THE POOL: IS IT THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH?
Mark is discovering his inner athlete
Revelation: something revealed or disclosed, especially a striking disclosure, as of something not before realized.
Here is my revelation: I just recently started working out in the pool and I cannot believe the results I am getting.
Yes, this is my striking disclosure. The man who has spent the past 14 years teaching aquatic fitness and educating fitness professionals about exercising in the water has finally taken the plunge himself.
How is this possible? Well, I have worked out religiously in the weight room for the past 26 years, but I never really had access to a pool for self directed exercise, save for the busy JCC and YMCA pools I taught at. Even if I had been fortunate enough to have a backyard pool in the two months of a northern summer, my only workout would have been running from bees, wasps, beetles and horse flies.
My pool drought ended in 2013 when I moved to Florida and rented a condo with access to a pool. Truth be told, I spent most of my time in a pool lounge for the first few months. However, I am now jumping in the pool a few times a week for a quick 30-minute workout. The results I am experiencing are redefining what I previously thought were unrealistic goals for my aging body.
Waistline: Let’s face it; an aging body is often an expanding body. Nothing makes me more miserable than spending a day in tight shorts or pants. My shorts are definitely looser and I can see the difference in the mirror. Obviously adding any cardio to my weightlifting routine would help burn calories, but working out in the pool allows me to work HARDER in a shorter time. Long cardio sessions bore me to tears and I cannot run or do intense land activities because it hurts my body. In the water, I can go “all out” without any pain and exhaust myself in 20-30 minutes of intense exercise.
Aches & Pains: Every morning I wake up and think, “I wonder what body part will be in excruciating agony today?” My weight room workouts have suffered over the years due to body part malfunctions – shoulders, knees, ankles, feet, hamstrings and more. My body has been kinesthetically improving since working out in the water. Weight room activities aren’t hurting any more. My shoulders are more limber, my knees don’t bark on lunges and even that darn hamstring has been reduced to a whimper.
Endurance: Having established a preference many years ago for weight training over cardio; any cardio would improve my cardio-respiratory endurance. The pool workouts have clearly done so. Lately I have noticed I am holding up much better on the deck while teaching classes. Over the years I have been photographed many times in the famous “kneeling on one knee” position with hands on hips. FYI: If you see me kneeling like this on the deck it usually means I am ready to DROP DEAD.
Sleep: Fortunately, I have always enjoyed a good nights sleep. But interesting to note, on the nights that I do pool workouts, “good” is taken to a whole new level. Picture your head hitting the pillow and then the unwelcome sound of the alarm going off with no memory of anything in between.
My current favorite pool workout is a combination of shallow water Tabata drills and deep water running. A typical 30-minute workout might include three Tabata rounds (4 minutes each) interspersed with variations of deep water running drills.
Sample Workout: A 30-minute workout has been uploaded to the AEA website. Click here for the full workout!
The beauty is in the simplicity. The trend lately with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has made self-directed pool workouts much more doable and results oriented. In the water, I can push myself to anaerobic levels that I have not pushed myself to in a long, long time. It feels good because there is no pain. Best of all is the realization that I can push myself to these athletic aquatic feats far into my sunset years.
Revelation: So is this why my students like it so much?
Yeah, yeah, I know I am preaching to the choir here. However, sometimes it is easy to take for granted something you are ALWAYS around. As an instructor, I have witnessed first hand (from the deck) how aquatic fitness can dramatically change quality of life, but now my personal experience is making me more clear on the how and why.
Sadly, aquatic exercise is still ignored by a huge percentage of our population – but not for long. According to the U.S. Census, by 2030 the 65+ population will double to about 71.5 million. AARP estimates that Baby Boomers will be turning 65 at a rate of about 8,000 a day over the next 15 years. From this we can only conclude that we are all going to be very, very busy aquatic fitness professionals.
If you think your classes are crowded now, get ready. This is a call to arms. Blessed are we for abundance cometh. The world needs us. We have no time for aching body parts or “tight clothing induced bad moods” – and we certainly can’t drop dead on the deck.
The pool is calling you. Get to a pool, get in, get moving and get ready to share this incredible fountain of youth. Discover your own inner athlete and then help others discover theirs.