Making a Splashy Gym Class Redo

Friday, August 10 2018

Gym class was a traumatizing school experience for many people, but everyone gets a second chance to channel their inner-athlete in an aquatic fitness class.  Aqua Sportz is a water workout designed to unleash the spirit of champions, featuring patterns and drills from three sports – football, soccer and hockey. 

Growing up, I was an abysmal failure at anything that involved a ball. Painfully skinny and shy, I couldn’t throw a ball, catch a ball, bat a ball or dribble a ball.  And I most certainly couldn’t dodge a ball.  Reared in an athletic family, my older brother and sister were star athletes and my father was a Little League coach.  Athletically challenged from an early age, I had more interest in Barbie Campers than I did in baseball mitts.  Despite starting a career in fitness, I never really developed any interest in sports, including watching them on TV.  During trivia games, I strategically avoid any category that involves sports.  

And so how did I end up blessing the world with a sports-themed aqua workout?  It’s simple, Fitmotivation was short a video this month.  Since the other two videos that posted in July featured Ballet and Ai Chi, I knew I had to deliver something high intensity for the HIIT fans.  The challenge was on.  Soccer was all over the news this past month thanks to the World Cup.   Inspired, I started searching YouTube for soccer drills. YouTube did not disappoint, but I quickly realized I would need to add a couple more sports if I wanted to create an entire routine for my classes.   And behold – Aqua Sportz was born.


Movement Patterns
Scanning YouTube for sports drills, the intention was to create a HIIT class featuring various agility drills with varying work/recovery times.  There was one hitch.   Teaching a class filled exclusively with drills bores me to death.  Been there, done that, I aint doing it.  Therefore, I blended in some “movement patterns” with the sports drills. And yes, the sports references in the movement patterns (a.k.a choreography) are fairly lame.  However, I teach large classes at a YMCA in a retirement community and the moves need to stay fairly traditional for them to follow.  A movement pattern was created for each sport - football, soccer and hockey.   And naturally I had to put all three together at the end.   Normally referred to as the finale, we will call this one the championship game.    

Sports Drills
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has become widely popular in aquatic fitness classes.  Perfect for higher intensity work cycles, sports drills are often used to build lower body muscle endurance and power.  Examples in this video include single leg hops in the frontal and sagittal planes and practice punt kicks against the viscous resistance of the water.  Also included are good old-fashioned tire drills.  Nowadays, sports teams are more likely to use large tires for tire flips rather than sprints.  Ladders have become more popular for agility runs. However, tires provide better imagery for the pool bottom as you can cue BIGGER TIRES to encourage higher knees.  The first drill in the football segment features tire runs and tire jumps with four sets of tires in a vertical row.   The second drill is knee-ups performed laterally in 4 sets of tires lined up in one horizontal row.  Agility drills are also used in sports to improve the required skill of changing direction when running down the field.  One of the drills in the football segment features running in a Y pattern.   A drill in the soccer pattern features running in an L-pattern.

Real world – Real Pools 
The drills in this workout may not be conducive to all pools.  If your pool is small or the depth quickly slopes, you may have to modify the running patterns to a sprint in place.  If you have the room to run take advantage of it as the more you travel the more water motion you create.  Changing directions and running back into the water motion you created is an excellent way to increase cardio intensity. Here is a closer look at four of the diagrams.  1) 4-Tire Run  2)  1-Row Knee-ups  3) Y Run 4)  L-Run.   Having this visual aide may help you to better understand the directives in the workout.  

Ready to be a champion in your own pool?  Aqua Sportz is the perfect opportunity to unleash your inner athlete and stage a gym class redo.  If you enjoyed this workout, please post a comment below or on the video.

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.