Is getting healthy one of your New Year’s resolutions?
We’ve got two words for you: water workouts. Like us, Dr. Jane Katz is passionate about the water. In fact, she’s been preaching the good word about aquatics for more than 40 years now. Her mission is simple: “to make fitness fun for the fearless and the fearful.”
As an internationally recognized swimmer, longtime instructor and our resident expert, she’s seen the benefits of water exercise first hand: It helps clear your mind and strengthen and tone your muscles — and it’s fun to boot!
Want to try an aquatics class and see what the fuss is all about? We rounded up a series of tips from Dr. Katz on everything from prepping for your first class to getting the most out of your time in the water. Read on and get inspired!
Getting Started: Things to Keep in Mind Before You Begin Water Aerobics
1. Get the Green Light
Check with your healthcare professional prior to beginning your aquatic fitness or any exercise program.
2. Be Good to Yourself
Goals take time to achieve. When making a change in your swim stroke or your aquatic fitness routine, don’t be hard on yourself. You’ll get there! E.g., reshaping, losing a few pounds and, better yet, having fun!
3. Bring a Buddy
Exercise with friends and support one another. Encouragement will always help you reach your goal.
4. Fulfill Your Basic Needs
ADL (Activities of Daily Living) can often be replicated in the water as prescriptive exercises.
5. Set Your Sights
Visualize how you will look in your Aquabelle chlorine resistant swimsuit!
6. Get W.E.T.!
Use Water Exercise Techniques (W.E.T.s) for aquatic exercise, swim conditioning as well as therapeutic fitness.
7. Warm Up
Use Sweat to W.E.T.s. This is a program that translates land-based exercises to water immersion exercises. What would be difficult on land becomes comfortable in water, with its gentle and supportive resistance.
8. Stay Hydrated
Drink water before, during and after your water fitness workout.
The Scientific Principles of Water:
Archimedes plus Bernoulli plus Newton equals Comfort (in the water)
1. Meet Archimedes, Your Swim Companion
Your apparent body weight in chin-deep water is 10% of your body weight on land. That’s a big plus. You can move in the water without the stress on your joints, and your muscles get the resistance training they need. (Archimedes of Syracuse was an ancient mathematician, physicist, engineer, and inventor.)
2. Bernoulli’s Principles
Allows you to streamline your swimming by lifting you higher in the water, and so creating less drag. (Bernoulli’s Principle: an increase in the speed of a fluid produces a decrease in pressure and a decrease in the speed produces an increase in pressure.)
3. Newton’s Third Law of Motion
Remember this? For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. For aquatics, this means that if you want to go up, you push water down; if you want to go forward, you push water behind you.
4. Swim & Get F.I.T.
The training effect comes by Frequency, Intensity, and Time. This equals FIT.
Anatomy of an Aquatic Workout: 30-45 Minute Set (Warm-up, Main Set, Cool-down)
For a swimming workout, the Main Set is the meat and potatoes of your workout—20 to 30 minutes. This is the part of the workout where you do the longest distance, challenging your cardiovascular system (heart and lungs), working aerobically (utilization of oxygen). Coordinating the breathing with the rhythm of your arms and legs is the key for efficient swimming.
1. Warm Up: getting your body geared up for five minutes by water walking, head turns, shoulder rolls, and overhead extension.
2. Water Walking immediately helps adjust your body to the temperature of the water and its resistance, helping you to warm up. Stand in chest-deep water; walk forward, backward, diagonally, and in a circle. Move your arms back and forth in a pumping motion under water.
3. Head Turns help you warm up and relax your neck muscles. Tip your head from one side to the other, keeping your ear in line with your shoulder. Lower your chin to your chest and make a semicircle with your head by rolling it on your chest from one shoulder to the other.
4. Shoulder Rolls helps warm up and loosen your shoulder area and increase your range of motion. With arms relaxed at your side lift both shoulders toward your ears. Roll the shoulders backward and forward. Alternately lift and roll each shoulder separately backward and forward.
5. Overhead Extension helps streamline your body for better posture. Extend your arms overhead, upper arms covering your ears, elbows straight, thumbs touching. Slowly stretch from side to side at the waist, keeping your arms straight throughout.
6. Main Set: the central part of your workout, usually divided into Upper, Middle, Lower, and Total body components.
GET W.E.T.! Sample Upper Body W.E.T.s
Upper body W.E.T.s help benefit the following body areas: upper arm and back of arm, wrist, forearm, shoulders, chest and upper back.
1. Arm Circles: Stand in shoulder-deep water with arms extended out to the sides but underwater by bending your knees slightly. Keeping your arms straight, rotate them in forward circles followed by backward circles. Flex your wrists up and down as you rotate your arms.
