The ins and outs of instructing water aerobics: Part 1

Lucy RAPs

Guest blog from RAPs member Lucy Lloyd-Roach 

People who know me may be surprised that I’m writing about the benefits of water aerobics because when I swim, it has a distinctly competitive focus.

I’ve been involved in swimming for over 20 years. By contrast, I’m fairly new to water aerobics, having been teaching for nearly three years. Before taking my STA Aquacise certificate, I partly subscribed to some of the common myths about water aerobics. However, the training course quickly dispelled these and I soon discovered how challenging it could be. My experiences were further supported by a quick ‘Google’ of elite athletes using water-based exercise (the list includes Johnny and Alistair Brownlee, Paula Radcliffe and the current Four Nation Champions – the Australian Rugby League team).

As I started to regularly teach water aerobics classes, participants soon told me the difference water aerobics had made to their quality of life. The conditions that water aerobics helps to manage include mental health conditions, arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, and hip and knee pain.

As you can start to appreciate it wasn’t just the physical side of things that people noticed change, but also their general well-being. In fact if you were to look at the World Health Organisation’s definition: ‘Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’, you can see that water aerobics can help people with the main elements of health.

The physical effects are perhaps most evident. Water aerobics is a great all-over body workout and brings benefits including reducing inflammation and increasing flexibility and mobility. A commonly reported effect from my clients is that in the water they can exercise for longer, giving them a better work-out. The health implications of getting someone more physically active speak for themselves. Some commonly reported results are that some find it helps them to strengthen muscles, which improves their functional movement on land or it may help them to maintain or lose weight. These in turn then have a positive effect upon other areas in their life.

With regard to the social and psychological benefits of water aerobics, studies have shown that following a course of water aerobics participants noticed a number of psychological improvements including a reduction in stress and depression and an improvement in sleep and quality of life.

Before my course, I thought that swimming can bring all of these benefits too.  However, the difference is that these can be accomplished without being able to swim. I’ve noticed that water aerobics encourages some non-swimming participants want to learn to swim. During a shallow water aerobics session a participant will work with their feet on the floor (i.e. within their comfort zone). This means that many non-swimmers will improve their water confidence and find themselves enjoying being in the water.

Being able to teach water aerobics has benefitted my swimming teaching. I specialise in teaching adults and I use some of the water aerobic moves with my nervous adults to help them explore and feel some of the principles of the water that will help them swim such as the buoyancy and support of the water and as a result I find that it helps them to learn to swim more quickly.

Having briefly described some of the benefits that water aerobics can bring, I’d like to share with you in a future blog a few of the anecdotes that people have told me so far. I hope you’ll find them as amazing as I have.

Part 2 of Lucy’s blog will be up online soon. 

About Lucy

Lucy has been fortunate enough to have been teaching swimming for over 10 years. In the last 5 years she has specialised in teaching adults. She feels there is nothing quite like getting people enjoying being in the water and helping them to achieve their goals. In her spare time she can usually be found in the water. She enjoys success in the pool at a Masters level having been part of a number of World record-breaking relays with Trafford Masters. This summer, was her first ‘proper’ open water season and she was part of the world record breaking female 2-way cross-channel relay team.’