It Took a Pandemic to Blossom
by Sarah Booker

Launching a new group exercise program is no easy endeavor. Like many facilities, we faced many challenges, like accommodating state government guidelines and making sure our members felt safe. The situation was unprecedented and unpredictable. Our wellness center noticed a lot of changes to the group exercise fitness attendance trends. Time slots that were once extremely popular were consistently dropping in numbers and other less attended times slots exploded with participants.

One group ex format particularly surprised management. All the water exercise classes were consistently getting very good turnouts. People felt a little safer with the added disinfection power of chlorine. Due to social distancing, class size was limited to fifteen participants and sessions began filling up fast, actually creating a wait list or causing attendees to choose another time slot. As a result, more back to back classes were added to ensure that everyone who wanted to get into a class had the opportunity.

Seeing the popularity of aqua exercise at our facility, led us to take our class schedule to the next level. We wanted a water program that would keep members engaged, challenged, and excited to attend sessions each week. WATERinMOTION® was the perfect fit for our center. After deciding on Original and the new Strength formats, just like that, we started the countdown to launch week!

All of our current water exercise instructors were onboard and excited to learn this new program. We even had a lifeguard show interest in becoming a certified instructor when we discussed the new schedule with our staff. She loved fitness but had no experience with leading group fitness classes. This is what our newest WATERinMOTION® instructor/Lifeguard, Karrie Menke, had to share about her experience. Imagine starting a new fitness training program at your facility during a pandemic…Scary. No one likes change. Now, imagine becoming a first time instructor of a new fitness training program during a pandemic. It was enough to make me question what in the world I was doing. My peers and manager must have seen something in me. They were with me every step of the way. They were my biggest cheerleaders. The scariest part was my first class alone. I thought I would get eaten alive! Here I was, standing in front of members, trying to instruct a new program that we were all getting used to, during a pandemic, in which we also had to adjust to new protocols. Turns out, I had nothing to be scared of. The members were wonderful! They loved the program and welcomed me with open arms! I look forward to my classes every week!

WATERinMOTION® is great for anyone interested in becoming a first time instructor. Not only do you learn to teach the program, but you learn the basics of teaching aqua in general. Instructors are even provided with choreography flash cards (to sneak a peek at on the pool deck, in the beginning, if necessary!) After a while those cards are used less and less, as more confidence is gained when leading a class. The WATERinMOTION® program takes the pressure off of coming up with choreography and creating the right playlist every class. It just lets the leader focus on being a good trainer and guide.

Our instructors took the required certification and learned all the choreography. We had fun exchanging teaching tips and practiced together until Launch Day. Normally, we would have a big event planned for a program unveiling like this. The class would have been led by all our instructors team-teaching the new choreography and there would have been food and refreshments in the lobby. But due to the pandemic, all of our exciting celebration plans had to be modified. Our facility decided to stretch the celebrations throughout the week. We had a prize raffle at the beginning of each WATERinMOTION® class for that first week. Everyone who attended the class could enter to win. We, as instructors, made every class feel like a party.

Now don’t think everything smelled like roses. There was some hesitation and apprehension with a few of our die-hard, loyal water exercisers. It was definitely a different format than our previous water exercise classes. Change is not easy, especially when you are altering someone’s exercise routines. The instructors had to stay positive and tell members to try this program with an open mind, besides it is always good to shake up your exercise routine, otherwise your body doesn’t show results. After about two or three classes people started to learn the choreography and really started to have fun with it. It’s been on the schedule for three months and our class feedback is so strong that we added WATERinMOTION® Strength classes. Our members really enjoy using the aqua dumbbells and are feeling the changes already. They have stated that they really feel like they work their muscles and enjoy the variety.

I am excited for new music and choreography every three months and watching this program grow, as our facility slowly gets back to pre-pandemic “normal”. The fitness center is so thrilled to provide members with this unique, innovative aquatic programming. They have absolutely fallen in love with WATERinMOTION® Original and Strength. This past year has not been an easy one for fitness centers, but with that said, our instructors were pushed out of their comfort zones, took on this new challenge and blossomed. It was definitely worth it!

