Wednesday, September 07, 2011
I made two visits to another private health club venue, and experienced two more instructors whom we will call C and D. Both of these were closer to on time (hurray!); both taught the entire class from the water; both were adequate. Though music was playing in both instances, neither made much use of it. Neither displayed much enthusiasm or energy or, come to that, a sense of humor. It was a bit like being led by Eyore.
Both of these ladies are certified instructors, which says that although your chances of injury are less than with the uncertified, it doesn't necessarily guarantee a great workout or a good time. I also should add that both C and D were substituting, so perhaps they are livelier with their regular classes than with strangers.
Still--an exercise class should be better than this, shouldn't it?
Thursday, September 01, 2011
BOTH of my health club's pools are closed for two weeks of repair and renovation. Apparently the contractor's desire to get it all done at once in both locations trumped the members' desire for the water, so we are left high and dry for about two weeks.
After a bit of a grumble and some teeth-gnashing, I decided that this time would free me to check out other water exercise venues and instructors around town. So I have become a water aerobics tourist here in my own back yard, and will report to you what I've found. I'll leave the names anonymous; they won't mean much to most of you anyway. If you live here in Anchorage and can use names and locations, SparkMail me and I'll share.
My first venture was to a private health club downtown. It was Posh with a capital P. Big fluffy towels, fancy soap and shampoo, carpeted locker rooms, beautiful clear water in the pool, immaculate and varied equipment. Lovely. But. (You knew there was going to be a But, didn't you.) Lacking a great deal where the rubber meets the road, i.e. instructors. Instructor A was 10 minutes late to class. As the only newbie, I was the only one who showed up on time. A's workout scheme was rather strange. 15 minutes of warmup and low level activity, including a lot of arms in the air, which I have been taught is OK only in small doses. It tends to raise the blood pressure, and anyway, why not push that resist-y water around? But I digress. There followed about 15 minutes of stretching and slow movement, then sped up a little, and on to core work, mostly crunches. I have nothing against a good crunch, but many people, including A, mistake flexing at the hips for working abdominal muscles. There were other positions and movements that were ineffective at best, and injury potential at worst. The class ran 10 minutes late to make up for the late start.
Instructor B was very energetic, and gave a good cardio workout. But we were encouraged to use buoyant barbells for almost all of the class. If you're truly using them to intensify your effort, you're constantly pushing them down to keep them under the water, which can be harmful to shoulder joints in constant lengthy bouts, as we were coached to do. And did I mention? B was 20, that's TWENTY minutes late to class. But quit on time.
This experience emphasized to me the difference that certified water aerobics instructors make. They have learned exercise science; they have learned how to best use water movement; they have learned what to avoid to prevent injury in the general population, and a lot more besides. A and B both had many many years of experience in recreation, swimming, and exercise. But that's not all it takes to effectively teach water aerobics. And a professional attitude helps--like showing up on time!
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
For the past couple of weeks I have been on a family visit "outside", as we in Alaska call the rest of the country beyond our state. Determined not to take a vacation from my healthy life, I made sure I exercised every single day. I tried to eat mindfully while enjoying reunions and celebrations, and the result was on the scale when I got home: three pounds lost in two weeks!
Some days I took my exercise in water aerobics classes at a local commercial gym, and the experience was an eye-opener. Only one of the 4 different instructors I experienced had formal training and certification for water exercise. The others seemed to be land aerobics instructors who were shown the pool and told to go lead a water class. The result was that class members seemed to tune out most of what the instructor was doing and use the time for a floating social hour. Some were actually displeased by one (yours truly) who splashed and caused turbulence by following the music and the instruction.
I now understand better the folks who think water aerobics isn't "real" exercise. It doesn't do much for you if you scarcely move or if your instructor doesn't have the knowledge or training to help you work the water without causing injury.
If this is your situation, urge your facility to seek certified water professionals or train their staff to help people use the water safely and well. If you love your water workouts, consider getting certified yourself. Even if you never get up in front of a class, you will make your own time in the water safer and more effective. Sparkmail me if you want names of organizations to contact, and keep on splashing!!!!
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Two years ago (has it been two years already?) when I joined this site, I lost 6 pounds and tracked my exercise. Then the weight loss plateaued and after a brief further effort, I concentrated on the exercise. I continued to eat pretty healthily, but got my kicks from piling up points and streaks and trophies from working out. My weight was incredibly stable, probably more so than any previous time in my life, fluctuating only about a pound up or down. But no more than that.
Then this past holiday season I began to realize that in order to get any further with the fitness, I really needed to get rid of the excess baggage. It would continue to compromise my joints and agility more and more over time. Reluctantly, I evaluated my eating habits and got acquainted with the food tracker. In previous weight loss attempts, the thing I hated the most was the food journal. I felt like there was a taxi meter on my mouth, and every calorie that went in made a little click. That's almost the only thing that was tracked--calories. But a little experience with the Spark tracker showed me what a better system could do. By counting not only calories, but fat, carbs, and protein, and by doing it live on line with a huge data base, you can check the balance of your meals, and see it as a day progresses or over a longer time. I'm still not one of the "every bite that goes in my mouth" trackers--not yet, anyway--but I have found that I don't mind using this form of food diary nearly so much, and I love being able to go to the data base and finding out the answers to questions like "which is a better protein-per-calorie bargain today--hummus or peanut butter?" That, and a resolve to eat less, mindfully, has resulted in a downward trend on the scale.
There's still a long way to go, and I'm sure there will be other plateaus on the way, but I feel like I have found a system that really works for me, one with infinite patience and massive information, and a supportive community. I am excited to find out where I can go with it.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Being a water exerciser in the far north gives a person some special experiences in the winter.
One of them is frozen hair, which I actually enjoy once in a while. When you come out of the pool building with wet hair into single-digit weather, the water in your hair freezes. When you shake your head it doesn't clink like icicles in cartoons, but it does kind of rattle. Don't worry--I don't walk or bike home in this condition! My hair "melts" right away when I get in the car.
Then there's riding around doing errands before you hit the pool. Your (dry) gym gear has been in the trunk of the car for a couple of hours, you take it inside, pull on your bathing suit and------WAHOOOO!!!!!------cheap thrill! I even know a lady who takes a hair dryer to her suit to warm it up before she puts it on.
Then there's the day you forget you've left your bag in the trunk of the car and you realize that you have a frozen balled-up swim suit to wear. You either have to resort to the hair dryer, or fill a sink with warm water, dip it in, melt it, and then slither into a cold, wet suit. Brrrrrrr!
One time, I laid my wet suit out flat in the trunk, and by the time I got home I had a stiff, frozen suitcicle that had to melt before I could hang it up to dry indoors. And on another occasion I forgot about the suit in the back for several days and by the time I got it out it had freeze-dried--stiff when I picked it up, but once I crushed it it was dry and ready to go!
How about it, fellow northerners, what happens to you in the winter? Is anybody a polar bear plunger that jumps into frozen lakes or seas for fun or charity?
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