// Stick it to 'em!

Using an aquatic tool that enables resistance levels to be easily adjusted can provide clients of every fitness level with a fun and original challenge says Marietta Mehanni.

While using rubberised bands in water fitness classes is not a new concept, attaching them to a stick is – and that's what the Aqua Gymstick does. An adaptation of the Gymstick, the design of this tool enables stationary, propulsive and travelling exercises to use the extra resistance of the bands to add challenge. And with the ability to increase and decrease tension – and therefore challenge – it's ideal for use with participants of different strength and fitness levels, from the obese or the elderly, to personal training clients or athletes.

For the instructor, the Aqua Gymstick can be used effectively in a shallow pool, an environment which is not always ideal for other aquatic tools. Enabling a range of interesting new exercises for participants, it also provides variables for modifications and progressions and, in addition to the resistance in the bands, can be used to add extra challenge by creating turbulence.

For the participant, the Aqua Gymstick aids in the development of postural awareness and challenges aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Through combining strength and stability training, it provides a high level of neural activation by challenging the nervous system to react to the unstable movement patterns, which enhances movement reaction times and heightens proprioception (righting reactions). This, combined with the fact that it demands recruitment of the core muscles, makes it an excellent tool for rehabilitation.


The Aqua Gymstick enables cardiovascular and muscle conditioning to be performed simultaneously and it can be adapted to most exercises. The resistance of the bands can be easily manipulated. To increase resistance, wind the bands around each end so that the bands become shorter and require more effort to stretch. To reduce tension, simply unwind the band. See guide for selecting the correct resistance band over page.

Regardless of the exercise, there should always be tension in the bands when using the Gymstick. Some exercises require the bands to be tighter e.g. holding the stick at the hips and performing a jumping jack with bicep curl. Movements like a cross country ski with the stick swivelling forward with alternate arm extension, require the bands to be at their full length to get the maximum rotation and benefit from the turbulence created by the stick.

Selecting the correct resistance

The resistance bands come in five different strengths.

Light – This green band is designed for rehabilitation and exercise for beginners and older adults. The resistance ranges from 1 to 10kg.

Medium – This blue band is designed for junior athletes, men and women who want to start exercising. The resistance ranges from 1 to 15kg.

Strong – This black band is designed for fit men and women and athletes. The resistance ranges from 1 to 20kg.

Extra strong – This silver band is designed for extremely fit men and athletes. This is also appropriate for personal training. The resistance ranges from 1 to 25kg.

Super strong – This gold band is designed for athletes. The resistance ranges from 1 to 30kg.

The recommended starting resistance strength is light, but for regular and fit participants, the blue Aqua Gymstick provides the necessary challenge.

The 'Trios' class design

Aqua Gymstick Trios is a cardiovascular and muscle conditioning class incorporating the multiple fitness principles of cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, muscle endurance, balance, joint stability, coordination and postural awareness.

The workout consists of sets of three exercises, the 'Trios', performed twice within a five-minute block. Each Trio is focused on fatiguing a specific muscle group while incorporating balance and coordination to add a further challenge to the body. Trios consist of a primary exercise, a first progression and a second progression.

Execution of the Trio

Each exercise is performed for 30 seconds, with a 10-second break between the first and second exercise and a 20-second break between the two halves of the trio. This provides the instructor with the opportunity to explain and demonstrate the execution of the next exercise. Each Trio is separated by a 40-second break to prepare for the next Trio.

Sample Trio

  1. Roll over and under with the stick overhand for 30 seconds followed by a 10-second rest.
  2. Roll over and under with the stick and jumping jack overhand for 30 seconds followed by a 10-second rest.
  3. Roll over and under with the stick and aerial jack overhand followed by a 20-second rest.
  4. Repeat Trio as above, with optional change of grip to underhand.
  5. 40-second rest and then begin next Trio.
Exercise Move No. Legs Arms/ Aqua Gymstick
Trio 1
Emphasis: adductors and deltoids.
1 (photos 1, 2 & 3) Feet in wide stance Hold the Gymstick with an overhand grip and circle over and under
2 (photos 4 & 5) Jack – jump legs together and apart Yoga pose – tighten up the bands and grip with the elbows, holding the Gymstick close to the torso (shoulders relaxed)
3 (photos 6, 7 & 8) Jack – jump legs together and apart Circle over as feet come together and under and towards the body as feet jump apart

Trio 2
Emphasis: hamstrings, glutes, adductors, deltoids, obliques, erectus spinae rotators.
1 (photos 9 & 10) Feet in wide stance Hold the Gymstick with an overhand grip and push alternate end forward and back
2 (photos 11 & 12) Cross country ski Hold the Gymstick with an overhand grip and push alternate end forward in opposition to the legs
3 (photo 13) Cross country ski with rebound Hold the Gymstick with an overhand grip and push alternate end forward in opposition to the leg

Trio 3
Twist the bands twice.

Emphasis: hip and thigh abductors, deltoids.

Repeat Trio with the opposite leg in the 1st exercise.

1 (photos 14 & 15) Lift left leg off the floor and abduct to side Hold the stick against the pool floor on an angle and twist the Gymstick to tighten the bands
2 (photos 16 & 17) Pendulum – hop from leg to the other abducting leg to either side Hold the Gymstick with an overhand grip and abduct arms in the opposite direction to the legs
3 (photos 18 & 19) Starting with feet together, jump up, opening both legs at the same time. Land with feet together Hold the Gymstick with an overhand grip and pull the Gymstick towards the chest with the elbows lifted high


The Aqua Gymstick Trios class elevates heart rate while also providing an excellent upper and lower body workout and giving participants a truly original aqua learning experience.

Marietta Mehanni
Marietta is an award winning Australian presenter (Author of the Year 2007, Aqua Exercise Leader of the Year 2003) and Australian Fitness Network Ambassador with over 20 years of teaching experience in both land and water-based group exercise. Certified with AFAA, ACE, AEA, SCW and Certificate IV in training and assessment, Marietta presents at conventions worldwide. She is the World Master Trainer for Gymstick International with expertise in Gymstick Aqua and Original Indoor concepts