Posts Tagged ‘deep water workouts’

You Don’t Have to Know How to Swim to Enjoy Aquatic Exercise

February 7, 2009

Are you a non-swimmer who never goes near a swimming pool, lake or ocean? You’re not alone  – many adults never learn to swim for a variety of reasons.

One of my clients, “Pat”, never learned to swim because her mother feared water and wouldn’t let Pat take lessons. Other clients had traumatic aquatic experiences and were never able to release their fear of being in water. Personally, I nearly drowned twice before I was 2 years old, so I know what it’s like to overcome a fear of water. Ironically, today I make part of my living working in the deep end of a warm swimming pool.

As an aquatic therapist I’ve worked with many non-swimmers who bravely recognized the benefits of aquatic therapy and exercise and overcame their fears enough to exercise in water (even deep water – wearing a flotation belt). Most of them eventually took lessons to learn to swim after growing more comfortable in an aquatic environment.

The warmth of the water is an important component in encouraging non-swimmers to relax in the pool. A warm pool (86F or warmer) facilitates the relaxation of body and mind. That’s also one of the reasons I recommend adults learn to swim in a warm pool.

One of my former clients in Tucson, “Jane”, came to me after tearing her lateral meniscus on the tennis court. A non-swimmer, Jane nevertheless agreed to try rehabbing her knee in the pool with me in an effort to avoid surgery. Much to her surprise and delight, Jane not only  overcame her injury through our work in the pool, she kept up her aquatic sessions post-rehab as she found they provided an excellent way to cross-train with her tennis.

It’s never too late to enjoy the benefits of aquatic exercise and, more specifically, it’s never too late to learn to swim. The Miracle Swim Institute in Berkeley, CA has been extremely successful in their mission to help adults overcome their fear of water and enjoy swimming. If you don’t live in the Bay Area – the Institute has a network of MSI-trained instructors in other states. Many YMCAs also have adult-focused swim classes conducted in warm, shallow water pools with caring, patient instructors. The Palo Alto Family YMCA program is one example in the Bay Area.

So, if you’ve never learned to swim – or you don’t feel confident with your current swimming skills – make an effort to conquer your fear by getting involved in some form of aquatic exercise. The more time you spend in the pool, the more comfortable you’ll become and the more you’ll develop the necessary skills to become a competent, confident swimmer. And, as you reap the benefits of aquatic exercise, I guarantee you’ll enjoy the process! 

Be Well,


Throw Gravity Out the Window!

November 14, 2008

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about gravity. I suppose it’s only natural given the gravitas of the current economic situation.  It could also be the fact that as an aquatic therapist, I spend many hours a week speaking to clients about gravity’s counterpoint – buoyancy. Apart from outer space, deep water is the only place where we can literally throw gravity out the window and free our bodies (and our minds) of its heavy influence.  

Did you ever consider the negative connotation of the words and expressions that stem from gravity? There’s the aforementioned gravitas, there’s grave – as in “going to an early grave” or thegrave expression on his face“, not to mention the “gravity of a situation“. Buoyancy, on the other hand, coveys lightness, cheerfulness and exuberance – “he was buoyant in his attitude” “the fans were buoyant after the big win“, “she gave him a buoyant hug and kiss at the airport“.

Of course we need gravity to anchor us to the earth. Often, though, we are too weighted down by it – whether it be physically with musculoskeletal pain from injuries or surgery, or emotionally with worry and stress. Certainly our country is anything but buoyant economically right now. Lately it feels as thought we’re sinking rather than floating financially (unless it’s after being given a life raft like some of the banks and mortgage lenders). But maybe it’s time to literally and figuratively “throw gravity out the window” . Smile, breathe, laugh, hope and if possible, emerge yourself in a body of water, trading buoyancy for gravity.

As she was quietly floating upright in the deep end of my warm swimming pool at the end of her workout the other night, my client Cathy said to me, “everyone should have a few minutes a day without gravity”.  I couldn’t agree more!

Be well,