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The Benefits of Plyometrics in the Water

Athletes who practiced jump training in water significantly improved jump height and peak power without increased injury risk, according to findings published in PLOS One (2018; 13 [12], e0208439). Researchers from the University of Technology Sydney compared athletes who performed jump training in water 1.2 meters (3 feet 11 inches) deep with athletes who followed their regular sports training—without added jump training—on land. Both groups trained three times a week for 8 weeks.

Why Water Fitness?

While water fitness was once the domain of older adults, now participants of all ages and ability levels are benefiting from aquatic workouts. Shirley Archer, JD, MA, water fitness specialist and health and wellness blogger, examines what’s new in aquatic training research and looks at different types of programs.

Research Update
Here are some of the newer findings related to aquatic training:

Learn, Connect and Thrive at the IDEA® World Convention

Education is the foundation of the IDEA World Convention, but this fitness event offers plenty more than stellar instruction. For Jonathan Bernath, publicist-turned-personal-trainer, it’s where he discovered the “fitness family” that would guide him in his new career.

Most Popular Club Activities

The three types of workout equipment used most often in health clubs in 2016 were treadmills, resistance machines and free weights, according to the IHRSA 2017 Health Club Consumer Report. Among group exercise and training programs, yoga topped the list, with 36% of members reporting participation. Stretching (24%) and calisthenics (23%) ranked second and third.

Conditioning for Kayaking

Did you know that 13 million people participated in some form of kayaking in 2014, making it one of the most popular flatwater sports (Outdoor Foundation 2015)? If you’re a kayaker, you know that the main challenges are building upper-body strength for paddling and maintaining a strong lower back to avoid back pain.

Water-Based Weight Loss Programs Help Older Women Manage Knee Problems

Ratcheting up the intensity of water workouts may help women lose weight without exacerbating knee pain, suggests a new study. Knee osteoarthritis (OA) affects around 13% of women aged 60 and older, and the condition can make it painful for them to exercise and lose weight. It can also become a Catch-22, because carrying excess weight can worsen the problem.

Creative Ideas That Inspire

Floatfit®, offered at facilities worldwide, is a 30–minute HIIT workout on water. Participants utilize the aquabase®, an inflatable floating platform made of military–grade PVC fabric that provides a water–top platform for exercise. The full–body workout includes moves like burpees, lunges, squats and aquaclimbers, with an added balance challenge for training on the water's surface. Instructors also incorporate stretching into this dynamic half hour.

Find Your Center in the Water

Countless exercises target the core—but the majority are land-based. What happens when you bring core work into the pool? The aquatic environment complements this type of training and challenges participants in new ways. While the core is activated during most of a water fitness class, setting aside time for core-specific drills can inject even more fun. Try the following variations in your next class.

Pool Plank

Playful Warm-Ups in the Water

Aquatic exercise is a great way to get and stay in shape. In addition to being a fantastic cross-training option and full- body workout, exercising in the pool helps the body stay balanced. A water workout might not be the first thing your class participants think of when they’re looking to shape up and slim down—but perhaps it should be. Water fitness burns calories, boosts metabolism and strengthens muscles without putting extra stress on joints.

Sample Class: Aqua Jogging

Do your water fitness participants need a change? Mix up your normal routine with a jogging class. Take away the choreography and focus on speed or power intervals. Teach this class in a mixture of shallow and deep water. Modify as needed for participant ability or available pool depth. To encourage people to move mindfully, emphasize the following points:

Water Workouts Work Well

Many people exercise in the water because of its low-impact nature. According to research presented in October at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, water exercise may provide similar cardiovascular benefits to land-based workouts.

Rhythmic Water Warm-Up

If your current water warm-up is lacking excitement, it’s time to add some variety. An effective warm-up is light-to-moderate intensity, moves through all three planes of motion and focuses on large muscle movements. This prepares the body for higher intensity by raising the heart rate and core body temperature.

H20 Solutions for Active Aging

The unique properties of water (buoyancy and resistance) provide a safe and effective modality for both relaxation and vigorous exercise, yet the health benefits of water workouts are not widely known. Current public health trends—especially rising rates of obesity, coupled with an aging population, associated chronic conditions and rising healthcare costs—are a call to new action for both treatment and prevention.

Wordless Warm-Down

Water is a heat robber. If you’re not moving at a high enough rate to generate your own heat, water will bring your body temperature down to its level. So instead of a cool-down at the end of a water fitness workout, do a “warm-down.” The idea is to continue moving in order to generate heat, maintain comfort and avoid the “big chill.”

Sample Class: Pool Circuits for Older Adults

Water fitness classes have grown in popularity and creativity over the past 20 years. What started off as something more or less for older, less fit women has developed into a recognized form of fitness training for the superfit exerciser, the athlete recovering from injury, the older adult with a chronic condition or the person who simply enjoys how forgiving the water environment can be to joints. The pool is also a terrific environment for circuit and interval classes.

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