BeautifulNow June 8, 2013
Adding water adds beauty to your workout. It achieves both physical and mental exercise goals, with cool, stress-free, and superior results. It is no wonder that, lately, more and more water-based exercise movements have been cropping up.
Ai Chi, the watery cousin of Tai Chi, is experiencing a revival as more people are drawn to water based, stress-reducing exercises. It is a submerged workout, with exercises similar to land-based Tai Chi and breathing concepts relative to Qi Gong. The result is a low-impact ballet of deep, precise breathing and slow, sweeping movements. While not as intense as some of the other aquatic exercise routines, Ai Chi is a highly effective stress-relieving workout that increases range of motion and mobility.
Ruth Sova, author of “Ai Chi – Balance Harmony and Healing” (DSL, Ltd.; 1999), originally aligned Ai Chi with the Japanese proverb, “Willow does not break under weight of snow.” In her seminal book, she explains, “Stiff or inflexible branches, bones, and psyches may break. The pilant willow doesn’t break. Likewise, pilant bones, connective tissues, and psyches won’t break. Ai Chi helps to make us pliant.” Ai Chi eases your body and your mind into a beautiful flexibility.
At the other end of the water-based workout spectrum, is Aqua Zumba. The aquatic evolution of the popular, high energy Zumba workout, Aqua Zumba promises to give a new meaning to the phase, “pool party.” It integrates cardio conditioning with body toning to create an easy-on-joints, exhilarating workout set to salsa, merengue, and cumbia rhythms.
Photo: Paulo Ordoveza
Aquacyling is another fascinating new underwater exercise. In a spa-like TriBeCa studio, 15 bikes sit in a four-foot-deep pool filled with 84-degree water. The setting is more like something you’d find in a resort than in a gym. The lighting is dim and the instruction is refreshingly encouraging.
Photo: Courtesy of Aqua
Aqua, the first New York gym offering aquacycling, offers a workout that combines cycling and water resistance for a challenging and stress-free full body workout. The workout, currently popular in Europe, is gaining traction in America, with good reason. According to Aqua’s site, the sport burns up to 800 calories in an hour, is joint-friendly/impact-free, effectively burns cellulite, and improves cardiovascular endurance. “Try it and you will feel blissfully energized,” their site promises. In a recent “New York Times” article, writer Amy Klein likens the new aquatic cycling workout to more play than pain. “I felt like a little kid playing in the bathtub.”
Water-based exercise does more than just sculpt our bodies. Water, movement, and music, together, creates a state of relaxed awareness, encouraging a clean, more balanced mind. It’s a beautiful mind-body combination.