AquaZumba: A Different Sort of Exercise Challenge

Since I’ve been doing regular Zumba and holding up pretty well for a little over a year now, I’ve been wondering if my body could handle doing two exercise classes a week instead of just one. I wasn’t sure what other type of exercise I could add, however.

As it happened, my regular Zumba instructor mentioned about a month back that she was going to teach a water form of Zumba called AquaZumba, and she wanted to know what interest there would be in such a class. I raised my hand; about six years ago, my doctor suggested water aerobics to me as a way of building back strength in my damaged joints, but I hadn’t followed up on it. So, remembering my doctor’s old advice, I decided I would give it a shot. The happy result is the subject of today’s blog post.

The Experience

I showed up for class last Monday afternoon, in the outdoor pool area at my local YMCA (also where I take regular Zumba on Thursday nights). There ended up being about 20 people there for the class, and our instructor advised us to make sure we were standing in water at least chest-high so that we could get good resistance on our arms as well as the rest of us. The middle section of the pool, where the depth slowly increases, was accordingly filled out with class members arranged by height.

Our instructor demonstrated the various moves outside the water, so we could all see and know what to do. At first, I didn’t think it would be nearly as challenging as regular Zumba, but within the first couple of songs, I realized that the water resistance was certainly not negligible. Not that the resistance was hard to work through–it was just more resistance to movement than I expected. You don’t realize how much water will hold you still or keep you back from moving, but it will!

As we worked through each song, I realized that because of the water resistance, AquaZumba is necessarily a slower-tempo workout. You’re not doing as much high-intensity cardio (though you do get an elevated heart rate); instead, you’re doing more muscle toning. I could feel, as we did each set of the slower but more graceful moves through the water, that my arms and legs were getting a good workout, as well as my core muscles (which I didn’t expect at all). It wasn’t arduous, though–the water made the movements more fun since I wasn’t having to focus so hard on not falling over (LOL).

For a solid hour, the water seemed to boil with our movements as the 20 of us moved like a party of synchronized swimmers (except without the spangly costumes). (I don’t see how the instructor stood it, doing her moves on land (and in full sun) as she did!) I noticed that pretty much the whole class kept up with the exercises well, and by the end of the workout, we all seemed pleasantly tired, not flat-out exhausted.

I left feeling good about the whole experience. The instructor was encouraging and compassionate as always, and the class members were forgiving of each other as well as of themselves. Not to mention that the heaviness in my limbs was a sign that I’d had a much stronger workout (and yet a less joint-stressing workout) than I expected.

The Results

I was less sore and exhausted after AquaZumba than I usually am after regular Zumba, but I was still feeling the workout–at about midnight, I realized I’d worked my arms WAY more than I realized. Still, I wasn’t overtired, and felt energetic enough through the week to meet my regular Zumba class and my other obligations as well. I also noticed that my ankles and knees felt more supported during the workout, which meant lots less pain during and after the workout. I was worried that my completely flat feet on a slanted pool floor might cause me a mischief, but that didn’t seem to come into play at all.

Time will tell, however if my core muscles were as engaged as they felt during the workout, but I literally felt “smaller” around the middle when I left the pool that evening. Those slow twists and turns do more for the obliques and abs than I thought!

Wondering if You Should Try It?

In my opinion, if you enjoy swimming or enjoy just being in the water, AquaZumba could very well be a good fit for your exercise program. And, if you can do regular Zumba, you can definitely do AquaZumba. However, if you’ve never tried regular Zumba because you think it would be too fast or difficult, this might be more your speed.

Check online or around your local gyms (or even local parks) to see whether a class may be offered in your area. Who knows, you might find yourself becoming an AquaZumba swan by the end of the summer!

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