Christine Alexander is the author of 2 books on water exercise each published by Human Kinetics.
Water Fitness Progressions (2019) was written for water fitness instructors and aquatic personal trainers. It describes how to use periodization to help class participants and clients progress in their level of fitness. It contains lesson plans that illustrate how to progressively increase intensity for both cardiorespiratory endurance and strength training.
Water Fitness Lesson Plans and Choreography (2011) was written for water fitness instructors. It has 36 class ideas for shallow water exercise and 36 class ideas for deep water exercise. Individuals may find the exercise descriptions and photos useful for building a personal exercise routine.
Self-care is all the rage. No matter where you look, there’s someone posting about their favorite bath bomb or face mask or posting pics of their morning’s green smoothie. Although these are perfectly legitimate forms of self-care, they’re not effective for everyone. Some people won’t get as much out of a warm bath as they will out of re-organizing their pantry, for example.
Figuring out the self-care techniques that work for you and your lifestyle is essential for creating a happier, healthier life for yourself. Water Fitness Lessons wants to give you the tools you need to build the best habits. To start, it’s always important to make sure you’re exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep. Here’s a look at a few more effective forms of self-care that many people don’t think of when planning healthy routines for themselves.
Assess Your Stress
Stress is an inevitable part of life, and there are even good forms of stress. However, too much stress can take a toll on our physical and mental health. Stress reduction is a great form of self-care, and it can be simple to implement. For starters, gauge where most of your stress comes from. Is it taking care of your family? Is it the frustration of a supervisory role at work? Are you overextending yourself by agreeing to everything all the time? These are the first places to look.
Once you identify your biggest stressors, look for ways to mitigate their effects. At work, look to delegate tasks to your staff, or look into courses for more effective management techniques. If it’s family, ask your partner to take a larger share of responsibilities, or enlist your children to tackle chores and tasks that take up your time. Saying no will likely be the hardest but learning to say no will pay off down the road. Start small, then try it again. You don’t have to be available to everyone all the time.
Assess Your Budget
Few people would list budgeting at the top of their list of self-care techniques, but it’s a shockingly important form of taking care of yourself and your household. Finances cause more stress than you might realize, notes the American Psychological Association. When money is tight, you have to spend a lot of time and mental energy figuring out how to make ends meet. Good budgeting can help make sure your money stretches far enough to survive and thrive with long-term goals.
If you look at your monthly expenses and find that your monthly expenses are too high, there are several steps you can take. If you own a home, you can investigate refinancing to see if you can get a better rate (and a lower monthly payment) on your home loan. You can also save money by trying to cut back on restaurant visits and cooking more at home, or by buying items you use regularly in bulk to save on price per unit.
If you live with family, roommates, or any other household situation, you might need to consider working alone time into your schedule. Many people who live with others don’t really get to spend much if any time alone. Although having a strong social network is good for you, most of us need to have some time to ourselves to rest, recharge and relax. Without it, we can start to feel like we’re always “on” in a sense.
There are many great ways to enjoy some alone time. For example, you can pair your solitude with a walk around the neighborhood, going for a swim or an online exercise video. You can enjoy an exciting book or indulge in a favorite hobby. It’s usually best to pick something you can’t easily do with others, or something you know you’d especially enjoy tackling solo. This way you’re getting the most out of your time.
Finally, many of us spend nearly all our time indoors. This means we miss out on the myriad benefits you receive when spending time outside. Sunlight and fresh air are absolutely invaluable when it comes to health and wellbeing. Most directly, sunlight allows our bodies to produce Vitamin D, a vital nutrient that helps our body do everything from fight infection to regulate mood. More time outside can help you feel happier, more energized, and ready to take on the world.
This is just the start of the benefits of getting outside. According to Harvard Medical School, people who spend more time outdoors tend to be more active, have healthier habits over all, and may even live longer. Consider going on a hike or visiting a nearby park a few times a week. You can also look into creating a relaxing outdoor space on your property or get into an outdoor hobby like gardening.
Remember, self-care doesn’t have to be photogenic or glamorous — it needs to be effective. Search for the healthy habits and self-care techniques that suit your needs, passions, and lifestyle. In doing so, you’ll give yourself the best chance at sticking with them and fostering real, long-term change.
