrior III, while the other half walks around the others to keep warm and create a balance challenge. Build poses from easier to more difficult, holding each one for about three breaths.
Song: “The Prayer” by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion (4:26)
Perform dynamic stretches that segue to static stretches for all the major muscle groups. Always go into movement to maintain warmth after periods of stillness. Use the water to increase range of motion and encourage freedom of movement. Let class participants find their own peaceful ending with a big, final deep breath as the song comes to an end.