When I was 16 years old, I decided to learn how to swim. Shocking, I know. Especially when considering I have always lived next to the sea. Determined not to spend another summer in shallow waters, I headed to the nearest swimming pool facility.
There were various coaches available for private lessons. I stopped at the one who seemed trustworthy. By trustworthy I mean not like the ones who looked like the only way to teach you swimming would be to throw you in deep waters and hand you a stick to grab onto as motivation.
How wrong I was. This coach had that exact style of teaching swimming to newbies like me. He didn’t waste a second to throw me in at the 4m deep area of the pool. For anyone who was ever taught swimming this way, there are two possible scenarios:
- You are happy to give up and drown and once saved by the coach, are terrified of swimming forever and ever and will never go again
- You decide to start swimming for your life and learn how it’s done. You get over your PSTD experience and move on to be a happy swimmer since.
To my surprise, I fell into the second category and started swimming for my life. Call it instinct of survival. Either way, within 10 seconds I was ready to give up and had already decided it was my last time trying.
Not one to ever admit defeat completely, I looked for alternative ways to start feeling comfortable in deep waters.
That specific pool also offered classes on aqua aerobics.
The thing that caught my eye was the level of swimming expertise was irrelevant because they offered swimming belts to non-swimmers like me.
Next class was early next week in the morning and off I went. I looked around and it was mostly ladies with the exception of one gentleman.
The class started with a bang – loud upbeat music blasted to the maximum.
We were given dumbbells and a neck doodle.
I was also given a belt upon my request. I didn’t mind that I was the only one needing it. You’ve got to start somewhere, right?
That first class featured many of the standard aerobic activities but in water. The dumbbells were used for arm exercises but my personal favourite was the push ups. There were so easy to do in the water as opposed to the hard-cold floor.
There were many reasons why I fell in love with aqua aerobics from the first time and why I kept on going back throughout the rest of that summer.
- The music!
Absolutely fantastic. I don’t know if it was the teacher’s music taste matching mine but it was so uplifting that it immediately numbed my fear of deep water.
- No pain but a lot to gain
That post-workout muscle fever associated with trying something new? Completely absent after that very first workout. Aqua aerobics is classed as a low-impact exercise. The water takes some of that impact we place on our body unlike a workout done on solid ground.
- It really does not feel like working out
You know that sweaty feeling you get when you’ve just been at the gym or when you go outdoors for a run? Not there in water because you’re feeling refreshed post-workout.
- You don’t feel the same type of fitness pain
Unlike lifting weights which goes against the impact of gravity, water movement means smoother movement and a more natural process for your body. Don’t be fooled though. Exercising in water can be 12 times more effective than on dry land because of the impact any movement in water creates. This results in a better muscle tone after only a few times of going.
- The happy mood is contagious
You really don’t see grumpy people doing aqua aerobics. Or anywhere near water for that matter. What with the music and trying to keep up with the fast moves of the coach and the splash of water all around makes for one very positive and uplifting experience.
- It really shapes your body like no other type of exercise
You know how simmers on TV have the best shape ever? Water moulds all these flabby bits and pieces and makes a beautiful, strong shape of them. Early on at my class, I caught a glance of one of the regular aqua aerobics goers and her body was shaped as if an artist had drawn perfection.
- Reduces stretch marks and cellulite
That I started noticing after a couple of weeks of being a regular. I believe I’m one of those girls who was born with cellulite. I remember having it from a very young age. No expensive cream ever worked and I was too young and broke to invest in massage treatments. But those aqua aerobics classes worked almost immediately.
- The cooling off part
When it’s a sizzling hot summer and you live in a hot climate, the best thing you can do to cool off is be in the water. And being in water does wonders to de-stress you after a hard long day.
There were some things I wasn’t fond of every single time.
- Wearing a swimsuit for every workout – Not ideal for all
- The chlorine! – I still don’t like it. I hate the smell of it, the accidental taste of it and the look of it.
- Getting wet to work out – let’s face it. An hour in water every single day doesn’t suit all. Sure, we all like to shower but that takes up to ten minutes at best.
Overall, it was one of those fitness experiences I remember fondly.
By the end of the first month, I knew most of the moves and that made it even better because I could focus on my body’s movements rather than just staring at the coach.
I never did go back after that summer ended. Life and new school commitments took me away from the water routine I so enjoyed.
The funny thing about trying aqua aerobics and remembering all the moves is that you can never just go to the beach now and sit idly in the water ever again. You’re bound to want to get a workout out of any vacation spent at the sea or pool.
One tip: ignore the weird looks and just do it!