Water Aerobics Deep and Shallow

Wednesday, May 10 2023

Rediscover water aerobics, choreography and that thing called a bell curve. Travel back in time with Mark when cardio workouts were continuous and there was no rest or recovery. Retro Waves is a 50-minutes water aerobics workout that showcases fun and challenging exercise that could never be performed on land. This pool workout can be enjoyed in both deep and shallow water. 

HIIT workouts are popular on Poolfit, but if you always do what you always did you will always get what you always got. Participating in both steady-state and intermittent intensity training can help you improve overall fitness and be prepared for any kind of energy demand life throws your way. Fresh from Mark debuting Retro Waves at the International Aquatic Fitness & Therapy Conference (IAFTC) in Orlando, the video has just posted on Poolfit, just in time for the busy pool season.   

Intermittent intensity training is interval training that features cycles of high intensity exercise alternated with lower intensity exercise or rest. HIIT workouts are an example of this style of training. The higher the intensity of the work cycles, the greater the need for rest. If adequate rest periods are not alternated with bursts of exercise, then it is not HIIT. HIIT is considered anaerobic training because working at such a high intensity, the body cannot meet the demand for oxygen and thus performs in the absence of it, hence the breathless effort. Many of the recent videos posting on Poolfit fall into this category.


  • Research has suggested that more body fat is burned when intensity is varied from high to low throughout a workout. 
  • The same research indicates that the metabolic rate stays elevated for a longer period of time following HIIT workouts. 
  • Short bouts of all-out exercise prepare the body for unexpected energy demands where a sudden burst of intensity is needed, such as running through the airport to make a connection. 

During a steady state workout, the heart rate stays within a set range, for example 60-80%, for an extended period of time, such as 30-minutes. Steady-state workouts are referred to as aerobic exercise. Working at a steady state of energy expenditure allows the body to provide oxygen during the extended cardio activity. This results in a more measured scale of effort, without the breathlessness associated with HIIT. 


  • Improves heart health
  • Associated with positive weight loss results and a better mood.
  • Less risk of injury with more moderate exercise
  • Prepares the body for longer duration activities, such as a day of shopping or sight-seeing.  

Both types of training improve physical fitness and help class participants meet the demands of daily living.  Aerobic capacity is required for stamina and the ability to perform long duration activities, such as house cleaning or long walks. Anaerobic function is needed to prepare for sudden bursts of activity, such as walking up a couple flights of steps when the elevator is broken or dashing from your car in a rain storm.   
Watch Mark talk about the inspiration for Retro Waves in the video below, and the read more about bell curve energy expenditure, water specific moves and dual depth programming.


Back in the days when hi/lo and step classes were popular, instructors were encouraged to design their aerobic classes with a bell curve of energy expenditure. They learned how to progress, peak and regress exercise intensity. For example, the energy expenditure for the first 10 minutes of class might be 60%, followed by 70% for the next 10 minutes and finally close to 80% at the peak of the bell. This energy expenditure would be reversed on the descent down the bell curve, going back down to 70% and then 60%.

Water specific exercise refer to moves that can be done in the water but would be impossible or unsafe to do on land. These moves typically have both feet coming off the floor at the same time.  The reasoning behind this is that when exercising in water you should take advantage of the unique aspects of the aquatic environment that allow for more challenging, acrobatic movement. The Retro Waves Workout includes many water specific moves.  The entire Cardio Core Segment is made up of water specific moves.

Retro Waves was designed specifically to be done in both deep & shallow water. Why?  Many Poolfit subscribers only have access to shallow water or to deep water. Producing videos that can be performed in both depths reaches the largest audience.  If you have access to both depths, you should definitely do this workout in both deep and shallow water because the experience and outcomes are different. 

Get ready to ring the bell and make some splashy waves in your pool. I hope you have as much fun doing this workout as I did practicing it in the pool.  Speaking of fun, if you are enjoying Poolfit and have not yet left us a review in the App Store or Play Store, could you please do so. Reviews act like testimonials that inspire others to give the app a try. Please help us increase our customer base this summer. Thank you in advance for your review. 

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.