Ai Chi (“energy of love”) is a water exercise and relaxation program that combines deep breathing and slow, large movements, performed in continuous, flowing patterns. It was created by Mr. Jun Konno of Japan and further developed my Ms. Ruth Sova in the United States. The YouTube video above shows Mr. Konno demonstrating Ai Chi.
Ai Chi, performed in shallow water, is so wonderfully relaxing that I wanted to try it with my deep water classes. This required modification, since weight shifting is not possible while suspended in deep water. I will present my modifications on Ai Chi Day, on Sunday July 25, 2021. The Zoom conference lasts from 8:00 AM – 12:00 noon EDT (7:00 AM – 11:00 AM CDT). There will be 18 presenters, including Jun Konno and Ruth Sova; my presentation is 10:10 – 10:19 AM EDT (9:10 – 9:19 AM CDT). If you are interested in attending, you can contact Ruth Sova at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
I am excited about presenting. Here is a preview of Ai Chi in deep water:
The first stage of Ai Chi is called Contemplating and it is a preparation for the moves to come. your body is in an upright posture with the spine in neutral and the legs apart. The arms are out to the sides near the surface of the water. Focus on your breathing. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the nose and mouth. Become aware of how your body rises and falls in the water. Then begin the first sequence, a series of four moves called Floating, Uplifting, Enclosing and Folding, which focus on breathing. They feature a series of arm moves. Most of the upper body moves work well in deep water, but upward movement, such as the front shoulder raise in Floating, tends to make the body sink. You can avoid sinking by turning the thumbs up and slicing through the water.
The second Ai Chi sequence focuses on healing, and includes exercises for the upper body and trunk stability. You will need to brace your core to stabilize in deep water. Webbed gloves can also help with stability if necessary. The movements in this sequence are called Soothing, Gathering and Accepting. The moves begin with a turn to the side. In deep water you will use a scull to assist in turning. The legs stay apart in a suspended lunge position while the arms sweep and flow. After you perform several repetitions of a move on one side, you turn to the other side and repeat the repetitions.
The third Ai Chi sequence is called healing and it focuses on the lower body. The moves are called Accepting with Grace, Rounding and Balancing. To get into position you turn to the side using a scull which puts the legs in a suspended lunge position. From there you need to drop the legs into neutral or the lower body movement tends to become a slow cross-country ski. Instead, brace the core and move one leg to the back, or to the front, or swing it front to back as in Balancing (in the photos above) while the arms sweep and flow. After performing several repetitions of each move on one side, turn to the other side and repeat the repetitions.
There is no right or wrong way to perform Ai Chi. Whatever adaptions you make, including deep water adaptations, will make it right for you. See you in the pool!
It is spring in Texas and that means thunderstorms. It may appear logical that pools and lightning don’t mix, and that is certainly true for outdoor pools. But what about indoor pools? The magazine Aquatics International ran an article in their January 2008 issue entitled “When Lightning Strikes” written by Tom Griffiths and Matthew Griffith. They argued that the practice of clearing indoor pools during outside thunderstorms does not keep people safe and in many cases, may put them in higher-risk situations.
First they looked at statistics from 1990-2003. During that time no deaths were recorded from lightning during indoor swimming activities. There had been 60 swimming pool electrocutions during that time but none of them were from lightning. The reason for that is that the National Electric Code, which has been adopted by every governmental body in the United States, requires all buildings to have the ability to shunt the voltage generated by a lightning strike. What that means is that a building must have a complete lightning protection system, and be properly grounded and bonded. Any indoor pool that is up to the required code is in violation of the National Electric Code section 250.4(A)(1) if they close during a thunderstorm.
The problem is that when the pool closes it puts swimmers and water fitness class participants at greater risk than if they had continued their pool activities. Typically they go to the locker rooms where they shower before changing. There have been numerous cases of shocks and electrocutions of people in showers, or at sinks washing their hands. Some swimmers will be children who have to call for a ride home. There are reports every year of people injured from being shocked while using a landline phone. People who leave the facility have to walk through the parking lot to get to their cars, exposing themselves to a direct lightning strike. In 2006, 99.5% of lightning-related fatalities occurred outdoors. Two occurred indoors, one to a teenager near a window and one to a person using a landline phone. Griffiths and Griffith refer to the idea that indoor pools should close during a thunderstorm as an “urban myth.”
