Not in the mood for a high intensity workout? No problem. Treat your body to some gentle movements that combine elements of yoga and stretching. Exercise should feel good. It shouldn’t be an obligation or a form of punishment. Jackie Lebeau shares a mind & body workout that feels amazing in the water.
Rhythmic movement, stretching and yoga all flow together in this 40-minute pool workout. Designed to improve range of motion, joint mobility and balance, this exercise program is cued to allow you the choice of executing the movements with power or with serenity. This workout is appropriate for less advanced fitness levels. However, all fitness levels are welcome if you are in search of a more zen-like fitness experience in the pool.
An aging population, along with a surge in high intensity and high impact programming has led many fitness enthusiasts to reconsider their approach to exercise. Many people, including yours truly, have been regimented in daily visits to the gym for cardio, weight lifting or group fitness classes. Skipping a day at the gym typically causes abject guilt and psychosomatic feelings of instantaneous weight gain and bloat. Rather than skipping the gym, the exercise cultist makes a painful exit from the car and limps through the gym parking lot, only to suffer through the treadmill, or the weights or the class regardless of how they feel or what their body needs that day.
An alternative to this scenario would be to exercise intuitively. This is done by performing a body scan and asking some questions. “How do I feel today?” “Does any part of my body hurt?” “Do I feel tired or do I feel energized?” The answers to questions such as these will determine the physical activity that you engage in on that day. Instead of going to the gym, maybe a walk outdoors would make you feel better. Foot hurts? Maybe you should hit the pool instead for some deep-water jogging or swimming? Muscles feel tired and sore? Consider staying home and following along with a yoga or stretching video.
The same intuitive rules apply to group fitness. If you go to an aqua class and the instructor is teaching HIIT or Boot Camp and your body needs more slow or relaxed movement that day, then simply make the choice to exercise with less intensity. Take breaks and do stretching as needed regardless of what the instructor is doing. Exercise should never hurt. A workout should never feel forced. Everyone knows that they should exercise, but exercising because you should can actually make you feel worse. Instead, rethink your approach to fitness and consciously choose exercise activities that make your body feel good.
AQUA ZEN FLOW – BEHIND THE SCENES
This workout combines elements of yoga and stretching with dynamic movement. Ideally performed in a warmer pool, the Aqua Zen Flow routine can be utilized after some water walking or other cardio activities as the focus is mostly on stretching and relaxation. The goal is to move in a way that makes your body feel good. “The cues I use to encourage my participants to make the workout intuitive are: do what feels good, listen to your body and honor what the body is asking,” says Jackie. She recommends adjusting variables such as stance, hand position, limb length and speed to progress or regress the movements. “Some days we might be looking for exercise with more challenge, other days we may need gentle movement and Aqua Zen Flow has the flexibility to meet those needs.”
PoolFit: What was your inspiration for this workout?
Jackie: I originally started practicing Aqua Zen Flow with a client of mine. She suffered from Fibromyalgia and was unable to exercise comfortably in the weight room, so I asked her to meet me in the pool. I wanted her to feel successful so we started by focusing on moving each joint through its maximum range of motion (ROM). She didn't experience any pain with gentle movement and as the weeks went by, she was able to increase her ROM as well as vary her hand position to increase the drag resistance. Shortly after, my supervisor asked me if I could combine my knowledge of aquatic exercise and yoga and teach an aqua yoga class. The same movements I used in the private training translated easily into a group format.
PoolFit extends a big THANK YOU to Jackie for this feel-good workout. If you are interested in finding out more about Jackie you can visit her at her website – jlafitness.com.