While often dismissed as only being for elderly people, exercising in water offers a range of benefits to people of all ages and fitness levels. Given their size and ability to add variable resistance using their swim jets, swim spas are uniquely suited to water workouts. In this article we will show you how you can get a complete, full body aquatic workout using a swim spa.
Why Exercise In Water?
Exercising in water offers many benefits including:
Resistance – The natural resistance of water means that you get much more out of basic workouts like jogging than you do in air.
Increased Calorie Burn – Many people think that you can’t get as intense of a workout in water, but this is simply not the case. The added resistance of the water means you actually have to work harder and will burn more calories when you exercise in water.
Low-Impact – Aquatic exercises are low impact and easy on the joints. When standing in chest high water you are only supporting around 90% of your body weight, taking some strain off of your joints and bones. This helps people recovering from injuries or those with chronic pain to exercise much more comfortably and with a much lower risk of injury.
Increased Flexibility – Since water lessens the effects of gravity, people are able to move their bodies through a wider range of motion. This helps improves overall flexibility over time.
Using Swim Spas For Exercise
Swim spas were originally designed for swimming in place. While swimming is a great exercise, it’s not for everyone and swim spas have evolved into so much more. Modern swim spas now offer jetted massage seats and water tanks big enough to be used as splash pools. Some, like the Hydropool Self-Cleaning series of swim spas have even been designed with aqua fitness in mind.
Not only are Hydropool swim spas the perfect depth for water exercises (somewhere between your navel and your chest) they also offer added resistance in the form of the swim current. This added resistance means even people in great shape can get a great workout. Add to this Hydropool swim spa’s unique built-in aqua fitness steps and available aqua fitness package and you have a truly complete fitness tool for all ages and fitness levels.
With all of that in mind, here are 17 aqua fitness exercises you can do in a swim spa to get a full-body workout. These exercises are a small sample of the many exercises available to swim spa owners.
Jog In-Place – A great warm up exercise that also works your quads. Simply run in place while making sure to bring your knees up as high as possible. To up the difficulty, turn on your swim current and set to a low setting. Jog against the current while trying not to be pushed backwards.
Backwards Jog In-Place – Same as above except you will have your back to the jets. Research shows that walking or jogging in reverse actually engages more muscles than going forward. Keep the current very low at first, then build up the current as needed.
Tick-tock hop – Quickly jump from side to side while keeping your feet together. The more you bend your knees before jumping, the more you will get out of it. Try to keep it up for at least 1 minute without stopping at first then build up to 2 minutes.
Kickbacks – Grabbing onto the optional exercise bar, stand straight up facing the wall of the swim spa. Raise your right leg, squeezing your glute as you bring it close to the surface. When your reach the top of the motion hold for at least 10 seconds. Bring your right leg down, then repeat this motion with your left leg. This is one rep. Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.
Bicycle – Put your back against the side wall of the swim spa. Hold yourself up by extending your arms to either side and grabbing the top lip of the swim spa. Bring your legs up just under the surface of the water and move them in a circular motion. The motion should be the same as pedalling a bike. Keep pedalling for 1-2 minutes.
Flutter kick – Turn on your buoyancy jet, setting it to provide a light current capable of keeping your horizontal without too much effort on your part. Grab onto the steel bar located on top of the jets. Flatten your body out along the surface of the water and start kicking your legs quickly. Keep it up for 2-3 minutes.
Steps – These can be done on either the entrance steps or on the specially built aqua fitness steps on either side of the swim jets. Step onto the step with your right foot, then your left. Once on the step with both feet, step down with your left foot then your right. Repeat, this time starting with your left foot. This is one rep. Do 2-3 sets of 10-20 reps, depending on your fitness level.
Crunch – From the bicycle position we discussed earlier, extend your legs straight out with your feet and knees together. Pull your knees into your chest, then return to the starting position. Repeat 10-20 times.
Water Plank – Planks are a great core strengthener. To do one in water you will need to get a pool noodle. Hold the noodle vertically in both hands. Press it down into the water towards the floor and lean forward until your body is on an incline and your head is just above water. Hold this position as long as you can. Your goal should be to hold it between 1-2 minutes.
Core Rotations – Holding a set of water dumbbells, stand in the centre of the swim spa with your legs shoulder width apart. Bend your knees slightly and hold the dumbbells vertically just in front of your stomach. Keeping your back straight, rotate your torso all the way to the right, then all the way to the left. This is one rep. Aim for 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps.
