New Water Class to be offered at the Recreation Center:
Foundations of Aquatic Exercise
Instructor: Dr. Lucia Getsi , Ph.D.
Master Trainer and Aquatic Rehabilitation
Exercise Specialist with WaterART Fitness International
When: 10:00a.m. Thursdays August 1, 8, 15, 21(filled)
and 2 sections––at 10 and 11a.m. Thursdays
October 3, 10, 17, 24 (waiting list)
and again in mid-January to mid-February.
The frequency is 3 to 4 spaced months per year.
Reservations are taken year round for next available.
Where: RC Indoor Pool
Minimum number participants: 4; target number 6; maximum number 8.
Pre-registration is required. Call or sign up in advance at the RC desk
to reserve your space. Please fill out or update your RC health
forms a week before the class begins.
Foundations of Aquatic Exercise is intended to reach out to residents and their guests who for any number of reasons need/want to begin a safe, guided exercise program in the water, focused on general health, wellness, and fitness improvements and improvement in any number and kinds of conditions. Perhaps the doctor or therapist has suggested water exercise to continue or augment recovery from injury, illness, stroke, surgery, or to manage and perhaps improve the effects of diabetes, or for weight loss, or strength-building or to work on joint range-of-motion and flexibility, the creeping stiffness of age, wear and tear, or arthritis of the more than 100 kinds, and/or to work on muscle balance and gait training to prevent falls, or proprioception/coordination skills in the safe environment of shallow water. We work on all these things in this small class of participants while learning basic forms of aquatic exercise and strength and muscle balance and conditioning. We master 10 to 20 different walking forms employing the resistance of water to gently and thoroughly exercise and stretch your entire body, and we help you learn and practice standard, modified or adapted forms of the 7 basic vertical aquatic exercises in safe working positions using all planes of motion to the varying degrees participants are capable of achieving. The goal is to enable you work up to taking a regular exercise class by teaching you safe and proper forms of exercises and stretches you will need to know when you get there; or, if a regular class will not be possible for you for a long time, or maybe ever (there is a lot of water turbulence in every exercise class and most of our classes have between 18 and 30 people in them at once), this class will teach you skills and patterns of movement, how to identify the muscles you are using and their proper bio-mechanics in the hydro-dynamics of water, and strengthen you so that you can exercise alone or with a buddy (maybe you will find one in this class) in a quieter pool environment.
The therapeutic and exercise benefits of water are unequalled. But to most people, trying to walk through water is like trying to walk on the moon—and this happens to be why water exercise is so very beneficial. Staying vertical with feet on the floor in water is more like walking in anti-gravity than walking in gravity–which is why astronauts train in water for their moon walk and how the shin splints of one million dollar race horses and human athletes are healed. Deconditioned and buoyant people with weak muscles and limited water skills have to learn how to get feet and legs back down to the pool floor–up is no effort. In fact buoyancy (the water’s and the body’s lack of muscle mass) can cause a problem if the water’s buoyancy is stronger than the person in it, which is always going to be the case until basic and safe movement principles in hydrodynamics are mastered. The principle of buoyancy is opposite to the g-forces of air, but this opposition to gravitational forces is what gives vertical movement through water its greatest health and training benefits. Water works muscles in their lengthened state as well as contracted state. The buoyancy of the water will hold a body up so that there is no danger in falling, the resistance of the water will tone and condition and strengthen muscles, the hydrostatic pressure plus buoyancy of the water (according to recent medical and physiological research) will tone vascular walls and all fascia, and help to pump all fluids of the body efficiently, including the deoxygenated blood from the feet and peroneal and saphenous veins in the lower legs back up to the heart for more oxygen (your feet are actually the pumps that aid the heart pump), the protective cerebrospinal fluid coursing the whole length of the nerve-and-pressure-pulsed, 6 to 8 hour circuit around the entire spine and brain, and the synovial fluid into and out of the joint spaces as the joint muscles rest and work. Working oppositional levers against each other and the torso in water can strengthen and tone every one of the 800 muscles in the body, rebalance them so they can work properly along their kinetic chains of action, retrain proprioceptive neuromuscular functional patterning for better coordination not to mention thinking, and realign the joints to support the body’s weight in good posture. Oppositional actions of levers and torso are what the water demands of the body in order to stay upright or to swim any stroke (or to crawl or walk on land). Exercise and physiology research have recently shown that aquatic exercise and strength training is the superior exercise environment.
