Fitness & Health

Water aerobics for students make a splash

WHEN YOU HEAR the words water aerobics, what comes to mind? If you picture senior citizens splashing around to 80s music at the Y, you’re in the majority. But, just because a bunch of people think working out in a pool is a waste of time doesn’t mean they’re right.

Drop-in aqua fitness (or aquafit) classes are offered at no charge to students at the University of Ottawa pool in Montpetit Hall four times a week, and trust me: This isn’t your grandmother’s workout.

Graham Ford, the head guard and instructor at the U of O pool, explained the differences between working out in the pool versus on land. According to Ford, there’s a serious advantage.

“The major difference [in] water aerobics is the resistance and the lack of impact. While land aerobics are great, there is very little resistance, and depending on the workout, [it] can be hard on your joints,” he said. “Water aerobics eliminates the impact and joint stress to a large degree and, if done properly, the water can actually make the movements more difficult by slowing you down and providing something to push against.”

Third-year health sciences student Freya Crawley attends aquafit classes for a number of reasons.

“It’s a hard workout, yet I still get to visit and talk to friends. The instructors are fun, [and] every time I leave feeling sore because they know how to push everyone,” she said. “I also love the water, and it’s another way to utilize my gym membership that I pay for with my tuition anyways.”

Instructors lead students through a 40-minute or one-hour routine set to the latest hits, which goes through a fast-paced series of exercises that individually target arm, leg, and abdominal muscles.

“The resistance provided by the water helps to develop different muscles than [the muscles worked during] standing aerobics,” explained Ford.

Instructors can also tailor the workout to each participant by encouraging more advanced students to use water weights. Ford noted that working out in a pool does have added advantages other than toning.

“It is also very beneficial if you find yourself overheating when doing other aerobic activity, because the water acts as a natural coolant,” he said. “It can help you develop better cardiovascular fitness.”

Crawley finds the abdominal aspect of the workout especially challenging, and says she continues to go back because she finds aquafit an effective and enjoyable way to work out.

“The best part is that everyone there is having fun, yet you’re still getting a good workout at the same time,” she added. “The instructors have their workout planned out very efficiently so that every minute you’re there you’re working.”

She has a way to deal with those who scoff at the idea or laugh it off as exercise for the elderly.

“I ask [people who say it’s for seniors] if they’ve ever actually tried it, because I’ve never heard of anyone who’s tried it and didn’t like it.”

The U of O’s water aerobics classes are offered on Mondays, 7–8 p.m. (power tone); Wednesdays, 12–1 p.m. (liquid lunch) and 7–8 p.m. (power tone); and Thursdays, 12–1 p.m. (liquid lunch) at the Montpetit Hall pool. Be sure to bring your student card.

—Ali Schwabe