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
"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
"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."