The Water-Fitness Connection

02 Aug The Water-Fitness Connection

Charlene Kopansky, CALA President and Founder

Recently I had the opportunity to experience ‘The Foundations of Vertical Water Training: The Charlene Kopansky Method’. As Charlene led us through the workshop, my brain started into action. Aquafit classes, water aerobics, etc. have been in existence for years. My ‘immersion’ into the principles of Vertical Water Training (VMT) with Charlene, flipped a few switches and the lights started to come on. (I look forward to sharing more about the specifics of VMT in a future post.)

Water aerobics and aqua fitness are suitable for people of all ages and sizes. Workouts in local pools have typically been targeted to appeal to older people, overweight individuals, pregnant women, folks with limited mobility or someone having joint problems. Makes sense.

Standing in the water, chest-deep, reduces impact on the body. (Even low-impact moves like stretching are gentler in the water.) This is all good stuff. Let’s encourage more people to take the plunge (only chest deep). Anyone who does will improve their overall state of health and sense of well being. Besides, it’s fun!

But, what about those athletic types–the runners, the weight lifters, the gym rats, etc.? (The ones who often say ‘no pain, no gain’.) I say ‘think again’.  Don’t underestimate the power of water as workouts in this much denser medium than air, can be a valuable part of your training regimen. Use them as a gentle cross-training option in between those high-impact land-based workouts; use them to allow you to do more intense training more often without the risk of injury. (Have you considered that mixing it up this way may also prevent mental burn-out?


Even if you can’t recall all the scientific names for those amazing water properties water, you likely remember fun times ‘in the water’.

Skipping tones watching the ripples radiate out was mesmerizing. It was annoying when your brother or friend decided to throw a bunch of rocks at once and mess up the patterns. The ripples started colliding and stirred up the water. Seems quite easy to stir up turbulence in the water. Floating and feeling light on the surface of the lake was one of my favourite summer activities. Thanks water for your buoyancy. I always had to work hard if I wanted to catch someone when playing tag in the water. Trying to get up speed when moving through the water made me well aware of how more effort it took to navigate myself through the water–in any direction. Enter: resistance

These 3 characteristics play key roles in making water an excellent place for exercising. Whether you realize it or not, that turbulence, that ‘always moving’ quality of water, requires us to stabilize our bodies. Balance improves. More than feeling ‘light on our feet’, buoyancy greatly decreased impact, the loading on our joints, and helps return our circulating blood to the heart. The resistance of water requires extra effort if we choose to work out more intensely.

Two More Fascinating Water Features:

  1. hydrostatic pressure Stand chest deep or in deep water, and with no effort on your part, your ‘venous return’ happens quicker. Why? The most amount of pressure is at your feet and it gradually decreases toward the surface. Here’s the bonus: DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) relief. Yes, increased circulation means your muscles will bounce back faster and help avoid DOMS.
  2.  thermal conductivity All we need know here is that due to its property of thermal conductivity, water helps the body regulate temperature. And here’s the next bonus: Working out intensely in the pool? You’ll dissipate the body heat quite nicely, as compared to land-based training.

Want to work out harder at a higher intensity several days in a row? Get in the pool. Why? …because…less wear and tear on joints; and, less muscle soreness.

No swimming required. In fact, no need to dive in, except if you decide to ‘take the plunge’ and move your next workout (HIIT, running, or otherwise) to the pool. Why wouldn’t you check it out? Your body and mind might just thank you.

Thanks for reading. Cheerios,



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