Sunday, June 15, 2014
Today's Spark email has a link to a big article on water exercise www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness
Hurrah! I say. The more people who discover the benefits of the water, the better!
However. Ahem. There are some mistakes and misinformation that I can't let pass when I'm a water aerobics teacher certified by the AEA www.aeawave.com/ for 10 years.
Cherry tomato--you don't have to get your hair wet if you do vertical exercise like water jogging or aerobics. Humid, yes. Wet, not unless you splash a lot.
Bouquet--you don't notice you're sweating. (So bring a water bottle to keep those flowers from wilting!)
Big bodacious bouquet--water is great for high BMI's and joint issues!
Rotten tomato--water exercise does in fact have a positive effect on bone density. Stress on the bones from hard-working muscles strengthens them. It's still a good idea to exercise in gravity for your bones.
Bouquet--leave your heart monitor at home. Scientists still cannot come up with a better way to measure aquatic exercise intensity than Rate of Perceived Exertion. If you feel like you are working hard, you are!
Huge bouquet--Yay for water aerobics! There's a wide range of possibilities and intensities. Pick what's right for you. And wear water shoes for traction on deck and in the pool, for extra resistance in the water, and for foot protection if you are diabetic!
Cherry tomato--start off your water walking/jogging session with a warmup slow walk or jog, and then speed up to intervals, endurance, etc. Get more out of it by doing some laps sideways and backwards!
Tomato--"just bicycling" your legs in the water is a perfectly ok movement alternative. In fact, changing up what your legs do: biking, skiing, walking, running is better than doing the same thing for the whole session.
Bouquet--treading water is a great, simple way to do water cardio. Just stay safe in the deep water.
Big sloppy beefsteak tomato--buoyant resistance is different from gravity resistance. Think about it. On land the work is to pull that iron up against gravity. In the water the work is pulling that foam DOWN and keeping it submerged. Aqua and land strength exercises are very complementary--for best results do both.
A little more tomato salad--take care with strength exercises in water. It is easy to hurt your shoulders or back with incorrect form or ill-advised exercises. Use extreme care and professional supervision with buoyancy that attaches to the lower body.
Bouquet--lap swimming is great! Minimal equipment required, you determine your own pace. Mix it up with some water-treading to strengthen the core.
So jump in the pool, move the way you like, and have fun!
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Why, indeed, at sixty-mumble years of age do I do this? It's a question I'm sure plenty of polite people wonder but don't ask. It's a question some nervy family members actually ask. It's a question I sometimes even ask myself. Here are some of my answers.
The class members. First and foremost. They are great people who are doing a great thing for themselves, and I love supporting that and making it the best possible experience.
The challenge of the class members. People come to water classes with all kinds of backgrounds and needs. I love trying to help them all get what they need in that hour, wildly variable though those needs may be. I once had an ultramarathoner in training for a 100-mile race and a prison guard pre-habbing for a double hip replacement in the same class. They both were regulars, so they both must have felt they were benefiting.
The challenge of the environment. I can come to the pool with some basic ideas of what I want to do in the class, but they can be drastically re-arranged depending on air and/or water temperature. One time when the water temperature was 90 degrees (that's like therapy pool heat) cardio work would have collapsed everyone with heat exhaustion. Instead, we had to have an hour of slow strength work and Ai Chi movement. Good thing I didn't have my heart set on killer intervals!
To demonstrate that you don't have to be young, skinny, cute, or athletic to be fit. Yes, the young, skinny, cute, and athletic teachers are fun to watch at the front of the class. But they can represent an unrealistic standard for the average person that just wants to lower their health risks or fit into smaller jeans. I feel like I can at least be living proof that exercise is for every body. And having been a lot fatter, having a touch of arthritis, having had the life experiences that come with a lot of years, I can better empathize with my class members and better guide their workouts.
The learning. I confess I have always been a nerd. And now I'm an exercise nerd. I love the continuing education classes we have to take to keep up certification. I adore attending international water aerobics conventions to see what's new, what's old-and-now-new-again, and to be a part of the collective energy of a group of people who are passionate about a shared interest. I love to keep variety in my classes.
First and last, it's the class members. It's such a boost to see people who manage to make exercise a habit grow in strength and endurance, to see them enjoy the social benefits of class, and to maintain their ability to do activities they love, whether as professional musicians, caregivers, teachers, or pet rescuers.
Another question that I sometimes ask myself is "How long can I keep doing this?" I see colleagues fall to injury, joint problems, life changes, and I wonder if 70 will be the end of the road. 75? Will I be leading the chair exercise class in the nursing home when I'm 95? The only answer I can come up with is "as long as I can. As long as people will let me. I love this. "
Sunday, April 20, 2014
So, what does an exercise instructor have to learn in order to be certified?
