Deep Water Workouts - Belt or No?

Thursday, March 28 2019

Many people claim they get a better workout without a flotation belt in deep water. Is this true? Not really. The workout they are feeling is from sculling to stay afloat and aligned. If you want a better deep water FITNESS workout you should wear a belt. Here's why...

Having taught hundreds of aquatic fitness instructor workshops over the last 17 years, I can confidently state that frustrations regarding flotation belts are second only to chatty students in terms of instructor pet peeves.  The frustration seems to stem from students who claim they got a better workout in deep water without a belt.  The problem with this claim is that it is contraindicated from established guidelines, such as standards set by the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA), the world’s leading certifying body of water fitness instructors.   These standards clearly state that a belt should be worn for safety reasons.  This makes total sense because sudden onset health crises, such as low blood sugar, seizures, stroke and heart attack can and do happen during exercise.  If a person is stricken in the deep end without a belt on, an instructor has big problems on their hands.   

However, when a student asks why they need to wear a belt and you reply citing safety reasons they typically roll their eyes and tell you what a great swimmer they are.  Safety concerns are not going to sway them.  Instead, you need to tell them how much more effective the deep-water workout could be if they attached neutral buoyancy to their waist.  For those Doubting Thomas's, below is a short video tutorial explaining some reasons WHY a deep-water FITNESS workout is more effective with a belt. 


Subscribers often reach out to me and ask for recommendations on belts.   That is tough one because all bodies are built different and preferences from wide to narrow run the gamut.  As stated in the video above, I prefer narrow ski belt styles and my current favorite is the Water Gym belt

Also mentioned in the video above is the Water Horse, popularized by Karen Westfall and   Often times, students will claim discomfort as a reason they don’t wear a belt or in the case of obese students the belt may not fit.  The Water Horse goes under the legs rather than around the waist. 

I hope the video tutorial above helped bolster the case for wearing a flotation belt for deep water fitness activities.  


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.