In the June 2019 issue of Aquatics International, Shawn DeRosa followed up on the topic of lightning and indoor pools. He reported that researchers found that there continues to be no unanimity about whether to close an indoor pool during a thunderstorm. 62% of pools stay open. Of the facilities that required patrons to exit the pool, 43% allow patrons to use showers and sinks, and only 13% advised patrons to stay indoors.
Hopefully, your pool allows you to continue your water fitness class or your lap swimming or your swim lessons during a thunderstorm. It is the safest place for you to be. If your class ends or you finish your last lap, then exit the pool and dry off, but stay out of the showers and don’t wash your hands. Give your child a cell phone if he needs to call for a ride home. Then stay indoors, away from large windows or open doors until the storm passes. Stay safe!
Stuck at home? Dreaming of the days early last year when you were killing it at your local aquatic center? Well, you’ve come to the right place. With a little tweaking of your routine, a willingness to try new things, and the determination to see it through, you can stay in shape until you feel safe enough to return to the pool.
Water Fitness Lessons is dedicated to aquatic fitness. For guidelines on how to safely swim during the pandemic as well as other helpful insight, be sure to bookmark my blog!
Exercising When You Can’t take an Aquatic Fitness Class. If your favorite physical activity is water exercise or swimming, and you’re still not ready to get into the water, there are other ways to stay active until it’s time to jump back in the pool:
The CDC is not aware of any scientific reports of the virus that causes COVID-19 spreading to people through the water in pools, water playgrounds, or other treated aquatic venues. The virus most commonly spreads from person-to-person by respiratory droplets during close physical contact. Droplets are released when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. They can then land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. The virus might also spread to hands from a contaminated surface and then to the nose, mouth, or possibly eyes. Infected people can spread the virus whether or not they have symptoms.
It has not been easy for many people to maintain their level of fitness while sheltering in place, and we are eager to get back to our regular exercise routines. If that means taking a water fitness class, the CDC has recommendations for you to be able to do that safely.
Correctly and consistently wear a mask that completely covers your nose and mouth. See my previous post “More about Masks” for more information https://waterfitnesslessonsblog.com/2021/01/30/more-about-masks/ Wear the mask until just before you get into the pool. You should not wear the mask in the water because a wet mask it is hard to breathe through. After class dry your hands and face and put the mask back on.
Arrive at the pool with your swim suit on, ready to get in the water. This eliminates or at least minimizes the amount of time you spend in the locker room.
Stay at least six feet away from others who do not live with you. Six feet is a few inches longer than a typical pool noodle which is a good image to help you visualize the proper distance. Six feet is a good separation if your class is low intensity, for example aqua yoga or light aerobics. However, if your class involves sweating and heavy breathing, such as high intensity interval training, then air is coming out of your mouth with more force and traveling farther. For that reason, you should spread farther apart. In my classes we use periodization, beginning with low intensity in the pre-season and working up to high intensity during peak fitness. If you want to go all out during peak fitness then you will want to be 12-15 feet away from other participants.
Avoid crowds. Do not congregate on the pool deck with other participants unless you have your mask on and are standing 6 feet apart.
Do not share equipment. Since there is a chance that you could pick up the virus from a contaminated surface, deep-water belts and pool equipment should be sanitized before using them again.
Stay home when you are sick.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Get vaccinated when the vaccine is available to you. Getting vaccinated does not mean that you can dispense with the previous recommendations. The vaccines are not 100% effective, so you might still get infected. New variants of the disease are circulating that are more contagious. It is expected that if you did get infected after you were vaccinated, you would have a mild case or perhaps no symptoms at all. Little is known about whether vaccinated people can spread the virus to others.
Get tested if you have signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or if you think you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
The last thing any of us want is a new surge of infections before enough people have been vaccinated that we achieve herd immunity. It is not known exactly what proportion of the population that would be, as the rate varies by disease. For now, continue to wear a mask, maintain social distancing, wash your hands, and sign up to get the vaccine when you can.