2. Sport Swings: Stand in chest-deep water with arms out to the side. Move one arm forward, as if you were swinging a racquet. Follow through and recover out of the water, then swing your arm backward into the starting position; repeat with the other arm. Use hand paddles or gloves for greater resistance.
3. Push Ups: Stand with your body facing the wall and touching it, your hands on the pool’s edge, shoulder-width apart. Straighten your elbows and lift your upper body out of the water. For a more relaxed exercise, bring your chest to the pool edge by bending your elbows.
4. Medley of Strokes: Stand in chest-deep water and simulate the crawl stroke, alternately pulling your hands through the water with an above-the-water recovery and plunging your hand back into the water. The breaststroke is simulated with a heart-shaped motion; then transition to the butterfly with a wide, above water recovery.
Sample Middle Body W.E.T.s
Middle body W.E.T.s help benefit the following body areas: middle and lower back, rib cage, and waist.
1. Sit Ups: Stand next to pool wall with arms extended holding onto pool deck. Bend your knees together and bring them toward your chest, lifting your legs. Then extend your legs outward, dropping them underwater; then repeat.
2. Trunk Turns: Increases your mid-body flexibility. Stand in chest-deep water with hands on your hips. Inhale as you twist your body to one side, then exhale as you return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.
3. Knee Tuck: Stand in chest-deep water with your back against the wall. Grasp one knee and bring it toward your chest. Then release your leg and extend it forward by straightening the knee. Return the leg to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.
Sample Lower Body W.E.T.s
Lower body W.E.T.s help benefit the following body areas: thighs, hips, calves, knees, ankles and feet.
1. Water Jogging: Stand in chest-deep; water jog forward, backward, sideways while moving your arms in a pumping motion. Use water gloves for extra resistance.
2. Side Swipe: Place your arms and hands lightly on the deck and stand with your back against the wall at the corner. Alternately bring one leg out to the side, then down and across your standing leg toward the opposite wall in a semicircular pattern. Repeat with the other leg.
3. Medley of Kicks: Facing the pool wall, hold onto it pulling with the top hand and pressing with the bottom hand to lift your legs to the surface. Practice the flutter kick, dolphin, scissor and then add the frog kick in a medley of kicks.
Sample Total Body W.E.T.s
These W.E.T.s have been combined for a total body workout and coordination. Remember to breathe rhythmically and never hold your breath, inhaling and exhaling through both your nose and mouth.
1. Treading Water: Treading is an important safety skill. In chest-deep water begin in a sitting position with your shoulder over your knees your hands are performing a figure 8 sculling motions sweeping downward while your legs can use any of the following motions; a bicycling leg motion, scissor kick, frog kick or an eggbeater motion.
2. Jumping Jack: Standing in chest-deep water, hands to your side, turn your palms upward and raise your arms upward into a “V” position as you jump and separate your legs. Return to the starting position by turning your palms downward and bringing them back to your sides as you bring your legs together.
3. Stroke Punch: Stand in chest-deep water and with your fists closed, alternate your arms in a vigorous punching motion while moving in all directions.
Five minutes of Sweats to W.E.T.s: these cool-downs help your body to return to its resting state.
1. Tricep Stretch: Extend your left arm over your head, palm facing in. Grasp your left elbow with your right hand, bending it and guiding the left arm to reach behind your head, resting your hand at the base of your neck. Gently pull on the left elbow for additional stretch. Release and reverse arms.
2. Cross-Chest Stretch: This stretch helps to relax your back, upper arm, and shoulder area. Extend your right arm in front of your body with thumb pointing up. With your left hand grasp your right arm underneath the elbow and bring it across your chest under your chin. Repeat with the other arm.
3. Cross Training Leg Stretch: Holding on with your left hand to the pool edge for support, bend it behind you, grasp your right foot with your right hand and gently pull your foot to your right buttock. Release your foot to a standing position and rotate to repeat on your left side.
4. Aqua-Lunge: Face the pool wall and hold the edge with both hands, shoulder width apart. Place your feet against the wall in a straddle position, wider than shoulder width. Shift your body weight to the right, bending the right knee, while the left leg is extended. Hold the stretch. Return to center and shift your body weight to the left.
Dr. Jane Katz has taught thousands of students about the benefits of water fitness at the City University of New York, since 1964. She is a professor at John Jay College in the Department of Physical Education and Athletics teaching fitness and swimming to New York City’s police and firefighters. Dr. Katz has been recognized for her work as an educator, aquatics innovator and author. Among many prestigious honors for her work is the Townsend Harris Academic Medal from her alma mater, CCNY, and award bestowed to fellow alumnus, former Secretary of State Colin Powell. As a member of the 1964 U.S. Synchronized Swimming Performance Team in Tokyo, Dr. Katz helped pioneer the acceptance of Synchronized Swimming as an Olympic event. Her achievements as a Masters competitive, long-distance, synchronized and fin swimmer have earned her All-American and World Masters championships.