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About the Author, Sarah Booker

Sarah Booker is the Group Fitness Manage at Live Healthy Fitness Center in Mentor, Ohio. She is an ACSM Clinical Exercise Physiologist and has been instructing group fitness for 6 years. She graduated from Ohio University with a B.S. in Exercise Physiology and has her M.S. in Kinesiology from East Carolina University. Her passion is helping people fall in love with fitness and healthy lifestyles. She has been a WATERinMOTION® certified instructor since March 2021.

Anatomy and Flexibility Review
by Connie Warasila

We’ve all heard the song “Dem Bones,” The toe bone’s connected to the foot bone. The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone.… The human body is a complex series of “chains” in which one bone is linked to another by joints. Collateral ligaments hold such joints in place and layers of muscle exist in every direction with assistive tendons, fascia, and nerve networks to facilitate movement of the bones.

Movement occurs through a range of motion and the extent to which that range is unimpeded defines a person’s level of flexibility. Improving flexibility requires that muscles are regularly taken through a complete range of motion, stretched, and returned to resting. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways in order to condition the entire kinetic chain to respond appropriately to a stretch.

Research shows that flexibility, or the lack thereof, can impact daily life through mobility limitations and/or chronic pain. Tight hamstrings negatively impact the low back creating strain and fatigue. Poor flexibility in the hip flexors can alter gait and create misalignment through the pelvis. In order to prevent such dysfunction, one must understand the fundamental anatomy and biomechanics of flexibility.

VOCABULARY REVIEW:

Static stretching is merely stretching in place. This form of flexibility training requires only a muscle being lengthened and held in an extended position. It is best that static stretching is performed while muscles are warm. Passive static stretching adds an object or other assistive device to the exercise. Placing a foot on a bench for a hamstring stretch is one example.

Dynamic stretching occurs when muscles are moved through a full range of motion, but not held. Movement is continuous but natural and serves to warm up the muscle and connective tissue. This is the only flexibility training method recommended on muscles that have not yet become warm.

Flexibility: the ability to move a joint smoothly through its complete range of motion.

Static flexibility: the ability to move slowly into a stretched position and to hold the body still.

Passive Static stretching: static stretching in which the floor, a partner, or an object is utilized to increase the range of the stretch.

Active Static stretching: A method of increasing active flexibility in which a pose (such as a high lift of the leg) is assumed and then held using no assistance other than the tension in the muscles opposing (antagonist) the muscles being stretched.

Ligaments are bands of tough, fibrous dense regular connective tissue comprising attenuated collagenous fibers. Ligaments connect bones to other bones to form a joint.

A joint is the location at which two or more bones make contact.

Ball and socket joint: a joint in which the distal bone is capable of motion around an indefinite number of axes, which have one common center. It enables the bone to move in a 360° angle (i.e. hip and shoulder.)

Hinge joint: is a bone joint in which the articular surfaces are molded to each other in such a manner as to permit motion in only one plane—backward and forward—the extent of motion at the same time being considerable. The direction which the distal bone takes in this motion is seldom in the same plane as that of the axis of the proximal bone; there is usually a certain amount of deviation from the straight line during flexion. The articular surfaces are connected together by strong collateral ligaments, which form their chief bond of union. i.e., elbow, knee, finger.

HOW TO TRAIN FLEXIBILITY IN THE WATER

When someone says flexibility, usually the vision of stretching against a force, such as a wall or another person or gravity (passive static stretching) is thought of . Truly, if one goes back to the dictionary definition of flexibility it is simply moving a joint through a range of motion which can be accomplished gravity assisted, as on land, or buoyancy assisted as in the water. When it is broken down, flexibility training is accomplished every time contraction occurs in an opposing muscle. It is just dynamic flexibility or moving the joint through a range of motion with little or no resistance. Since muscles work in opposing pairs, the antagonist to the loaded agonist is always going to be stretching when the agonist is contracting. So, when participants are in the water doing a front-kick, buoyancy actually helps them stretch the glutes on the way up and forward and the concentric contraction is actually on the way down because their muscles are loaded against the resistance of buoyancy. That is why there are very few one-joint loaded eccentric contractions in the water and why muscle soreness occurs less frequently.

So, it is actually quite easy to dynamically stretch in the water with every movement. Buoyancy increases the range of motion of the joint safely since ballistic stretching in the water is impossible due to the resistance factor. If “bounce” is eliminated in a stretch in the water, then there is no stretch reflex occurring in the Golgi tendon which is safe. Avoiding that reflex is critical to prevent a tightening of the muscle that can result in injury.

