The benefits of water-based exercise and movement are virtually infinite. For starters, the water reduces strain on the joints, allows for greater range of motion and provides dynamic resistance for strength work. “It also just takes away the grumpiness,” says Deanna Zeigler, a Bellevue Club water aerobics instructor. She also cites improved circulation, reduced inflammation and lowered blood pressure as positive effects she’s seen in her students in the 37 years she’s been teaching.
“So it’s funny that people often don’t find the water until they can’t do anything else,” Zeigler says. “Everyone should be in the water more.” And it’s true. Many of her students start coming to class only after suffering strokes or heart attacks, being diagnosed with arthritis or fibromyalgia, or rehabbing a major injury. “Whatever it is—a bad back or bad knee or shoulder—when you’re in the water, it’s healing. You can do whatever you can and protect the area that’s injured. I have a ninety-one-year-old who says it’s better than Aleve.”
And Zeigler says that’s great—the water is an incredible healing tool and should be used as such. But, many, many more people—especially active people—can massively benefit from getting in the pool more often for all the same reasons.
"Personally, I love deep-water work because you are totally immersed, so every single move you make is beneficial as long as you’re in good body mechanics,” Zeigler says. She adds that nearly everyone—no matter the body shape or fitness level—can participate. “The only qualification is that you aren’t afraid of the water. You don’t even need to know how to swim laps.
“I have one woman and she walks with a walker, but when she is in the water and doing the cross-country ski exercise [see sidebar] she looks like a gazelle,” Zeigler says.
For those not suffering from an injury, one of the greatest reasons to get your feet wet is injury prevention. That comes mainly from the water’s ability to increase joint mobility, flexibility and range of motion. But Zeigler says the strength and endurance pieces are often overlooked. Every year, Zeigler attends a national conference to learn the latest trends and techniques for water aerobics, and she says high intensity interval training (HIIT), kickboxing and posterior chain strength work are all currently big themes she intends to include in her classes.
For a complete water aerobics schedule, please view the GPX brochure.