// Wet and wild

by Kayla Duke

The ‘Wet and Wild’ concept will stimulate your imagination to create an effective and fun aqua aerobics class by teaching you how to choreograph great exercises to music in a way that is easy to remember and provides a great workout.

Get wet!

Why should our participants choose to work out in water instead of staying on dry land? Moving in water is fun, safe and suitable for all ages and all levels of health and fitness.

Aqua aerobics is often mistakenly thought of as being a form of exercise for the elderly. But don’t be fooled: aqua aerobics can deliver a very tough exercise session, burning up to twice as many calories as the same workout on land would achieve. When moving in water, the body is always pushing and pulling against resistance in all directions, and each movement also creates turbulence and currents, making the body work even harder.

Because the body is supported by water there is less strain and pressure put on the joints, making aqua classes equally as suitable for old, injured and overweight participants as for the young and those who are 100 per cent fit and healthy.

It increases flexibility, builds muscle strength, improves coordination and allows you to have a more vigorous exercise session without stressing or damaging your joints. The water also makes you buoyant, making it possible to do exercises that you can’t do on land, like a double leg kick (mermaid kick) to front, side and back. This type of exercise is great for the whole body and needs no equipment (except a pool!) to condition and strengthen the muscles while also achieving a cardio workout.

Another selling point is that participants don’t get as sore and sweaty as they would do working out on land. Because the concentric and eccentric contractions are weighed out, it is easier for the body to handle and repair, lessening the severity of soreness and stiffness. As for getting sweaty, it does still happen, but in the water, sweat simply washes away and the aquatic environment helps to keep the body feeling cool and comfortable.

Go wild!

Let’s pull out the stops and let the fun and creativity flow. With the right choice of music and choreography, you can design a class that’s a wild water workout. I always find it’s best to start by choosing the music.

As well as being a great way to motivate both yourself (as choreographer and instructor) and the class, it also provides a structural base for your workout. Choose music that stimulates your creativity, but also think of the participants and try to select music that they’ll like, and will get them moving and having fun. Choose a range of songs with different timing that makes the body exercise in a variety of ways, i.e., big floating moves to slow music, and jogging, low kicks and jacks to fast music. Split your music into three sections; verse, chorus and instrumental. Depending on the music you use, you may sometimes add a fourth section. Then, you just need to pick a move for each section, e.g. verse – kicks; chorus – jacks; instrumental – jogging. If you know your music well, conducting the class becomes much easier as the music acts as a prompt; when the verse, chorus or instrumental section comes up, you automatically instruct the move. A typical song lasts for about five minutes and only needs three steps, so if you have a 45-minute class you need about nine songs and 27 steps or less, because the last five minutes will probably be a stretch track. It may sound like a lot, but it’s not really.

But how do you come up with so many steps that all fit the music? The best thing to do is hop in the pool and get creative, get wild, and see what fits the music and feels like a good workout combination. Start with one move, e.g. kick.

Out of a simple kick there are many possible variations. You can have straight leg kicks, flick kicks, short fast kicks, side kicks or back kicks. Then add arms and the list of variations multiplies. In the following photos you can see a kick variation starting with front kick, tuck jump to side kick, tuck jump to back kick and ending with a tuck jump with feet together. Using a double arm push with the kick makes it a stronger, more effective workout and also helps you kick harder and jump higher.

Instructors should always remember to get in the pool and try out new choreography to experience it as their participants will. Visualising from the land is no substitute. There are many exercises you can do in the water that you cannot do on land and of course vice versa. We must not forget that aqua exercise is unique – as are aqua aerobics instructors. Aerobics instructors on land cannot expect to take the same steps taught in the studio into the pool. Once in the pool we move more slowly and float with buoyancy. Each move must feel good and fit with the music. On land at the side of the pool, the aqua instructor needs to be able simulate the water movements, sometimes with the aid of a frame. This is what will make your workout complete. So get wet and go wild!

Watch the choreography by clicking play on the video below:


Kayla Duke
’Currently based in Singapore with Asia’s leading fitness company, California Fitness, Kayla is assistant group exercise manager for Singapore. She instructs, choreographs programs, trains and assesses instructors and regularly presents, both nationally and internationally. Before starting her fitness career, Kayla accrued 17 years dance experience in stage productions, ranging from small town mixed dance performances to full classical ballets. Her movement quality gives a special edge to her presentation style.