// Fully equipped for awesome aqua

by Kayla Duke

For a wide range of participants, from strong water aerobics can be a great way of improving provided by the water makes it a challenging, yet safe, of varying age, shape, size and fitness level. Although the unique properties of the water itself provide the resistance factor which on land may need to be achieved through the use of apparatus, this doesn’t mean that there is no call for employing additional equipment within your aqua classes. 
and variety to the aqua aerobics routine. 


Flotation equipment such as lightweight foam dumbbells or noodles (long cylinders of foam) can be used to increase the intensity of the workout. Dumbbells increase the resistance as the arms move through the water and noodles can provide increased buoyancy and resistance. Flotation equipment can also help the less confident participant feel more secure in the water. 

Noodles or dumbbells not only intensify the workout but also allow numerous new exercises to be performed. For example, take a noodle and place it behind your back, then lift your feet off the pool floor, imagining you are sitting in an armchair. In a controlled manner draw your legs apart as wide as possible, then draw them back together again while maintaining the seated position with your hips down. Repeat this exercise with a fast tempo to build more resistance and intensity by creating turbulence in the water. As the intensity level rises, it is vital to maintain the full range of motion of the exercise. 

A piece of equipment can be used to either assist participants in exercises when they may need help to float, or it can make an exercise more intense by adding more resistance. Another advantage of using equipment is that when your participants are using dumbbells you will find it much easier to see their arm movements and hence be able to apply corrections. Be sure to instruct class members not to hold the dumbbells too tight; a gentle grip is best. 


Adding dumbbells to a basic arm combination can make a big difference to the physical effects felt. By introducing this equipment to the exercise on the next page, the arms work harder, the abdominals are engaged and the muscles of the lower body are worked by being squeezed tight to prevent the body from becoming unstable. 

The combination, when repeated, can be quite challenging, particularly for the upper body and abdominals. 


And don’t forget that you can use music as another piece of auditory ‘equipment’ rather than simply having it playing in the background. It is good to perform the above combination it with music and to force participants to stay with the beat to make sure the resistance stays strong. When performed too slowly, the arms move in a more flowing manner and the resistance is not felt as much, so use music to keep your participants working together in time. Strategically selected music will also assist with class motivation by energising you and your participants and putting everyone in a more positive mood. Faster paced tracks can help get the adrenaline pumping, and the elements of the music can also make it easier for participants to get through the workout, e.g., cueing ‘sprint to the end of the chorus’ may be perceived as being a more enjoyable way of reaching the peak of a workout than simply saying ‘sprint for another 20 seconds’. Music will also help participants remember choreography moves, e.g., one move may be used during the verse, another during the instrumental sections and a third for the chorus. 

It’s always a good idea to look outside of the pool environment to get ideas for using equipment 

Note re photo 2: Move left arm in in your classes. Look around the gym floor and watch the numerous different free weight exercises that people are performing, and then take this inspiration to your aqua class. Remember to always try these exercises out in the water yourself before you give them to your class, as gym weights and aqua dumbbells are very different, and a crossover may not always work. Well-planned use of equipment in your aqua classes will add variety to your participants’ workout, as well as increasing their enjoyment and improving their results.  

Kayla Duke
With 17 years experience of stage productions and training in both classical ballet and contemporary dance, Kayla’s movement quality adds a unique polish to her instructing. Her passion for exercise has encompassed competitive diving and sport aerobics, but is these days focused on the fitness industry. Currently based in Singapore, Kayla is assistant manager of the group exercise department for four California Fitness clubs.

 • PP49-50