1. Anatomy! You have to learn the names of all the major bones and muscles, the different types of joints and how they work, and terms that describe direction and position (prone, supine, distal, medial, etc.) Planes of movement. Then there's the major nerves, the respiratory system, and the cardiovascular system.
2. Physiology. How the muscles work, how muscle training works, the biochemistry of energy metabolism (This last one strained my brain, and I skipped over it lightly, figuring that I didn't really need it in order to teach a good workout; that no participant was ever going to ask me about adenosine triphosphate, and that there would only be one or two questions from this topic on the test. I was right.)
3. Physics. The mechanics of how muscles and joints produce movement, inertia and momentum, action/reaction, levers, acceleration, and in the case of water--drag, turbulence, buoyancy, surface tension, hydrostatic pressure, and viscosity.
4. Equipment. What's available, how it works with the body and the laws of physics.
5. Choreography. How to put moves together keeping in mind all the factors above and how the human mind works with it.
6. Music. Different beats per minute (BPM), speeds for different purposes and formats. Copyright fees.
7.Programming and Leadership. How to assemble exercises for different class formats and populations. Demonstration of form and alignment and how to cue it for class participants. Transitions. Instructor safety considerations. High-risk and ineffective movements. (You don't wanna hurt anybody!) Professional behavior and attire.
8. Health Risk Appraisal and Screening.
9. Emergencies. Recognizing various types of emergency and injury and how to respond. Instructor considerations such as voice use and abuse and overtraining.
10. Special populations. (Anybody who isn't in their 20's and already physically fit. That's, like, almost everybody, isn't it?) Programming for children, adolescents, elderly, obese, and pregnancy. Considerations for participants with cardiovascular, pulmonary, musculoskeletal, metabolic, and other disease challenges.
11.Nutrition and Weight Management. (Sparkers have an advantage here!)
12. Business and Legal Considerations. Different business arrangements that instructors might work under, and how each should handle issues of liability, insurance, and compensation.
And that's just the general knowledge that any exercise instructor should master. For water exercise there's more: deep and shallow water programming, movement speeds, special equipment, pool and water considerations. It is my firm belief that land exercise instructors, however experienced and qualified they may be, cannot succeed leading water classes without learning about (and experiencing!) the special qualities and limitations of the water environment. Some facilities think they can plop a land instructor on the pool deck and expect a great class to ensue. I've seen enough of these disasters to know that neither teacher nor class is happy at the end of it. The water really is special.
I hope the enumeration of all of the above gives you a little more appreciation of what your instructor had to do to get up in front of the class. And for instructors it's kind of fun to realize "Yeah, I guess I do know at least most of all of that. Pretty awesome!"
Friday, April 11, 2014
I have had a couple of conversations recently about being an exercise instructor, and it occurred to me that it might be a blog topic of interest around here, so here goes...
A while back, I blogged about what led me to water exercise. You can look here www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
if you want to see it. I became an enthusiastic and regular class participant. So enthusiastic that I would always try to claim a place in the front row center so that all I could see was the instructor and not the lazy slobs and lollygaggers that weren't giving it their all. I was there to KICK BUTT and didn't want any distractions.
Eventually, an instructor suggested to me that I might be interested in training to teach. What? Me? Get up in front of people in a BATHING SUIT? At my age and weight? No way.
And then a family tragedy struck. Exercising helped a little toward dealing with it, but I needed some kind of periodic mental relief from its omnipresence. Something that would require so much intense concentration that, for a couple of hours at least, there would be head room for nothing else. Studying for the instructor exam seemed like it might work; obedience training our stupid dog was another.
The dog training worked in that it did require my full attention and concentration for periods of time. Unfortunately, the dog's concentration didn't match mine, and he never mastered much more than a basic sit and down.
There was a better result with the instructor exam. For three months, I had to master a body of knowledge vastly different from anything I had ever needed to learn (more on that in Chapter 2). I worked hard, and to my surprise, actually passed the test. Oh dear. I might actually have to use this stuff now!
Sunday, March 02, 2014
Normally I'm not one to blow my own horn, but this week I was in the top 10 fitness minutes ranking of the Fitness Instructors Team. I realize that my fellow instructors probably do so much exercise that they are way beyond merely tracking it, but still.....
And of course, my measly minutes weren't enough to even put me in the top 20 of my Water Aerobics team (Splash on, WA Team!!), but still...
7 hours of bossing people around, demonstrating, motivating, sweating, planning, preparing, clearing up,........rooty toot toot!
And I get to do it all again next week!
Update: March 9---I did indeed do it again the next week, including the top 10!
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