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Make a splash with water sports

Aqua training works for people of all ages and sizes. Go on, get your feet wet.

Anamika Butalia | Print Edition: August 23, 2009

Deepali Jain (front) and her aqua training class at the Body Rhythm pool in Mumbai
Deepali Jain (front) and her aqua training class at the Body Rhythm pool in Mumbai

Did your new year’s resolution list begin with an emphasis on a fitness regime or weight-loss? It’s been eight months now, you’ve got pamphlets of every gym in your vicinity (probably even a membership), but — don’t tell me — you’ve scarcely even touched a treadmill. This is the most common story in the world. But don’t worry — there’s a way to break the cycle. Go for a new experience, something fun and effective. Try aqua training.

Aqua training is simply exercising under water, but what makes it so popular is that one can lose between 500 and 700 calories within an hour — a statistic that is unheard of when it comes to land-based workouts. Another incentive: You don’t need to know how to swim.

Deepali Jain, an internationally-qualified aqua specialist, has been conducting sessions for a decade. She incorporates a variety of underwater techniques — aerobics, yoga, kickboxing, pilates as well as Tai Chi. For each one, a different flotation accessory is provided. For kick-boxing, for example, mitts, floating belts and boxing gloves are used, whereas ankle weights and dumb-bells may be used for circuit training.

This evening, Jain is at the Breach Candy Club preparing a class with warm-up stretches in the shallow end. All 15 participants, including men and women between the ages of 19 and 50 years, are looking forward to it. And why not—we all know that swimming is the best cardiovascular exercise around. And movement under water is far easier since the body feels almost weightless (only 10 per cent of the body weight on land).

The Benefits
Helps ease pain
Helps lose weight
Increases flexibility and coordination
Helps in relaxation
Improves coordination
A massaging effect

Furthermore, the water provides 13 times more resistance than air for every movement of the muscles. Aqua training not only increases your cardiovascular fitness, but also significantly reduces any risk of bone, muscle or joint injury since water provides a cushioning effect.

Unless you’re a water baby and enjoy swimming, exercising in a pool might seem unnatural at first. But the body accustoms easily. Muscles become more flexible and the movements become more defined as you move to the deep end, wearing a floatation belt, which keeps the body afloat vertically while you exercise.

Today, the class is concentrating on circuit training. At the deep end, where the feet are off the tiled floor, participants are made to run—like one would on land. And that is just how it feels; as though the class is actually enjoying a game of catch-and-cook in the pool. Jain explains that the effects of gravity are reduced in water, which give the joints a wider range of movements and make the exercises easier.

The focus shifts to the arms where floating dumb-bells are used. The water massages the arm, nudging and encouraging every movement made. The advantage of training in the pool is that the muscles do not work in isolation since water provides equal pressure from all sides; in practice, biceps are exercised along with triceps and quadriceps.

As our focus moves from legs and arms to the shoulders and chest, the body keeps its cool. At the end of the class, none of the participants complains of exhaustion or tiredness or even dehydration. But this, of course, is just one of the pros of aqua exercise. “It’s the best way to convalescence from a muscle or joint injury,” says Jain. “It’s also recommended by doctors for people with arthritis and osteoporosis as well as pregnant women.”

For those who don’t exercise or want to lose weight, aqua exercise is quite good. Apart from losing up to 700 calories during a single hour-long session, Jain asserts that women who do five sessions a week and follow a healthy diet have lost as much as 2-3 inches per month. But the benefits of the science of aqua training are not the only reasons why it’s catching on. Most of the country experience sultry, sweaty days round the year. Aqua training cools one down. It may change the way even the laziest people think of fitness.

Aqua specialist Deepali Jain teaches at Body Rhythm (a gym) and to members of Breach Candy Club, Willingdon Club, Bombay Gymkhana. She also gives private sessions and has aqua training in Bangalore, Pune and Kolkata. Tel.: 9820094323; E-mail: www.deepalijain.com; jaindeepali(at)hotmail(dot)com.

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