Dive in to Aqua Fitness!

July 16th, 2013 | By Marjie No Comments

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in collaboration with Mary Stakes, Athens YWCO

In my 16 years as a YWCO water exercise instructor,” says Mary Stakes, “I have heard over and over again from participants how much they love water exercise. Not only is movement in the water so beneficial for the human body, water exercise has a mental component that is just as powerful. After every class, I hear, ‘I really had to make myself come today, and I’m so glad I did. I feel so much better.’”

  1. Aqua fitness offers many benefits, especially for seniors, whose muscles and joints may need a less jarring option for exercise:
  2. Buoyancy makes the water a comfortable environment for anyone with movement problems brought about by obesity, age, injuries or diseases.
  3. The support of the water allows for greater flexibility of joints and a greater range of motion.
  4. Water offers a low impact way to exercise. It is a real benefit for joints compromised by injury or arthritis.
  5. Water provides resistance to movement in all directions.
  6. Water is a safe environment; a fall in the water won’t result in a broken bone.
  7. The hydrostatic pressure of the water provides a constant massage to the body.
  8. The motion of the water requires participants to continually make postural adjustments and thereby exercise core muscles—often without knowing it is happening.
  9. Water exercise classes create a great social environment where participants develop friendships that continue outside the pool.
  10. In most water exercise classes, a range of equipment is used for individual and classes. The YWCO has noodles, kick boards, buoyancy belts, stretch bands, and foam bar bells to add interest and increased conditioning to standard exercises.

The YWCO also tries to make its aquatics fitness classes as available as possible. Classes are held during the day and the evening, with morning classes that offer some cardio as well as resistance training; a chair lift is available for class members who cannot use the steps. These classes are excellent for seniors as well as for people who are just beginning an exercise regime and for people with knee replacements.

One class participant has lost more than 100 pounds since she began taking the aquatics fitness class. When she began the class she had a difficult time walking. Now her goal is to lose another 100 pounds this year! The afternoon class meets all of the requirements for the American Arthritis Association, and focuses on the joints and range of motion.

Learn more about aqua fitness at www.ywco.org/aquatics-programs/ or email ywcopool@gmail.com.  Other aqua fitness classes are also offered at the Athens YMCA and other area aquatic facilities.

Two years ago, I was having difficulty walking without pain. I was worried that my trek to watch the Bulldogs in Sanford Stadium would become history, and on top of that I had an upcoming trip that would require extensive walking. After seeing my orthopedic doctor, I was recommended for a total hip replacement. I started weekly water exercise program and my pain slowly began to dissipate. It has made all the difference for me. Then I joined the water exercise classes at the YWCO, attending three to four times per week.  And last fall, I maneuvered to my seat in the stadium and had a wonderful trip to Italy. Oh, and I have postponed my hip surgery and make my water aerobics class a priority! – Phyllis C

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