Ai Chi, Barre, Pilates & Yoga

Saturday, March 28 2020

Looking for something more peaceful and calming to help you relax in these stressful times?  Aqua Flex & Flow is a pool workout that blends together Ai Chi (water Tai Chi), Pilates and yoga into soothing sequences of choreography.  Higher intensity movements are also added in to keep the pace brisk and the body warm. The last section of the workout targets butt and thigh by incorporating a pool noodle as a Ballet Barre.

Serenity, strength and stretching, this pool workout has it all.  Why incorporate mind & body programming in the water?  There are several reasons but the most prominent is because of the supportive nature of water.  Participants are willing to dig deeper into yoga poses due to the buoyant, supportive nature of water.  Moves requiring balance or points of stability can also be easily supported with the pool wall or floating aides such as noodles or kickboards.  The water’s viscous resistance takes Ai Chi to a new level and enhances the fitness outcomes of Pilates, yoga and Barre, helping to improve flexibility, range of motion, balance, coordination and muscular endurance to name a few benefits.  And this kind of exercise just feels really good in the water.   Given the current circumstances, NOW is a good time to bliss out in the pool with the sun on your face.

Sequencing Movement
So how do these moves all come together?  The sequencing is determined by the stance we are in for each segment.  For example, from stride position, certain yoga, Pilates and Ai Chi moves will flow together given the position of the legs, feet and arms. From wide center stance, a whole other array of mind & body moves will flow together factoring in the different position of the legs, feet and arms.  The easiest position of all is narrow center stance, also known as Mountain Pose.  From here, you can flow in almost any direction with almost any move. 

Maintaining Thermal Warmth in a Cooler Pool
Not every facility is blessed with a warm water pool.  If you want to add mind & body programming into a cooler lap pool then you have to make adjustments in the programming.  When you watch the video, you will notice that every combination includes aqua power moves blended into the yoga, Pilates and Ai Chi flow.  These power moves can be simple aqua base moves such as skis, jacks and jogs, or they can be aggressive anchored moves with long lever arm and leg movements.  Keeping warm is essential to an effective and enjoyable mind & body workout in the pool.

This routine also includes three combinations of Barre legwork using the noodle.  The noodle/Barre can be held in front or to the side as a fixed support to hold on to while performing intense leg movements that target glutes, hamstrings and thighs.  The noodle is also used in one combination for buoyant resistance when the foot is placed on the noodle.  My students have really been enjoying these Barre moves because they target their butts!

Aqua Flex & Flow is the best of mind and body programming choreographed into a Zen-like experience in the soothing embrace of the water.   I hope this workout provides some comfort and peace in the difficult times we find ourselves in. 


Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.