I use water exercise for every level of my clients, from my elder recreation class to my college athletes.
For the water aerobics classes, I use a number of different things to keep it from getting flat. Like putting in a song/music from a popular dance craze that was big when my students were in their teens/twenties. Like the “twist”, “hokey pokey”, and the “mashed potato” for my seniors. When that music starts I call out “dance break” and then start dancing and call out the dance (just in case some of the participants don’t catch on as quickly or my dancing is unrecognizable).
With my athletes (usually high school aged heading to college) I will stop everything for a canon ball contest or throw a ball into the center of the pool and the first one to throw it back to me (I actually have to catch the ball or it has to land near me), etc., the winner gets one of my promo t-shirts or picks the next exercise of the sesson, etc.
Often an idea will occur to me during a class and I will write it down right after class. Then I can work on how to use it in a class sometime in the future.
I teach a series of Aquatic Exercise CECs (Beyond Basic H2O and HIH2O) to Fitness Instructors that include a lot of ways to make the classes more fun. Along with a lot of ways to cue and keep the class flowing, etc. I find that aquatic exercise is one of the most beneficial, yet under utilized, forms of exercise for all levels. It is really unfortunate. I have used water exercise to improve, prehab, rehab, and cross train even elite athletes. Many of these clients were at their wits end with issues of pain and injury. Some found conventional training methods unable to give them the freedom of movement to achieve their goals. But to this day, I have never had a client who didn’t reap big benefits from my aquatic training methods (even collegiate swimmers).
Music always makes the class fun and can change the tempo. It is fun to use noodles like horses and have horse races in lap lanes. After class on Fridays, we put a rope across the middle of the pool and played water volleyball with a beach ball.
At the end of class, I would have everyone hold hands in a circle and move in one direction and then another. The class loved it when I would have them water walk around the outside of the pool in one direction to peppy music such as “Tonight’s gonna be a good night” by the Black Eyed Peas- then when the current was moving I would shout ” Change directions! Everyone would turn around and faced a wave of water. It was hard to get going again and everyone would laugh and laugh. The best thing about class was giving them a good routine that they got to know, but then changing up the end of class. Everyone becomes friends. And that keeps them coming back.
there are many ways, but it also depends on the composition of your participants. I taught water aerobics for 18 years, and my participants – for the most part – were women in their fifties and up, often with conditions that made water aerobics their only option, but some of them also in quite good shape from years of water aerobics. Many were overweight.
I found that the right music can make all the difference in the world. Broadway hits were very popular, and I often ended up with a sing-along.
I noticed that partner exercises were not popular in my group but that fast directional changes often made the whole group chuckle because it threw them off kilter. A beach ball to play some form of ‘volleyball’ was popular but it can exclude some participants. I also used water noodles in a variety of ways.
Depending on the rapport you have with the group, it can be helpful to have one ‘buddy’. I rarely corrected directly unless there was risk of injury but I would single out a person as a good example and made an effort to spread the praise around.
Getting to know the students and introducing them to each other will build camaraderie that should be most beneficial. Don’t forget to be yourself and enjoy the time with them which will bring out your inner comedian. There are many games to help with this.
Natalie aka NAPS 2 B Fit.