(song: Wet/artist: Nicole Scherzinger)
Let me be the first to admit that every time I saw the old ladies in the aqua-aerobics class at my local gym, I chuckled, nay, laughed; Especially when I saw them using the water dumbbells.
Guess what, I WAS WRONG. I've been going to Leandro's "Brazilian Body Surf" classes, and let me tell you, that shit is hard!! It's a great workout on it's own. When you add The Butt Master's special touch, it's one booty-busting, intense class.
The thing about exercising in water is that it's much more gentle on the joints (hence; the geriatric contingency), but you are really forced to engage your core to stabilize your body, because the water provides so much resistance for your muscles to work against. It's as hard or as easy as you choose to make it. It provides great cardio vascular exercise, as well as strength training for toning flabby arms, legs and butts.
The first thing we do is put on our webbed gloves, for maximum resistance and to create smoother movement in water for the upper body workout. And hey, who doesn't look cool in webbed gloves?
Generally we start with a cardio warm up by running laps around the pool. From his pool-side perch, Leandro tells us to lean forward slightly while briskly alternating our arms and running as fast as we can, using high knees. This is great for getting the heart rate up and working the legs and tush. I'm not so fond of the flowy slo-mo action I get from my lily-white and still flabby thighs, but thankfully, the water is moving so much that no one can see this. They also can't see that my bathing suit bottoms usually fall down, several times, because my booty flab is a little too buoyant, and my swim suit is a little too big when wet...
|(If this were my butt, I wouldn't mind the exposure.)
So we run around the pool a couple of laps, then Leandro has us quickly change direction, which is really freaking hard because you have to push with all your might to run against the flow of the pool. So I'm usually huffing and puffing within the first three minutes of class. Then we do this sort-of leap thing, where we, well, leap while doing a breast stroke. You're supposed to keep your shoulders under the water so you simultaneously target the glutes with your long-legged leap and the chest with the breast stroke. I love this move, because I feel so graceful in the water. I'd look like a giant leaping dork on land.
We also use a foam "noodle" for a few different exercises. We straddle it and pedal our legs like we're riding a bicycle, while doing a breaststroke with our webbed hands. He stresses the importance of leaning back slightly, keeping the back straight, and shoulders under the water and never touching the bottom of the pool. This is a very hard move when done correctly, as it requires a lot of balance and core strength. You are working EVERYTHING. After a full lap around the pool, we peddle backwards. Even harder.
|We do not however, ride the noodle this suggestively...
My favorite noodle work is the leg series. It's pure Butt Master genius! We stand against the wall, a la ballet barre exercises, put the noodle under our feet and do inner-thigh and glute work. It's just as effective (and painful) as the leg machine at the gym. Ideally you never let your foot come above the water, so you have to use all of your muscles to resist. The thicker the noodle, the harder it is to keep it under the water. Since my thunder thighs are still very much a problem area, this is by far my favorite part of class.
I'll tell you right now, those water dumbbells are super hard. If you're able to keep them under the water the entire time, you get just as effective a workout as you would during a sculpting class. The weights come in different thicknesses to make it more difficult to keep them under water. I quickly graduated from the lighter green weights to the thicker, yellow weights and my arms are looking so much more toned. It took a couple of weeks to get used to gripping them, but now my hands don't get sore anymore, and the resistance from keeping them submerged, means that I'm working my core - especially my obliques - every second of the weight series. As he does with every exercise, Leandro has us using our legs while we're doing the upper-body work, so we never neglect our rumps.
|Oblique crunches with water dumbbells
I'm getting so much stronger as a result of the pool class. It's increased my cardio endurance and my upper-body strength. I love starting my week with this class because being in the water feels like a gentle start to the workout week - even though I actually sweat a lot. Occasionally (often) I'm a little tired and/or puffy from a weekend splurge day (or two), so starting the week with less impact puts me on a good path for the remaining five days of workouts. Even though it seems like a gentle workout, I'm always sore after class. I push myself as hard as I can to get the maximum burn.
And I do it all in my gym-required swim cap and water sneakers....
|Because nothing says "hard core gym rat" like a floral swim cap and a bikini.