Participants in this class will learn fundamental principles of bio-mechanics within hydro-dynamics; basic movement patterns and proper forms; safety and recovery moves; adaptations of moves to specific physical conditions; how to enjoy and shed anxiety in water; universal upper and lower body aquatic strengthening and stretching forms; core stability and strengthening exercises designed especially to take advantage of the properties of water; breathing technique; gait patterning; balance and stability techniques and strengthening; joint flexibility exercises and stretching of all major muscle groups. Each week, participants will be given printouts of the exercises and stretches they have learned so that they can remember to do them when they practice independently. Though it is not necessary to come to all four sessions, making a commitment to do this is what will allow participants to reach the goal of progressive improvement. As part of this commitment, participants should plan to practice the movement patterns on their own in the water at least two other times each week for a minimum of 30 minutes, more times and greater duration if possible.
People usually find this instructional kind of class that includes handouts and homework to be a brain workout as well as body, but if your mind is not engaged, neither will your body be. (It is a fact that you burn many more calories if you think about what you are doing–which should tell you why those people in the gym who are watching TV or reading while slumped over the moving treadmill are not losing any weight or getting any stronger or fitter.) Motivation is key to healing and wellness–healing/wellness/fitness/health is a door that will not open unless you open it–into a garden of forking pathways beyond that lead you nowhere until you start walking mindfully. The door to proper exercise forms will also not open unless you force it by doing the forms again and again, with more and more intention and precision–as you would the forms of Tai Chi. No one can open a door for you from their side. This can only be done from within, as that is where the doors are, in body and mind together in enactment–the central attitude of Mindfulness. Water is always healing, even if you are standing still in it–its buoyancy will make you taller and de-stress your joints and spine and the hydrostatic pressure will help pump your blood vessels to return the spent blood back up to your heart. But for many, water and vertical exercise in it can become a real life-changer, a way of meeting yourself as though you are a stranger in a strange land; at a cellular level, you will learn a new language in which to communicate with and listen to, pay mindful attention to, yourself, your thinking mind with your equally but differently thinking body, neuro-muscularly. Every reference point in gravity on land will be opposite in water challenging all your assumptions (built in gravity), so you really will be a stranger exploring a world of self and physicality you haven’t known was there, even if you are a swimmer. What goes down on land goes up in the water. Like a baby, or a person who has been suddenly paralyzed (and the water will tend to paralyze you at first because of its inertia current, its viscosity, its resistance), you will have to learn to walk again, and to do that you will acquaint yourselves with many muscles and lots of fascia you did not know you had. The downright strange properties of water, none of which air has except for current (which makes it more like water), will make you learn where all your muscles are and when they should be working and ways to engage them to do what they are supposed to do–hold your skeleton upright and move your bones in directions and activities your brain signals to them—and, yes, in ways that the body’s intelligence signals to the brain! For nearly all people unused to being in water, the proper forms of vertical water work seem unnatural at first–but as usual, the unnatural use trains your body for the natural. Work in water trains your body for your land activities.
In this class we take our water seriously but being serious doesn’t negate laughter, fun, play, and joy–laughter is wonderful abdominal and breath exercise and no exercise happens without breath! (One of my favorite Rilke sonnets begins “Breathing: you invisible Poem!”) And nobody has “wellness” without laughter and joy. So we make games sometimes, movement patterns that can border on dance, set ourselves impossible goals and meet them every minute, and laugh and joke a lot, and even, yes, sing! (off key in the humidity!) We even wax poetic sometimes (“Yes, sing–off key in the humidity!” is iambic pentameter with internal line rhyme–oops, sorry, wrong class.)
A good quality, supportive aquatic shoe is required in any vertical aquatic exercise class for stability and balance and to protect your feet from the pool floor as you learn to use your entire foot and ankle; and also to protect the pool from what may happen to your feet if you don’t wear a shoe. In the same way that you would not go hiking or play a game of driveway basketball or go to a dance class without a proper shoe, you should not do vertical water exercise without shoes. Most athletic shoe brands have an aquatic exercise shoe designed to be very lightweight but supportive and to dry fast. Women who wear a wider size can order a man’s aquatic shoe a size and a half smaller than their woman’s shoe size. Eventually you will need aquatic gloves as well, which the instructor can order. The RC has aquatic noodles for our use. You will also need to bring water bottles to poolside for proper hydration throughout the class. People get cold if they are not well-hydrated, and they start to cramp. Before class it is important to eat something containing protein. My breakfast of choice before morning water exercise is hot organic oatmeal made with milk (for protein), spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla (which are warming and boost metabolism), and sweetened with a little honey, maple syrup, or raw or brown sugar and some dried or fresh fruit, and liberally sprinkled with walnuts. Or use chia seeds. Hard to get cold with a bellyful of hot oatmeal and warming spices.
See you in the pool!