Hi-Energy Low-Impact Water Aerobics

Sunday, January 02 2022

Ready for the New Year’s Water Fitness Level Challenge?  Hard, Harder, Hardest with Jackie Lebeau is a 50-minute shallow water cardio workout that includes 4 levels for each move, each progressing in difficulty.  Only one of the levels includes impact, which makes this workout 75% impact free.  But low-impact does not mean low intensity.  This is a hi-energy cardio workout and the perfect way to splash into the New Year. 

Sometimes simple is best.  This workout features basic moves that are taught with four different impact levels – grounded, bounded (Level I), neutral (Level II) and suspended (Level III).  Impact levels are exclusive to water fitness and the aquatic environment.  For example, suspended moves are only possible in water thanks to buoyancy.  The only other way to perform suspended acrobatics is to take a space ride and cavort in the zero-gravity of outer space.    

Aside from providing some fun variety and a water-specific feel, impact options are offered in aquatic fitness classes to help participants reduce impact. All Poolfit instructors are certified by the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA).  Many of them are training specialists with the association, educating and certifying water fitness instructors around the globe. AEA certified instructors are required to understand impact options and implement them in their classes.  Since it is helpful for you to implement them in your own workouts to reduce impact as needed, I have included a summary below.    

GROUNDED (Anchored Movement)
Impact is reduced in a grounded move by anchoring one foot to the pool floor at all times.  If you ever took a hi-lo aerobics class, grounded moves are the same in the pool as they are in the studio. There is no bouncing or weight transfer in a grounded move.  Impact is reduced similar to a Level II movement, but the shoulders do not need to be lowered to the water’s surface.  Instead, the movement is performed upright. 

LEVEL I (Bounded Movement)
Bounded moves include impact because the exercise is executed with either weight transfer from foot to foot, or by jumping on both feet.  Bounded moves are executed in an upright position in shallow water at chest depth.  There is still gravity present, which means you would be bearing approximately 25-35% of body weight.  If you have joint impact issues, that could be too much impact and you would therefore want to utilize grounded, Level II and Level III impact options.  Since Level 1 is the only one of the four levels that includes impact, the good news is that the workout is 75% impact free.   

LEVEL II (Neutral Movement)
Level II or neutral movement is executed with shoulders lowered to the surface of the water.  This is done by flexing at the hips and knees and lowering down into a semi-squat position.  Lowering into the water places the body into buoyancy and out of gravity, eliminating impact as the exercise is performed. 

LEVEL III (Suspended Movement)
Level III or suspended moves completely eliminate impact by performing exercises with feet off of the pool floor.  There is zero gravity and thus zero impact.  Deep water fitness is perpetually performed with feet off the pool floor and thus it is completely impact free. 

Can you modify this workout in deep water?
Many Poolfit subscribers are limited to deep water, either out of preference or due to pool dimensions.  The Hard, Harder, Hardest workout can be performed in deep because the moves are basic.  However, performing the workout in deep water invalidates the levels and the main purpose of the workout because there is only one level in deep water and that is Level III or suspended.  My suggestion would be to skip this if you only have access to deep water.   Good news!  Jackie will be back in February with a Deep Water Yoga Workout.    Watch Jackie talk more about the Hard, Harder, Hardest workout. 


New Website!
If you use the streaming website as opposed to the Poolfit app, you probably noticed some big changes in the last couple weeks.  The Poolfit website has an all new look, including the Workouts page, which now includes new search and filtering options.  We listened to your feedback from the Summer 2021 Survey and tried to implement some of your suggestions.  Stay tuned for the Winter 2022 Survey coming soon.  Your feedback matters to us.
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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.