Another entity to remember about stretching in the water is that the cohesiveness of the water creates a safety net against falls. With the water pressing against the body from all sides, balance is enhanced and most participants are more comfortable picking up a foot to stretch the quadriceps. Static stretching at the end of class is actually quite effective in improving both flexibility and balance.

<a “href=”https://scwfit.com/ondemand” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Differentiating between passive and active stretching is critical. The movements that would be active (no assistance) on land are now passive in the water. For example, a standing, one-legged hamstring stretch on land is active. Extending a leg to hip height or higher, engages the quad to force the hamstring to contract and release passive hold. In the water, the same stretch is passive because buoyancy helps hold the leg up without the contraction of the agonist. Body weight stretches, such as a standing calf stretch, work in the pool due to being partially under water, but the body still has some of its weighted effect. When submerged to the waist, 50% of the body’s weight is still making impact. At submersion to the nipple-line, the weight is decreased by about 75% and to the neck – a decrease of about 90%. Members can still engage their core, step one foot back and create a calf stretch just as effectively as when out of the water.

Both dynamic and static stretching are very effective in the pool. Most static stretching in the water is passive, which is acceptable because chances are that many participants may not have the muscle strength to perform active static stretching. Stretching in the pool is much safer because the pressure from all sides aids in balance alleviating the worry about slips and falls on the pool deck.

So, the next time you have a sore back or overused knee, think about how they are connected. Ask yourself what needs to be stretched and which type of stretch is the most beneficial. Whether you are in the pool or on land, keeping your joints and muscles limber and flexible will help with daily activities and living a comfortable lifestyle.

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About the Author, Connie Warasila

Connie is the choreographer for WATERinMOTION®, faculty member of SCW Fitness Education, and certified by ACE, AEA, AFAA, Balanced Body, The Braining Center, Yoga Fit, Schwinn®, Reebok Cycle, and Moms in Motion. Awarded the Aquatic Exercise Association Fitness Professional of the Year, Connie has over 30 years of teaching experience in the USA and abroad. She enjoys traveling around the world presenting new and creative workshops to make fitness more accessible, professional, and fun.

Liquid Gym – The Ultimate Pool Workout
by Maria Gonzalez

Aquatic Fitness programs are considered a pillar for the sustainability of pools within a wellness center. The ability to include diversified programs is essential to the class schedule . Integrating water fitness equipment, within and separate from group exercise classes, provides an optimal solution for facilities to expand their offerings to the community. These options are also vital in retaining customers and members. A fitness programming line-up with new classes and experienced trainers educated on how to use the sundry of pool workout equipment is the key to safe, productive exercise for all demographics.

Recently, Acquapole and Indigo Aquatics have collaborated and expanded their equipment options to include existing products as well as small apparatuses for more accessibility to the general population and personal use. The Liquid Gym equipment is designed to break down large group classes into different settings in order to create small groups or personalized training. The purpose of is to bring diversity of populations to the water. The Liquid Gym can modify land routines to work effectively and efficiently in the aquatic environment. Each unique piece of equipment offers different purposes to the community: athletic and toning, rehabilitation, and choreography.

The handheld line-up, Liquid Stars and Liquid Gloves, add just enough resistance to make the program interesting to all populations. They are made of closed cell EVA foam which helps the products stay sanitized and safe. The medium resistance allows participants to adjust the intensity level as they use them by increasing or decreasing force through the water.

The Liquid Stars are a fun star shaped equipment perfect for toning, yoga/holistic and functional workout. Holding the star in various places, through the eyes or mouth, can help increase or decrease the intensity and drag of the exercise. This is an immensely popular option for students with arthritis and gripping limitations. Buoyancy can be varied depending on how the Stars are pushed through the water vs skimming the surface. Hand placement options allow for movement along the different planes of motion through flexion, extension and rotation.

The Liquid Gloves training resembles techniques for Aqua Combat and Boxing. Workouts can be free-standing and/or alternating with the Acquapole® Boxing Bag. In a guard position, you can create a combination of punches to improve your upper body and for a total body workout, other pieces of large equipment, like Liquid Energy Bikes and Liquid Jumps, can be incorporated.

