August is the time for getting back in shape. Some take summer workshops, some dabble in Pilates, but I decided to take an Aqua Zumba class. I love Zumba, and though I’m no Missy Franklin, I thought that between my years of dance training and adequate swimming skills, I’d be qualified for the class. Turns out that underwater, I have the coordination of a 12-year-old boy at a school dance.
Aqua Zumba has the same ingredients of a normal Zumba class: watered-down (pun intended) Latin dance steps peppered with aerobic exercises, international bass-pumping music, and lots of energy.
The class is taught by an instructor on land, while the rest of the class is in the water at the shallow end of the pool, so that both feet can be on the floor.
“I remember to move at water tempo, which is about half the time on land,” says Taryn Hitchman, former dancer turned Aqua Zumba instructor at New York Health and Racquet Club. “I’m not up there doing a fast meringue!”
Hitchman gave the class webbed aqua aerobic gloves to increase resistance, something she learned while getting her Aquatic Exercise Association certification. The gloves made simple fist pumps and wrist movements impossible.
We splashed, shook, and shimmied to the sounds of J.Lo, Pitbull, and Gloria Estefan. The only things you need for Aqua Zumba class are a swimsuit, gloves, and the humility to shake your groove thing underwater. But as Hitchman says, “You’re moving in water up to your neck, so nobody’s watching!” Some of the class also wore floatable belts around their waists for more support.
Aqua aerobics can be great for dancers. It’s easy on the joints and the water resistance makes simple movements challenging. One exercise we did involved putting your instep on a noodle, with your back against the wall, and doing ten dégagés to the front, side, and back.
It was hard to tell which was sorer the next day—my legs from kicking, or my mouth from smiling.
Click here to find an Aqua Zumba class near you! —Cory Stieg
Join the pool party!