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!