A water fitness program is a wonderful way to exercise, meet people and have fun all at the same time. Exercising in water allows you to gain mobility in your joints, build up muscle and increase aerobic fitness, all without stressing your joints. The buoyancy of water effectively makes your body weigh less, up to 80% less if you are standing in shoulder-deep water.
A water fitness program will include stretches, some aerobic exercises and some resistance exercises.
Stretches are usually done holding onto the edge of the pool and are similar to stretches done on land, working the calf muscles, hamstring and quadriceps muscles and all the shoulder girdle muscles.
Aerobic exercise might include jogging, either on the spot or around the pool, jumps, jumping jacks, sidestepping and many other exercises that your instructor may think up. Usually this part of the workout will be done to music and may even be choreographed into an impromtu "water ballet"
Different pieces of equipment can be used for resistance exercises. Most often paddles are used for arm exercises, as well as water barbells. It is surprising how hard you have to push against the buoyancy of the water. You will be pushing down against the water, or sideways, so you will be using different muscle groups than you would if lifting weights on land.
You do not need to be a swimmer to enjoy an aqua fitness program. If you are nervous, there are flotation arm bands, or, as seen above, "noodles" which keep you afloat. Also, you can join a class which stays in the shallow water, rather than the deep water classes. Deep water classes are a great workout for your abs, and a good instructor will be able to help you build up your core strength.
Finally, after the class there is that wonderful warm whirlpool tub waiting for you to relax and feel good all over!
Of course, you dont have to join a class to enjoy the benefits of a workout in the water. If you are lucky enough to live near a beach you can have fun in the waves and still get your heart rate up. Or, as a grandma or grandpa you can take you little one to the pool and do your workout together.