The most recent introduction to the Liquid Gym line is the Acqua Toning web-based resistance bands and loops manufactured in the USA by Stroops® specifically for water use. The bands increase the level of activities that can be performed in shallow water for rehabilitation, resistance, swimming aid and toning. The bands are made of two sleeved-elastic, or Slastix® material, 24 inches in length joined in the middle by a flat 2-inch fabric strap.

Junction covers are sewn so that there is no external rubber material, thus, increasing the UV and chlorine resistance of the material. Four resistances levels are available from 15 lbs. to 30 lbs., each band extends to 4 times its length for all fitness levels. A plastic 5-inch handle is provided at each end of the band that can be used alone or that can slide into the Liquid Gym Acqua Toner Bar. To increase the possible exercises and to further expand the use of the bands they can be looped to the Liquid Gym Spinner or Acquapole® Elastic clamp, complementing the workout session with favorite moves such as: Lateral raises, Overhead Press, Bicep Curl.

For the opportunity to try this diverse aquatic equipment and other unique pieces, Indigo Aquatics will be live and in-person at the upcoming SCW Midwest MANIA®, October 1-3 and SCW Dallas MANIA®, November 5-7. For more information about Indigo Aquatics visit their website at www.indigoaquatics.com and for details and registration for SCW MANIA® Conventions go to www.scwfit.com/Events.

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About Indigo Aquatics

Indigo Aquatics, Inc dba Acquapole USA specializes in providing equipment and training for aquatic fitness. The operational methodology of the company covers safe & proper usage, applicable positions and motions, anatomic exertions, water adaptations (buoyancy, resistance) and routines using specific equipment from Acquapole®, SAF Aqua Drums Vibes® and Liquid Gym product lines. The equipment is for shallow water activities ranging from cardio, rehab, resistance, swimming aid and toning exercises for any type of user: men, women, youth and seniors. Come visit us at https://IndigoAquatics.com

Head Start on the Heterogeneous Generation
by Ann Gilbert

As COVID restrictions ease and more individuals become vaccinated, gyms and pools will start populating with new attendees and previous members are waiting patiently to return. People have been anticipating the day they can return to jumping, cycling, dancing, lifting and splashing their way back to health.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, pools have been considered an extremely safe environment to exercise in due to chlorine and other safeguards that keep the virus from spreading. If we take a look at the population that fills and aquatic classroom, most people think it is mainly the “Active Ager,” but let’s take a closer look.

Although this term may refer to anyone over the age of 50, most agree that the pool is filled with active agers and then some. The aqua environment is actually noted as having the most heterogeneous population in most fitness facilities. The word heterogenous means: diverse in character or content and having little to do with actual age. The pool could be called “a large heterogenous collection” of special populations.

The approach to training this diverse group of participants must be to demonstrate regressions and progressions through the entire program. This assures the student can focus on capability, rather than being classified as a beginner or asked to just modify. Coaching aptitude breeds a mindset of opportunity and success. Historically, programming for special populations treated students as if they were all very frail. Although, in the heterogeneous group, there may be a few that are diagnosed as weak, many have chosen a healthier lifestyle and are just starting their quest for wellness after 50.

The goal in coaching this mixture of members is to teach with an inclusive style.

The first key to coaching success is to be aware and to remain updated to all student’s needs.

Mild Cognitive Impairment: MCI is a common condition in which the student can carry out daily activities but may have a concern with memory or have mild changes in thinking abilities. Patience and understanding will work wonders to help these clients feel successful. And always encourage socialization.

Diabetes: Follow guidelines above and encourage students with Diabetes to bring in a small snack to class. Watch the student carefully and watch for signs of low blood sugar, although never attempt to diagnose.

Parkinson’s: Focus on balance and posture when cueing. Encourage the student to move in a shallow pool. Increase duration and intensity weekly.

Multiple Sclerosis: Keep the student cool. Discourage swim caps and encourage having a cool cloth available. Introduce gait training or “white line” positions in which students would be trained in positions that challenge core stabilization and balance.

