Water adds challenge, variety to workout
In my youth, I spent so much time in the pool that my blonde hair had a greenish tint because of the chemicals. I was too young to have the competitive edge to be any good on my swim team, but I did learn life-saving techniques that I could use today.
After spending hours diving for coins, doing somersaults, and performing underwater handstands, I was ravenous. I didn’t know or care at the time that swimming is a fantastic calorie burner (about 800 an hour), aerobic workout and total body toner. Because of water’s buoyancy and the body support it provides, injuries to joints, muscle and bone almost never occur. Even though swimmers may feel lighter, the added resistance of water makes the aerobics challenging. Water provides 12 times the resistance of air because of its increased density.
As water pushes against the body, the movements become more difficult, requiring muscles to work harder. The weight of the water adds resistance to every move so the deeper you go the more exercise you get.
I have a female client I’ll call Susan who has severe knee problems that limit the choices for lower body strengthening and aerobic conditioning. In addition to classic Pilates rehabilitation, we have taken her sessions to the water. Here is what we do in the pool:
In chest deep water:
Warm up Ð 5 minutes
Walk two laps forward, then two backward in the pool (turn around when you get to the deep end). One important thing to remember is to keep your feet as fully planted as possible while you do your pool exercises, especially when walking and running.
Cardio Ð 20 minutes
Even though Susan is an avid water skier, she’s not the most experienced swimmer. We worked on breathing and technique much of the first session. Next, we’ll focus a little more on getting and keeping her heart rate up for the 20 minutes. Having the short attention span I do, I like to change strokes every lap – basic breaststroke followed by backstroke, butterfly, freestyle, and underwater.
Toning Ð 20 minutes
Perform two to three sets of 12 to 16 repetitions:
For the quadriceps (front of the thighs), hamstrings (back of the thighs) and glutes: Stand with your feet hip-width apart in shallow water with your arms bent at your sides. Slowly bend your knees into a squat position. Do not allow your knees to extend beyond your toes, but try to simulate a sitting-in-a-chair position.
For hips and glutes: Facing the edge of the pool, hold on with both hands and slowly bring one leg out to your side, keeping your back straight. Exhale while you bring it up as high as you comfortably can. Bring it back down and repeat, doing a full set for each leg.
For glutes: Kick! Hold onto the side of the pool and move straight legs in scissor motion.
For the back, shoulders and arms: Pull-ups. Every one of my clients knows how highly I regard “functional” exercise. You want to be able to do what you want to do. For the pull-up, I visualize having to pull my full body weight up into a boat full of gorgeous men. Grasp the side of the pool and lower your body as far as your arms will allow. Keeping your knees bent, exhale and pull yourself up as high as you can. (The range of motion for this will vary greatly from one person to another.)
For the chest: Standing in water up to your neck, reach your hands out to each side, with your elbows not bent and your palms forward. Slowly bring them together, clapping your hands, and then turn your hands to return to the starting position. Arc your arms as if you were hugging a dolphin.
For triceps: Stand straight, with your palms-down on the surface of the water. Keeping your elbows locked at your sides (pretend they’re glued to your ribcage), exhale and push down until your hands are beside your hips. Turn your hands and bring them back to the starting position. Feel the contraction in the back of your arms.
For biceps: Bring your open hands to the side of each hip, palms forward, with your fingers close together. Exhale as you slowly bend at the elbow to bring your hands toward your shoulders. Resist!
For abs: stand with your back to the side of the pool, hold onto the rim with your elbows. Keeping your knees not bent, slowly bring both legs up to a sitting position and hold it for 10 seconds. Do not hold your breath. Breathe slowly throughout this exercise. Then bend at the knee to bring them down, repeating this as many times as you’d like. Be careful to keep your back straight throughout this exercise.
Stretching Ð 5 minutes
Just about any of the stretches you do on land can also be done in the water. When you’re finished with your toning, hold the side of the pool with one hand, stand on one foot, bend the other knee and grasp your ankle with your free hand to stretch your quadriceps and hip flexors.
There are lots of gadgets available for toning; you can get these at most department stores or athletic supply stores. They make the work a little more challenging and possibly give you speedier results, but it’s better to begin water exercise without them. Once you feel like you need to push yourself a little harder, go ahead and use them.
Of course any type of water play is good so jump in and have fun.
– Rhonda Beckham is a nationally certified personal trainer, with teaching certificates in Pilates and kickboxing. She is owner of Help Me Rhonda and Perfect Pilates, a Pilates instructor at Lake Tahoe Community College and Sierra Athletic Club, as well as a personal trainer operating out of Sierra Athletic Club and the Tahoe Keys Marina Dance Studio. She may be reached at (530) 208-6369, http://www.tahoetrainer.com and email@example.com.
Where to swim?
The college offers various swimming opportunities.
The city Recreation Center is open to the public.
People in the Tahoe Keys have access to a seasonal outdoor pool and year-round indoor pool.
Various hotels have seasonal pools, with some year-round. MontBleu offers locals memberships which include access to the indoor pool.
Some vacation rentals have pools Ð including indoor.
Docks, if they are low enough, at the lake can be used like the edge of a pool would be.