Focus On: Water Aerobics

I will never forget my first *real* water aerobics class.

The Pilot and I were at Canyon Ranch and we thought it would be a fun and “relaxing” end of the afternoon. The pool was filled with older yet vibrant ladies, bobbing in the water with their sun hats on to “Wooly Bully.”

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I thought to myself, “Perfect. This is going to be easy and fun.”

Fun, yes.

Easy, no.

And the ladies crushed me. 

At one point we were doing “rocking horse” across the pool, they’re waiting at one end, and I’m frantically doggy-paddling to catch up. My head was halfway underwater and I’m like, “Oh man, just make it to the other end!”

The instructor was like, “We almost lost you today.”

A few years later, when I started training to teach at the resort, I had to experience the full class schedule so I could eventually teach most of the classes. The second time I took water aerobics, I got the hang of it, and the third time, I really enjoyed it. It was nice to do the full workout without doggy-paddling for dear life. 😉

I eventually started teaching water aerobics and Aqua Zumba. Eventually, I really started to understand the mechanics and benefits of working out in the water.

Some of the great things about aqua fitness:

-It’s extremely low-impact, which makes it ideal for those with sensitive joints, for beginners, or those building back their fitness after an injury

-You can achieve a cardio and strength workout in one spot, plus the water adds extra resistance

-For strength, you are working the concentric and the eccentric part of the movement at the same time. Since you have resistance both ways, if you’re doing a biceps curl, you are also working your triceps.

-Being in the water can help to improve circulation as the heart pumps more efficiently

-You’re in the pool! Even while you’re working, there’s still a bit of vacation/party vibe when you’re in the water

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Some of my favorite water exercises:


Rocking horse


Jogging suicide drills: jog through the water, and go 1/3 of the way out, then back to the wall. Next, go 2/3 of the way out and back to the wall. Finally, jog (swimming when it gets too deep) to the wall and back. When you jog in the water, keep your torso upright, lead with your hips and make sure that your whole foot touches the bottom of the pool. 

Tuck jumps (you can do this without going under water. Just exhale, jump and bring your knees towards your chest, contracting your core.)

Jumping jacks 

Cross country skiing

Hover jumping jacks and cross country skiing (the same as the original versions, but don’t let your feet touch the floor! These are challenging variations and great for water Tabata drills. Go as hard as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and complete 8 rounds for 4 minutes total.)




Strength with a pool noodle:

Biceps curls

Triceps extensions

Hip abduction and adduction

Hamstring curls

Core work

Floating pushups


Bodyweight strength:

Wall pop-ups: Stand in front of the wall and place your hands on top in a diamond position (thumbs together and index fingers together). Bend your elbows, and as you exhale, jump up, straightening your arms almost completely (keep a small bend at the elbows). Complete as many as you can in 30 seconds. 

Water pushes: keeping your arms under water and fingertips active, push the water away from you as quickly and forcefully as possible. 


Have you tried a water aerobics class before? What did you think?? Any water exercises that you love?

Hope you have a wonderful morning and I’ll see ya later today on the Family page!



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  1. I totally forgot about water aerobics! I used to do it and I loved it – so much fun and such a DIFFERENT way of getting in a great workout. I always liked how gentle it was on the body – and how it never really felt like exercise 🙂

    Gotta get back into it!

  2. Love this! Thanks for sharing. I teach a deep water aerobics class, and it’s a surprisingly tough workout. I use foam hand barbells. By the end of class, my arms are feeling it! ; )

  3. I would love to try water aerobics! Especially in this summer heat!

  4. i’ve never tried water aerobics, but i’d like to give pool running a try!

  5. I used to be a lifeguard at my local Y and always watched the (mostly) older ladies take the class. I’ve also take a few classes with my favorite instructors. There are classes, that are much more laid back and then there are the classes making waves, jumping around! It’s a great cardio workout that is definitely easier on your joints, especially the jumping part… no hard landings on your knees! Plus I never got super sweaty since I could always splash water on my face to cool off.

  6. This is terrific. I actually have a backyard pool that no one ever uses. It’s too small to swim laps and I didn’t know what else besides treading water might be good exercise. I tried this bungee cord trainer/contraption where you swim in place against the cord but it’s kind of weird. I’d much rather just keep my head up and wear a hat and get a workout somehow mostly vertical so I’ll try these.

    If anyone knows of a guided video for pool workouts, I’d love to know, though I do see some on youtube. It’d be nice to bring a tablet out to the edge of the pool and follow along.

    • Fitnessista says:

      that would be perfect. it’s nice that you have a pool out back that you can cool off in and sneak in a workout 🙂
      the aqua zumba videos on youtube are actually a lot of fun!

  7. Aqua zumba sounds like SO much fun!!!

  8. Hi Gina! Do you have any recommendations for ab exercises that are easier on the back? I find myself with a back pain that I’m pretty sure is related to diminished core strength, but when I try to do some of the core exercise it leaves me even more sore. It’s a sad circle of events haha. Just curious.. Have a great day!!

    • Fitnessista says:

      what types of core exercises bother you the most??

      • Crutches (or crunch- like Excercises; bicycles, etc.) are pretty bad and V-ups are almost impossible haha, but I’m not sure what Excercises might target the lower abs as well as a V-up

  9. I think it’d be so much fun to try out a water aerobics class! I’d love to see what it’s like. It’s actually a goal of mine to broaden my exercise habits and find something new I love. 🙂

  10. I love water aerobics – been taking a class for 6 years. My favorite exercise is to balance or sit on a noodle (or Styrofoam weight) and use my arms to swim the length of the pool without using my legs. It’s so great that a variety of levels can do the same moves and still get a good workout by moving faster or slower depending upon fitness goals. I was so intimidated when I started coming to the gym, and water aerobics really helped me gain the confidence to try many other classes that I never dreamed I could do when I first started.

    • Fitnessista says:

      that is an awesome move! i also like to do the opposite and hold the noodle and just pedal with my feet. it’s tough!

  11. Stephanie says:

    Hey, I feel you on needing to ‘figure out’ an exercise. Could you do a post for those of us needing help learning the choreography of an exercise program? Like doing curtsy squats simultaneously as flies… Should I focus on the squats and add the arms when I’m stable?
    Thanks for your inspirational blog.

    • Fitnessista says:

      i would break down the movement for sure. do all of your curtsy squats, then all of your flies. then after your form is solid, try a few putting them together

  12. I partially feel like I do water aerobics whenever I swim with Harlowe? Does Live give you a workout in the pool too? Good for you for getting in there and trying out a new workout — it looks like a blast. PS Enjoy your time in Tucson & eat lots of Eeegee’s for me! 🙂

    • Fitnessista says:

      haha YES. i’m always jumping around with her in the water
      i will definitely drink all the eegee’s for you

  13. hahaha thank you for that video clip, gotta love Kevin Hart!!

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