Special Concerns: Water Temperature, Impact Moves, Benefits, Intensity

PregnancyCooler waterGrounded or anchoredLittle or no stretchingDecreases bloat, decreases stress on bonesRPE lower end 6-7
Parkinson’s Warmer water due to muscle rigidity Balance and posture patterns Shallow for more stability Increases postural alignment and core balance Increase RPM with gained confidence
Multiple Sclerosis Cooler water Combination but being on the ground improve sensory input Shallow for more stability and weight bearing Improve walking patterns and ADL, gait challenges Increase RPE with gained confidence
Fibromyalgia Warm mid 80’s Lower impact , anchored or grounded in pm Focus on muscle function and increasing flexibility or ROM Decrease pain, increases blood flow Lower intensity so not to overexert
Arthritis Warmer Anchored with floatation, manual dexterity, few toys Stretching around smaller joints Increases function and ROM RPE good and bad days, later in day
Obesity Cooler water Rebounding, grounded and combinations of all Water walking as cool down. Increase endurance Burns calories, allows for a comfortable environment and privacy Increase along a bell curve from RPE 6-9 and down

The second key to coaching success is to not fear having so many heterogenous members together in one group.

The aquatic environment is the safest and most effective place for all to train. As a coach, you can be creative with the properties of water and apply modern approaches to training such as HIIT, Tabata, and other high-energy-expenditure formats with very little risk of injury to most listed on the chart above.

The next key to success coaching is to cue with compassion and empathy.
 
Instead of saying…Instead of saying…
ExerciseMovements, skills or drills
How are you guysHow is each of you feeling today
Let’s startThe purpose of the class today is
If you can’t do this modifyWork at today’s capacity
Don’t do this if…Let’s all try this movement
Find your balanceLet’s learn to stabilize before we mobilize
Great job, perfect!It looks as if we are all improving
Now really bring itStep just a bit your of your comfort zone
Be a beastBe a champion today!

In conclusion, know that you, the Aqua Exercise Instructor, may be the most sought-after fitness professional on our planet. You teach the most heterogenous population in the fitness facility with coaching and cueing skills that are developed over time and appreciated by so many in the fastest growing demographic in the world. Hat’s off to you for taking time to get a head start on inclusive coaching methods.

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About the Author, Ann Gilbert

Ann Gilbert is a highly accomplished Fitness Professional with over 35 years of experience in the health and fitness industry. She is the owner and operator of two Shapes Fitness for Women franchises, overseeing the operations of 50 Group Fitness Professionals, 25 Certified Personal Trainers and coordinating fee-based personal training programs for aging and mature populations. Ann has received recognition for her outstanding achievements and continued contributions to the industry, including being awarded ACE/IHRSA Personal Trainer of the Year in 2001 and has presented at a variety of industry events such as Club Industry, SCW MANIA®, IAFC and IHRSA since 2002. Ann is an SCW Faculty Member and an International Master Trainer for WATERinMOTION.

Cookies for Breakfast!

Mom never said, “Do you want cookies for breakfast?” Little did she realize that they can be the perfect meal, seeds, nut butter, fruit, and oats, especially enjoyed with a tall glass of milk or steamed latte.

INGREDIENTS (makes around 24 cookies)
  • 2 Tbl ground flaxseed (be sure not to use the whole seed)
  • 2 Cups rolled oats
  • ½ Cup shredded coconut (optional)
  • ½ Tsp baking powder
  • ½ Tsp baking soda
  • ½ Tsp salt
  • ¾ Cup creamy nut butter (your preference, I like almond)
  • ½ cup maple syrup (or agave)
  • 1-1/2 Tsp vanilla extract
  • (Optional Add-Ins)
  • ½ Cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries or your favorite diced into small pieces)
  • ½ Cup seeds (sunflower, hemp, pumpkin)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Combine ground flaxseed w/5 Tbl water and let sit for 15 minutes (this makes flax eggs)
  2. Preheat oven to 350F and line with parchment or spray your cookie sheets
  3. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl- oats, coconut, baking powder, baking soda & salt
  4. Mix the wet ingredients together in a bowl- nut butter, maple syrup, vanilla & flax eggs
  5. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir it until it is a cookie dough consistency
  6. Mix in Add-In items
  7. If too sticky, put the dough in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up
  8. Spoon around 3Tbl of dough onto cookie sheet, spaced around ½ apart
  9. Bake for 18-20 minutes and when done, let sit for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack
  10. Enjoy a cookie and your favorite breakfast beverage
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