Start this exercise slowly, then ramp up the speed as you go. The faster you move, the greater the resistance from the water and the harder it will be.
Fly-Backs – A great exercise for your chest, back and arms. Start in a lunge position with your right knee bent and your left leg behind you. Your arms should be straight out in front of you at chest height with your palms touching.
Move your arms out to the side of your body, keeping them straight throughout, then return them to the starting position. This is one rep. Do at 2-4 sets of anywhere from 10-15 reps, switching your legs on every set.
To increase the level of difficulty you can turn your swim jets on low while doing the exercise. To work your chest harder face the swim current or face the front of the swim spa to work your back harder.
Step Push-Ups – Exactly what it sounds like. Put your hands on the either the entry steps or the exercise bar and do a push up. Go as far down as you can without submerging your face underwater. Since you are lighter in water, these are easier to do than a standard push-up. Go slowly to get more out of this exercise. Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-15 pushups.
Shoulder Press – Grab a resistance band like those in Hydropool’s aqua fitness swim spa package. Stand in the centre of the swim spa with the centre of the resistance band under your feet, holding on to the handles. With your palms facing forward, raise your hands to your shoulders. You arms should be in line with your torso. This is your starting position.
Lift your arms straight up until they are straight (don’t lock your elbows), then bring them back to your starting position. This is one rep. Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.
Chest Press – Stand with your chest fully submerged underwater. Grab a set of water dumbbells hold them against your chest with your palms facing down to the floor of the swim spa. Forcefully push your arms forward until your arms are straight while squeezing your chest together. Once your arms are straight, slowly pull them back towards your chest.
For added resistance, turn on your swimming jets. Do the same motion as above while facing the jets.
If you don’t have a set of water dumbbells you can also use a resistance band instead. Simply pinch the centre of the band under the tether point above the swim jets and stand facing the front of the swim spa while performing he same motion as above.
Triceps Push – Grab a set of water dumbbells. Hold them vertically by your chest, with the top of the dumbbells touching your shoulders, elbows bent and palms facing each other. Slowly push the weight down towards your thighs, straightening your arm as you go. Your upper arms should not move at all. Once your arms are straight, bring the weights back to the starting position to complete the rep. Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.
Rows – Rows are essentially a backwards chest press. They are a great exercise for your shoulders and back. Stand so your chest is fully submerged under water. Hold a set of water dumbbells with your arms extended at chest level and your palms facing down to the floor of the swim spa. Forcefully pull them towards your chest then slowly push them back out to your starting position.
To properly activate your back, push your shoulders together as you pull the weights to your chest. It should feel like you’re trying to touch your shoulder blades together.
For added resistance turn on your swim current. With your back to the jets, perform the same motion as above.
Bicep Curls – Stand with with your arms at your sides. Hold a set of water dumbbells with your palms facing up. Bring the weights up to your shoulders, bending your arm at the elbow to contract you bicep. Slowly bring them back down to the starting position to complete one rep. Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.
This exercise can also be done by standing on the centre of a resistance band and performing the same motion.
1) As with any exercise, you should always warm up before starting any water workout. Warming up your muscles helps to get them prepared for your workout and reduces the chance of injuring yourself significantly. Your warm up routine can include a light swim against the current of your swim spa’s swimming jets or the workouts we’ve already outlined done at a slower, gentler pace. Your warm up routine should take between 5-10 minutes.
2) Remember to stay hydrated. Since you are in water you will likely not feel yourself sweating. This can lead to dehydration. Use Hydropool’s built-in ice bucket to store a water bottle while you workout.
3) Stretch after your workout is complete. Stretching after a workout helps to avoid stiff and sore muscles by relaxing them after a strenuous workout. For a full body stretching routine check out this video by Fitness Blender.
Research has also shown that a 10 minute massage after working out can help reduce inflammation and speed up muscle recovery. After your done stretching, enjoy a 10 minute massage in one of your swim spa’s massage therapy seats to help your muscles recover.
Aqua fitness has developed an unfair reputation for consisting of light cardio exercises only. As you can see though, there are many aqua fitness exercises available to give you a total body workout. Add to that the variable resistance available in swim spas and you have an ideal workout for people of all fitness levels.
Not sure if aqua fitness is for you? Want to try a few of these workouts for yourself? Come and see us at 1545 Dundas Street East in Whitby, ON. We have a working floor model available for testing. To book your test you can contact us anytime at email@example.com or by calling us at 905-666-5333