Warm up Phase
The purpose of the warm up phase of the class is
to prepare the body physically, mentally and spiritually for the workout to
follow. The warm up is generally 5-15 minutes in length depending upon the
temperature of the water, the type of class, the length of the class, the time
of the day of the class and the age and fitness level of the participants.
Warm up involves movements of gradually increasing
intensity. Rhythmic use of the large muscles of the body through a full range of
motion accomplishes the objectives of warm up. These objectives include:
elevated heart and respiratory rate; joint lubrication, blood low to and from
the working muscles, engagement of the mind and elevation of the spirit in the
The Work Phase:
Cardiovascular Endurance and Muscle Conditioning
The cardiovascular or Aerobic Section - 10-45 minutes
The length of the aerobic section of the class may
vary between 10-45 minutes depending on the type of class, fitness levels and
goals of the participants. Cardiovascular aquafitness exercises are designed to
elevate heart rate, breathing, circulation and increase muscular activity beyond
levels reached in the warm up. In this way participants will overload their
cardiovascular system and experience a training effect.
The cardiovascular or aerobic section of the class
follows the warm-up. Although muscular endurance is enhanced during the
cardiovascular phase of the workout (due to the natural resistance of the
water) select muscle conditioning exercise may be included, interval styel,
within the cardiovascular section, rather than offering muscle condition as a distinct
component of the class. This allows participants to focus greater effort on toning
specific muscles of the body, while maintaining training heart rate and staying
This phase of the Aquafit class provides and
opportunity for the leader and the participants to focus on condition specific
muscles groups. The length of the muscle toning section of the class varies from
3-45 minutes depending on the length and type of class, the temperature of the
water and the needs of the participants.
ACSM Guidelines for Muscle Conditioning
- 2-3 times per week; 1 set each of 8-10 exercises,
targeting major muscles groups
- 8-12 repetitions to fatigue per set (over 50
years old, 10-15 reps/set
Exercising with the limbs and torso submerged
in the water affects the type of muscle action that occurs. If the body is used
as the tool for resistance, and the movement is faster than the upthrust of buoyancy,
the main type of muscle action is isotonic concentric (fibers shorten with
activation). There are few opportunities for the muscles to perform isotonic
eccentric (fibers lengthening with activation) actions in a regular aquafitness
class. Eccentric actions do happen in the muscles of the lower body when landing
propulsion movements, isometric actions (fibers do not change in length) occur
in postural and stabilizing muscles.
Cross training is important to promote to your
aquafitness participants. Activities such as weight training, walking, and
aerobics, will enable them to effectively train the muscles to perform eccentric
actions as well as other functional movements against gravity.
Buoyant aquatic equipment can be used to train
eccentric muscle actions in the water. These exercises are often used in a
rehabilitation setting where the participant is working one-on-one with an
aquatic rehabilitation specialist or therapist. Thorough education in
rehabilitation techniques is required.
It is important to teach participants to
increase or decrease the intensity of the exercise by manipulating the Magical
properties of water. Some leaders rely on equipment such as flotation
devices or resistive equipment. While equipment may add variety it does not
teach participants how to use the water as the resistive force during movement.
Often participants have a false sense of working hard simply because they are
holding a piece of equipment. For the average participant, effective manipulation
of body position, lever length, buoyancy options, speed and range of motion will
more than satisfy their needs for adequate workload.
Safety - is a key factor in deciding to use the
boy rather than equipment as the tool to alter workload. Hand held flotation
devices may be an excellent choice in rehabilitation of elite athlete training.
However, if used improperly, this type of equipment can cause extreme and
unusual forces of the the joints involved in the activity. The participant needs
to constantly work to control buoyant equipment from floating to the surface
while maintaining correct posture and joint alignment. The added resistance of
aquatic equipment may be more than the participant can safely or effectively
move through the water. Participants wearing gloves or holding resistive devices
often shorten their range of motion substantially because they do not have the
strength to move the larger resistive surface through a full range of motion at
the tempo of the class.
The Stretch and Relaxation Phase 3-5 Minutes
The emphasis on this class segment is on
stretching the muscles to improve or
maintain flexibility and relaxing the mind to release stress. It is a perfect
time to enjoy the sensuality of the water as you move gently to soothing music.
The stretch and relaxation phase of the class provides time for participants to
recover from the cardio and muscle conditioning phases of class, as well as an
opportunity to maintain or improve flexibility. The heart rate and respirator
rate will decrease toward pre-exercise levels.
ACSM guidelines for flexibility are: stretch
all major muscle groups 2-3 times per week.
This phase of the class is generally 3-5
minutes in length. The temperature of the water and ambient air temperature will
have a dramatic effect on the the length and design of the stretch period.
Remember that thermal conductivity of the water draws heart rapidly away from