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Cool pool workouts

By MARY LOU SANTOVEC

 

Whether youíre coming to exercise after an injury, starting your fitness journey, or simply looking for something new to do, it might just be time to slip on that swimming suit and try an aquatic option on for size.

"Itís a fun form of exercise," says Pat Hutchinson, a group exercise instructor and aquatic personal trainer at the Wisconsin Athletic Club. "Itís a nice entrance option for someone who is just starting to exercise, who is recovering from an injury or has arthritis or a similar joint problem."

Exercising in water increases your sense of balance. Hutchinson notes that during an aquatic workout, 90 percent of your body weight is absorbed by the water.

"Because of this, your joints donít have to support your weight," she notes. "Plus, the hydrostatic pressure helps with your sense of balance."

Working with the natural resistance of water provides a supportive workout as well.

"Itís also an excellent way to cross train if you work out on a regular basis," notes Heather Williams, senior aquatics director at the Schroeder YMCA in Brown Deer. "We actually have quite a few basketball players who will come in and Ďwater jogí as part of their cross training regime. We also have deepwater classes, where your feet donít touch the bottom the entire time. It adds a whole new element."

Hutchinson adds that a good class will allow for participants to work at their own individual levels and provide a solid base of instruction to understand the benefits of aquatic exercise.

"Itís not how fast you move; itís how fast you move the water," she notes.

Likewise, itís also important to select a class targeted to your individual needs.

"At the Y, we specifically teach a class that follows the Arthritis Foundation guidelines for those people with arthritis and joint problems," says Williams. "These classes follow a specific set of exercises."

While aquatic exercise programs and classes vary, they do have much in common with "dry land" classes.

"Most of the things you can do in a traditional aerobics or other Ďlandí class can be done in the water," says Hutchinson. "The classes are structured in much the same way with a warm-up, a workout and a cool down and stretching."