Swimming has been a popular activity since 4000 BC. Some of our most cherished written documents, such as the Bible, and rich stories, such as the Iliad, have featured swimming throughout their text. Cave drawings of specific strokes have been found and Roman’s elaborate bath houses have been noted. Romans used their bath houses for social gatherings and later introduced swimming into the Olympics.
Our admiration for this activity and desire to socialize in a healthy environment, as the Romans have, has amplified. Community pool establishments are at an all time high. Or, if you are quite the opposite and like being alone apart from Mother Earth, there are ample bodies of water to go camp near. People now more than ever are going out to get unplugged, retreating near bodies of water for the exercise and calming sounds. As a result, hundreds of programs have been augmented, including everything from “Aqua Zumba” to life guarding certification courses. Swimming is now identified as a life skill and can be learned at any age, from one to one hundred.
Learning to swim is a process and takes time, but the least amount of equipment. Besides deep water and an optimal bathing suit, you do not need any gear. The water naturally suspends you, allowing your body to carry approximately 29% of your body weight when chest deep. Once you have mastered the basics of staying afloat, you will ream the benefits of pool workouts. You never know…you could be the next Elizabeth Beisel or Johnny Weissmuller!
How do you think Johnny Weissmuller first swam the 100 meter dash in less than one minute? Even with resistance levels being twelve times higher than air, when you are at high levels of competition, your average laps and kicks just will not cut it. When training, aqua fitness gear is implemented into workout routines to enhance this resistance and strengthen a wide variety of muscle groups. The equipment is usually buoyant and therefore depends on how forceful you are against the resistance of the water. For the most salubrious workout, exercise in the pool for at least 30 minutes, five times per week. Here are some exercises that have worked great for me and may be customized to your pool fitness routine!
Repeat each set twice.
- Jumping Jacks, 20 reps–The water should reach the top of your shoulders. Work on balance and coordination.
- Step ups, 30 reps–use your buoyant belt and position yourself as if you were sitting in a chair. Extend your left leg downwards. As you push the water under your right foot, raise and flex the left knee to your chest. Alternate legs and use your arms for balance. One repetition is equal to both the left and right leg step ups.
- Otter rolls, 15 reps–Keep the belt on. Lay on your back, allowing the water to suspend your weight. Cross both your arms and legs. Use your core muscles to roll you onto your right side. Roll over to the middle and then the left side. One repetition is equal to the Right, Middle, and Left otter rolls.
- Backward leg raise, 15 reps–Hold on to the side of the pool, with your chest towards the wall and feet touching the bottom. Extend one leg back, keeping your posture straight. Alternate legs. One rep equals both the right and left leg raise.
- Glute shake, 1 minute–Anywhere in the pool, shake your bum at rapid speed, loosening the muscles.
- Resistance Row, 20 reps–Grasp your buoyant dumbbells, one in each hand, with the grip facing up like a candlestick. Hold them completely below the water, at the level of your chest. With arms extended outwards to start, bring the dumbbells back to your chest. One repetition equals a complete flexion and extension cycle.
- Arm Circles, 2 minutes–Extend arms out to sides with your palms facing upwards. Rotate arms in a circular fashion, as if you were to draw circles in the air.
- Kicks, 3 minutes–Lay on top of your kick board, holding onto the sides. For three minutes, kick the water as fast and hard as you can. This will take care of the build-up of lactic acid.
- Reserve at least ten minutes to twenty minutes after your workout for stretching. This process is just as important, if not more important, than the actual workout itself. Your muscles can only grow if you stretch them out! It is important to stretch directly after your workout or after a hot shower, as they need to be warm and loose.