Did I mention to you that I love water!? I think I may have once or twice...(or even a few more times) here on the blog. However I didn't always. As a kid growing up, I was given the standard swim lessons that everyone had, but could never swim with my head underneath the water. It was only in my 20's (when I joined a triathlon club) that I learned how to breath and to do the crawl properly. It took months of coughing and spluttering before it all clicked in to place and I began to feel like a duck in water. I swam through each of my pregnancies, and after... (to get back in shape) and I feel like learning to swim has been a real blessing in my life.
Now I know that some of you out there are probably saying in your head that you hate swimming and that you can't breath either and have perhaps given up on going to the pool to exercise.
But have you ever considered going to the pool to do a work out in the water instead?
One of the things that I have been doing to maintain health and balance these last few years... is going to my favourite outdoor pool in Chesham. It is great to be in water but it is ever better to be in water OUTSIDE. The pool is hidden away in a little courtyard, surrounded by walls and in the summer they have the most amazing flower baskets hanging around, adding splashes of colour to accent the ultramarine blue water.
I really dislike chlorine laden pools and another reason I like this pool is that it is virtually chemical free. It has a "Mineral Pure system" that uses copper and silver ionization to cleanse the water and reduces the amount of chlorine used by 70%... no more stinging eyes and smell of chlorine!
I also like the way if makes me feel.... like I'm stepping back in time and leaving the world outside behind. I love the old style basket system that brings back memories from years ago... It feels Retro... but in a nice way!
Each week I usually turn up early to plough up and down and do some lengths before attending the aqua class afterwards.
One of the reasons for attending the class was to build up some core strength and to use the pool as a recovery workout after the higher impact workouts that I do. It is friendly on the joints and the water provides some good resistance training to improve muscle strength.
It is a great way to enable the "less flexible" a way of increasing range of movement..... you may not be able to do a tuck jump on land.... but you can in water!
Now you may be thinking that aqua class is ONLY for the "older" attendees who can't perhaps do any other form of exercise... or for individuals who are carrying a little more weight, where normal exercise may not be a good idea... but there you would be dead wrong. It may very well be a great way to ease in to other forms of exercise if you haven't been doing any, and it is also a good way to nurse injuries back to health (believe me.... I'm a Physio!)... But, water exercise is for EVERYONE regardless of what fitness level or ability you may have.
The beauty is, that you can adapt the exercises to your own level and you can make it as easy or as hard as you like.
From the outside, looking on, it looks easy... and you may be forgiven for thinking that it just doesn't do much. That's one good reason why you have to go to a pool and try it for yourself.... you will soon find that the opposite is true.
For beginners, the water resistance alone is enough for you to feel like you've had a good session... but It is simple to make workouts harder.....by going deeper in the water, doing the exercises quicker, or adding pieces of equipment to increase the resistance.
You can find some great exercises on the internet and go down to your local pool by yourself to practice..... BUT It is always a good idea if you have any health concerns or musculo-skeletal pain, to find an instructor who can show you how to do the exercise properly and adapt them to your capability and capacity.
Throughout this last year, as the temperature became colder and the flowers faded.... the number of attendees dwindled.... but I was determined (together with a few other brave souls) to carry on throughout the winter, regardless of the weather, and continue on with the class. A little extra jumping and leaping around in the water with extra vigour is a great motivator to try keep warm! My shortie wetsuit came in useful and helped me to brave the coldest days. Normally the pool is heated to a comfortable 28 degrees.... but when the boiler broke a few months back it plummeted to an invigorating 20!
I imagine that it is the thought of jumping in to cold water that puts a lot of people off... but it's really not that cold... and there are always the nice warm showers for afterwards.
There is something magical about being outside in the water in the elements. I particularly love it when the beautiful Kite flies over the pool or the ducks swoop down and almost land. Most times that I have been to the pool the sun has managed to pop out from behind a cloud (if only for a minute)...and even if it rains... you are already wet!
Regardless of the weather I always have a great time and even on the coldest days I come out of a session feeling refreshed, energized and alive.
Wherever you live, I would encourage you to go check out your nearest pool this week and see what sessions they have on offer... and then....be brave and go take that plunge!
For those of you readers who live locally, Chesham pool has a few free taster classes coming up on a Monday morning from 9.30 - 10.15 on the 9th, 16th, and 23rd of May... so why not come along and join us? If you want more information, you can find the pool website here.